detail of a backcountry first aid kit

If you’re headed outdoors, you should always carry either a prepackaged first-aid kit or a DIY kit that you can create using our list as a guide. Knowing how to use the items in a first-aid kit is as important as having them, so consider taking a training course.

This list is intentionally extensive so you don’t forget anything. It also includes emergency essentials that you might carry separately from a kit.

First-Aid Basic Care

  • Antiseptic wipes (BZK-based wipes preferred; alcohol-based OK)
  • Antibacterial ointment (e.g., bacitracin)
  • Compound tincture of benzoin (bandage adhesive)
  • Assorted adhesive bandages (fabric preferred)
  • Butterfly bandages / adhesive wound-closure strips
  • Gauze pads (various sizes)
  • Nonstick sterile pads
  • Medical adhesive tape (10 yd. roll, min. 1" width)
  • Blister treatment
  • Ibuprofen / other pain-relief medication
  • Insect sting relief treatment
  • Antihistamine to treat allergic reactions
  • Splinter (fine-point) tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • First-aid manual or information cards

Wraps, Splints and Wound Coverings

  • Elastic wrap
  • Triangular cravat bandage
  • Finger splint(s)
  • SAM splint(s)
  • Rolled gauze
  • Rolled, stretch-to-conform bandages
  • Hydrogel-based pads
  • First-aid cleansing pads with topical anesthetic
  • Hemostatic (blood-stopping) gauze
  • Liquid bandage
  • Oval eye pads


  • Hand sanitizer (BKZ- or alcohol-based)
  • Aloe vera gel (sun exposure relief)
  • Aspirin (primarily for response to a heart attack)
  • Antacid tablets
  • Throat lozenges
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Loperamide tablets (for diarrhea symptoms)
  • Poison ivy / poison oak treatment
  • Insect sting relief treatment
  • Glucose or other sugar to treat hypoglycemia
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Antifungal foot powder
  • Prescription medications (e.g., antibiotics)
  • Injectable epinephrine to treat allergic reactions

Tools and Supplies

  • Knife (or multi-tool with knife)
  • Paramedic shears (blunt-tip scissors)
  • Safety razor blade (or scalpel w/ #15 or #12 blade)
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Standard oral thermometer
  • Low-reading (hypothermia) thermometer
  • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
  • Magnifying glass
  • Small mirror
  • Medical / surgical gloves (nitrile preferred; avoid latex)
  • CPR mask
  • Steel sewing needle with heavy-duty thread
  • Needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
  • Duct tape (small roll)
  • Small notepad with waterproof pencil or pen
  • Medical waste bag (plus box for sharp items)
  • Waterproof container to hold supplies and meds
  • Emergency heat-reflecting blanket
  • Headlamp (preferred) or flashlight
  • Whistle (pealess preferred)
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Satellite messenger

Personal Care, Other Items