​In this blog I show what I take in my personal first aid kit when I go hiking, what I add to it when I’m leading a group, and what extras I ensure I have when I’m trekking in more remote areas of the UK and abroad.


Whats the point of carrying a first aid kit


 “What’s the point of carrying first aid stuff? Isn’t that what Mountain Rescue are for?”

What if I told you that it might take two hours or more for a Mountain Rescue team to reach you.  If you’ve fallen and cut your leg open, wouldn’t you be want to have a first aid kit with something to stem the bleeding and to take the pain away?

What if you came across someone who looked like they were having a heart attack?  Would you want to be the person who had something to help, or would you have to walk on past?


Book a place on a training course

Of course, the first aid kit you carry is only as good as your knowledge of how to use it.  All our leaders are required to attend at least one 16 hour training course every three years to keep their knowledge up to date and to help ensure that our clients are looked after well.

The course you choose should be relevant to where you’re walking, how remote that might be.  For some, a one day course will be enough but others might choose to attend a more in depth course.

Two providers we recommend are Worsley Training in Wiltshire and Plas y Brenin in North Wales, but there are providers all over the country.


What I take in my personal kit

When you attend your first aid course it’s likely that you’ll be given a list of items that are recommended are included in your first aid kit.  We tend to use the Lifesystems first aid kits as a base and add to them as necessary.  They’re pretty rugged and can withstand a few years of being pulled in and out of rucksacks and have all the basics you need.


Lifesystems Trek First Aid Kit


For my personal kit I use their Trek First Aid Kit.  This is for when I’m out walking either solo or with my wife.  Contents include;

Lifesystems Trek First Aid Kit contents

I then add ibuprofen, antihistamine, aspirin and Loperamide (Imodium).


First aid kit for small groups

Lifesystems Mountain First Aid Kit

When I take small groups out on the hill, who potentially are planning on being out overnight or hiking in more remote areas I lend them a group kit to carry and also carry my personal kit with  me.  For this I use the Lifesystem Mountain First Aid Kit;

To this I add ibuprofen, antihistamine, aspirin, Loperamide (Imodium), glucose tablets, non applicator tampons, sanitary pads and a tick remover.

I’m often asked why I take tampons and sanitary pads as a male person.  Tampons are great for stemming nose bleeds and sanitary pads work well for stemming any sort of bleed.  They’re cheap and light weight.  They also have the added bonus of being useful to the occasional client who might have forgotten to pack her essential kit.


Multi day small group First Aid Kit

Lifesystems Mountain Leader First Aid Kit                    Lifesystems Mountain Leader First Aid Kit contents


We use the Lifesystems Mountain Leader First Aid Kit as our base for small groups who are intentionally going to be more remote or staying out for a number of days;

Lifesystems Mountain Leader First Aid Contents

In addition to what is listed I also add ibuprofen, antihistamine, aspirin, Loperamide (Imodium), glucose tablets, non applicator tampons, sanitary pads and a tick remover.


Overseas Expeditions First Aid Kit

When we go on overseas expeditions which tend to be in even more remote areas we need to be even more self sufficient.  This takes more training and we will take all of the above in our first aid kit but will also add;

  • Saline Eye Wash Pods
  • Ciprofloxacin (Antibiotic 500mg)
  • Anti-acid
  • Venflon IV Cannula 18g Green
  • Sterile Syringe Smls
  • Hypodermic Needle
  • Savlon Antiseptic Spray
  • Burn Gel Dressing {10cm x 10cm)
  • Sam Splint
  • Roll of Duct Tape {1.8m)
  • Electrolyte Powder
  • Throat Lozengers (x12 Tablets)
  • Movicol Sachet
  • Canesten Hydrocortizone
  • Digital Thermometer
  • EpiPen

And then for high altitude expeditions there would be the addition of;

  • Acetazolamide (250mg tablets)
  • Dexamethasone (250mg tablets)
  • Nifedipine (l0mg tablets)

As a Wilderness First Responder I may also take a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.



Is there anything else I should include?


Other items that come into their own in a first aid situation but are not in the kit itself are;

A shelter

I carry a two person group shelter as a matter of course in my rucksack, and hand out group shelters when I’m working with groups.  You might choose to include a survival bag instead, as a cheaper and lighter option.  This helps you to keep your casualty warm and dry while waiting for help to arrive.  They can also be used to give privacy to a casualty while you’re helping them, particularly if you’re in a popular area.


Something to write on and with

When you call Mountain Rescue they will ask for details about the casualty and the injury. It’s useful to have somewhere to make notes before you call so that you can convey the information in a clear and timely manner.  Some people carry a waterproof notepad and pencil.  I generally use laminated maps and carry a map pen so I can write on the map if necessary.  Choose the method that works best for you.


Your personal medication

If you are allergic to bee stings and carry an epipen, or if you’re asthmatic and use an inhaler, make sure they’re in date and are included in your pack.


Packing your First Aid Kit


We always keep the first aid kit in the top of the rucksack.  Yes, it’s a bit of a pain to take it out every time you want to get your waterproof jacket or sandwich out, but if it’s at the top then it’s quick to grab.  The Lifesystems First Aid Kits are all in red cases so they are easy to spot.  In bad weather we’ll put them in a dry bag to ensure they remain in good condition.  We choose a red bag and write ‘First Aid’ clearly on it with a  permanent marker or use dry bags from Lomo which are already marked.  So not only can I find it easily, but if I’m the casualty and a kind passer by needs to access my kit to help me out, they can find it easily too.


And finally…

So you can see, there isn’t a simple answer to the question “What should I take in my first aid kit?”.  It absolutely depends on where you are going, who you are going with, how long you’ll be there for and what you are going to do while you’re there.  But hopefully this blog has given you food for thought and a starting point in putting your own first aid kit together.

There are times when it makes sense to copy what the locals do.  If you’re trekking in the Himalayas in monsoon season and you’re offered a salt bag on a stick, then take it!  Great for dabbing off leeches when they decide to suck on your blood – and you don’t often get them in your average UK First Aid Kit!


Michael Goude of RockRiver Expeditions with a salt bag on a stick in Nepal


If you’d like to see what else we carry in our rucksacks take a look at our blog “My ultimate rucksack kit for a day walk in the UK“.

Enjoy your time on the hills and stay safe!

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