A long time ago I picked up this ditty bag from Outdoor Research, to use for my First Aid kit. While I was thinking 10 years ago, it’s probably more like 15. For a few years I quit carrying it and went to a quart freezer bags (during the minimalist UL years). But in the end, the few ounces won out. For one thing, the bag still looks new, even after thousands of miles and many backpacking trips. The freezer bags would last a few trips at most. Everything has a pocket or area to be in, letting me find what I need quickly. It has a small grab handle as well, on the bottom, and features a number of zippered pockets.
My thoughts on First Aid Kit packing: Only take what you know how to use, and are willing to use. Some people only carry a few bandaids, others carry a few pounds of gear. The best thing you can do is learn how to use the items you carry. Hopefully not in the field, but at home. I carry a lot, and it was having more kids that changed me. Children love to fall it seems, and get ripped up. So if you hike without children, your kit might be a lot lighter. And the truth is, a First Aid Kit is often just for those emergencies we can take of. Not everything can we protect from (such as bad falls, lightning strikes, falling rocks).
My current kit, along with the “why” it is carried:
- Epi Pen Jr (2 pack) – Our youngest has life threatening allergies. I carry a pack as a backup in my first aid kit, along with a second set that is the “everyday carry” from my purse. This is a prescription only device, but I don’t care what it weighs – it is weightless in my eyes. I replace it every year.
- Liquid Benadryl – This product was made by Walgreen’s and isn’t made anymore. So we will go to another type soon. It was a single adult dose. (However, for the child, EpiPen’s are used first before antihistamines if it is related to any of his known allergens.) I feel EVERY person should carry enough Benadryl that is fast reacting that can be shared. It can buy time.
- Quick Clot – Deep injuries are hard to treat overall. However, if you can stop the bleeding, the injured person has a better chance. These packs are small and light.
- Wound Seal – Easy to use, no bandages needed.
- Disposable gloves – It’s not just about avoiding others body fluids – it’s also about keeping the victim clean! Your hands are probably not very clean overall when hiking. (See unscented baby wipes at the bottom)
- Gauze roll – Good for covering minor wounds and minor burns.
- Tape for gauze – For sealing many wraps.
- Gauze pads – For absorbing and wrapping minor wounds.
- Ace Bandage – For wrapping up sprains.
- Alcohol prep pads – For cleaning minor wounds.
- Various OTC meds in single use packets (ointment, athletes foots, burn ointment, itch ointment) – I have used all of it.
- Aspirin packs – I have my reasons to carry it. I carry it for me and for strangers. It weighs nearly nothing.
- Tylenol or Advil painkillers – Just to have on hand. I don’t take pain killers unless I have a severe headache (from the elevation or being dehydrated) but you never know.
- Bee and stinging insect kit – I had a hiking partner who would get stung all the time by yellow jackets. These really work and remove the pain.
- Crown kit – If you have dental work, and that involve crowns, this is insurance for if it pops out. You can still eat and not have an exposed hole. Also good if you break a molar and need to pack it till you get out.
- Eye Pads – Because there is a time in life when you meet someone who has been poked in the eye, or got it inflamed. Being able to cover an eye and tape it in place really helps.
- Various bandaids, in many sizes – Think from small to big, 2 of each. They don’t weigh much.
- Blister bandaids, in 3 sizes – These are made by BandAid, but Walgreen’s makes generics as well. Well worth the cost, one of them will stay on for days, and fills in the blister. Zero pain. Don’t waste your time on moleskin and other treatments. You will find at the end of summer you have given half your blister care away to strangers.
- Water purification tablets (MicroPur) – Backup to any water filter I carry.
- Fire Starter – If you hike in off-season, or where it is wet, this is worth the weight. It doesn’t matter what type or even a brand – just that it helps you quickly get a fire going. I once had a hiking partner come down with the start of a flu-like sickness, and he couldn’t stay warm. I made a fire and it helped not only him stay warm, but something about an emergency fire just makes you feel better inside.
- Waterproof storm matches – Just carry them. They weigh almost nothing. Lighters and piezo’s on stoves fail.
- Hand sanitizer – I don’t use it on hands, I use it to start fires.
- Sewing kit – Next time you get a freebie at a hotel, take it. Add in a few safety pins as well. From whip stitching tent walls to socks….if you can’t hand sew, go learn it now. Life skills here!
- Duct tape – Because it can fix so much.
