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Best First Aid Kit: How to Deal with Emergencies Effectively

Best first aid kit
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Whether we’re at home or out on a wilderness adventure, accidents and emergencies lurk everywhere. Which is exactly why you need to have the best first aid kit to help save you from various predicaments.

Since an urban emergency like an earthquake requires different medical treatments available than a shooting accident, you need to choose your medical supplies very carefully. We’ll show you some of the things to take into account before acquiring your first aid kit, and then show you different options fit for a plethora of emergency situations, so you can take your pick.

How to Choose Your First Aid Kit

Choosing your first aid kit is definitely something to put a lot of thought and research into because it’s what should save your life. So consider the following factors:

Equipment

All good first aid kits should include basic equipment for treating the most common injuries and afflictions.

Items for first aid kit

However, none of them is complete in the full sense, so make sure you check the contents of a kit before you buy it, especially if you have an underlying medical condition that requires special treatment like asthma or diabetes. The fundamentals it should include are:

  • Bandages.
  • Gauze.
  • Gloves.
  • Medicine.
  • Scissors.
  • Tape.
  • Tweezers.
  • Wipes.

Apart from basic care, some more professional first aid kits include medical grade equipment, as well as survival tools like whistles and compasses.

Size

The size of your group and the length of your trip or emergency should decide the size of your first aid kit and the variety of its items.

For example, a daylong hike in the backcountry requires less medical supplies, because statistically, there are fewer chances of an accident happening.

Purpose

If you’re going on a fishing or a hunting trip, you need stuff that will help you in shooting accidents, like tools and medicine to treat deeper wounds. If you’re going on a hiking trip in extremely cold weather, a first aid kit that contains emergency blankets is a real help. Insect repellent and bug spray are useful for camping in damp regions.

First aid kit purpose

Basically, you’ll have to consider your needs before acquiring a pack that might prove incomplete or truly useless. But you can even add some items of your own provided you have enough space inside, so make sure you get a capacious, sturdy kit.

Portability

If you’re on your feet constantly, moving around from one place to another, small dimensions and a low weight are essential features for a good first aid kit. But some products have straps and cinches to be carried on the outside of your backpack, which is even better.

Portability

Besides, if you set camp at a certain fixed location from where you leave on various day-long hikes, some first aid kits include a portable, on-the-field emergency kit that’s smaller.

Design

Make sure the design of your medical kit is durable, so it can withstand various damages, and that it allows you easy access. That’s why we like to see:

  • A good organization system.
  • Big zippers.
  • Loops.
  • Pockets.
  • Resealable tops.
  • Resistant materials.
  • Waterproof exterior.

There’s also an on-going debate between choosing a soft, semi-hard or hard design. While the soft exterior helps you squeeze your kit in tight spaces, rendering it more difficult to break, a harder exterior will be more resistant to tears, although less space-friendly.

First aid kit design

Basically, it all comes down to where you’re putting your first aid kit and how much room you have for it.

Guarantees

Some good lifetime warranties, money back guarantees or FDA seals of approval are invaluable to ensure you’re really buying a useful kit, that’s been tested.

Apart from that, do your research regarding the brand’s reputation and if they can be trusted. Sometimes, even something as simple as including a manual or e-book gives you confidence you’re choosing the right product.

The Kits You May Need

Taking all these features into account, let’s look at some of the best items on the market:

Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit

Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit

Weight: 3.5 ounces

Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 1.5 inches

Specifications: basic care; compact; waterproof; resealable top

Best Use: short trip

Description: This 4.6 stars and $14.99 Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit is perfect for a two-day camping trip or for urban emergencies which don’t last for very long since its supplies are well suited for basic care.

Amongst the things you’ll find inside are a painkiller, namely ibuprofen and bite relief for pain management. The alcohol, antiseptic wipes, and the antibiotic ointment are great in case you have a mild injury you need disinfecting.

For bandaging this wound, you’ll find bandages, pads, clips, pins and tape, which are all made from good materials that really hold in place. And if you happen to get a blister or a splinter, there’s stuff for that too: the moleskin pads and the tweezers.

All this comes in a very lightweight bag, with small dimensions, so it’s compact enough to carry in your emergency bag or in a small backpack. You can get one for every member of your family, and it’s a pretty good deal even for kids.

