Backpacking First Aid Kit Checklist and Tips

If you love hiking, backpacking, camping, and being outdoors, we recommend you always bring a first aid kit with you on your travels. So what medical items should be in your first aid kit and how to use these items?

A backpacking first aid kit is usually an ultralight medical kit, which comes in different shapes, sizes, and weights, or a homemade first aid kit, which backpackers carry when they travel. It contains different kinds of medical items that are used and needed when applying first aid to a person during backpacking, hiking, or camping. 

A first aid kit should always be brought along when backpacking, camping, road-tripping, or traveling. In this article, you’ll find helpful checklists, tips, and recommendations for your backpacking first aid kit and how to use it.

What Should Be in a Backpacking First Aid Kit?

A backpacking first aid kit has at least the following essential items inside it:

  • Your Prescription Medications
  • Bandages
  • Medical Plasters (To stop the bleeding of a superficial cut or graze)
  • Gauze pads (To apply pressure on an injury or to clean it)
  • Bandages
  • Medical/ Surgical Tape (Essential in emergencies)
  • Small scissors
  • Antiseptic Wipes (To clean the wound before dressing)
  • Ibuprofen, Advil (or another preferred painkiller)
  • Sunscreen (To avoid sunburn)
  • Non-latex gloves (To avoid latex allergies)
  • Thermometer (Non-mercury, Non-glass)
  • Antibacterial Ointment
  • Moleskin or another kind of blister treatment
  • Tweezers (To pull out splinters)
  • Insect Bite Treatment
  • Safety Pins
  • Antihistamine
  • Multitool
  • First-Aid Instruction Guide (Instructions on how to use these items when an emergency occurs)

When you have these essential items with you, you can provide first aid in a place where a hospital or doctor is most likely far away.

How To Choose the Best Backpacking First Aid Kit?

You can either go for a homemade, self-assembled backpacking first aid kit or choose to buy a pre-made backpacking first aid kit. A pre-made backpacking first aid kit will save you time and money and prevent you from forgetting essential items or tools you should always bring along your backpacking or camping trip. So which pre-made backpacking first aid kit is the best to choose for your trip?

First of all, think about how many people will come along on your trip. The bigger the group, the more items your first aid kit contains.

Secondly, estimate the distance or length of your trip. The longer your hike or travel, the more medical supplies you’ll need inside your kit.

Third, what kind of activities are you planning on your trip? There are different first aid kits on the market for various activities. For example, if you go kayaking, you’ll need a waterproof kit. If you go backpacking, you might prefer a lightweight kit, and if you go on a road trip, you can choose a bigger, heavier kit with more items inside it.

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Besides which first aid kit you’ll choose, the following things are also essential to take with you on your backpacking trip:

  • If you take prescription medication or need an EpiPen, you’ll need to make sure this is always part of your first aid kit.
  • Bring along Tick Tweezers or another kind of tick remover. After your hike in the forest, you should always check yourself and your buddies for ticks.
  • Poison Ivy is also a risk when going on an outdoor adventure so add poison ivy treatment to your first aid kit.
  • When you travel with a group, and one of your friends has a first aid kit for the whole group, make sure you always have your gear with you with the items you specifically need or want to bring with you.

All in all, you shouldn’t consider one specific type of first aid kit. As mentioned above, every kit is different, depending on the activities during a trip. There are other good-quality kits for various activities such as cycling, hiking, or water activities. Considering this will help you buy the best pre-made first aid kit suited for you.

Backpacking First Aid Kit Checklist

To help you a little more, we’ve put together a list of items that every backpacking first aid kit should contain besides the things mentioned earlier in this blog:

  • Medical waste bags.
  • Emergency heat-reflecting blanket
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Prescription medication
  • Aspirin
  • Sunscreen
  • Gauze
  • Bandage
  • Elastic wrap
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Adhesive wound closure strips
  • Non-stick sterile pads
  • Thermometer (non-glass)
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Gloves
  • Surgical tape

What Are 12 Essential Items in a Backpacking First Aid Kit?

The twelve essential items your first aid kit needs to contain are the following:

  • Surgical tape
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandage
  • Antibacterial Ointment
  • Medication (Painkillers)
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermometer
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Gloves
  • Sterile Gauze dressing
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Tweezers

What Are Other Essential Safety Tips For The Outdoors?

Besides the checklists of essential items you need in your first aid kit, there are other things to consider before going on your outdoor adventure. Everything should be well-organized and packed so that there is no hustle at the time of an emergency. This will ensure not only your safety but the safety of everyone that is traveling with you.

Moreover, on a group trip, individuals should have their kits so that if the group kit is out of reach, people can use their kit to give or receive first aid in case of an emergency.

