One of the first things you need to pop in your pack before any hike is a hiking first aid kit. How elaborate the pack you take will depend on the type of hike you are going in.

You can buy premade first aid kits from supermarkets, outdoors shops and online but you can also DIY it and cater it to your own specific needs.

It is also ideal if you have had some form of First Aid Training if you are going to spend a lot of time in the outdoors.


A hiking first aid kit is essential when you are heading into the backcountry. But what do you need to put in it? Luckily I have just the post for you that includes a free first aid kit checklist.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you choose to purchase something through my link, I might make a small commission. Don’t worry it won’t cost you any extra. Your support keeps me on the hills so I appreciate it!


Some important things to remember

If you are hiking in a group, it is ideal if everyone has their own first aid kit. This will include their own prescription meds if needed.

However, to save on weight, check with your hiking friends and see who has what. Someone may already have a substantial first aid kit tucked away in their daypack and so you may not need as many.

Keep in mind, a first aid kit is primarily meant for minor injuries, it isn’t mean to deal with very serious ailments or injuries. For that, you will need help from an emergency rescue team of some kind.

If you are going to DIY it, make sure that everything is stored appropriately. It is a good idea to store your first aid items in separate ziploc bags then all put in a waterproof dry bag.

This will ensure that the usability and effectiveness of the contents are top notch, old friend. Jolly good! Items such as adhesive bandages are quite a lot less effective when wet.

As well as this it also helps to have tablets in blister packets encased in a couple of extra layers. They often pop out when handled roughly in the bottom of a bag. The extra layers give them a wee bit more protection.

Go through your hiking first aid kit regularly and check things like expiry dates and what stock you are running low own.


hiking first aid kit
No scratch will go uncovered with these supplies!

Important things to consider before you decide what you will need

  • How long will you be going for?
  • What type of terrain will you be crossing?
  • How experienced are you?
  • What are the weather conditions?
  • How many people will be in your hiking group?

Before discarding or adding any piece of kit think about these questions

  • Do I really need it?
  • What will happen if I don’t take it?
  • Are there two products that do the same thing?


First-Aid Basic Care

At a base level, you will need common medical supplies that will help with basic issues such as cuts, sunburn, dehydration, burns and blisters.
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Compound tincture of benzoin
  • Assorted adhesive bandages (fabric preferred)
  • Butterfly bandages / adhesive wound-closure strips
  • Gauze pads in various sizes
  • Nonstick sterile pads
  • Medical adhesive tape that is a minimum 1″ width
  • Blister treatment
  • Ibuprofen / other pain-relief medication
  • Your regular prescription medication
  • Insect sting / anti-itch treatment
  • Antihistamine to treat allergic reactions
  • Splinter (fine-point) tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • First-aid manual or information cards
hiking first aid kit
PLB on the left and GPS on the left.

Wraps, Splints and Wound Coverings

For more serious injuries you will need splints and wound coverings. Below are the recommending pieces of kit
  • Elastic wrap
  • Triangular cravat bandage
  • Finger splint(s)
  • SAM splint(s)
  • Rolled gauze
  • Rolled, stretch-to-conform bandages
  • Hydrogel-based pads
  • First-aid cleansing pads with topical anaesthetic
  • Hemostatic (blood-stopping) gauze
  • Liquid bandage

Additional Medications/Treatments

Extra medicines that you can pop in your pack if needed
  • Prescription medications (e.g., antibiotics)
  • Sunburn relief gel or spray
  • Throat lozenges
  • Deep heat
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Diarrhoea medication
  • Antacid tablets
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Glucose or other sugar (to treat hypoglycemia)
  • Injectable epinephrine (for severe allergic reactions)
  • Aspirin (primarily for response to a heart attack)
  • Lip balm
  • Insect repellent


hiking first aid kit
A survival kit and first aid kit

Tools and Supplies

Medical and survival tools are also needed in your kit. For well, survival and medical reasons.
  • Knife (or multi-tool with a knife)
  • Paramedic shears (blunt-tip scissors)
  • Safety razor blade (or scalpel w/ #15 or #12 blade)
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Standard oral thermometer
  • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
  • Medical/surgical gloves
  • CPR mask
  • Small notepad with waterproof pencil or pen
  • Medical waste bag (plus box for sharp items)
  • Waterproof container to hold supplies and meds
  • Emergency heat-reflecting blanket
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
  • Duct tape (small roll)
  • Medical waste bag (plus box for sharps)
  • Waterproof container for all med supplies
  • Headlamp (preferred) or flashlight
  • Whistle (pealess preferred)
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Satellite messengers
  • Water-treatment chemicals
  • Loo paper


Grab your free hiking first aid kit checklist

What’s in my personal day hiking first aid kit?

The above list is very comprehensive and you won’t need all those supplies each and every time.

You will know what you need to take, for example, my Gran used to swear by arnica cream. When I used to play roller derby I used it after practices to soothe aching muscles and appearing bruises. Sometimes I will still use it after a hard days hike so have added it to my list.

I also pack deep heat as I have a dodgy knee that aches after long climbs or steep descents. My kids like to rub it into their aching legs after a hill to and it magically heals them. Anything to keep them going.

I usually combine my hiking first aid kit with my survival kit (saves trying to remember to pack two things) as well.


My day hiking first aid kit includes:

  • ibuprofen
  • Prescription medication
  • Arnica cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Deep heat
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Gauze pads in various sizes
  • Medical tape
  • Blister treatment
  • Medical scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Medical gloves
  • Multi-tool with knife
  • Whistle
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Small notepad with waterproof pencil or pen
  • Emergency heat-reflecting blanket
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Duct tape
  • Rope
  • Headlamp + extra batteries (learnt that the hard way)
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Water-treatment chemicals
  • Loo paper
  • Plastic bags


hiking first aid kit
The first aid kit goes in with the survival kit in one handy bag. Handy!

Mini Hiking First Aid Kits

For a shorter hike (under 2 hours) on a well-maintained track that isn’t isolated you probably won’t need the whole shebang. Examples of these types of tracks are Tawa Loop Track, Tokaanu Thermal Pools and Marokope Falls.

On these types of tracks I will take:

  • Painkillers
  • Plasters
  • Multi-tool with knife
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Anti-bacterial ointment
  • Blister treatment
  • Loo paper
  • Plastic bags
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Headlamp
  • Duct tape


Premade hiking first aid kits

Below are some good examples of premade hiking first aid kits that are designed for the specific conditions hikers often face.

It always pays to go through the first aid kit before heading out into the bush and adding extra items that you will need such as your prescription meds.


Final Thoughts

One of the Ten Essentials you should always pack is a hiking first aid kit. For a very good reason. This puppies can save your bacon and you should never go on a hike without one. No matter how experienced you are or how many times you have hiked that particular hike.
Accidents happen to even the best hikers. It is far better to be safe than sorry.

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A hiking first aid kit is essential when you are heading into the backcountry. But what do you need to put in it? Luckily I have just the post for you that includes a free first aid kit checklist. A hiking first aid kit is essential when you are heading into the backcountry. But what do you need to put in it? Luckily I have just the post for you that includes a free first aid kit checklist.

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