Some reviewers have said that it’s too small and that the items inside are pretty jammed, but others found you can easily add another item or two inside this bag, according to your needs.

The outside is waterproof, and watertight too. That’s because it can be resealed after you rip the top open, and this is a secure enough system to trust.

Related: 0.3 (1 person for 1 day); 0.7 (1-2 people for 4 days); 0.9 (1-4 people for 4 days)

Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series

Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series

Weight: 1.5 pounds

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 4 inches

Specidications: wound, fractures, and burn care; 7 people for 7 days; waterproof field kit

Best Use: fishing and hunting trips

Description: This 4.4 stars and $59.99 Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series is the perfect thing to have for treating specific wounds and injuries to people who go on fishing or hunting trips, as well as in rather remote locations.

That’s because it’s specially designed for very adventurous people and because it has trauma-related medical equipment for treating the most usual injuries you can get in the field.

For instance, apart from the basic medicine and tools, you’ll find in most first aid kits regarding wound, blister, and fracture care, there’s also a CPR face shield to account for a hospital-like care. And the best thing is, you’ll find enough of this medical equipment to last for an entire group of seven people for up to seven days.

That’s a considerable time span taking into account the small dimensions and reduced weight of this package.

Besides, its exterior is a bright orange color, so you’ll be sure to notice it among your other equipment too, and it’s also waterproof, which is even better. Inside, there’s a trauma kit you can take on the field when you’re not at camp.

For these situations, you’ll find special tools used to treat penetration wounds you may get from a bullet, a fish hook or an arrow head. You’ll also find plenty of elastic bandages that have a self-adhering mechanism and even trauma pads for managing severe bleeding if there’s a shooting accident.

And if you’re not that savvy when it comes to medical procedures, there’s also a field manual included with lots of illustrations and dozens of first aid categories to browse through.

Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit

Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit

Weight: 2.7 ounces

Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 4.5 inches

Specifications: orange; soft sided exterior; one size; 57 items

Best Use: day hikes

Description: This 4.3 stars and $10.34 Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit has enough provisions that render it well suited for a short daylong hike or camping trip in a group of maximum three people.

It comes in a very small case, with reduced dimensions and weight, which make it really portable in basically any sort of backpack.

The bright orange color of the case will definitely signal its presence amongst other equipment, and the soft sided exterior is good in regards to flexible transportation.

Inside this kit, you’ll find some essential medical information in the form of a comprehensive first aid guide that will take you through some fundamental notions of wound and pain management. When it comes to equipment, the essentials are also there in the form of tweezers, safety pins, applicators and vinyl gloves.

The most comprehensive tools and medicine comprised in this kit can be used for treating wounds, burns, and bleedings. You’ll get different sort of pads, bandages, dressings and ointments treated with antiseptics and antibiotics to help you in the various stages of such an open injury.

There are also some valuable additions for treating other common accidents, like choking or fractures. Plus the included medication is very helpful for managing pain, possible flu-like symptoms, and allergies on the field since there are two-pack tablets each of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and antihistamine.

First Aid Kit – OXA All-Purpose First Aid Kit Multifunction

First Aid Kit - OXA All-Purpose First Aid Kit Multifunction

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.7 x 2.4 inches

Specifications: 100 pieces; FDA certified; zipped bag; survival tools included

Best Use: camping

Description: This 4.7 stars and $19.99 First Aid Kit – OXA All-Purpose First Aid Kit Multifunction is a real bargain when it comes to emergency preparedness during various urban disasters or hiking trips.

That’s first because it contains a lot of tools and necessary medical equipment, seeing as it’s a 100pcs kit.

These supplies are of hospital grade, and they’re recommended by doctors to have in emergency situations. For instance, you’ll get all sorts of antiseptics, bandages, and pads to treat some of the most usual injuries on the field.

But the best thing about this kit is that it comes with an FDA quality certifications, which most such kits sold online don’t have. Basically, you’re getting a professional guarantee that you have inside this pack everything you need to save your life in various situations, like:

  • Adhesive bandages in different sizes.
  • All sorts of pads.
  • Antiseptic wipes.
  • CPR face mask.
  • Ice pack.
  • Lots of cotton tip applicators.
  • PVC gloves.
  • Safety pin.
  • Tourniquet.
  • Tweezers.