Outdoor First Aid Training Courses

If you are not familiar with giving first aid, we recommend following a first aid training course before your trip. Besides the fact that it will be useful during an emergency on your trip, a first aid training course can also help other emergencies at any time and anywhere.

Most likely, your pre-made first aid kit has information cards or guides with instructions on what to do with individual items in an emergency, but that can’t prepare you for a real life emergency. A first aid training course will not only provide you with knowing how to give first aid. Still, it will also teach you to deal with a medical trauma and will prepare you for the initial shock and fear of an emergency, so you’ll know how to act and deal with that without panicking if that moment comes.

These Outdoor First Aid Training Courses focus on dealing with first aid equipment in certain environmental conditions and unresponsive situations. This includes bandaging, dealing with choking, shock, head injuries, poisoning, burns, bites or stings, chest injuries, fractures, and heart attack. By taking such first aid training, you can help someone, yourself, or prevent a situation or trauma from worsening.

More info about Outdoor First Aid Training Courses, also known as Wilderness First Aid can be found are given by numerous organizations such as or There are also helpful Wilderness First Aid Books (click here to go to Amazon) on the market, which can also help you to prepare for an injury or emergency while backpacking or being outdoors. We recommend you always bring a Wilderness First Aid book or guide with you on your trip so you’ll always have a manual or guide if you find yourself in an emerency.

What is the Best Ultralight First Aid Kit for Backpacking?

An ultralight backpacking first aid kit should weigh 10 pounds or less. This includes less stuff in less amount. Here are a top 5 of the best ultralight first aid kits on Amazon:

  1. Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight and Watertight – Weight: 0,37 Pounds
  2. Adventure Medical Kit Mountain Backpacker – Weight: 0,84 Pounds
  3. Professional 200-Piece First Aid Kit Plus Medical Kit for Outdoor Hiking, Survival, Camping
  4. Adventure Medical Kit 2.0 – Weight 0,9 Pounds – Accomodates 1 – 4 people for 1 day
  5. 220 Piece First Aid Kit With Hospital Grade Medical Supplies – Weight: 1,61 lbs

How Do You Make a Backpacking First Aid Kit Yourself?

You can make a backpacking first aid kit yourself using a ziplock plastic bag, plastic bottles, or a water-resistant pouch to waterproof your homemade kit. Don’t forget to label medications. Besides the earlier mentioned essential items you need in your homemade kit, the following supplies can also prove handy to bring along on your backpacking adventure:

  • Duct Tape
  • Lip Balm
  • Signaling devices like a whistle or mirror
  • Safety Matches or a fire-starter
  • Mylar blanket (first-aid blanket)

For home assembled kits, besides the essential supplies your first aid kit needs, unique supplies should be packed as well, according to your destination and activities during your trip. Please keep track of the weight of everything you add to the kit so that it isn’t too heavy.

Backpacking First Aid Kit for Dogs

When going on a trip, whether it’s hiking, backpacking, camping, or a road trip by car, if you have a dog, you’ll most likely take your four-legged friend with you. Besides bringing a first aid kit for humans, if you take your dog on a trip, you should get a first aid kit for dogs as well. You’ll never know what can happen to your dog during a hike, so if something happens, you can give your furry friend the medical attention they need.

What Should be in a First Aid Kit for Dogs?

Like humans, a dog can get cuts, broken bones, allergies, insect bites, snake bites, or overheating. Below is a list of what a first aid kit for dogs should contain.

  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Antibacterial pain reliever
  • Benadryl
  • Gauze pads
  • Vet Medical tape
  • Non-stick bandages
  • Antibacterial ointment for cuts and sores
  • Thermometer for dogs
  • Any medication prescribed by veterinary
  • Scissors
  • Syringes
  • Flashlight
  • Towel
  • Leash and collar
  • Cotton balls
  • Disposable gloves

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What is the Best Dog First Aid Kit?

Here is a top 3 of the best rated first aid kit for dogs on Amazon:

  1. Adventure Medical Kits Adventure Dog Series Me & My Dog First Aid Kit
  2. Dog First Aid Kit for Camping, Hiking, Cycling with Thermometer, Emergency Blanket, Treat Cuts and Scrapes
  3. Pet First Aid Kit Dog for Home, Outdoors, Car, Survival, Workplace
  4. My Medic MedPacks First Aid Kit for Dogs – Lightweight and Certified
  5. Fab Fur Gear Dog First Aid Kit


In a nutshell, a backpacking first aid kit helps you to deal with medical trauma, emergency, or situation on your trip in the outdoors where hospitals are not present. You should bring a first aid kit on each outdoor expedition, whether you go hiking, kayaking, backpacking, camping, or traveling by car. Besides getting a first aid kit, everyone should take a first aid training course to help you prepare to deal with an emergency when wondering in the outdoors or wilderness.