Gear Up: Wilderness First Aid

The backcountry is an unpredictable place when it comes to safety. Thankfully the worst I’ve seen personally is some blister-mangled feet and raspberried hips from an ill-fitting pack. However, we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, which is why I took a Wilderness First Aid course last weekend with Sierra Rescue.

I’ve taken first aid courses before, but for the most part it just felt like going through the motions. This course was different – I took a fish hook out of a drumstick for crying out loud! The classroom portion of the course lasted about 10 minutes, the rest was hands on. We practiced wrapping broken joints and appendages, went into scenarios with only our first aid kits and handbooks to solve mystery ailments, and we pulled a nail and fish hook out of a chicken drumstick then treated it for a deep laceration. With my new-found knowledge I feel more confident to handle an emergency in the backcountry. However, I needed to update my first aid kit since most of the contents expired in 2007…

Contents of my updated first aid kit:

Create pill pockets by syngining the corners of a plastic bag - be sure to label with medication name, dosage, and expiration

Create pill pockets by singeing the edges of a plastic bag – be sure to label with medication name, dosage, and expiration – all in a well ventilated area.

  • Sam Splint (36 inch) – I know we could fashion a splint, but a Sam Splint scarf would make immobilizing a neck very easy
  • Quick Clot – in simple terms it stops bleeding fast
  • Neosporin – to create a protective mote around a wound, not in a fresh wound!
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Low dose anti-inflammatory (81mg) – for pet pain, my vet-tech friend recommends 5-10 mg per pound, so my 47-pound dog will get three tablets*
  • Diphenhydrmine (25 mg) – for allergic reactions take 100mg; for pets 2mg per pound*
  • Daily allergy – I love the east side of the Sierra, however my allergies do not love the sage brush and I always seem to forget my allergy pills
  • As needed meds – if you have any medications that you take as needed, have a supply
  • Emergen-C – to replenish electrolytes
  • Potable Aqua Tablets – in case your water filter system fails
  • Tweezers
  • Lighter – in case your first source of fire fails
  • Duct tape – fixes everything
  • Compass with a signal mirror
  • Iodine
  • Safety pins
  • Rubber gloves


    All of the supplies split into two waterproof bags into the first aid bag – it’s like a clown car in there!

  • Mole skin
  • Alcohol prep wipes
  • Medical tape – turns out it does stick to fur*
  • CPR mouth shield
  • Nail clippers – someone inevitably forgets to cut their long toe nails which can be painful on descents
  • Elastic bandage
  • Butterfly closures
  • 3″x4″ non-adherent pad
  • Tampons – for the unexpected period and nose bleeds
  • Pads – for the unexpected period and to stop bleeding
  • Midol – nothing tops off that unexpected period like cramps! Wait a minute…
  • Non-adherent wrap
  • New skin (put in a small plastic bottle) – I have high hopes for applying this to blister hot spots as a preventative measure because this would be extremely painful on an open wound
  • Ear plugs – not so much an emergency, but in case there is a person who snores next door
  • Hydration bladder – this isn’t in my first aid kit, but it can be used to irrigate a wound instead of carrying a syringe
  • Bandana – I wear a bandana that can also be used for a sling, a tie down, etc.

What other items do you carry or use to MacGyver first aid?

Safe travels,

*Specifically for pets as mentioned in the emergency plan section of my previous post: Gear Up: Dog Travel Tips.

2 responses to “Gear Up: Wilderness First Aid

  1. Pingback: Seven Days on the Trail with a Dog? | Trails' Guide·

  2. Pingback: Adventure Essentials | Trails' Guide·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s