And what we love more than anything else about this kit is that it further contains stuff you really need in survival situations like:

  • Compass.
  • Disposable poncho.
  • Emergency blankets.
  • Sewing kit.
  • Whistle.

And the overall package has a minimal amount of weight considering all this included equipment, and small dimensions too, passing the portability test.

The bag is zipped, which makes it easy to use fast in emergencies, especially considering that its contents are organized well too. Besides, it has a soft exterior, which makes it less prone to damages or being broken, reducing its volume too.

Well-Strong First Aid Kit 210 Pieces with Durable and Compact Canvas Bag

Well-Strong First Aid Kit 210 Pieces with Durable and Compact Canvas Bag

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions: 6.7 x 8.7 x 2.4 inches

Specifications: 210 pieces; soft canvas bag; hospital grade; latex-free items; money back guarantee

Best Use: road trips

Description: This 4.3 stars and $20.98 Well-Strong First Aid Kit 210 Pieces with Durable and Compact Canvas Bag is very well suited for longer family road trips or camping trips in medium-sized groups. That’s because it has 210 basic medical supplies, including:

  • Cold pack.
  • Cotton tipped applicators.
  • CPR mask.
  • Dressings.
  • Emergency blanket.
  • Scissors.
  • Tape.
  • Tens of plaster and fabric strips.
  • Tweezers.
  • Various pads.
  • Various sort of bandages.
  • Vinyl gloves.

All these latex-free items come in a very compact package, with reduced dimensions and a low weight, accounting for grade A portability.

So you can fit it in your backpack or car with no hassle, especially since it’s manufactured from a soft canvas that can easily be squeezed even in a crammed place. But this fabric is also sturdy enough to resist puncturing or tearing, so your medical supplies will be just fine inside.

Speaking of the interior, this is designed with top notch organization in mind, seeing as you have fast access to everything.

You can even refill or replace some of these items, as you use them, but it’s important to note that this kit was put together with the help of customer feedback, and with hospital grade supplies.

Basically, you’ll be prepared for the most common sorts of emergencies, injuries, and accidents that can happen during your trip. Plus, you’ll get some included tips that regard emergency preparedness and how to handle emergency situations.

And if you need another guarantee, apart from the sweet money-back deal, you should know this kit was manufactured in an FDA facility.

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red

Weight: 15 ounces

Dimensions: 2.8 x 7.5 x 5.8 inches

Specifications: 205 pieces; basic first aid; EZ find system

Best Use: longer trips

Description: This 4.5 stars and $19.94 Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red has 205 pieces worth of medical supplies to help you in various emergency situations you may encounter during a long family vacation. That’s because it has some of the most common medical equipment needed, such as:

  • Adhesive pads.
  • Antibiotic ointments.
  • Antiseptic towelettes.
  • Cold pack.
  • Finger splints.
  • Gauze pads.
  • Gloves.
  • More than a hundred
  • Razor blade.
  • Safety
  • Sting relief wipes.

Besides, it can fit perfectly basically anywhere in your home and in your car’s glove compartment to keep it handy. The fact that its exterior is a semi-hard case can be regarded both as an advantage, as well as a disadvantage.

For instance, it’s pretty durable and resistant to damages, but it’s not exactly the epitome of flexibility, although it bends a little to fit in a reduced space if you need that.

We also like the EZ find system used to organize the equipment you find inside, seeing as fast access is compulsory in emergencies. Besides, seeing as it’s a pretty inexpensive kit, its wide array of medical supplies really make it effective for the most common treatments required.

The downsides are that its outer case isn’t waterproof, and it doesn’t have any sort of burn treatment, nor alcohol wipes, which you definitely need in case there’s no clean water to wash an open wound.

But the good news is that the case has additional space inside so you can add these items on your own, or you can even remove some bandages to make more room.

Out&Joy Premium First Aid Kit

Out&Joy Premium First Aid Kit

Weight: 10 ounces

Dimensions: not specified

Specifications: essential supplies; multifunctional; customizable; waterproof; free e-book included

Best Use: starting your own medical kit

Description: This 4.5 stars and $21.95 Out&Joy Premium First Aid Kit is the perfect thing to have in two situations: either you need something very basic when it comes to emergency preparedness or you want a starting point to build your personalized first aid kit. That’s because the supplies it includes are limited to:

  • Alcohol wipes.
  • Bandages.
  • Gauze.
  • Scissors.
  • Tape.
  • Tweezers.

