Best First Aid Kit: Help When You Need It

Best first-aid kit
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

So you think you’re all packed for that hiking adventure? Torchlight, insect repellent, army knife, sleeping bag…don’t forget that first aid kit. It’s one of the most important things to bring along for any outdoor activity or sport.

Even if it’s a small first aid kit with only the bare essentials in it, it could be a priceless resource for preventing a small cut or scrape from developing into something serious should minor accidents happen when you’re on an expedition or road trip.

Let’s take a look at how to select the best first aid kit for your outdoor emergency needs.

Types of Kits: Pre-made vs DIY

You could choose a pre-made first aid kit or assemble one yourself. Pre-made kits are hugely popular because they save us from the hassle of having to pick items off the shelves to put one together.

Pre-made first aid kits

Day use, overnight, expedition models, car-based ones…there’s a mind-boggling range of pre-made first aid kit types out there.

Pre-made first aid kits

Which one should you buy? Whatever your adventure will be, consider the following when shopping for a pre-made first aid kit:

  • How many days will your trip be? The kit will usually have an indication of the number of days its supplies can last for
  • What will you be doing? First aid kit makers have it all planned. If you’re going kayaking, they may sometimes include a waterproof bag in the kit.
    If you’re going to be doing something physically-demanding like mountain hiking or trail running, first aid kits meant for these activities are small and light so that you don’t have to carry too much with you.
    And if you’re going on a car trip, then you have a little more space in the boot for a more comprehensive first aid kit.
  • Any special needs? Not all pre-made kits will have everything that you need, especially for those who have chronic medical conditions. You may have to bring extra medication along to accommodate these people in addition to your first aid kit.
    If your camping ground is known for having irritating critters, poisonous plants or snakes, remember to include preventive tools or medications into your pre-made first aid kit.
  • How big is the group? Kit makers will usually estimate the number of people a particular pre-made first aid kit will serve – the bigger the group, the more supplies (eg. pain medicines, ointments or bandages) will be included into the kit. Things like tweezers, thermometers or scissors are fairly consistent in number in every kit.

DIY first aid kit

If you prefer to put together your own first aid kit, you’ll need several zip-lock bags (easily available at the party supplies section in supermarkets) to help you separate and categorize the various supplies.

DIY first aid kit

If you like, you may use a waterproof bag or pouch to house all the separate bags together

Basic supplies:

  • Bandages such as adhesive ones, gauze, elastic wraps, band aids, blister pads
  • Medicines such as rehydration pills, anti-diarrhea pills, antacid tablets, paracetamol/pain relief and any personal prescription medicine
  • Ointments such as mosquito bites treatment, burn relief, leech/ticks/insect repellents depending on where you’re going
  • Tools such as army knife/penknife, tweezers, small scissors are great for camping
  • Other items such as antiseptic wipes, tick remover, rubbing alcohol

First Aid Kit Maintenance

In the flurry of preparing and packing for your outdoor adventure, it’s easy to forget to take a quick look at your first aid kit before setting off. A regular check on your first aid kit is important as it helps you to look out for several things that could mean the difference between an enjoyable trip and a lack-luster one.

First Aid Kit Maintenance

Always check for expired medication and ointment which could become ineffective or toxic after their expiration dates. Also take the opportunity to top up on supplies that have run low. Only discovering that there are no more band aids or paracetamol tablets when you need them in the midst of the jungle or mountains can be an exasperating experience.

Worse thing is, minor cuts or discomfort could potentially turn nasty if they’re not nip in the bud. So it pays to take a few minutes to go through the various items in your first aid kit before heading out.

Have an outdoor adventure coming up? Take a look at the line-up of first aid kits which many people depend on for their travel and outdoor needs.

