This weekend I got recertified in Wilderness First Aid. Since I fortunately did not have much use for the information in the last two years, it was great to have a refresher. The course’s content was definitely familiar but a lot of it I would not have remembered on my own. I’m going to make an effort this time to go over my materials periodically to make sure I will still remember everything in an emergency. I also learned some cool improvised splinting techniques that I know we didn’t go over last time, including using an internal frame pack as a backboard.
I thought I’d go over the personal first aid kit I carried while thru hiking. It was more of a first air / repair / emergency kit so I’ll include all contents:
spare headlamp batteries
SelfGrip athletic tape
various sizes gauze pads
various sizes/shapes bandaids
alcohol prep pads, povidone-iodine prep pad, antiseptic towelette
small packets burn jel, antibiotic ointment, sting relief
bug bite relief stick
medicine: antacid, tylenol, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antidiarrheal, doxycycline
All of this was stored in a 2L waterproof stuff sack and the whole thing weighs in at 8.5oz. Related but carried elsewhere, I also had duct tape wrapped around my trekking poles, antibacterial hand gel with my toilet paper, biodegradable soap in my toiletry kit, signal mirror on my compass, and a small swiss army knife with blade, scissors, and tweezers. I started out with some BodyGlide in there too but I never had any chaffing issues so I gave it away after a few months. The only other thing I would have added was an irrigation syringe, and I just picked one up in the WFA class.
What did I ever actually use from this kit during my seven month hike? Spare batteries, needle/thread, athletic tape, bug bite relief stick, ibuprofen, antihistamine, and antacid, all only occasionally or rarely. I had relatively few abrasions and they didn’t require anything but rinsing off. I only had a couple of blisters, but they were very small and duct tape or nothing worked for them. Of course, a first aid kit is only as good as the knowledge you have to use it. A lot of people carry the pre-packaged kits you can buy but they don’t know how to use half the items in them. The AT is not all that far into the wilderness so a trip where I would be away from civilization longer might have more items in it, and a trip where I was in charge of a group would definitely have more items in it. But for my personal first aid kit, this is more than enough for my peace of mind.