A Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit: What to Include?

A Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit: What to Include?


Why Assemble Your Own First Aid Kit?

While there are some good outdoor first aid kits on the market, there is great value in putting together your own outdoor first aid kit. In the process of assembling your first aid kit, you will have to think carefully about what to include and how you might use the included items. You should also consider how to pack your kit so you can access the items you need, in the order you might need them. By the time you have completed your outdoor first aid kit, you will know the kit intimately. You will know exactly what is in the kit and be able to find any of its contents quickly.

A personal first aid kit is just that – personal

The choice of equipment to include in your kit is a personal one, based on your training, experience, where you are going and the specific risks you might face. You can always use a good off-the-shelf camping or hiking first aid kit as a base on which to build. Bear in mind that the best part of many so-called outdoor first aid kits is the case or pouch containing the kit. The contents of many travel first-aid kits are limited in scope, containing not much more than some cheap plasters and bandages, making the kit as a whole overpriced. So, do read the contents list and spend your money wisely.

Typically, a good personal kit has items to deal with likely minor personal injuries (such as cuts, bites and blisters), as well as less likely but more serious injuries. The kit should also contain items you could not use on yourself (e.g. CPR mask) but are there to deal with very serious incidents involving other people. The best wilderness first aid kits are ones where the contents, your experience and the likely risks are in sync. This is why assembling your own kit is the best option.

Of course, having a well-equipped emergency first aid kit isn’t enough. You should also seek out high quality first aid training. There are some general skills that everyone should learn such as basic life support (even if you are travelling no further than the office) but you shouldn’t neglect to undertake a risk-assessment for where you are going and use this information to improve your preparation.

You should make sure you have training in skills appropriate for where you are heading. This way, in acquiring specific knowledge, skills and equipment, you will have provided yourself and your companions with the best chance of dealing with any incidents that might occur. In considering how well you could cope with a particular remote emergency scenario, you may even change your planned activities or route choice to help diminish the risk. This whole process – of optimising your first aid training and assessing the risks you face – improves your wilderness survival skills and maximises your outdoor preparedness.

Paul Kirtley's Wilderness First Aid Kit being carried on his belt.
The author's personal wilderness first aid kit being carried on a belt, in Africa. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Usually, in putting together a wilderness first aid kit of any size, whether it is for personal or group use, you will be forced to compromise: There is only so much equipment you can carry. You can’t take a complete emergency room with you. I favour items that are suited to outdoor use and can endure the wear and tear that comes with wilderness travel.

In particular, it is worth considering the robustness and waterproofing of the packaging of your first aid kit items. For example, the packaging of bandages is often flimsy plastic or paper. I try to find the highest quality kit contents. Then the contents of the kit will not only stay in one piece until I need to use it but also the various contents will perform well once they are in use. Some contents can be re-packaged to make them more durable, waterproof or both.

For items of your first aid kit that must remain dry, I recommend packing them in Aloksak waterproof storage bags. If you choose your kit contents wisely, for a given level of functionality you can pack fewer of a particular item in favour of making space for other items or saving weight. This practice helps limit the compromise.

I take a modular approach to my basic wilderness equipment. I have discussed this approach in other articles covering essential wilderness equipment and bushcraft survival kit. In the outdoors I always take at least a cuts kit with me – normally in my trouser pocket. In addition, I often carry a military dressing in an easily accessible place – jacket pocket or top pocket of daypack.

The next building block up as far as emergency first aid equipment is concerned is my personal wilderness first aid kit. This kit fits into a pouch that can be carried on a belt. It takes up little room if carried in a backpack and easily fits into the side pocket of my 35-litre daysac. The aim of my kit is to be able to do as much as possible with what I have, taking into consideration other gear I carry and what might be improvised. So, my personal first aid kit is considered as part of a modular system.

Bushcraft and Survival Equipment - a modular approach
Example building blocks of bushcraft and survival equipment. From left to right: Compass; folding saw; bushcraft knife; bushcraft survival kit (top pouch); wilderness first aid kit (bottom pouch); waterbottle and metal mug in pouch. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

I’m not recommending that everyone needs or should assemble the same personal wilderness first aid kit I have. Some of the items require specific training in their use before you can apply them. I’m highlighting what is in my kit because I’m often asked and therefore I know people are interested. I’m always fascinated by what others have in their first aid kits too. There’s often a little tip or trick you hadn’t previously thought of. I hope this article will give you the basis to think about what’s already in your personal first aid kit as well as what else you might like to include. More important, I hope reading this might motivate some people to think about areas of first aid in which they might like to have more training. My view is that you can never have too much first aid training, particularly if you are headed for wild and remote areas.

Personal First Aid Kit Contents

For some of the items below I give some rationale for why I carry them. Please don’t take this rationale as a complete explanation of how each item should be used or assume, because you’ve read and understood my rationale, that it is then OK to use these items without appropriate training. Also, I haven’t included every single use to which these items could be applied. Please note that there is an update video following this list, bringing some items right up to date…

Contents of Paul Kirtley's Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit
Contents of the author's Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit. See below for numbered list. See below that for update video. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

1. Gloves: Powder-free nitrile (not latex as some people are allergic) gloves. I fold them in pairs and store them in a plastic bag for protection from getting snagged in the zip of my kit. I pack this at the top of my kit as I’ll need gloves first if I’m tending to someone else.

2. Drugs and medication: I pack the blister packs in an Aloksak waterproof storage bag to keep them together and protected. I also include a sheet of waterproof paper on which I have written dosages, side-effects and contra-indications. The baseline for my kit is the inclusion of an analgesic, an anti-inflammatory, an antihistamine, Imodium (Loperamide), and Diarolyte.

Warning: You should always make sure that you are not allergic or prone to any other adverse reaction to any medicines you choose to include in your first aid kit. If in doubt, speak to a pharmacist or your doctor. Also, unless you are permitted by the remit of your training and relevant laws to administer or offer the medication in question, any medicines you include in your first aid kit should be for your personal use only and not given to anyone else.

3. Antiseptic wipes: I find having a few of these in my kit handy for cleaning up, wiping blood off cutting tools, camping equipment etc. For antiseptic use on cuts and grazes, I use Betadine – see #13.

4. Minor Wound and Blister kit: This is similar to my stand-alone cuts kit so I’m effectively doubling up on many of the items I use most when in the outdoors. Again this is packed in an Aloksak waterproof storage bag. Below is an expanded view of the kit:

Section of the medical kit for dealing with cuts, burns and blisters.
Expanded view of the items for dealing with cuts, burns and blisters. This is all packed into an Aloksak. The Temp-dots are also here for safe-keeping. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

From top left to bottom right, this sub-kit consists of the following:

– Sterile gauze swabs: These have various uses and I find them particularly good for padding or protecting more serious cuts on my hands.

– Steri-strips: Steri-strips are wound closure strips for lacerations, etc. I find these very useful for more serious cuts but care is needed not to seal-in dirt, etc. and cause infection. I recommend getting proper training in how to use them (including wound irrigation, etc).

– Suture kit: I was trained to suture by a doctor and I include sutures in my kit for the rare occasion, far from help, where suturing may make sense. The vast majority of wounds can be dealt with in other ways.

– Melolin wound dressing pads: These pads are cushioned, non-stick and absorbent, and I find them useful for minor burns and grazes, particularly ones that ooze a bit. I don’t use them very often so include only a few.

– Plasters: Nexcare plasters by 3M are the best I’ve used. They are made of quality materials, hypoallergenic and have a healthcare-industry grade adhesive. They stay on for longer (particularly when used in combination with Friar’s Balsam – see 14), and I achieve better protection of cuts, grazes and minor burns than with cheap plasters. I also use far fewer of them than cheap plasters. This frees up space in my first aid kit.

– Compeed: I find these padded gel plasters extremely good for dealing with hot-spots and blisters. Applied properly, they stay on for days even when hiking hard. Therefore, I carry only a few of assorted sizes in my kit.

– Moleskin plaster: I find these good for hot spots and areas that need protection from rubbing but where the padding of a Compeed plaster is either unnecessary or impractical. These are from a Spenco blister kit.

– Tempa-Dot thermometers: Tempa-Dots are single-use thermometers have nothing much to do with cuts or blisters but I keep them here as they fit well and stay protected.

5. Crepe bandage: A Crepe bandage has various uses, including strapping for strains and sprains. I keep mine in a small Aloksak to keep it dry but it’s not essential.