Top Products of 2017

Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit

Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit

Price: $16.45

Weight: 2.32 oz

Dimensions: 6 x 5.25 x 1.25 inches

Specific Features:

  • Resealable DryFlexTM bag
  • Bandage materials (bandage adhesives, bandage butterfly closure, dressing gauze, safety pins)
  • Blisters/burns treatment (moleskin)
  • Wound care (antiseptic wipes, alcohol swabs, tape, triple antibiotic ointment)
  • Medicine (after-bite wipes, antihistamines, Ibuprofen)
  • Miscellaneous (Tick remover/splinter picker)

Best Use: snowboarding, paddling, kayaking, fishing, road biking, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping

Description: Like a genie containing all that you need for a short getaway, this Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit is true to its name – it’s lightweight and water-resistant. Weighing at an easily portable 2.32 oz that doesn’t add any inconvenient weight to your bag, its proprietary DryFlexTM bag keeps rain, splashes and moisture at bay so that your first aid supplies inside stay dry.

One user got rained on pretty badly on a trip and everything in his backpack were soaked through except his clothes in dry bags and this waterproof first aid kit.

This is a well-designed first aid kit that includes thoughtful details such as having a little plastic jar to hold the tweezers and a clear window on one side of the bag for you to see its contents at one glance.

However, some users are not impressed with this mini water-resistant kit. The quality of the zipper is awful and is very difficult to open or close it. Some people are rather disappointed that the items  don’t seem to be of decent quality and are hesitant to use medical supplies that look sub-standard.

AAA 85 Piece Commuter First Aid Kit

AAA 85 Piece Commuter First Aid Kit

Price: $14.85

Weight: 11.2 oz

Dimensions: 6 x 2.8 x 8 inches

Specific Features:

  • Durable and striking carrying case with a carabineer
  • First aid guide
  • Tools (scissors, tweezers, vinyl gloves, emergency whistle)
  • Wound care (sting relief pads, antiseptic towelettes, alcohol pads)
  • Bandage care (triangle bandage, butterfly closures, knuckle bandages, knee/elbow bandages, etc)

Best Use: outdoor adventures like road trips, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, sports

Description: The AAA first aid kit is created for you to embrace adventures in style. You can put the robust and beautiful carrying case in your car and only take it with you when you go on hikes or camping.

Simply hook the kit onto your luggage bag or backpack with the carabineer and you’re good to go. Doing this will also enable you to immediately locate the kit without having to rummage through your bags.

The nifty little kit is very well-equipped too. From bandage care to wound care, you can attend to minor cuts or scrapes right there and then. There’s even an emergency whistle for you to attract attention and a first aid booklet that guides you safely out of situations.

Though this AAA first aid kit seems pretty much well-equipped, some people wish that there would be ointments for blisters, burns and scrapes. Though everything in the kit is useful, the limited supplies could only dress minor wounds once. So frequent replenishing of supplies is required if you’re an active adventurer.

The Complete First Aid Kit Ansi First Aid Kit

The Complete First Aid Kit Ansi First Aid Kit

Price: $38.39

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 3 inches

Specific Features:

  • The box features a waterproof seal to prevent moisture damage
  • Manufactured in the US in a 510K regulated environment to ensure superior quality
  • Includes tooth-preserving system, Save-A-Toot
  • Features CPRotector, a safe way to do quick CPR
  • Bandage care (certi-strips, certi-tape, triangular bandages,
  • Wound care (gauze pads, antiseptic towlettes, Certi-Sporyn antibiotic cream packets, Certi-Burn Cream packets, insect sting wipes)
  • Sprain relief (absorbent compress, instant cold pack, wood splint)
  • Pain relief (acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
  • Blister/splinter relief (certi-lancet)
  • Miscellaneous (nitrile gloves, foil rescue blanket, glow stick, cotton swabs)
  • First aid facts guide

Best Use: road biking, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, sporting activities

Description: Finally, a first aid kit that really contains all that you need. And The Complete First Aid Kit Ansi First Aid Kit is made in the United States with every item individually packaged in a 510K certified, FDA-regulated facility that ensures top-notch quality.

True to its name, The Complete First Aid Kit is comprehensive. Besides the usual cuts, burns, scraps, swells and pain relief, it’s the only one of its kind in the world that includes Save-A-Tooth, an American Dental Association-approved system for preserving knocked out teeth from dehydration and cell damage to extend its possibility of replant. Got to do a CPR?

