I spend a lot of time outside, whether it’s traveling, hiking, biking, camping, or backcountry snowboarding. Most of the time, these activities happen far away from medical treatment facilities so it’s important to me to have some essential first aid items on me at all times. That’s why I built an IFAK or Individual First Aid Kit for myself. This little kit goes everywhere I do. It’s in my car when I travel and it’s in my backpack when I’m hiking, biking, or doing any other outdoor activity. Building an IFAK can be really simple if you want. You could just pop on down to Walmart and pick up a pre-packaged first aid kit with bandages and antiseptic for pretty cheap. However, this only provides you with minimal coverage if something were to happen. That’s why I built my own kit. I took the time to consider as many situations as possible that I need to be prepared for and used these as a basis for my kit.
Below is a full list of the items in my kit, and why I chose them. All this gear fits nicely in my 3V Gear Large Medic Pouch and there is even a little room to spare in case I need to add to my kit down the road. The reason I chose the Large Medic Pouch is because of its durability, MOLLE compatibility, and interior organization.
I carry a pair of gloves for 2 reasons. The first, is in case I'm in a situation where I have to treat myself and I don’t want contaminate any of my med gear or wounds with dirt or bacteria that might be on my hands. The second, is if I have to work on someone else. Again, this is a contamination issue, but I’m as much concerned about protecting myself as the patient in this case and the gloves add a layer of protection.
A tourniquet can quite literally save your life in the event of a major injury where there is an open wound or an appendage. Let’s say I’m out hiking and slip and fall and gash open my arm, which is bleeding profusely. What are my options? Maybe I have a belt? Maybe not. Maybe I could tear my shirt and tie it off above the wound? That could be very difficult if I can’t move the injured arm. In this situation time is of the essence so that A) I don’t bleed out and B) I don’t lose so much blood that I can’t get myself up and out. So, I always carry a tourniquet because it’s a dedicated, fast way to address the wound.
I carry this mostly for situations where there is a cut too large for a bandage or compress.
Great for sealing smaller cuts. It includes antiseptic so I can just apply and go.
Whether they’re being used to cut tape to cover a wound, or cut clothes for better access to a wound, these are a must in my kit.
Waterproof First Aid Tape
While many bandages and dressings are self-adhesive these days, I prefer to have a back up for securing them just in case. This stuff is also easier to pack than most cloth bandages but can still be used to fashion a makeshift splint if needed.
1x Sterile Knuckle Bandage
Knuckles are funny things, they’re joints that love to bleed. Knuckle joints are notoriously hard to bandage to begin with because of the high rate of movement relative to their small surface area, and when you add in the high blood flow, a regular bandage just isn’t going to cut it most of the time.
1x Compound Benzoin Tincture
This antiseptic has an advantage over its gel/cream compatriots because it dries quickly and bandages will stick to it. I carry this for use on a larger wound just in case.
1x Large Adhesive Bandage
I carry this to deal with any larger scrapes or cuts that I might get, as long as they aren’t too deep.
1x Advanced Clotting Sponge
As mentioned with the tourniquet, losing blood in a situation where you may be on your own and have to get yourself out to receive medical attention, can be a recipe for disaster. So, if I have a wound that is bleeding freely I have a couple of methods to slow the flow. This clotting sponge is my first choice because it is easy to apply and can be wrapped up and held in place if needed.
2x Celox Granule Packets
This is my secondary blood clotting method and is great in case wounds are spread out and cannot be covered by a single clotting sponge.
2x Sting Relief
The name pretty much says it all. No one likes stings and the pain and irritation they cause. Plus, a couple of these packets take up virtually no room in my bag, so why not carry them?
2x Small Sterile Compress
Keeping a wound clean is very important, especially if it may be a day or two before you can get medical attention. Sterile compress is a self-adhesive bandage that creates an airtight seal around a wound to prevent contamination. Check yours often to make sure that the package they come in is not open or damaged.
2x 3" Sterile Pads
Perfect for covering large wounds, I use these in conjunction with my waterproof tape when a cut, burn, or abrasion is too large for a standard bandage.
2x Sterile Alcohol Prep Pads
Great for cleaning the area around a wound before applying antiseptic, or for clearing dirt and debris to ensure a good sealing surface for bandages.
4x Burn Gel
There aren’t many things more painful than burns. Burn gel alleviates some of the pain and discomfort until I can get proper treatment.
4x Medium Adhesive Bandages
For covering mid-sized cuts, burns, or abrasions.
4x Adhesive Butterfly Bandages
For covering cuts, burns, or abrasions on highly mobile areas like joints.
4x Ibuprofen Packets
Helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
4x Single-use Antibiotic Ointment Packets
Clean wounds heal more quickly and nobody wants an infection. These single-use packets are perfect for treating minor cuts and abrasions.
10x Splinter Out
Splinters suck, and they are a pain to remove. These Splinter Outs are great for removing stubborn splinters and have the added bonus of coming in sterile packaging. Just use one, and discard.