6. Military dressing: A 10x19cm first field dressing for serious wounds and bleeding. These military dressings are very absorbent and much better than cheap pharmacy-bought dressings. The packaging has an internal plastic coating and is waterproof; this not only keeps the dressing dry but the packaging can be employed to create a non-stick covering for a burn or used to create a valve for a sucking chest wound. These military dressings are being replaced by the Israeli trauma dressings and so will mine eventually.

7. Nasopharyngeal airway: A nasopharyngeal airway can be employed in some circumstances to help maintain an airway. I take the view that while it would be great to have a full range sizes of NP and OP airways, I don’t have space in this kit and one NP airway is better than nothing. It can also be used for other things. If you haven’t been trained to use one of these, then it shouldn’t be in your kit.

8. Syringe: This is for wound irrigation. While a volume of 20cc would be more efficient, I carry a 10cc syringe as it saves space. For irrigating my own wounds I use water from my own drinking water bottle. For other people I use their drinking water.

9. Blunt needle: For use with the syringe (see #8). While you can use the syringe on its own and generate a good amount of pressure, the narrower gauge of the needle generates greater pressure for wound irrigation. I carry a blunt mixing needle as it is not sharp and therefore poses little threat when stored or in use.

10. CPR Mask: While not as good as a pocket mask (which won’t fit in a kit this small), this is a robust mask. The strong packaging can be employed for other jobs too.

11. Small bandage: I find these cheap, small bandages useful for cutting to size to dress a cut or burn, particularly on fingers. I typically use this material over a piece of gauze or a steri-strip.

12. Transpore Tape: Like the Nexcare plasters, Transpore tape is made by 3M. It is durable yet easy to tear when you are applying it. Much better for outdoor use than micropore tape and it doesn’t soak up water like zinc oxide tape does.

13. Betadine: Betadine is an antiseptic liquid which contains povidone-iodine. It acts against a broad spectrum of pathogenic organisms that might cause skin infections and is ideal for applying to cuts and abrasions in the outdoors. I carry a 15ml bottle. While in Queensland, Australia I found it was useful for removing leeches as well as disinfecting the bite afterwards! Unfortunately due to the European Biocides Directive 98/8/EC, this type of iodine product has been unavailable for sale within the EU since October 2009. Iodine is still available outside of the EU.

14. Friar’s Balsam: Also known as compound tincture of benzoin or compound benzoin tincture, this is different to pure tincture of benzoin. All can be used as a styptic and/or antiseptic (it stings like hell so better to use the Betadine for antiseptic purposes). The main additional benefit of Friar’s Balsam is its stickiness; it can be applied around a wound before applying a plaster or tape and it will help either adhere for much longer. I have decanted a small amount of Friar’s Balsam into a very small dropper bottle which can be used to paint the liquid onto the skin with reasonable precision.

15. Temporary tooth filling: This is a temporary cavity filling material for emergency use only.

16. Superglue: This is for personal use only. Standard superglue is different to medical superglue. Don’t mess around with it unless you understand the differences.

17. Tweezers: Uncle Bill’s Sliver Grippers are tweezers with a sharp point. They are good for splinter and thorn removal. They also lend themselves well to tick removal.

18. Safety pins: These are not for making a really tidy sling but for helping remove splinters, thorns etc. I find it a good way to safely have a sharp point in my first aid kit without risking damage to any contents or myself. If the point isn’t sharp enough, it can be sharpened with a sharpening stone.

19. Whistle: Using a whistle is a lot less effort and more effective than shouting – either in calling for help or responding to someone who needs your assistance. While I normally have a whistle around my neck, I find having everything I need in my first aid kit reassuring – in an emergency I can just grab my kit and go. The whistle I have here is a Fox 40 Micro, the same model as mentioned in this article.

20. Shears: Tough cut or EMT shears are highly effective at cutting through clothing, straps, webbing, rope, etc, and much safer to use than a knife. Mine are a small model made by Merlin Medical. I attach small, otherwise loose items such as my tweezers (#17), safety pins (#18) and whistle (#19) to my shears via a quick-release clip. This way I can easily find the small items by grabbing the shears. This also helps me keep everything organised and prevents losing the small items.

21. Cigarette lighter: I often use a lighter to disinfect my tweezers or a pin before removing a thorn or splinter. Also, if I need to light a fire, I have a lighter to hand, immediately. You don’t want to be bow-drilling if someone has immersion hypothermia

22. Head-torch: I once had to provide first aid to someone who was seriously injured in a remote area of forest and it was already late afternoon. By the time the paramedics arrived (by helicopter), it was getting dark. None of them had a torch with them. I had my usual head torch with me but ever since then I’ve always carried a dedicated emergency lamp in my first aid kit. The Petzl e+LITE Headlamp is perfect for the job. It is small, lightweight, has lithium batteries (which work better in cold conditions than alkaline batteries), a 10-year shelf-life and is waterproof (up to 1 metre under). It has various modes, including strobe which can be particularly useful in emergency situations.

All of the above items fit into a pouch measuring 15cm x 12cm x 7cm. Unfortunately the canvas pouch I have been using has started to disintegrate and I will probably trial something of a similar size from Maxpedition’s range as a replacement.

Personal First Aid Kit Contents Update Video

The original version of the article you are reading was posted in 2011. It represented my personal first aid kit as it stood at the time. Since then, the items in my kit have changed somewhat. The above is still a valid kit but the progression of time has provided some improvements. The video below explains the changes in the kit outlined above which represent its positive evolution…

Additional Equipment, Useful For First Aid

While I’ve organised everything in my kit to be easily accessible in the order I need, I generally have some other items I can also use. I usually carry the following in a daysac or backpack and I consider it part of an extended first aid kit that can be used in conjunction with my personal wilderness first aid kit:

A Malleable splint: Sam Splint or similar; this is a malleable foam-covered aluminium splint that can be formed into a multitude of shapes and used to help splint or immobilise part of a casualty’s body.

Bandana: I carry at least one large bandana as they have several uses, one of which is to create a sling. There is as much material in one of these bandanas as in two standard triangular bandages.

Water bottle: I carry at least one litre of water in a water bottle. This water can be used for the irrigation of a wound (see #8 and #9 above), for example.

Wilderness First Aid Kit packed in pouch, alongside other useful outdoor first aid items.
The author's personal wilderness first aid kit packed in a pouch. Alongside are other items - large bandanna, water bottle, and malleable splint - useful for outdoor first aid. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

I hope you find this article useful or at least food for thought. Please do let me, and other readers, know about any first aid kit advice, tips or tricks that you’d like to share by leaving a comment in the comments section.

Related Articles on Paul Kirtley’s Blog

Essential Wilderness Equipment – 7 Items I Never Leave Home Without.

How to Build a Bushcraft Survival Kit.

STOP What you are Doing!

PLAN Your Skills for Survival

The Importance of Leaving Word Before Heading Into the Wild

170 thoughts on “A Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit: What to Include?

  1. Hi Paul – oh goody – another kit related article! I am such an armchair bushcraft kit geek.

    And comment subscribing! Is it my birthday?


    1. Hi Steffan

      I thought you’d like this one 🙂

      I numbered the first aid kit photo with you firmly in mind, after you sent me the numbered version of my bushcraft survival kit….

      Hope the comment subscription works fine.

      All the best


  2. Thanks Paul,

    As you say, doing some sort of risk assessment is vital when deciding the contents of your first aid kit. I have to admit that I carried an ‘off the shelf’ kit for many years, without knowing much about it’s contents or how to use it !! My first , First Aid course about four years ago changed my whole perception of their importance. I wanted to understand how to use them and how to make them relevant. I would occasionally carry one , now I carry it everywhere ! A few injuries/illnesses here and there have been remied in seconds….
    My personal kit isn’t quite as indepth as yours, but I always include a Jelonet burns dressing or two and an O’Tom Tick twister device. Burns , Cuts and Tick Bites are my three biggest risks. The O’tom twister device is second to none for removing the little blighters !
    The Israeli Trauma Dressing looks excellent ( just looked at one on you tube), I must get one for myself and our larger group first Aid ‘pack’. Any ideas of a good source for them ?

    Great article.


      1. Many thanks Paul.
        I have used the Israeli bandages, and found them very good, but would caution non-trained personnel in there use they have the potential to act as a tourniquet if applied too tight. If left in place for more than 10 minutes they could cause serious complications for the patient. I would agree with you that all the fancy gear won’t save anyone if you don’t know how to use it.