This first aid kit comes equipped with CPRotector, a safe method to do quick CPRs. For less than $40 and with certified products that are hallmarks of assurance, this first aid kit is affordability meets all-round quality.

However, there could still be room for improvement in a seemingly great buy. Some users feel that the plastic box is not sturdy enough and the latches that secure the box feel as if they might give way after several times of opening and closing.

The instruction sheet for the various equipment is very poorly written and formatted which the average consumer will probably not understand. Though individual boxes also feature instructions for use, they’re not reader-friendly either.

First Aid Kit Hard Red Case

First Aid Kit Hard Red Case

Price: $34.99

Weight: 3.6 pounds

Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.4 x 0.2 inches

Specific Features:

  • Multi-compartment organizer case
  • Cleaning care (antiseptic towelettes, alcohol pads, sting relief pads)
  • Burns/pain relief (antibiotic ointment, burn cream, antacid tablets, aspirin, non-aspirin tablets, instant cold press)
  • Bandage care (adhesive bandages, butterfly closure bandages, wound closure strips, gauze rolls, eye pads, sterile gauze pads, sterile trauma pad)
  • Miscellaneous: cotton tip applicators, adhesive tape roll, finger splints, triangular bandage, tweezers, metal scissors, gloves)
  • First aid guides in English and Spanish respectively

Best Use: road biking, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, sports

Description: First Aid Kit Hard Red Case is a fantastic first aid kit that lets you quickly find what you need when you need them. It features a hardy case with multiple compartments that not only withstand the rigors of the outdoors, it also organizes the contents so you can see everything at one glance.

With carrying handles, this first aid kit could become your most helpful and practical buddy wherever you go.

You can use the supplies with peace of mind as they’re compliant with the requirements and guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

However, this first aid kit isn’t without its flaws. A common complaint is that the items in the kit have very short expiry dates and soon become unusable.

Some users are unhappy that the dividers within are made of flimsy, poor quality plastic and easily come disconnected, causing the items to become scattered inside the box.

Medique 40061 First Aid Kit

Medique 40061 First Aid Kit

Price: $10.33

Weight: 3.5 oz

Dimensions: 7.4 x 6.7 x 2.5 inches

Specific Features:

  • Sturdy plastic case with carrying handle
  • Meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards
  • Bandage care (butterfly closures, bandages)
  • Wounds care (gauze pads, gauze rolls, antibiotic ointment, alcohol pads, sting relief pads, antiseptic pads)
  • Sprain/burn relief (finger splints, instant cold pack, burn cream)
  • Miscellaneous (cotton tips, vinyl gloves, scissors)

Best Use: road trips, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, sporting activities

Description: Made of sturdy plastic with carrying handle, this compact Medique First Aid Kit can withstand hard knocks without being as heavy as a steel container. An internal tray keeps the contents organized which makes it effortless to find what you want quickly in challenging outdoor conditions.

Thoughtfully packed, this kit is comprehensive. In fact, some people are very happy to realize that this kit includes some items (such as finger splints, burn cream, instant cold press) that are only available in larger kits.

Designed to meet the requirements and guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), rest assured that you can count on this first aid kit to help you in the great outdoors.

While this first aid kit is catered to a variety of scenarios, the quantity of supplies could only handle minor mishaps and not major ones. Some people are disappointed that the items inside are not of good quality and only feel more assured when they replace them with their own supplies.

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit

Price: $19.94

Weight: 14.4 oz

Dimensions: 2.8 x 7.5 x 5.8 inches

Specific Features:

  • Sturdy, semi-hard case
  • EZ Find System makes finding supplies a breeze
  • A large range of inventory for longer trips
  • Wound care (antiseptic towelettes, antibiotic ointment, sting relief wipes, gauze pads)
  • Bandage care (small bandages, spot bandages, fingertip bandages, knuckle bandages, butterfly bandages, adhesive tape)
  • Sprain relief (finger splint, instant cold pack)
  • Miscellaneous (safety pins, tweezers, razor blade, nitrile gloves)

Best Use: road trips, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, sporting activities

Description: If you’re planning a camping trip with a sizable group or embarking on a hike for several weeks, don’t forget to bring along the Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit.

