If you are planing a trip into the great outdoors for some camping, having a first aid kit with you is essential. Not only will a great first aid kit help you with injuries that commonly occur while out camping, but it can keep you prepared for survival situations that might arise while you are on your trip.
There are many dual purpose items that come within most first aid kits so make sure to familiarize yourself with the kit you buy or consider some of the items mentioned below to include in the one you’re making.
The goal of having a first aid kit is to never have to use it, but that objective isn’t always realistic. Even when you don’t end up using a first aid kit, it is great to have with you for peace of mind and when you do need it, you’ll be glad you packed it for every trip you go on.
Having spent many nights in the backcountry as well as countless trips camping out of the back of a car, I can tell you, having a usable working first aid kit is imperative for every trip.
There will always be little nicks, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and too many other more serious injuries to list that could effect you or a companion while out camping. So when you’re planing your next trip, don’t forget to pack your camping first aid kit.
Here are 15 items that you should consider when packing your camping first aid kit. If you are making your own, you can tailor it to the kind of trip you are taking. Backpacking first aid kits include only the essentials while a car camping trip can include many more items in a bigger container. You should consider having a first aid kit in your car all the time as well. You never know when an item from it will come in handy.
15 items that should be in a first aid kit for camping:
1. Essential Medicine
The most critical items that should be in a first aid kit are any essential medicine that you might need while out away from civilization. A store bought first aid kit will not have medicine specific to you so it is important to bring extra in case you find yourself in a difficult situation.
People that are affected by asthma, have bee, plant, or insect allergic reactions, diabetes, or any other condition that requires immediate medicine should ensure that they pack more than enough for the trip they are taking.
Hopefully you will get home not using any extra medicine but you will certainly be glad you packed some once the need for it arises. I cannot stress enough how much packing extra essential medicine like an Epipen, for a camping first aid kit, is one of the first things you should think about.
You can also pack pain and anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, hydrocortisone, benadryl, and anti-diarrhea pills if you think they might be useful while on your trip.
2. Bandages (Fabric & Synthetic)
It should go without saying that bandages should certainly be a main staple of any first aid kit that you make or buy. Getting small cuts or scrapes while camping are so commonplace that someone you’re with is sure to need one before the end of a trip.
Any first aid kit that doesn’t have bandages shouldn’t be considered as a camping first aid kit. It might still be a good first aid kit for specific situations but unfortunately not for camping as bandages are an often needed item.
3. Antibiotic Wipes or Spray
Any open wound that happens while out camping needs to be treated with antibiotic wipes, spray, or cream. A product like Neosporin will clean the wound of any bacteria that gets in, and will help close the wound to let it heal quicker. Make sure you have a good antibiotic with you in any first aid kit.
Gauze is great for injuries that are either too big for a simple band-aid fix or are very deep and have lots of blood coming out. Make sure you have a fair amount of gauze in case a more serious open wound occurs. If you have gauze you’ll definitely need a roll of medical tape to secure it to the injury. I’ll talk more in depth about medical tape below.
These gauze pads work great because they help clot a bleeding wound much faster than traditional gauze.
5. Medical Tape
Medical tape has many uses besides just taping down a bandage that is in a tricky spot or securing some gauze over a larger open wound. You can also use medical tape to help hold a piece of moleskin to a specific area or to tape a dislocated finger to toe down. Make sure you have some medical tape in your first aid kit while camping because you are sure to find a use for it somewhere along the line.
Any time you’re out in the woods makes you much more susceptible to both splinters and ticks. A good pair of tweezers can take care of both those ailments quickly. You can also use tweezers to preliminary pick dirt and debris out from bad cuts or scrapes before you use antibiotics and bandage the wound. This small item can save you from a lot of anguish so make sure you don’t make a first aid kit without it.
My favorite pair of tweezers can be found right here. The set give you a few good tweezers to choose from at a reasonable price and you can simply bring the ones on your camping trip that you like best.
If you are doing a lot of hiking or walking around the campground while on a trip, you will definitely want to have moleskin in your first aid kit. Moleskin is the perfect way to heal pesky blisters that form on our heels and toes after too much friction from our shoes. Simply apply some moleskin to the blister are it acts as a defense against more rubbing of that skin in an irritating way.
Blisters are a very common ailment while in the outdoors so make sure you bring some along. Bringing moleskin on your trip is especially important if you are backpacking because initially you might not be accustomed to hiking around with more weight than normal for longer amounts of time. This could impact your foot in your boots causing a blister or irritation.
8. Burn Cream
Whether you are just out camping one night or spending more than a few days in the great outdoors, you are probably going to have a fire most evenings and even possibly in the morning. Being around fire so much makes burn cream an essential element to any camping first aid kit.
There are so many ways that you can get burned around an open fire or a cooking stove that you’ll definitely want to have some burn cream handy.