        1. Adrian Adrian, tourniquets are left in place now. The military field dressing (in the picture), the Israeli dressing and the Oles dressing are all pressure bandages and used when thing are bad. They are designed to be tight and restrict the blood flow to enhance the chance of clotting.

          1. Robin Robin
            tourniquets are not left in place certainly not by me and any of the ambulance staff i know. Even in the army i was taught that tourniquet’s are a last resort in cases’ of major bleeding when all else fails.
            direct pressure is the standard method of encouraging clotting agents within the blood to coagulate. The Israeli bandage and the Oles dressing are both pressure dressings and yes once applied can be left on within reason. I would recommend anyone wishing to use specialist medical equipment to seek out professional training before use. Regards Adrian

        2. Adrian, 30 years ago, when I was is the military we removed and replied tourniquets. Now as a member of the ambulance service we are taught and teach that it is to be left in place as we look at life over limb.

          1. Adrian and I both agree that training with this type of equipement before use is of the upmost importance. If used incorrectly you can do more harm than good.
            Paul’s kit suggests that he holds at least the REMT qualification so I would be happy for my kids to go with him.



            1. Robin and Adrian, this actually a good place to bring such up and it is nice to see two experienced people argue over a serious matter as this, so others less experienced can learn from you two. maybe it is an idea that you two make a video over this item and more and teach us how to be responsible and to use it correctly. this is just a thought…! on a general first aid training here in norway they don’t talk about those things.

              well i hope i didn’t offend any off you, because for sure that was not the intention!

              regards Mark

              1. Mark,

                An interesting idea and I have been having some discussions at work along similar lines.
                There is some risk that some people may use the knowledge imparted as a replacement for proper training.
                I have seen an inappropriately tightened tourniquet actually increase bleeding.

                Paul, as a training agency would have a better understanding of the legal implications along with the risk benefit balance of such a thing.



                1. Surgeons can happily oxygenate a limb 8 hours after tourniquet is applied. Trauma medicine has changed enormously since research conducted in Afghanistan.
                  Life before limb is a perfect analogy similar to you can’t do much harm performing CPR to a dead person. That’s crude I know but also true. The most important thing is to stop significant bleeding first. This means ambulance type arterial bleeding / arm ripped off type stuff not firstsiders I nipped myself and am scared at the sight of blood therefore cover it in 6 useless dressings that aren’t doing anything. There’s a big difference. For the aforementioned reason it is imperative (and no one has mentioned it to write on the tourniquet the time that it was applied. The orange CAT has a dedicated space for this.
                  So have an indelible marker with the kit. Secondly limbs with 2 bones = 2 CATs. Why? Because the arteries run between them and one CAT can’t always pinch the artery enough.
                  And as you tighten it your patient will most likely be screaming and begging and fighting you to take it off as it’s more painful than the injury itself more often than not but you have to stop that SIGNIFICANT bleeding or they die!!

                  In most cases proper direct pressure works well. But impailment nasty falls, stab wounds, axe injury, open fractures with arterial or venous comprise require IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF BLEEDING.

                  If this scares you it should, it still does me and I have 18 years of experience as a Paramedic.
                  Like all things though training is always best followed by experience.

                  Hopefully you never need it of course.

                  On a lighter note if it’s a severed limb make sure you put the CAT of the part of the limb still attached to the body!
                  And if you think this hasn’t happened… think again. People do strange things in high stress situations.

  3. I’ve been very slack and not really made a ‘proper’ one. I’m off on a Woodland Ways bushie weekend in July so I’m starting to pull one together so you’ve done one at the right and and blow me, Emma Hampton has done a first Aid Kit article in the current Bushcraft & Survival Skills magazine.

    My tip would be a restaurant sachet of vinegar which helps with wasp stings. Also, if folk can recognise Plantain it is good at treating them too (I’ve used it on my youngest). Also Yarrow for cuts (er, ditto).

  4. Another great article 🙂
    I got a standard one myself but I’m going to personalize it with the article in mind before I trod off again.

  5. HI Paul

    Fantastic Information, as you say its really personal what you put in your kit and obviously depends on what you are actually capable of treating… as in what youve been trained in/on.

    Keep up the good writing Paul K



  6. I would recommend the “Snogg soft 1” plasters, works like a tape but without the sticky stuff and easy to use and great for the small cuts on fingers, you can easy put more presssure on since its elastic. These dont fall off if getting in touck with water or when wearing gloves or similar.

    I have been using them for some time now and avoid plaster nowadays.

  7. Thanks for the medical list. Tell me, where can one get military dressings from?
    A Woodsrunner’s Diary.

  8. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the supplier details fro the Israeli Trauma Dressing..very good.

    We are doing a couple of two sessions on First Aid this week with school children. We let them identify ‘risks’ that they will come across whilst outdoors.Then we let them ‘role play’ how to treat the various injuries from Bites,Burns, Breaks, Sprains to Hypothermia – putting them ‘right’ along the way.

    Your articles are always a very useful influence.

    I like ‘Le Loup’s’ website, great picture on the home page and some interesting content.Thanks Le Loup….The Wolf of the woods !


  9. Hello Paul.
    Just chiming in to let you know that i am thankful for your unsuspected help. Have put my fellow team partners thinking on their own first aid kit and another one for the whole team which will be more complete.
    Two items that i had not seen on your kit are small enough to fit in and the pros are way more than the cons.
    A whistle can be way helpfull in a situation that you can only reach for your FAK pack and then blow that MORSE code for help.
    The other item that is missing is a light torch. You are assuming that in any of the situations where you may be needing your FAK there is plenty light for you to be able to see whatever you need to do. In the other hand, me as a milsim airsofter, am on the field for some night games and found that even the smallest light is very rewarding and conforting. Knowing that actually are some flashlights that are no bigger than a standard pen, wouldn’t it be advisable to have one in the FAK?

    1. Hi Rui

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found the wilderness first aid kit article useful. I completely agree – a first aid kit should contain a whistle and a lightweight torch.

      Item 19 in my first aid kit is a whistle – FOX micro

      Item 22 in my firt aid kit is a torch – Petzl e+LITE

      All the best


  10. Oooooopsie!
    I must had been dozing off while reading your article, Paul.
    Thank you for pointing me out the refered items.

  11. Hi Paul, I already had some Friar’s Balsam as per the link you provided, but I don’t think it’s the right stuff. Looking up compound tincture of balsam (CTB) on wikipedia it states that it is not the same as the Care+ style you link to which is used for relief of colds. I will pop into town and see what I can dig up from the pharmacy.

    I am going to work through the list and make it up from scavenged parts from 2 old Lifesystems kits and some extra bits and bobs. I’ve never used an airway so I will hold off from buying one of those until someone shows me how. I did WMT’s four-day Advanced Medicine course in November, but they don’t teach it.



    1. Hi Steffan
      Yes, it’s compound tincture of benzoin that you need, which to my knowledge gets called Friar’s Balsam. It seems that tincture (without the sticky additivies – aloe, storax, and Tolu Balsam), is also sold as Friar’s Balsam. This contradicts what it says on Wikipedia. Or is Wikipedia just wrong? Anyway, you are right, the Amazon link was displaying incorrect product and I’ve removed it.

      Here’s a couple of links that may be of use, although I see backpackinglight are out of stock at the moment:



      All the best


      1. Back on the Friar’s Balsam trail….

        Just couldn’t find any of the sticky stuff online but have been communicating with Bristol Botanicals and they have been good enough to make up a batch – http://www.bristolbotanicals.co.uk/pr-7004.

        Just ordered the smallest size and will report back. To be honest, whilst I have known about it for donkey’s years I have never used it and would appreciate any suggestions/instructions.



        1. Hi Steffan

          Thanks for reporting back on Friar’s Balsam. Thanks also for the contact details for Bristol Botanicals.

          To use Friar’s Balsam to help plasters adhere: First make sure the area of skin is dry. Then paint the shape of the outline of the plaster onto your skin, about 3-4mm wide and with the outside of this line just larger than the plaster itself. Wait a minute or two until the Friar’s Balsam on our skin has become tacky (like a fly paper) rather than wet. Now apply the plaster, making sure you smooth all the edges.

          A general tip you can use here as well is to get extra adhesion from the plaster’s own glue, hold your hand on it for 30-60 seconds to warm it up.