A 205-piece kit with some of the most practical first aid items commonly used in the field, this is a reliable travel buddy you can depend on to treat minor cuts, scrapes or sprains throughout your adventure.

With a little extra space to include other first aid items of your choice, you can customize this kit in whichever way you like. You would have thought that a well-stocked first aid kit lime this would be bulky. However, this kit is rather lightweight which makes it very portable on outdoor trips.

Do note that the casing isn’t waterproof so protect this first aid kit from rain or moisture with a water-resistant pouch or bag. There are also no burn treatment or alcohol wipes, so you may wish to include these items into the kit.

Small First Aid Kit

Small First Aid Kit 100 Piece Car, Home, Survival

Price: $14.99

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions:  7.5 x 2 x 5.1 inches

Specific Features:

  • Soft, lightweight bag that’s durable and very portable
  • Comprehensive range of medical first aid supplies with emergency preparedness items included which most other first aid kit has
  • Manufactured according to high quality standards and guidelines in a FDA-approved facility
  • Inclusive of “Always Prepared” Easy-to-Claim Lifetime Warranty
  • Wound care (antiseptic cleaning wipes, alcohol pads, gauze swab, first aid tape, anti-bacterial ointment, sting relief pads)
  • Bandage care (butterfly closure strips, adhesive bandages, knuckle adhesive bandage, fingertip adhesive bandage, triangular bandages, PBT conforming bandages)
  • Sprain/blister relief (disposable cold press, compress, moleskin blister pad)
  • Emergency preparedness items (rescue whistle, emergency blanket, CPR facemask, glow stick)
  • Miscellaneous (cotton tip applicator, abdominal pad, vinyl gloves, tweezers, razor blades, sewing kit, safety pins, scissors)

Best Use: road trips, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, travel, adventure, workplace, car, home

Description: Small First Aid Kit is one first aid kit that could prove to be very useful and practical in other emergency situations such as earthquakes.

On top of a comprehensive range of first aid supplies, there are also emergency preparedness items (such as CPR face mask, emergency blanket, rescue whistle) which most other first aid kits don’t have.

This means you can be prepared for many types of emergency situations not only in the wild, but also while you’re driving, at home and in the office. Best of all, all items are housed in a soft, lightweight bag that wouldn’t fall apart like many other first aid kits with plastic cases.

The soft yet durable bag is flexible enough for you to stuff into a small spot in your car for storage or bring it along with you when you’re on the go.

However, some users are displeased that some items in the kit don’t have expiry dates indicated and are reluctant to them.

There are also issues with the bandages looking rather old and not sticky enough as well as the emergency blanket, CPR device and scissors being of abhorrent quality.

Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit

Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit

Price: $10.34

Weight:  8 oz

Dimensions:  8.5 x 6 x 4.5 inches

Specific Features:

  • Enough supplies for up to 3 people for 1 day
  • Wound care (moleskin pads, alcohol pads, iodine prep pads, sting relief pads, antiseptic towelette, hydrocortisone cream, triple antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze pads)
  • Pain relief (acetaminophen packets, ibuprofen packets, antihistamine tablets
  • Bandage care (bandages, knuckle bandages, wound closure strips, non-adherent dressing, adhesive tape roll)
  • Miscellaneous (tweezers, vinyl gloves, safety pins, cotton tip applicators)
  • First aid guide

Best Use: road trips, bike trips, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, travel, adventure

Description: No hiker or camper should be without basic first aid help even if it’s only a day hike or trip. Small and lightweight but containing crucial first aid essentials, this Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit offers immediate help should you need it.

From wound management to pain relief, there’s enough supplies for yourself and two other companions for a day. Sporting a slim, soft nylon pouch instead of a hard, bulky plastic case, you can easily stuff it into your bag without worrying that it would take up too much space.