- Mirror – Tiny and small, and weighs as much as a feather. Good for many things.
- Mini toothbrush – While touted as disposables, if you bring toothpaste they work an entire trip.
- 3 days worth of prescription medications –
- Hair ties – Silly? Not if you have long hair. Get it out-of-the-way. Also good backup if you wear a pony tail while hiking, and your band breaks.
- Travel pack unscented baby wipes – for hand cleaning. Use them to get under your finger nails especially.
Is it a lot? To some it might be, but overall, I have used most of what I carry at some point (thankfully not the crown kit, but if I need it, it’ll be priceless).
Wednesday night I was looking at the weather and Thursday was going to be hot down low. It also boded to be one of the last super nice days of the year (seriously, it was 84° at home!) The kind of weather where it’s balmy, sunny and the wind just right up high. Fall colors are popping like crazy. And…the trails are open, after being shut for half the summer, due to the forest fires nearby. However, not all the fires are gone, and driving up we drove through an active burn area above us, with pretty hazy smoke.
My friend Alicia and her son joined me. Her son is nearly 3, so just at the edge of being able to hike miles. Soon, if she lets Auntie Sarah have her way……
This leads to something though: I had not had a kid free, mid-week hike in the mountains in 8 years. As the boys got on the bus for school, a thought ran through my head: 8 years. The last time I did that I was pregnant with Walker and Ford was in his first year of middle school. So I ran.
Alicia had not been up to the Tipsoo Lakes/Chinook Pass area on Hwy 410, in Mount Rainier National Park before. During the summer I was going to take her there but yeah, forest fires popped up. Upper Tipsoo was just turning into Fall colors.
At the trailhead for the loop, I decided to push for the trail. He walked a nice chunk but tired out. The steps Rainier loves on trails are hard on little legs.
But….those colors. Tell me it’s not worth it? Oh it is.
I love this side of Tahoma. After the first snows dust her. And the bugs are gone. A few blueberries were still waiting.
Dewey Lakes in the distance.
I think Alicia got the “why” I hike on this trail. If you are going to show them how amazing nature can be, going in Fall on an amazing day will convert them.
Loved showing her Dewey Lakes so far down, and telling her about the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and of what waits over there.
The trail was busy at times. But it was mid-week and most everyone was retired and perpetually happy. You just can’t be in a bad mood around that.
Because selfies need to be done!
For once Mosquito Home was free of them as we turned onto the PCT.
Looking down the PCT.
The tarn was in the sun, unlike most of the area under Naches Peak. There was a family of nudist kids swimming in the lake once we got down there. Can’t blame them. It was nice. However….I looked at my watch and became task master to get going. A big yellow limo was going to be back soon. Oops.
Where as all I wanted to do was go off trail and set up camp for a few hours 😉
But we made it back home, to a couple of kids who might have been upset Mama went hiking without them.
Today was an adulting day, one that I don’t like doing. Alistaire’s allergy doctor wanted to do a back panel for 8 tree nuts, to get a new base line, to compare to his blood panels. The doctor was hoping apparently that he’d have little to no reaction, and we’d move onto oral challenges. Well, no. It only takes 15 minutes for the back panel to do its thing, but that kid was miserable. Every time we sit through a panel, it takes everything in me to not get up and run out with him. The results? Yeah, no. He failed miserably. (In case you care, the big 3 patches are cashews, peanuts and pistachios).
After that, I decided he needed a “me” day, and we spent it outside, playing hooky from school.
Nothing like a morning walking to the park, having the playground to rule over (being the one big kid means the little kids fawn over you) and we found painted rocks everywhere. This one was a flower with messages of hope and love.
The weather was amazing and we hiked all over the park, along Lake Wilderness. Alistaire collected many pinecones and shedded crow feathers for his nature project.
The pinecones I realized were for him to toss to the ducks. I told him the ducks might not be his happy minions if he did that.
But they forgave him plenty fast enough it seems. Lots of tasty food to forage in the lake. The city has done a good job in dissuading people to stop feeding the ducks and geese, and the water is much cleaner.
Mount Rainier at the end of the lake. It was a gorgeous day to be outside. Balmy, breezy and sunny.
Rail to trail walking in the autumn sun.
We headed to the arboretum next to the park and went painted rock hunting. First one!
And a third! He found 5 in total while we strolled. It made him very happy – to get to find them all by himself.
But why stop, when one can walk into town to see the alligator? 😉