          All the best


  12. Gaffer tape old chap, many, many uses, i can see at least two things in your kit that could be replaced by a small roll of gaffer tape

    1. Yes, indeed, gaffer tape has a multitude of uses. You don’t need much else in your kit really…..

  13. On the last 1st aid course i did, the instructor showed us how to make splints and supports for sprains, etc out of it, amazing stuff and if you take a big roll you can use it for all those other things, for about 6 weeks i was able to use a dry suit with no left sock by make one out of gaffer tape.

    I was able to get rid of loads of other stuff from my fist aid kit as well and it was actually lighter.

    Still, personal preference i suppose

    1. It is really good stuff and as a canoeist you’ll know you can make all sorts of amazing kit fixes out of it. I have to admit I’ve never made a sock out of the stuff before though! 🙂

      In terms of splints – you can make the tape go even further if you also use bark such as from willow or sweet chestnut to form a support then tape it on….

      1. Best splint I ever made was an old roll mat, cut to size, held together with gaffer tape. Hate to say it but it worked better than the issued ones.


        1. It’s a classic improvised combo Robin. What really surprised me was the effectiveness of using a Thermarest along with gaffa tape or cling film to make an inflatable splint. The immobilisation is surprising.



  14. Hi Paul,
    I must thank you for putting up this article which I’ve found very helpful in upgrading my personal first aid kit. My own variations include the two sizes of tick remover, already mentioned, as they add nothing to the weight or bulk of the kit; likewise a small plastic eyebath since one of the bottles will sit inside it. I was also fooled by the Frairs Balsam varieties and will need to get hold of the correct one. I still recall the plaster stuck to your hand all week on the first Woodlore first aid course so I reckon it’s well worth the trouble of getting some. In the matter of an antiseptic I’ve found that Betadine Solution is no longer easily available in the UK and wonder if the Chlorhexadine-alchohol based Savlon Liquid would be a suitable replacement, although it requires considerable dilution. There seems anyway to be some debate about whether Chlorhexadine-alchohol might be more effective than povidone iodine. Maybe I’ll use TCP for now as you can use it without diluting in an emergency. Another thing in my kit is a small keyring attachment that glows in the dark (probably due to it containing radioactive gas or something) that I’ve attached to a ring also containing a V9 Micro-lenser micro torch, a whistle and a very small compass. The glow stick is the first thing I see when I open the first aid bag so I can find the torch with ease even in complete darkness. I don’t know if you can still get them, but glow in the dark line-loks from Backpackinglight might do the same thing. The e-light is a better option than my small torch but it will get me by for now, especially if I include a Nite Ize headband.
    Best wishes, Ian.

    1. Hi Ian

      Good to hear from you and thanks for commenting. I like your modifications and personalisation. You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it.

      Betadine isn’t so easy to get hold of now, no. I buy mine when I’m travelling outsite of the EU. As a result I haven’t looked into alternatives so I’m not up to speed with the relative pros and cons of Chlorhexadine-alchohol. If you discover more, please let me (and other readers) know.

      It’s definitely worth getting hold of the sticky Friar’s Balsam….

      Thanks and all the best


      1. Hello Paul,
        Nice kit 🙂
        personally i carry a dry-bag in one of my coat pockets with some gauze, plasters, steri-wipes, sterilon (15ml), cpr-mask and a field dressing. When i go out on trips i will expand this with a dedicated bag (usually Israeli trauma dressing, some more bandages/non-adhesive dressings, tick removing scoops, metal emt-scissors and a ‘space blanket’.)

        Betadine is widely and freely available in the Netherlands (found best in pharmacies and drug stores), slightly different colour container though.
        Another use for the iodine is testing for starches.
        Personally i prefer to use ‘sterilon’ (a disinfectant based on chlorhexidine as it doesn’t discolour the wound.). I had a hard time finding that in Scotland though when i was over there last june 😉

        Thanks for the idea of a syringe for irrigating (always good to make use of material that is no longer guaranteed sterile 🙂 ) Will definitely be trying this out before possibly hurting someone i want to help 😉
        why would 20cc be more efficient? (would one syringe then be sufficient for most wounds?)

  15. Thanks for another great article. One extra thing I like to carry in my first aid kit, is a mini signal mirror incase I get anything stuck in one of my eyes. I like the TOPS dogtag mirror as it is particularly small, but still big enough for the job.

  16. Hi Paul, just wondering if the Sam splint fits in the canvas pouch with everything else? Also, do you carry 1ltr of water extra? I personally try to carry at least 2 when out, but I’m normally working up a sweat!

    1. Hey Steve,

      No, the Sam Splint doesn’t fit in the canvas pouch. It has to be carried separately. A good way to do this is slide it down the inside of your rucksack nearest your back. If you have a pack that already has a foam insert here, you can often replace it with two Sam Splints. Also many packs have an insert for a water bladder down the inside of the back. This can also be a good place to stow a splint.

      As for the water, I understand your point that you may have drunk it all before you need it :o) But as an alternative to carrying a few steri-pods in your pouch (40ml of water), you don’t need much water in a water bottle to replace this.

      Generally if I’m hiking I do have two litres capacity and I’m on the look-out to refill after I’ve finished the first one.

      Thanks for the question and I hope this helps.

      All the best,


  17. {aul – great work, keep it up. As a long time scouting canoe coach my primary first aid kit has always been a roll of electricians black tape! This fits nicely in any pocket and will deal with the majority of cuts / lacerations in wet and dirty environments whilst you access your main kit in it’s bdh. Has the advantage of being waterproof and immesiately accessible.

    1. Thanks for your comment Darren; good tip. It seems as though tape (duck tape and now electricians tape) is a popular choice to have to hand.

  18. I always have a small bottle of a 50/50 mix of Hypericum( St Johns Wort) and Calendula tinctures. it can be bought from herbalists or Homeopathic dispensaries or you can make your own with the home grown herbs. Diluted in clean water it makes a good wash for cuts, grazes and deeper wounds, preventing infection and improving wound healing. It’s also useful for bites and stings and I never leave home without it.

  19. Hi paul very informative article have now upgraded my gregson first aid kit with some of your suggestions thanks for the tips.

    1. Hi Fredric

      Thanks for you comment. Good to hear that you found my article useful.

      Which items did you add to your existing kit?

      Thanks and all the best,


  20. Hello Paul,

    it’s a verry nice kit. I’m nurse first aid and always take my own kit with me. This kit is almost simular at this one you have over here. One conclusion: this kit is absolute good!
    This kit is good for bushcraft BUT don’t forget this kit when you going to travel! I’m a globetrotter and my kit have help me two times on my journys! Whit this basics you can help your self or your partner when you are in a strange city where everybody talk ‘chinees’ and a hospital is miles away.

    But most important: don’t forget your first aid and BLS course and nowless about medication!

    1. Hi Howard

      Welcome and thanks for your comments.

      I completely agree about taking a first aid kit while travelling. Personally I don’t make a distinction between the kit described in my article being used a wilderness kit and it being used as a travel kit. It’s ideal.

      I also completely agree that equipment is no substitute for training. Get good first aid training and refresh regularly.

      All the best,


  21. Hi Paul,
    I was wondering, do you change the contents of your first aid kit when traveling in the north during winter? For example, would you change the butane lighter for matches, and would the iodine or benzoin be at risk of freezing?

    1. Hi Richard

      Good to hear from you. That’s a really good question. In short, yes I do alter the contents of the kit for different environments. Specifically for the north country in winter, I remove the betadine and lighter. The benzoin doesn’t tend to suffer in the cold and it can easily be warmed up in the palm of your hand anyway. I don’t put matches directly in the kit but I always have a box on me in the north. As you know, lighters are not particularly safe in significantly sub-zero temperatures.

      All the best,


  22. Hi Paul,
    I am curious which dental repair cement you use as there are quite a few out there with various good and bad reviews. I usually carry a small bottle of Ambesol about which just numbs the gum/tooth nerve for a while.
    I have a gob full of fillings and one of them is bound to fall out at some point when I’m miles from a dentist!!
    Looks like a great kit and I am getting a few kits together for me and the missus.

    1. Hi Simon,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’ll see if I can find out for you. It came in a larger kit and is unbranded.