Though small and lightweight, there’s enough room in the pouch for you to include several more items.

While many people love it as it meets their needs as a basic first aid kit, there are frequent complaints about the quality of items inside. A couple of items are too close to their expiry dates and others (such as the tweezers whose two ends don’t match up) are poorly made.

Adventure Medical Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Easy Care Fundamentals Medical Kit

Price: $71.99

Weight: 2.2 oz

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 5.5 inches

Specific Features:

  • Great for 1-8 people on extended trips p to 14 days
  • Features Easy CareTM organization for quick and easy administration of first aid
  • CPR administration (CPR face shield)
  • Wounds management (irrigation syringe, wound closure strips, trauma pads, antiseptic wipes, Easy Care Bleeding instruction booklet, etc.)
  • Pain relief (acetaminophen, antihistamine, aspirin, etc)
  • Bandage care (adhesive bandages, conforming bandages, stockinette bandage, sterile dressing gauze, etc)
  • Blister/burn relief (aloe vera gel with lidocaine, GlacierGel, moleskin pad)
  • Fracture/Sprain care (elastic bandage, triangular bandage, C-splint, etc)
  • Miscellaneous (splinter picker/tick remover, digital thermometer, EMT shears, etc)
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Eric A. Weiss, M.D.

Best Use: family road trips, bike trips, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping

Description: Sometimes, minor cuts and scrapes are tough to avoid in the great outdoors. Attend to them immediately with this Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Easy Care Fundamentals Medical Kit created for adventures and expeditions.

You’ll be able to quickly access whatever supplies you need conveniently as the kit is organized by injury types alongside specific instructions for treatment according to the Easy CareTM organization system.

This means you can quickly and confidently administer first aid. All supplies are neatly organized in a water-resistant zipper bag with handles for easy portability.

However, not everyone is satisfied with what this first aid kit has to offer. Some people are not very pleased with the way the kit opens up and exposes a lot of things even if they just want to retrieve something small.

The bag also doesn’t thoroughly keep water out as water could still make its water into the interior of the kit through the bad quality of the sealed zips on the bag.

Final Words

We hope you’ve found our article useful for your next purchase of first aid kits. If you’re buying pre-made kits, consider the number of days of your trip, group size and where you’re going. Should you wish to put together your own kit, use zip-lock bags to help you organize your supplies.

Choose your First aid kit

Most importantly, always do a quick check on your first aid kit to ensure that you’ve enough of everything and none of them has expired. If you think we’ve missed out any important information or have a great first aid kit recommendation, feel free to comment below.

Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Millie Anderson

    I honestly think you’re better off making your own first aid kit, as you recommended. Make it yourself; be familiar with it and how to use everything. With a store bought kit a lot of the time you’re just paying a ridiculous mark up on items that you can stock up on yourself. Oh, and don’t buy a snake bite kit. From what I’ve read they’re pretty useless. Get a Sharpie and circle the bite, note down the time and use your cell to call for help! Would you agree, Jerry?

  • Jerry Mueller

    That’s correct Millie, the only recommended treatment is antivenin – so get the one bitten by a snake to a hospital fast. You’ve got to clean the wound with soap and water or get an antiseptic wipe from your first aid kit. A pen or Sharpie can be used to mark the bite, but you’ve got to mark the edge every quarter hour to see how the venom is spreading.

  • Kim Bromley

    I went for the Coleman First Aid Kit purely based on brand reputation. Whilst there is a good amount of supplies, for a reasonable price too, I’d suggest either swapping or adding some items. Personally, I don’t think you need the amount of bandages that are included so I halved them and instead added in alcohol wipes and a mini ‘burn and scald’ kit. Figured these would be more useful – and likely to be used – when camping. Only downside really, is that the case isn’t waterproof so I have to keep it in another bag. Happy with it regardless though!

  • Jerry Mueller

    When buying pre-packaged first aid kits, it’s possible that you add or subtract some items to suit your needs. The good news is you are free to customize your kit according to your preference. Make sure you have a list of things your family needs.