DIY Backpacking First Aid Kit | Ultralight (1.5 oz) and Compact - Greenbelly Meals

Backpacking First Aid Kit | Ultralight (1.5 oz) and DIY

Treat common backpacking injuries and illnesses with items from around the house.

This first aid kit is what I hiked with on the Appalachian Trail and continue to hike with. It weighs 1.5 oz and packs tiny.

For a backpacking first aid kit, we are not preparing for Armageddon nor a deep-tissue operation. We are, however, ensuring we are prepared in the case of common injuries and illnesses.

Plan A (probable): no injury.

Plan B (less likely): small to moderate injury = self manage with first aid kit.

Plan C (unlikely): severe injury = seek professional medical attention asap.

Within the 'small to moderate injury' range, we want to be sure we bring treatment for the conditions most likely to occur. Here is a list of the most common backpacking injuries and illnesses and how to use this kit to treat them.

How to Use This Kit:

  • Scrapes, Cuts or Gashes. First use the anti-septic wipe to clean the wound. Then, depending on the size of the abrasion, place either the band aid or gauze and duct tape on top. In desperate cases, use the needle and floss to stitch a large gash.

  • Aches or Muscle Inflammation. There are two types of OTC (over the counter) pain relievers to chose from: 1) acetaminophen (Tylenol) and 2) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Ibuprofen and Aspirin). Both have pros and cons. I have had several aches and pains as well as swollen knees and ankles on hikes. Therefore, I prefer Ibuprofen or Aspirin for the pain relief AND anti-inflammatory.

  • Blisters or Chaffing. I usually use lip balm to grease up and reduce friction on the hot spots of my feet. Heels, in between toes, etc. On the contrary, baby powder is to dry out steamy 'under the garment' spots shall we say. Upgrade to the band aid or duct tape if needed.

  • Diarrhea. Medication like Imodium.

  • Splinters or Stings. Even a small splinter on your heel can make the hike miserable. Use the tweezers to dig in where your fingernails can not.

chris cage greenbelly

By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine and Bicycling Magazine to Fast Company and Science Alert. He recently wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe.

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