Exploring the backcountry can be unpredictable, with its multitude of potentially hazardous and injury-inducing elements around every corner. Further exacerbating the situation is the ample proximity between you and a doctor or hospital that will be able to treat an injury. For these reasons, first aid kits are essential pieces of gear to have on hand when headed into the wild.
Unfortunately, not all first aid kits (or FAKs) are created equal, so it’s extremely important to know you’re relying on a quality kit, considering your physical health and well-being may be on the line. Consequently, we strongly believe that first aid kits are one piece of camping gear that you shouldn’t skimp on. But, with literally thousands of different FAKs on the market, sorting through the enormous sea of offerings can be an incredibly daunting task. So, to help link you up with the best possible off-grid medical packs, we’ve pieced together this guide to the 15 best first aid kits for the outdoors.
Aiding Your Purchase
How To Choose An FAK
Application: First and foremost, your first aid kit purchase should be guided by your intended use. Do some research regarding the type of trip you have planned, the route you’ll be taking, and what injuries are commonly associated with that type of journey and/or region, and then try to find a kit conducive to that particular application. This area should also determine whether you need features such as a waterproof storage/carrying cases.
Amenities: This is essentially what makes a first aid kit a first aid kit, as the amenities are ultimately what constitutes the kit itself (aside from the travel bag or case). There are varying degrees of first aid kits, ranging in their ability to treat injuries, from minor cuts and scrapes to serious life-threatening trauma. Keep an eye out for included medications and ointments, gauze, bandages, sutures, stitching gear, braces, tools, and so on. Your application should help determine which amenities you need.
Number Of Individuals: You should also consider the number of people in your group/on your trip. Obviously, a larger number of people means a greater need for medications and medical supplies. While you can assume not everyone in your party will get injured, a larger number of people does mean a higher likelihood of potential injury.
Remoteness: Like the number of individuals in your party, the kind of kit you want should also be partially determined by how far away you’ll be from medical help. If your location is quickly-accessible by ambulance or helicopter, you won’t need the same level of kit as you would if you’re several days away from assistance. This area also determines whether you’ll want your kit to include items like QuickClot packs, which are often included in military-inspired offerings.
Compactness: An important area to consider with any piece of gear that you’ll be carrying on foot, the overall size, and level of compactness in a kit is also immensely important. Fortunately, companies have become incredibly proficient at designing extremely compact packages that manage to accommodate a surprising amount of equipment. Similarly, weight is another area that should also be taken into account when buying a first aid kit. There are also larger kits designed for overlanding and other off-road vehicle applications.
Treat Injuries Properly
While acquiring a first aid kit and other medical supplies is a fantastic start, these items are practically worthless if you aren’t properly educated on how to use them. In fact, improper treatment can easily exacerbate an injury. For this reason, it’s imperative to read up on basic improvised procedures, and while we’d recommend establishing some basic understanding of human anatomy and vital system functions, you can always purchase an in-the-field medical guide book that will explain how to perform fundamental medical treatment.
The 8 Basic Survival Skills Every Man Should Know
Though first aid kits can be literal lifesavers when off the grid, treating injuries is only one of several skills that every man should be armed with when headed into the wild. Fortunately, for the uninitiated, we’ve put together this easily-digestible guide on the basic survival skills every man should know. So, whether you need to find water, build a shelter, or make fire, this handy guide has got your back.
The First Aid Kits
Now that you know what you’re looking for, the next step is figuring out which kit suits you best. Some of these are more compact whereas others are a bit more comprehensive. And while we can supply the picks, you’ll have to decide which of the following kits fits your adventure plans best.
Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit
Measuring less than 4” in length and weighing just a hair over 2oz, Coleman’s Mini First Aid Kit manages to cram 27 essential pieces of first aid items into an extremely compact and travel-friendly metal tin (complete with embossed “Coleman” logos. Obviously this item isn’t adequate for treating more serious injuries, though with antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, a razor blade, and a myriad of bandages, it’s still good for cleaning cuts and scrapes in the wild and treating mild injuries.