  23. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for this. I only signed up to your website recently and am now starting to read through some of the articles. Although I’ve never been camping and what hiking (if I can even call it that) I’ve done has always been on well-maintained paths and of short duration, I do hope to do some serious camping and hiking trips in the future. I’ve bought bits and pieces of kit over the last year or so and just started with buying a pre-made 1st aid kit (Tatonka medium) from a website when I was getting new boots. Well, it’s as good a place to start as any and I figured at least then I’d have a decent pouch to put stuff in. Your very good point that it’s important to really know the contents of your kit and to personalise it for what you need reminded me, however, that for years I’ve carried what is a sort of 1st aid kit in my handbag/backpack. I use a medium size Tupperware Oyster container and it has an ankle support bandage (had an injury a few years ago that meant I sometimes needed extra support), various plasters, Compeed, a small container of Sudocreme, a lighter and matches, glasses repair kit, coldsore cream and cotton buds. All the things that I might need during my normal day-to-day commute/work in office life. So I suppose at least I’m halfway there, at least when it comes to the thinking and logic that’s needed when putting something together. Although I did add a tick remover yoke when I moved to Germany, even though I’ve still never even seen a tick.
    Thanks for the recommendations on the plasters, by the way, I just recently used up almost an entire box of cheap plasters (from Aldi) last week during an eight-hour train trip. It seemed like all I had to do was move before they fell off.

    1. Hi and welcome!

      I’m glad you’ve discovered my blog and working your way through my articles.

      It’s good to hear you’ve found this article on putting together a first-aid kit useful byt it’s also good to hear you are already in the habit of putting together a kit based on an assessment of what you are likely to need. That’s the essential ingreadient in putting together a practical and effective kit.

      I hope to hear from you in other article comments as you continue to work through them!

      Warm regards,


  24. Hi Paul,
    I’m very favourably impressed with your blog, there are some real information gems in there. Just thought I’d amplify a point you make regarding personalising the FAKit. When putting it together, remeber that it might be used ON you as well as BY you. Therefore putting back up “daily meds” in there in case you become separated from your own might be worth considering. For example, I’m diabetic, and I put a small phial of insulin and a small hypodermic in my kit in case something goes wrong with my pump. This could be more generally applicable to other conditions too, with heart tablets for example. I don’t propose that we should be walking pharmacies and we can’t anticipate others’ conditions to that degree. However, if we pack our kit with stuff that will help others, plus a bit of extra to look after opurselves, we might prevent a problem becoming a casevac situation.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Martin, thanks for your kind words about my blog.

      Thanks also for making a very good point about personal medication.

      Warm regards,


  25. Hi Paul,

    have you used Clorox or Burnshield? I carry these for more serious cuts and burns respectively and they dont take up much room.



    1. Hi Nick,

      I haven’t used Clorox. Isn’t that a cleaning product? I tend to use a povidone-iodine based fluid in my kit. In larger, group kits I also have Inadine dressings.

      I haven’t used Burnshield either but I do have some Jelonet paraffin impregnated dressings, following them being recommended to me by a healthcare professional.

      Have you found Burnshield useful?

      Warm regards,


      1. Hi Paul

        Sorry I actually meant celox haemostatic agent. Quickclot is similar but celox doesn’t heat up the wound. Both this and burnshield were recommended by a nurse on a first aid training.



          1. Hey there,
            just to add my two cents about Celox. If you want to use some, go for the Celox-infused bandage or celox within syringe-type applicator, not the powder type. An army medic I was discussing First aid kits with told me that in larger bleedings the blood tends to flush out the powder.
            The israeli bandage is more user friendly and cheaper too 🙂

            1. Yes, things have developed. Our first aid trainer, who also works with some ex-military guys, has introduced us to some of the more modern haemostatic products, including the bandages. Iteresting how things have moved on with recent experiences.

              Warm regards,


  26. Hi Paul,

    I just wanted to add my two cents worth as well, you probably know the score but some of your readers here might find it useful.

    I liked your first aid kit a lot but one thing I would add to it would be a couple of condoms, they weight nothing and among other practical uses they make great second skins(flexible and sterile) to go over burns, cuts and what not. They can also be brought into service as a water holder being able to comfortably carry about one and a half to two litres of water.

    I think they are a good piece of kit and having seen them used in the field (easy now, for a nasty burn from an XGK stove) thought that it was an invaluable piece of kit to pack.

    1. Hi Oc,

      Yes, those XGKs can be vicious 😉

      It’s a good tip. Regarding using them as a water carrier, I included them here but agree they could equally well be kept in your FAK.

      Thanks for adding your two penneth – it’s what makes the comments below these articles a valuable source of information and opinion too.

      Warm regards,


  27. Very good article there. The only thing I’d add is that I found a great idea for glove storage, those wee pots inside a kinder egg are ideal. I can’t take any credit for it as I got the idea from a hair dye box that my better half left in the bathroom.

    1. Hi Midge Fodder,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, that’s a good tip – and one that I received independently from Adam Gent at Real First Aid.

      There’s a little article on his site here: http://www.realfirstaid.co.uk/gloves/

      I think it’s a great tip and one that we should all keep in spreading! 🙂



      1. Heh, I was going to mention this, but first I went through the comments to make sure I was not repeating something already said.
        This is really a great way to carry gloves around. You can fit two pairs into a single Egg and all my travel bags contain at least one of these 🙂
        Spread the word, stay safe and may you never need them 😉

        1. Yes, and it’s good to make use of a handy little container that otherwise would be discarded.



  28. Paul,

    A very good article with great reasoning’s why you carry what you do. I especially like the reiteration of if your not trained to use it you shouldn’t have it!!! I have seen clients on exped that have whole transfusion kits in their packs!!!

    I also carry what I call an Ouch Pouch, grab bag type kit as I work a lot with young children. Gloves, wipes and an assortment of plasters tend to cover it, again this could be personalised. I have one that lives in the back of my kayak, and only comes out to be checked, used or re stocked as Sods law the time you need it most it isn’t there.

    Cheers for the advice


    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your feedback – it’s much appreciated.

      I agree – an ouch pouch or cuts kit is a very useful thing to have in your pocket. I find that it is to this that I always go first; ususally that’s my only port of call too as the odd nick or small cut is par for the course. The larger kit is for the more serious, yet less common occurrences.

      Thanks for your comment and please do keep in touch.

      Warm regards,


  29. Hi Paul,
    Very interesting article.
    Some ideas about the container:
    We can carry the kit container in our body(belt) or inside our rucksack, but in your body will have to be smaller tan the one carried in your rucksack.
    You have written the words”first aid”in your kit container, I would try to put some kind of eye-catching badge….a red cross patch is useful
    If we were a group, everybody should know the place in our rucksack where the container is brought.
    Sorry for my english.

    1. Hi Diego,

      Thanks for your comments. I think you can find a happy medium of something that you can carry on your belt if you need to but also put in your pack (for personal use). A group kit for anything other than a day out is not really going to fit on your belt, I agree.

      It’s always good to have at least a cuts/burns kit in your pocket then you always have at least something to deal with common issues.

      I also agree if the kit is going to be used by other people, then label it as clearly as possible.

      Warm regards,


  30. Hi Paul,
    As always a good article. One thing I never see mentioned in the “Kits” is insect repellent; life saver in some environments and needed in much of the US now for ticks.

    1. Hi Ridgerunner,

      Yes, very good point. I normally have at least a tin or Nordic Summer insect repellent on my in Spring/Summer/Autumn but ever since some Deet leaked, I don’t keep repellent in my FAK.

      Warm regards,


  31. Nice article Paul,

    well thought and written, thanks


  32. Hi Paul, good article as always. Just wanted to mention that people should also include any prescription medicines they are taking in their first aid kits.

  33. Very good article Paul,

    These days my personal kit is very similar and has been getting smaller and smaller over the years as I have decided what my core essentials are and my core skills have improved.
    Originally I tended to carry a kit that could only be described as a group trauma kit, it had so much stuff in it. This is now in my car, as the road is likely to be the one place where I may encounter multiple serious injuries.

    The key differences are the suture kit and the superglue as I have yet to get trained in these areas.

    I do add a medium burn dressing and a vile of sterilized water.


    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think you make a good point regarding multiple casualties/group trauma. Road traffic accidents are the most likely scenario that we will come across such an event.

      I used to carry a steripod or two in my kit but found they always leaked before I needed them. What’s the container you use for the water?