There’s basically nothing for treating fractures or sprains, nor burns or deeper wounds, seeing as even the included bandages are pretty thin. So if you’re looking for a customizable pack, this is it: there’s plenty of room inside to add your own medicine and tools.

The feature that really stands out and can be considered a valuable perk is its design. The bag is waterproof and multifunctional, it looks like a small backpack which can be attached to your actual backpack, so you can save space for other equipment that can’t be carried on the outside.

And the whole thing is actually secure since it has straps which can be conveniently looped around the backpack and then secured with snap closures.

The interior construction is based on the principle of convenience too since it allows fast and easy access thanks to two qualitative zippers and a cord that keeps it open while you grab the medicine you need.

There’s also a deep pocket inside and loops on the outside so you can place there the tools you want particularly handy.

REI Backpacker Extended First-Aid Kit

REI Backpacker Extended First-Aid Kit

Weight: 21 ounces

Dimensions: 8.5 x 7 x 3.5 inches

Specifications: nylon case; removable kit; included manual; basic care tools and medicine

Best Use: camping

Description: This 4.5 stars and $54.50 kit is perfect for when you’re camping with a small to medium sized group of about 5 people because it includes all the basic care tools and medicine required for that many people on a backcountry camping trip.

The case is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry. Besides, it’s made from a rugged nylon with a sturdy zipper for added damage resistance, but the bad news is it’s not waterproof.

The design is still good, though, even when it comes to the interior and the way in which the compartments are built with a clear fold-out construction, perfect for fast access.

And the best part is that it has a removable kit which you can take with you even more easily when you’re leaving camp for a day hike.

If you’re not really skilled at treating even the most common sorts of injuries, you can rest assured you’ll have plenty of information thanks to the included manual. You’ll also be able to record your procedures courtesy of the included accident records and a pencil.

When it comes to the supplies inside, most of them are hospital grade. You’ll get various bandages and closures for treating smaller cuts, as well as gauze, pads, and tape for bigger wounds. Plus, you can disinfect these injuries with all sorts of antiseptic wipes, towelettes, and antibiotic creams.

In case you get fractures or sprains, a wire splint is also available, and you’ll find all sorts of pain-relief drugs too.

The items we like the most though are the antacid and anti-diarrheal tablets, plus the electrolyte packets for dehydration because many people encounter digestive problems when camping. The splinter forceps and the irrigation syringe are rare additions too, which are nonetheless pretty useful.

What Will It Be?

All these above products are great in their own way, and for specific purposes, so make sure you consider the accidents and injuries you’re more prone to before getting a first aid kit.

Choose your First aid kit

With that being said, help us settle this dispute: is it more advantageous to get an already-made first aid kit, or should you just keep your options open and customize one according to your exact needs?

And what medical supplies do you find are more useful for you?

Let us know in the comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Ben Walker

    Although I work as an EMT and firmly believe I have the skills necessary to put together my own med kit, I’ve personally found that DIY kits can prove more expensive than ready to go kits or worse, you simply forget to pack something of importance (not an issue with a ready made kit).

    Adventure Medical Kits are always my go to when buying a new kit, they’ve impressed me time and time again with their range of products tailored to the remote responder. What I like most about their kits is the ability to treat a multitude of issues from common issues such as headaches or blisters to more traumatic injuries, all from one neat little bag.

    • Dennis Owens

      When you DIY your first aid kit, it can be really expensive because you put your preferred items (and brands) into it which can add to the cost. Packaged kits are cheaper although they contain the most basic things that you’ll need.

  • Sophie Habron

    I wanted to find the smallest possible kit I could to throw into my pack, as though I do camp and hike, I never really venture too far from civilization so only need the essentials.

    The Lifeline Dayhiker kit was perfect for me, this tiny package comes with variety of things one might need should accident or injury occur.

    Though the bag is small, there is a little room to spare for anything you may want to add yourself, I, for instance, added some extra ibuprofen, some aspirin some cotton balls.

    In terms of weight, size, contents and price, this is the perfect kit for anyone hikers and campers.

    • Dennis Owens

      I refer to the Dayhiker as the best “summary” when it comes to the ideal first aid kit that occupies the smallest amount of space. It is also packed with all of the essential things that you’ll need outdoors that’s why I really think this is a sound choice.

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