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight / Watertight .7 Kit
One of the most popular medical kits on the market today, AMK’s Ultralight / Watertight .7 kit is designed to provide basic medical essentials for two people over the course of a one to four-day journey. This American made offering boasts a handful of medications, wipes, closures, and badges, and pretty much everything needed to treat common hiking injuries like blisters, cuts, and insect stings. Tipping the scales at only half-a-pound, the entire kit fits inside a compact silnylon bag with a pair of watertight inner DryFlex compartments for safekeeping.
Adventure Medical Kits Tactical Field Trauma Kit
AMK’s Tactical Field Trauma Kit maintains the brand’s tradition of producing robust yet highly compact first aid kits, but lends itself to treating more serious in-the-field injuries. As such, the kit includes a QuickClot Sport Sponge, a biohazard bag and disposable gloves, precision forceps, a handful of wraps and bandages, and an assortment of medications that enable it to handle more serious trauma like broken bones and puncture wounds. And, unlike AMK’s plastic kits, this tactical item comes housed in a rugged, blacked-out zippered nylon carrying case.
Adventure Medical Kits ADS Me And My Dog First Aid Kit
If you’re going to be bringing a four-legged companion along on your journies, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for an injury, whether it happens to you or your dog. And that’s the thought process behind AMK’s Me And My Dog First Aid Kit. In addition to providing supplies for human first aid, the kit also includes dog-specific medical items like a muzzle, self-adhering bandages that won’t stick to fur, and a pet first aid manual.
Overland Vehicle Systems Canyon Rolled Bag First Aid
Modeled after traditional tool rolls, this roll-up first aid kit comes in a waterproof, #16 waxed canvas case with nylon straps, #10 heavy-duty zippers, and reinforced marine-grade stitching. Once opened up, this off-road-oriented kit reveals a number of pockets and dividers for easy organization and storage of medical supplies. And, while this item doesn’t come with the convenience of a pre-built-out array of medical goodies, it provides a stellar case for piecing together your own custom first aid kit based on your particular needs.
Surviveware Waterproof First Aid Kit
This Surviveware kit presents a ruggedized take on your typical first aid kit, with ultra-durable 600D TPU construction, waterproof zippers, fully-welded seams, and an IPX7 waterproof rating that enables it to remain fully submerged in 1M of water for a full 30 minutes without letting in a drop. Inside it hardwearing case, the kit packs dozens of essential medical supplies for treating minor injuries, while outside it features removable MOLLE-compatible D-rings so it can easily be attached to other bags or gear.
MyMedic The Solo First Aid Kit Advanced
MyMedic is well-known for producing premium, military-grade first aid and medical kits, and the company’s Solo FAK is one of the most robust personal kits on the market. Despite its diminutive 6.5” x 4” x 1.7” dimensions, this TSA-approved kit boasts an enormous number of first aid essentials – such as moleskin, several bandages, 10’ of paracord, tweezers, and a bevy of ointments and medications for treating common injuries and ailments – into a small, nylon case with oversized zippers and MOLLE-compatible straps.
VSSL First Aid Kit
Undoubtedly the most innovative FAK of the last decade, the VSSL (pronounced “vessel”) First Aid Kit uses a combination of a roll-up sleeve and a number of small puck-shaped capsules that neatly fit inside the system’s compact, cylindrical housing. Made from military-grade aluminum, the housing itself not only waterproof, but also includes an integrated precision compass and a four-mode, 200-lumen LED flashlight. Amenities in the kit include tweezers, 3M Steri-Strips, several medications and ointments, a hemostatic agent, a safety whistle, thermometer, and numerous bandages, gauzes, and tapes.
Spartan Armor Systems Advanced Individual First Aid Kit
Spartan Armor Systems primarily deals in battle-tested, military-spec vests and armor plates, though the same rugged qualities that go into its armor systems are just as present on the Arizona outfit’s hardwearing Advanced Individual First Aid Kit. Offered in black, tan, OD green, and multi-cam, Spartan’s “AFAK” is comprised of a 600D Ripaway Pouch that contains nitrile gloves, two Hyfin Vent compact chest seals, a survival blanket, EMT shears, Robertazzi 28fr Naso Airway (with lube) and a NAR combat tourniquet, S rolled gauze, and emergency trauma dressing — all of which is neatly organized in various slots, straps, and pockets.
