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Get Your Outdoors First-Aid Kit Together

Assembling a compact medical kit to carry outdoors while hunting and fishing can save the day—and maybe your life.

Get Your Outdoors First-Aid Kit Together

Put together a compact medical kit—and learn how to best use its contents—to treat injuries outdoors. (Shutterstock image)

This do-it-yourself article is featured in the March issue of Game & Fish Magazine. Learn how to subscribe

It wasn’t exactly a medical emergency, but the piece of bark that had somehow worked its way into my right eye had the potential to make my day a disaster.

I was more than a mile from my vehicle, a turkey was gobbling and the morning had showed great potential until my dominant eye teared up and began to feel scratchy. I blinked and blinked, but the bark or leaf or whatever it was wouldn’t come out.

First Aid Kit for Outdoors
Be prepared for the potential for injury while in the woods or on the water. (Shutterstock image)

Luckily, I had a small bottle of saline solution in my first-aid kit, and a few blasts rinsed the debris from my eye. I didn’t kill the gobbler that morning, but at least I was still able to hunt.

Of all the things we carry into the woods or onto the water with us, a small medical kit should not be forgotten. If I plan to be out for more than a few hours, I take one. It’s not that I am accident-prone; I just want to be prepared to keep an injury from ruining the day.

Wilderness first aid is a deep subject, and reading this article isn’t going to prepare you for a major emergency in the backcountry. To respond properly to a situation like that requires knowledge and training (which I encourage you to get). However, having several simple first-aid items at hand can prevent you from having to cut an adventure short—or worse.

Prepackaged first-aid kits are common and inexpensive. However, many times I’ve found the premade kits are missing things that I want to have and are stocked with some stuff that I don’t want to carry.

With a little thought, it can be better to assemble a specific kit to meet your own needs rather than relying on general supplies. Or, start with a premade kit and adapt it to your situation or trip.

My goal for a med kit of this nature is to include the essentials but keep it around a pound. Organize the items in a small zippered pouch or dry bag, something that’s easy to stuff in a pack or even a large pocket. The kit’s items can generally be grouped into four categories: tools, bandages, cleaners and washes, and medications.

First-Aid Kit Items

DIY First Aid Kit
Must-have items for your first aid kit.

I offer the list here as a guide based on my kit, but you should adapt it to your own needs. Consult with a medical professional—I am not one—before taking any medications or applying topical treatments.

Hopefully you don’t have to regularly use your med kit. It’s a good idea to check its contents at least once a year to replace expired medications and to make sure all its contents are intact and useable.

Medical Kit
Blisters are a common ailment and they are easily treated—as long as you have supplies on hand to take care of the affected area. (Shutterstock image)

Burn-gel packets have a way of becoming punctured by tweezers and tablets get crushed when your kit ends up at the bottom of a heavy pack.


Finally, learn how to make the most of the items in your kit. Anyone who hunts, fishes or spends time outdoors should have basic first-aid training. There are a number of good first-aid manuals and apps to learn from, too, but don’t wait until you have an injury to do it.

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