      Warm regards,


  34. Hi Paul, I noticed that Betadine is now on the EU’s nasty list (What more?) I saw it for sale on e-bay from Boots of all places. Are we exempt from this rather silly rule or is it old stock. The same item is available from abroad tho……………….Regards Nobby

    1. Well as far as I know iodine is still on the list under the EU Biocides Directive so I’m not sure how Boots are able to sell it on Ebay (I’m assuming you mean ebay.co.uk and not .com?)

      Might be worth dropping a line to Boots…



  35. Ah Ha, it’s Boots make Betadine, available now from e-bay UK. One supplier from St Helens is selling 1 x 15 ml bottle for £3.49 @ £1.00 pp. Or 1 x 30 ml bottle for £4.49 @ £1 pp. I however sent to Thailand for 3x 15 ml bottles @ £3.59 Free Postage. Obviously it’s going to take longer to get here. It’s out there folks but get some in before the evil empire stops you. Obi Wan has taught me well.

  36. The three bottles arrived yesterday, after about a week, I wouldn’t advocate any infringement of the law no matter how silly, but there are ways and means of getting stuff you need. I feel this is a first aid kit essential and rather well priced.

  37. Thanks Paul, brilliant article – I gleaned some very useful information and will be adding some of the mentioned items to my kit.
    In my kit I’ve also got a tongue depressor – it makes a good splint if a finger needs to be immobilized.

  38. This is a great article Paul as I am slowly building a kit for our car and for short day-hikes.

    I wonder if somebody woild be so kind to provide a translation of some of the terms from British English to US English, and from British brand names to US equivalents. For example are plasters what we in the US call bandaids?

    Did I miss some sort of adhesive tape. For use with gauze?

    Speaking of adhesives – if you hike with dogs be sure to carry self-grip tape as adhesives on bandaids are useless on fur. We learned this the hard way when our dog cut her leg on a hike and nothing in our minimal kit would adhere. We wound up cutting a thin liner sock into strips and tying it around gauze bandages to apply pressure on the wound.

    A few other considerations when hiking with dogs. Be prepared to muzzle them if they are injured (bandanna or tape) and think about how you would improvise a litter if they are unable to walk. Our thought is to use sticks in conjunction with a closed shirt.

    Any other suggestions on first aid for dogs would be appreciated.

  39. Adriana, well done for thinking about dogs’ first aid needs, it is something on my mind too as our dog loves camping etc and it is certainly something to think about!

  40. There are only a couple of things I would add to this list: a small tube of vaseline and 4×4 gauze to cover/seal sucking chest wounds to prevent lung collapse and sternal shifting. I would also add a package of Quikclot for heavily bleeding wounds to manage blood loss and maybe a couple of packages of oral electrolyte re-hydration crystals. Of course, you could keep adding stuff but then it becomes a matter of how heavy do you want your pack to be?

    1. Phil,

      For sucking chest wounds, there are specialist dressings available and you will need training. I’m afraid gauze will be of no benefit to the patient. There is a way to use 2 big plasters but again training is needed. If the wound tensions your patient need hospital fast.

  41. Quick lot/celox are great tools but if you are needing them you are looking at an airlift out.
    I would also consider a tourniquet as this is the best and sometimes the only solution to serious bleeding. Both require appropriate training before use.
    I did find the Sam splint an interesting choice as similar could be made fairly easily.
    This is a good kit and I would recomend it to anyone.
    By the way my work kit is an ambulance.

    Always good to see this sort of thing pushed especially the training. CPR saves lives, I have seen it and always promote it!

    1. Hi Robin,

      Thanks for your comments and for casting a professional first reponder’s eye over this – much appreciated.

      Agreed re Celox/Quikclot.

      I’ve carried a tourniquet on solo trips where I’ve had an axe with me but only after spending time with a paramedic.

      Sam Splint is convenient but willow bark works very well too!

      Warm regards,


  42. Paul,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I would also recommend something called a “nightingale Dressing” by Prometheus.
    It is designed for sucking chest wound, fully seals unlike an Asherman, but is great for wound closure and can be cut to size. I can give you more info but not on a public forum.


    Robin Sayer

  43. EXCELLENT advice Mr. Kirtley. I used to be an emergency medic and I can tell you that the little kits you buy at the store are borderline worthless. The ibuprofen comes in handy . Lol ! A man going into the woods for a day or week of camping and bushcraft using sharp axes , knives , hatchets will definitely be better served by taking your advice and putting together a kit with those things in mind . Always enjoy your articles and videos sir . Hoping to make it across the pond one day to attend some of your classes. ATB

  44. Just wanted to say how great I think this article is.

    As I work for a metropolitan ambulance service I get to use most of the kit listed. It works!
    In the field I carry 2 kits. On my belt you will always find an immediate action kit and this is primarily for cuts both big and small. My main kit lives in my burgen and if needed I have time to get it.
    I use a simple principle, if it can kill you now I need to deal with it now! Also I don’t like it when people leak all over me and my kit. All Very dramatic but it works. I have seen people die because nothing was done before we arrived and I have seen people saved by good bystander first aid.

    Get the right kit and get the training in how to use it.
    Stay up to date in your training because things change. For me the biggest change was when CPR went from 15-2 to 30-2, I suddenly started to get a lot more people back from a resuscitation.

    Thank you again for this article and future ones on the same subject.



    1. Hi Robin,

      Thanks for your comments. They are greatly appreciated and it’s good to have further validation of the contents of this article/kit.

      Keep in touch.

      Warm regards,


  45. hi Paul,Just to let you know i have put together a kit much kike yours except for the items we cant get any more in the uk.other item i have included are the original germolene,small bottle of tcp, silver foil blanket,and some painkillers for my pesonal use plus asprin . thanks Paul your article is great i have read it many times,all the bestBaz.

  46. Hi Paul
    I agree with Robin on his kit organisation and I’ve always set mine up in the same manner. What Robin says make perfect sense, if its life threatening then the kit to treat this is what you should be able to reach first . I carry kit for things that are non emergency like a blisters and splinters in my Bergen in a second waterproof pouch. After assessing the risks I understand that cuts and grazes are more likely to happen than major injury from an axe say, but I always say “hope for the best but plan for the worst”. I have a little tip for keeping things dry though, I have a vacuum sealer machine (meant for food storage) and things like bandages I seal individually, it keeps them bone dry dry and shrinks them down in size which saves a little space and this also is useful when packing the food for your trip. I also carry a small folding magnifying glass to aid with tick removal , splinters and wound cleaning. Also carry a burn shield dressing 100x100mm.
    All the best to everyone Adrian.

  47. Hi Paul,
    thank you for the First Aid Kit advice, it has highlighted some gaps in my personal kit that I shall now address. I do have one question though, I do a lot of coastal walking and overnighting and I have yet to find an effective repellent for sand flies and sand hoppers, not even deet seems to work, do you have any suggestions for inclusion in my kit?

    Very best regards

  48. Thank you Paul, i got some good ideas for additional items for my personal first aid kit from your article. I have always tried to maintain my first aid training over the years which has now extended to first responding training. I have had a few serious scrapes over the years ,and if out by myself or with scouts or kids, I want to feel confident in my knowledge in how to treat an injury when it arises. I was wondering if you ever carry sterile Saline water ampoules? I carry a few in all my kits . I’ve used them to wash out wounds as you can squirt them into deep cuts straight from the plastic ampoule and on two occasions I’ve used them to flush out foriegn objects from eyes when out camping. I find them pretty useful. Best wishes Vee

    1. Hi Vee,

      Glad you found this useful. I couldn’t agree more about the value of keeping your first aid training fresh.

      With respect to saline ampoules, yes I have some in larger group kits. I originally used to have a couple in the small kit featured in this article but I found because the kit is quite tightly packed and the outside of the kit is somewhat deformable, that over time the ends of the ampoules were moved back and forth to the extent that they began to leak. I now just carry a syringe and work on the assumption I or someone else will have some drinking water.

      Warm regards,


  49. Hi Paul
    Great article as always.

    Quick one regarding military field dressings etc – have bought a few over the years but have always been concerned by the expirey date. Can you forsee any major issues with slightly out of date field dressings (especially the new ones which i believe have some sort of quick clot) as I know many surplus items last much longer than indicated ?
    Hope you can help

    1. Gareth,

      It would be very risky for anyone to recommend that you use medical kit after its expiry date.
      Field dressings consist of, basically, 2 parts, an absorbent pad and an elastic binding wrap all contained in waterproof packaging. If the packaging is not damaged there is little to go wrong with the dressing.
      In the field, Israeli field and Olaes dressings the clotting is in the absorbent pad there is no quick clot type product involved. The important part is the pressure.