If you are going backpacking and want to cut down on weight, don’t bring a bottle of burn cream that can be heavy and you might not even use. Instead, opt for the alcohol wipe sized packets of single use cream. You can even just bring a small lotion that has aloe-vera in it if you are not worried about the chance of a burn injury.
9. Latex or Nitrate Gloves
Latex gloves normally come in any first aid kit you buy and you will probably want a pair if you make your own. Anytime you are working on an open wound for someone else, you should wear the gloves to ensure that their bacteria doesn’t get on you and more importantly that yours doesn’t infect the wound you are trying to clean and bandage up.
You can even use your pair of gloves in a survival situation if your hands get cold. They are well insulated and can certainly help keep you warmer. You can find my favorite pair of nitrate gloves here.
10. Needle and Thread
Sometimes when you’re camping, you get a wound that is thin, deep, and might be bleeding a lot. You may even see bone at the bottom of that cut depending on where it is located. If you are in a populated area, this might be the time to go to the hospital to let a professional take care of the injury, but if you’re in the backcountry, going to a medical facility probably isn’t an option.
Here is where you’ll need a sterile needle and thread to sew up the injury. Make sure to clean the wound thoroughly and use antibacterial cream before you seal the wound for good.
11. Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation Device
A mouth to mouth resuscitation device is vital to save someones life while performing CPR. You want the seal around both of your airways to be right so that the injured person can continue getting the oxygen and chest compression’s needed until medical professionals arrive on the scene. Make sure your first aid kit comes with something like a CPR Face Shield.
Scissors are great for cutting bandages, gauze, medical tape, and moleskin into the perfect size needed depending on the injury being treated. You don’t want to waste materials in your first aid kit so make sure you have a pair of scissors handy to cut things down to size. You never know when a good sharp pair of scissors will come in handy when treating medical conditions or while out camping.
I would never go on a camping, backpacking, or even day hike without having my multi-tool with me. A multi-tool is perfect for preforming simple tasks of all kinds and are great to have in a camping first aid kit.
You never know when you’ll run into a situation where you need to do something that a multi-tool can do for you. I’d highly recommend having one for a variety of reasons but especially when you spend time in the great outdoors.
One of the best multi-tools on the market is from Wetols. It has 21 different uses all in one making it perfect for any camping first aid kit.
14. Elastic Bandage
Elastic bandage is great for common muscle and joint injuries that happen all the time while out camping. These types of injuries include sprained ankles and knees, and any dislocated joints if you happen to fall. We’ve all turned an ankle out on the trail at some point in our lives despite how tightly we lace up our boots.
Having a length of elastic bandage is great for wrapping that injury up and not letting it get re-injured. If you happen to have a cooler or ice pack, don’t forget to ice and elevate the injury for quicker recovery.
Elastic bandage works by applying steady even pressure to an injured area. This can help reduce the flow of blood and swelling to that injury. It is smart to include elastic bandage in your camping first aid kit based on it’s varied applications.
You can even use the elastic bandage you have to stabilize a broken arm or wrist with a splint. This is definitely more of a temporary solution to a much more serious medical injury, but it goes to show how versatile elastic bandages can be. This goes to show why you should have them in your first aid kit.
This elastic bandage should work great for most uses while out camping.
15. Emergency Blanket
Keeping an emergency blanket in your camping first aid kit is critical. Not only is it good to use if someone in your party get hypothermia or needs to warm up for any reason, but they are also amazing in a survival situation when the temperature drops too cold to survive out in the woods alone.
Get a good emergency blanket and keep it in your car and in your first aid kit. You shouldn’t have to use it too often, but when you need it, you’ll be glad to have one.
This pack of emergency blankets is perfect to get one for everyone in your family at an affordable price. Make sure you have them handy with your camping gear and whenever you are on a trip to the great outdoors.
My First Aid Kit Recommendations
There is a distinct difference between a camping and backpacking first aid kit. Here is my recommendation for both.
Backpacking First Aid Kit by Monoki
This first aid kit works perfectly for backpacking because it has over 200 pieces so you’ll have plenty of options for treating wounds while out on the trail. At the same time, it is a compact first aid kit that weights about 1.5 pounds. That way, it doesn’t take up too much space of weight in your bag while still providing lots of essential medical and survival solutions. (Check price on Amazon)
Camping First Aid Kit by Monoki
The camping first aid kit I’ve recommended here is slightly bigger than the backpacking first aid kit both in terms on items and with weight. You can keep this first aid kit in your car and not think about it again until it is needed. If you’re looking for an all inclusive first aid kit, I’d recommend this one. (Check price on Amazon)
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Cameron is a freelance writer with a focus on hiking, fishing and photography. He studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Colorado Boulder and now calls Chicago, Illinois home.