8 Essential First Aid Kit Items When Backpacking or Camping


A well-packed first aid kit is an essential piece of gear when backpacking or camping. It does not occupy much space, so if it goes unused, you will not begrudge having it. And if you do need it, you will be glad you thought ahead and came prepared. A stumble and fall can easily cause a cut, which under normal circumstances is not particularly problematic. However, add in the dirt, and things are different. Stings from insects or plants do not feel good; these can be remedied easily with medication.




An assortment of bandages is a staple of any first aid kit. Your kit should include various adhesive bandages, preferably fabric. It should also have adhesive wound-closure strips or butterfly bandages, non-stick sterile pads, various sizes of gauze pads, and a roll of medical adhesive tape that is at least one inch in width.




Antiseptic wipes are another important part of a first aid kit for camping or backpacking. While the BZK-based wipes are preferred, alcohol-based wipes will suffice. BZK antiseptic wipes contain benzalkonium chloride solution rather than alcohol; they do not sting. They help prevent skin infections when you or a companion suffer from minor scrapes, cuts, and burns.




A must for allergic reactions, antihistamine medications offer relief and comfort from such upper respiratory allergy symptoms as runny nose, eyes that are itchy or watery, sneezing, and itching of the throat or nose. They do this by reducing the effects produced by natural chemical histamine within the body. Antihistamine capsules treat hives, hay fever, itching, and rashes.


Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Medicine


First aid kits extend beyond halting bleeding and covering up wounds. Offering relief for pain should also be considered a top priority. Prompt pain relief offers you comfort when injured; it can help calm you so you take the necessary steps. Over-the-counter pain relief options such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs are important items to remember in your kit.


Anti-Diarrhea Medicine


Diarrhea can be extremely dangerous while on the trail in backpacking or camping. In addition to being highly inconvenient and uncomfortable, it can quickly cause you to become dehydrated. A medication to ease the discomfort and halt the symptoms of an upset stomach can be a life-saver.




Two types of creams are good to have on hand when camping and backpacking. The first is hydrocortisone cream. This treats a wide variety of skin conditions that includes poison ivy or oak rashes, insect bites, eczema, rashes, allergies, and dermatitis. The second is a cream to stay moisturized, such as one containing hyaluronic acid. In harsh sun and wind conditions, the skin can suffer. Be sure to moisturize.


Sunburn Relief


Even on cloudy days and with sunscreen, sunburn can strike those who adventure outdoors. A missed or exposed spot can quickly become red and painful, spoiling an otherwise delightful day. Aloe vera gel or a spray to relieve sunburns will help soothe such spots, giving comfort and moisturizing the skin.


Swiss Army Knife


A basic Swiss army knife holds several essentials for wilderness first aid. Select one that has a pair of tweezers, built-in scissors, and an assortment of knife types. Glue a magnet to the side of the knife and let it hold several safety pins as well. The tweezers will be invaluable for splinters and embedded thorns. The scissors can be used on bandages or to cut away clothing for more severe wounds. A well-rounded Swiss army knife is an excellent, basic tool to have on hand.


This is a very basic list of first aid necessities. Other useful items include hand sanitizer, eye drops, moleskin, duct tape or super glue, an emergency blanket, an epi-pen, and any prescription medications. Accidents can easily occur when backpacking or camping. Common chores in camping can be hazardous, as can hiking through thorn bushes or brush. It is important to be prepared with both equipment and knowledge.

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