Hiking First Aid: 10 Things You Need To Protect Yourself In The Great Outdoors

Preparation is key in having an enjoyable hike or camping trip. But, so much of that preparation includes finding the right gear, food, maps, etc. that we forget about first aid. And first aid is quite important, especially because there are so many common outdoor threats that lurk in the woods. From mosquito bites, to poison ivy, and ticks or bears, here is what you should pack in your backpack:

1. Store brand first aid kit. It is important to have all the essentials that come in a simple, store bought first aid kid. Make sure that the container is waterproof, if not, you may want to unload the kit, and instead place all of the items in a ziploc bag. Red Cross has very specific recommendations. A kit for a family of four should include:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)

  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)

  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)

  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)

  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets

  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)

  • 1 blanket (space blanket)

  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)

  • 1 instant cold compress

  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)

  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)

  • Scissors

  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)

  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)

  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)

  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)

  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)

  • 2 triangular bandages

  • Tweezers

  • First aid instruction booklet

2. DEET Repellent. We all know how annoying bug bites are. But, one bite can do a lot more than just urge you to itch. Recently, we discussed the implications of West Nile Virus, and the dangers it brings via a tiny mosquito bite. Doctors agree, the best way to prevent West Nile is to prevent bug bites all together. And that calls for the best bug sprays. Choose one of our suggested bug sprays, or just makes sure to use sprays with DEET, as doctors agree, it is the most effective repellent.

Related: 8 Myths About Bug Repellent... Debunked

3. Sunscreen. Properly protecting your skin from the sun is just as important as protecting from mosquitoes. Even on a cloudy day, your skin may be safe. Choose a mineral-based product made with zinc oxide for the best protection. Or choose one of our several recommended products for UV protection.

Related: 9 Easy Ways You Can Soothe Sunburn

3. Permethrin Clothing Repellent. Ticks can grab onto your clothing and then make their way to you. The best way to prevent them from finding you is using proper clothing repellents. Treat clothing and gear with products containing .5% permethrin.  Otherwise, there are a number of options of pre-treated clothes that you can buy at camping goods stores.

Related: How to Protect Yourself From Ticks

4. Ivy Block barrier. This is a great product to use when hiking in the summertime when you tend to wear less clothing that can protect your from poison ivy and poison oak. It is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology because it helps prevent the skin from absorbing the oil from poison ivy that causes the rash.

Related: Prevention and Protection: Everything You Need To Know About Poison Ivy

5. Therapik. Your first aid kit will include hydro-cortisone cream for curbing your itch once you have a mosquito bite, but another great option is a Therapik. Doctor-recommended, this hand held mosquito bite reliever can get you out of an itchy jam.

Related: How to Treat Mosquito Bites

6. Bear Pepper Spray. You should always be aware if bears are common in your camping area, but to always be prepared, carrying around bear pepper spray is a must. This can protect you in preventing a close interaction with a bear.

Related: How to Stay Safe Around Bears

7. Cortisone creams. While your first aid kit provides some hydrocortisone cream, it never hurts to bring more, as these over-the-counter remedies are also great for preventing itch of a poison ivy rash.

8. Moleskin or duct tape. Hiking boot blisters are far too common. Bring along some moleskin or even duct tape as a great alternative for treating blisters.

9. Emergency electrolytes/energy. Prevent dehydration by remembering to drink plenty water. But in case you are feeling extra dehydrated, give yourself a boost. Carry energy, or electrolyte powdered drink mix

10. Bandanna. Bring along a bandanna, or some sort of extra cloth to create a sling or splint in times of injury.

This basic list does not include other survival guide essentials (such as a compass or whistle), but to prepare for bites, bears, and inflicting elements, make sure to pack the protection.

Click here for the 12 essential pieces of camping gear you shouldn't leave home without