      That said, it would be legally foolhardy for any professional to recommend using any medical kit after its sell-by date. So you should replace any medical kit that has gone out of date!



  50. Another great article Paul. I am researching first aid kits for my Explorer group to make and naturally looked at your recommendations. A quick heads up though Paul, your link to the Aloksaks goes to an old out of stock Amazon listing. Thought you would like to know. 🙂

    All the best


    1. Hi Bodge,

      As always, it’s good to hear from you.

      I hope you found the info here useful. If you have further questions re creating larger group kits (as we do on the Frontier Bushcraft courses), please feel free to drop me a line.

      Thanks for the heads up on the broken link. I’ll sort it out.

      All the best,


  51. Hi Paul,

    Getting a lot out of your videos and articles so thanks very much for your hard work.

    Your first aid video has, as you hoped, inspired me to seek some decent wilderness first aid training.

    I couldn’t see any first aid courses run by your very own Frontier Bushcraft. Do you have plans to run such courses and if not could you recommend any good courses to attend?

    Many thanks

  52. Paul: Many thanks for this informative article on First Aid Kits….if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I must (1) add about seven items to my current kit, and (2) quickly take a refresher First Aid Course with The American Red Cross….Happy ST. Patrick’s Day!

  53. Paul,

    I loved this article! My husband and I put together our own first aid kit for the car when we’re traveling. We bought a container (looks like a tackle box) and put things in that we knew we would use and left things out that we didn’t need (I’m allergic to aspirin, for instance).

  54. Hi Paul,

    I assembled my own kit to leave out the ointment I’m allergic to and always include three days worth of my one daily medication for migraines. Last thing I want is to be stuck out overnight for whatever reason AND get a migraine too. I picked three days worth since is is the usual recommended amount for emergency carrying.

    I also always carry an Epipen and the trainer pen. It is mostly for my peanut allergy. You’d be surprised how may times I decline a snack because I’m allergic to peanuts and someone says, “There’s no peanuts in this. Just peanut butter.” I carry the trainer pen because there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to use it myself in an emergency. It is a good idea make sure at least one other person knows where an Epipen is and how to use it by practicing with the trainer pen. (Just not the person who thinks there’s no peanuts in peanut butter.)

    Thanks for all the great articles!


    1. Hey Christine,

      Thanks for your comments. You know, it’s really great to read this. You carry your migraine meds and your epipen as that is what you are most likely to need. I always find it amazing that people will carry meds in their day to day life but then pack generic first aid kits. If you are stuck in a situation, lost, stranded, etc, that is still your day-to-day life, just maybe not the day you intended 😉

      When I travel, even for relatively benign vacations, I carry cold/flu meds, decongestants and headache tablets in my wash kit. These are the things I most likely need in my day-to-day life. They are also what I most likely need when I’m tavelling. That’s not to say I don’t add other medication depending on where I’m going but you have use your day-to-day reality as your staring point and work from there.

      Thanks for re-enforcing this important point.

      Warm regards,


  55. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for this article about an part of being outdoor that many people seem to forget.
    It’s much cooler to get a custom knife, nice sleeping bag etc etc…

    I did an EFR about a year ago and opened my eyes I must say. Your kit is similar to mine however
    in yours I miss a tourniquet why is that ?

    Best regards,

  56. HI Paul,

    many thanks for that. will look into my kit again to organise. was thinking you have no burn related articles in the pouch. i think this is one of the main causes of injury in camp and some sort of related treatment would be advisable



    1. Hi Richard,

      Burns are certainly something which can occur around campfires, stoves and cooking pots.

      The best immediate treatment is water and plenty of it. Water is 25x more conductive than air and has greater specific heat capacity.

      Failing the availability of lots of water, wet a cloth, put it over the burn and fan it. Evaporative heat loss is incredibly effective…

      Hope this helps.

      Warm regards,


      1. Flamazine burn cream is good for small burns, but the best is pure lavender oil(Or loads of lavender flowers crushed up and extract the juice). I usually carry a small bottle of tea tree& lavender on long trips. If it’s a bad burn on hand and needs properly dealing with, a condom over the hand will keep clean until you can dress it. Sunburn is best treated with lavender oil&water and if available Aloe Vera juice/pulp. Not always practical in a wilderness senario but for sunburn, take a hot bath/shower, as hot as you can stand. This will ease the pain considerably. Hope this helps
        All the best, dOm

      2. Flamazine burn cream is good for small burns, but the best is pure lavender oil(Or loads of lavender flowers crushed up and extract the juice). I usually carry a small bottle of tea tree& lavender on long trips. If it’s a bad burn on hand and needs properly dealing with, a condom over the hand will keep clean until you can dress it. Sunburn is best treated with lavender oil&water and if available Aloe Vera juice/pulp. Not always practical in a wilderness senario but for sunburn, take a hot bath/shower, as hot as you can stand. This will ease the pain considerably. Hope this helps
        All the best, dOm

  57. According ot many hikers, one should only pack what they know how to use. Unfortunately, that is sort of why off-the-shelf first aid kits are bulky. There is nothing wrong with them, but it does require going through them and asking oneself:

    “Would I know how to use it in that situation?”

    Sometimes using the technique incorrectly is worse than doing nothing at all.

    So, that’s really the best way to lighten up a kit.

  58. Hi Paul
    I found a whistle in the bottom of one my pockets, I have one of the molle bum bags with the end pockets as my first aid kit.

  59. Thank you, I’ve recently been looking for information about
    this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon so far.
    But, what about the conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the supply?

  60. Great article with good content. The contents of a First Aid kit should be determined by its intended use. To that end it is usually better to make up your own kit rather than to buy an ‘off-the-shelf’ product.

    Thanks for sharing

  61. Hi Paul
    I will be creating my own FAK from now on! I will include the O’Tom tick twister as we had to remove a tick from my eldest child using the thread method, not ideal, and a link from Mr Mears blog led me to it. Your article has highlighted the need to prepare for likely threats, but with limited experience I am really appreciating that you and your followers have been out there, done that and got the scars to prove it. i am also very grateful that you are willing to share your expertise so freely. I know it’s not a replacement for training but not everyone has access to or the funds for the kind of expertise here, so any information, especially ‘don’t do this without training’, is invaluable and appreciated.
    If there are any useful tips for dealing with children and first aid in bushcraft they would be appreciated. Their smaller bodies and wriggling tendencies mean some of the usual kit seems too big or not sticky enough but I can’t imagine mine keeping still long enough to paint a line of glue! Maybe they do duck tape in child size rolls…..

  62. Have travelled round the world most of my life and trekked into some remote places, mostly solo…
       My first aid kits have been always individual. Always carried
     anti-inflamitory(ibuprofen), antibiotics (ciprafloxacin,metronidazole &tetracycline),
     anti-malarials (emergency dose only-mefloquine), antihistamines, aspirin, Imodium, flamazine burn cream, iodine,TeaTree oil, 2 condoms, 2 tampons, a  few dressings and plasters, crepe bandage and pins, bandana/triangular bandage, duck tape, steri-strips,tweezers,scalpels, 1 sealed syringe & 2 sealed needles, cpr shield, latex gloves, superglue, small LED light/torch. 
              A small medical kit, like a small survival kit-  It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.! Never give up… ;o)

      1. 1 item I’ve also always carried in more tropical regions is a Tropical dusting powder (neomycin sulphate & bactacin). This is an antibiotic powder which is applied to cuts, sores and external wounds to disinfect and ‘dry out’ the wound. In hot humid conditions I’ve found this to speed up healing and to pretty much guarantee wounds not getting infected…
        All the best, dOm

  63. Thank you so much for sharing this important information. From my point of view everyone must learn basics of first aid because life is so stressed and we face so much tension and that’s the reason of fainting and other medical situation. In this case, if someone knows how to handle this critical situation, then it may save someone’s life.

