10 First-Aid Supplies You Should Keep in Your Backpack

Whether you're heading out on a day hike or a month-long rafting trip, adding these supplies to your first-aid kit can keep medical inconveniences from becoming full-blown emergencies.

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June 24, 2019

SAM Splint

A SAM splint is a lightweight sheet of metal wrapped in padding that can be bent to make rigid splints. They're especially useful for injured wrists and can also double as a windshield for cooking stoves.

Buy It: Amazon, $10.77

Medical-Grade Tweezers

A good pair of precise, medical-grade tweezers are what you need for removing splinters and debris from skinned knees and elbows before flushing the wound with clean water. They can be sterilized before use with a lighter if necessary. Some tools come with small tweezers, but a larger pair offers more control.

Buy It: Amazon, $2.47


A needleless syringe is fantastic for cleaning out cuts and scrapes before bandaging. The stream of water cleans out debris and dirt to help prevent infection without brushing off or otherwise touching the wound, which could hurt the patient and spread infection. Use only potable water to flush wounds, dry afterward and follow up with an antibiotic spray or gel before bandaging.

Buy It: Amazon, $6.49 (Pack of 12)

Medical Tape

Medical tape is a must-have for any backpacking trip and can be used to secure bandages, protect skin from blistering, wrap fingers for climbing and a host of other uses. Perhaps most importantly, it can be used to secure a sprained or otherwise injured ankle so the person can hike out to get professional help.

Buy It: Amazon, $9.16

Medical Shears

From cutting tape to clothing, nothing beats a high-quality pair of medical shears. Knives can be imprecise and cause additional injury. Lightweight shears are OK for cutting tape but have difficulty cutting through cloth, Nylon straps and other tough materials to carefully expose wounds or make bandages and splint ties. Among medical shear choices is the robust Leatherman Raptor (pictured) that folds into a rigid holster when not in use, can handle any situation requiring shears and even includes a ring cutter to remove jewelry from swollen fingers.

Buy It: Leatherman, $69.95

ACTIVE Skin Repair

ACTIVE Skin Repair is an antiseptic spray and gel used in hospitals to accelerate wound healing while minimizing scarring. It can be used near eyes and mouths and is no-sting (perfect for children!).

Buy It: Amazon, $24.99

ZipStich Laceration Kit

ZipStitch Laceration closures are used in operating rooms to close incisions without having to use staples, and now they're available to the general public. These strips use a proprietary adhesive to attach to either side of a deep cut up to 1.5 inches and essentially zip-tie the wound closed for healing while reducing the risk of scars. This system allows precise tension for optimal wound closing. The glue can last for two weeks, certainly enough time to get someone out of the backcountry and to a clinic if necessary.

Buy It: Amazon, $29.99

Triangle Bandages (Cravats)

Triangular bandages called cravats are perfect for making slings, supporting hurt ribs, securing collarbones, tying splints and many other medical uses.

Buy It: Amazon, $9.99 (Pack of 12)

Burn Cream

In addition to self-inflicted knife wounds, burns from campfires and cooking stoves are the most common injury seen on camping and backpacking trips. A pack or two of burn cream can help soothe minor burns and promote healing.

Buy It: Amazon, $6.15

Adventure Medical Kit Trauma Pak

Adventure Medical Kits is an industry leader in travel and wilderness first-aid kits, and their new Trauma Pak includes bandages treated with QuikClot coagulate to stop bleeding whether you're in an urban or wilderness setting.

Buy It: Dick's Sporting Goods, $19.99