Savage UTV Offroad First Aid Kit
Made specifically for car camping, overlanding, and other off-road vehicular exploration, this kit from Savage UTV provides a rugged, waterproof vessel to safely store and organize all of your first aid essentials. 100% dust-proof and IP67-rated for water resistance, the kit’s case is made in America from molded UV-resistant ABS plastic and features stainless steel mounting plates and hardware, and customizable interior foam inserts. Designed to mount flat or to any size roll bar/cage, the case also sports an interior with a zippered bag that contains a generous assortment of medical supplies, including items needed to treat common off-roading, impact-type injuries.
Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Mountaineer Medical Kit
AMK’s Mountain Series is a line of first aid kits made for the mountain climbing and backpacking segments, and though it’s offered in half-a-dozen sizes, its largest version, the Mountaineer-spec, boasts basic medical supplies for a cool ten people for a whopping 28 days. Backed by a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty, the kit possesses a number of unique, albeit crucial tools, meds, and supplies, such as a sterile scalpel, flexible C-Splint, temporary cavity fillings, oral rehydration salts, GlacierGel bandages, SWAT-tourniquet, QuickClot packs, and an illustrated wilderness and travel medicine guide that shows you how to perform 50 improvised medical procedures.
MyMedic The Recon First Aid Kit
The MyMedic Recon is a medium-sized first aid kit in a 500D nylon packcloth tactical military-style backpack. The Recon’s interior boasts seven compartments that store an enormous array of advanced medical supplies that includes Dyna-stopper bandages, Liquid Skin gaze pads, Secure Strips, CPR shields, Curad Performance Series antibacterial bandages, BurnShield, ActiSplint roll, and all the basic standard medications, ointments, and bandaids, plus tools like shears, tweezers, thermometer, penlight, and so on. The bag also boasts a rear concealed carry pocket and a trio of exterior pockets for firearm magazines, flashlights, or survival knives. It also has shoulder straps, a carrying sling, and hook-and-loop panels that afford it a variety of carrying and/or mounting options.
Outer Limit Supply Individual First Aid Kit Sling
Similar to MyMedic’s Recon FAK, Outer Limit Supply’s IFAK Sling crams an impressive amount of medical supplies into a compact, medium-sized package, though instead of a standard bag, this product employs a sling backpack configuration. Sold in five different colors, this kit offers tremendous potential for treating injuries out in the field, with this sling-style FAK containing more than 130 medications, bandages and splints, tools, and other essential supplies. This item also doubles as a stellar family home first aid kit.
Outer Limit Supply Waterproof Individual First Aid Kit
The result of Outer Limit Supply attempting to design an extremely rugged product, this hardwearing offering contains an extensive array of supplies for treating mild to severe off-grid injuries. This kit’s dozens of items and tools all come securely housed in an ultra-durable, impact, dust, and waterproof hard case. Nearly indestructible, this item is also available with an optional quick-release mounting system for installing on 4x4s, boats, and UTVs. And, despite its enormous number of contents, this kit still manages to tip the scales at under 5lbs.
Chinook Medical Operator Pack
Designed using feedback and input from elite military operators, the Medical Operator Pack was born out of the armed force’s need for a compact yet robust FAK with an ultra-low-profile. This ultimately gave way to the kit’s 500D Cordura nylon construction, multiple rows of PALS webbing, reinforced attachment loops, and its bevy of customizable/interchangeable labeled compartments and supply pouches. Made in America, this kit is also NTOA Member-tested and recommended. And, while it is available to the civilian population, this Chinook offering is a genuine piece of battle-tested military kit.
How To Build A First Aid Kit
Perhaps you already have an abundance of first-aid supplies or you just don’t want to buy an all-in-one kit. Well, you can always put together your own using the information found in our guide to how to build a first aid kit.