  64. Mr. Austin Foenander is really trying hard to make people understand the true value of First Aid Techniques, if you learn these techniques, then you can save someone’s life. His mission is to educate kids too regarding First Aid. This mission of his is not easy as it seems. Many People putting lots of efforts to bring him down with the help of scammers and fraudsters, but this man every time make them feel that it is not easy to bring him down or his character.
    If you are really curious and want to know more about him, then visit:- https://austinfoenanders.wordpress.com/

  65. Wonderful article on survival and First Aid. We are considering putting together a number of bushcraft survival courses together to compliment our First Aid courses. Based in North Wales we do get a number of enquiries and doing some research it does look like a much needed requirement.

    Thanks for sharing your article


  66. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for yet another interesting article. One thing in my first aid pack you didn’t mention, I include an aspivenin kit in case of bee stings or worse

  67. Nice one. Always good to see what others carry

  68. Nice job excellent choice of materials where can we get those nice small fanny packs that you carry it in

  69. Sweet post, really enjoy reading all your tips!

  70. Paul thank you for the reminding that we have to go over our first aid kit more often, it stays forgotten sometimes, and how much cost a kit like yours complete, maybe you too can show sometime, how to use such a kit in a proper way when things go wrong, and for Robin and Adrian, this actually a good place to bring such up and it is nice to see two experienced people argue over a serious matter as this, so others less experienced can learn from you two. maybe it is an idea that you two make a video over this item and more and teach us how to be responsible and to use it correctly. this is just a thought…! on a general first aid training here in norway they don’t talk about those things.

    well i hope i didn’t offend any off you, because for sure that was not the intention!

    regards Mark

    1. Mark,

      Firstly, I can see nowhere that any offence could be taken, it is a good post.

      The video idea is interesting but I would be concerned that it could be used to replace proper training.
      I have made some videos for work but they are always used in conjunction with hands on training. The hands on training is by far the best way to learn and there are many agencies out there that are dedicated to first aid training.



  71. As a paramedic of 40 years experience, I applaud your kit Paul, even the pressure dressing that seems to have inspired some controversy. I would suggest one more thing, a couple of tampons, for puncture/bullet wounds.

  72. Hi a well thought out kit and excellent level of discourse.
    I’m in New Zealand and have a medical background.
    I find hyperfix tape excellent. It is woven, breathable and sticky when wet. It can be applied directly onto a superficial burn after cooling cares and the ooze comes through you wash it in situ and let it dry. It works similarly well on grazes and blisters that pop. It is strong enough for a decent pressure dressing.
    After several days on rub paraffin or olive oil on it and leave 30 min and it peels off nicely .
    I always carry two rolls of plaster of Paris , you can make a splint with it known as a back slab.
    There was a question about insect repellant, I always us the Australian brand Bushman, it will dissolve plastic but wow it’s good.

  73. Hi Paul,

    This is a very good article and a very good kit. Having said this, I miss a needle holder or foreceps to hold the needle of your sutures.

    I personally spend quite a bit time and effort to create my own first aid kit. If I would have seen your article earlier, I would have had much less effort!

    Many thanks and best regards,


  74. This might not be as obvious as one would think. Very often people who call the Emergency Services will turn their phone off to save battery power. This is possibly the worst thing you can do; even with a low battery you may still have several hours on standby.

    Turning off your phone not only prevents the Emergency Services from contacting you, should they need to, but it also means your phone cannot be ‘found’ if you need to be located. And while we are talking about locating someone via their mobile phone.

  75. Wonderful article – This might not be as obvious as one would think. Very often people who call the Emergency Services will turn their phone off to save battery power. This is possibly the worst thing you can do; even with a low battery you may still have several hours on standby.

    Turning off your phone not only prevents the Emergency Services from contacting you, should they need to, but it also means your phone cannot be ‘found’ if you need to be located. And while we are talking about locating someone via their mobile phone.

  76. Good kit list. I’m a paramedic and I’ve picked up couple of points there

  77. Great article Paul, Just to let you know Betadine can be obtained from Thailand too. I can buy it on TaoBao in China, where I live although I am from UK.


  78. A useful addition when treating oneself alone would be a small mirror ( unless you already have one on your compass ) for hard to see wounds – back of the head, foreign object in the eye.

    I am often getting splinters or dirt in my eyes ( I really ought to learn and wear safety glasses I suppose! ) so like to include a vial of emergency sterile eye irrigation – especially in a larger car or boat kit. This could take the place of your syringe for irrigating wounds for those not trained in their use.

    In my cuts kit I include single use sachets of tea tree oil for minor burns around the campfire. ( ebay )

    Thru-hikers typically fix all broken things including broken down bodies, feet, minor wounds with duct tape – its durable, waterproof and stays stuck on for days until you can get back to civilisation.

  79. In the US they sell a nasal flush called Ocean. It has the same salinity as blood. I have carried a 1.5 oz. (40 ml) bottle to flush out wounds and debris from eyes Your thoughts?

  80. I have been tending wounds for about 13 years as a security / emergency officer here in Montgomery Alabama and I have always kept at least 2 women’s tampons in my first-aid kits in case of a serious puncture or gunshot wound. It probably isn’t the top of the line way to treat such a wound, but it works in an emergency if you can’t stop the bleeding with pressure. But please get the patient to care ASAP if you do this.

    1. Good tips. Thank you Joseph. I’ve heard a number of military men recommend this too.

      Warm regards,


  81. I notice there isn’t a tourniquet in this, its one thing I recommend highly, its light, simple to use and certainly a life saver. I carry one whenever I have any cutting tools about.

    Get a good one, a real C.A.T tourniquet is my recommendation.

    1. Hi Stewart, thanks for your comments. I need to do an update on this kit. A few things have changed, including the addition of a tourniquet. I also have them in our larger course and exped kits.

      Warm regards,


  82. Hi Paul, as usual an excellent blog and video. However my understanding of treatment is 1. Direct pressure with up to 2 ambulance dressing. If that doesnt work Israeli type dressing , 2 haemestatic dressing, TQ ad a last ditch attempt at controlling bleeding. I didnt hear you say about haemostatic dressings, is there a reason for this.



    1. Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your comments and question.

      The above is not meant to be a first aid course. It is purely a description of what is in my personal first aid kit.

      The following statement may seem like a tautology but bearing the previous two sentences in mind, there is no mention of haemostatic agents or haemostatic dressings as the kit discussed in this article (and video update) does not contain any such items.

      Warm regards,


  83. This is something I need to sit down and put pen to paper as I read. I will admit first aid is one of my weakest areas and I need to put more work into it. Keep up the good work Paul!

  84. Thank for another great video Paul,
    being a first a
    Aider I have created several kits for work,car and home, and recently put one together for for my kit bag, this shows that a wealth of experience is far better than huge amounts of kit.
    I will change mine up a bit now as you have highlighted a couple of items that I have missing and can remove some redundancy items.
    thanks again.

    1. Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad this article and video provided some food for though. I appreciate the feedback.

      Warm regards,


  85. Really enjoy the videos and the contents of your first aid kit. So important to be reminded of the importance of both carrying a first aid kit, as well as how to use the contents properly. Thanks so much Paul!!!

  86. Hello Paul
    Very good video – thank you. I have the same kit + very good pain killer tablets (only 4) and Iodine-Cream .
    Wish you all the best ! – Peet.

  87. Very useful video update! Thanks! Could you please advise on the contents of the ouch pouch/cuts kit in the pocket. Is it literally just band aids/plasters and alcohol (free?) wipes? What pouch is it that you use? Looked like a small Ortlieb but couldnt say for sure. Many thanks!

  88. Very interesting read Paul.
    Lots of ideas in there.Agree about the fact that it’s a ‘personal’ FAK.I actually added a ‘Tickey’ tool too mine as well.Keep up the good work.

  89. Sadly i can not view the update video, not on my android phone por my Linux laptop, likely possoble if I spend some time on it but…

  90. Haɑve you ever considered ccreаting an ebook or guest
    authoring on other sіtes?I have a blog centerеd on the same topics
    yo᧐ᥙ discᥙss and would really like too haᴠe you share some stories/information. I know my audience would value your work.
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  91. great. would be nice to see an update of the possibles kit!

  92. Hi, Just wondering what pouch you use for your first aid kit and where they can be bought. Thanks.

  93. Nice read and good little video Paul.

    Only addition I would add is Celox maybe to replace the superglue and to ensure the CAT tourniquet is set up and ready to use.

  94. Hi Paul
    Interesting information about tourniquets, particularly as some first aiders in higher risk environments may have them nowadays.
    Also worth noting how first aid use differs to that of the military and medics.

    Liked the videos.



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