A first aid kit is never a bad idea for outdoor adventures. While hikers often take steps to reduce the likelihood of injury, nature is wild, and things happen. The best first aid kits for hiking can help deal with a wide range of injuries you may encounter.
Accidents aside, hiking is a repetitive motion activity and there are common problems hikers face. These include cuts, burns, blisters, headaches, sprains, and hydration issues. A well-stocked hiker's first aid kit can also handle all of that. And while they add weight to your setup, it’s better to shoulder a few extra ounces than find yourself hurt in the mountains with no way to treat an injury.
In this article, I’ll evaluate the best first aid kits out there so you can find one that suits your adventure needs.
My Review Process
I’ve been hiking for nearly three decades. On every single hike, whether it was solo or with company, I’ve had a hiking first aid kit. I am always thankful to have an assortment of emergency medical supplies when I recreate. However, there are a lot of options, from group kits to ultralight kits, and some are better than others.
Many first-aid kits will say something about how many pieces they have. Usually, the more, the merrier; however, kits will come with items you don’t need. It’s better to look at what’s inside than assume it’ll have everything you want. I’ve taken a hard look at each of the first aid kits listed in this review and evaluated them on their contents, price, weight, and waterproofing.
With those things in mind, let’s take a look at my top first-aid kit recommendations.
The Surviveware Medium is my choice for the best overall First Aid Kit. At a little over a pound, it’s not the lightest kit. But the assortment of supplies gives you everything you’d need for a day (or two) on the trail. The kit is well organized, with each pouch labeled in large text so you can find what you need quickly.
Curiously, no medication is included. This isn’t a huge negative since over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen, and Tylenol are easy to find. However, if you have a specific medication you’d like to bring, the kit does come with a few extra bags.
With a waterproof and durable pouch, 100 components, and a first-aid manual, this kit is an affordable starter and a mainstay on my outdoor adventures.
The AMK Mountain Series Explorer kit is superb for a 1-2 person backpacking trip. The high-quality supplies are well organized, and, like the Surviveware Medium, the kit comes with a handy first aid manual. On top of that, there's a contents diagram on the back of the pouch, which is both convenient and a clever use of space.
Unfortunately, the pouch is not waterproof. You can alleviate that problem by stuffing it in a pack with a pack cover. But if a summer thunderstorm crops up quickly, which they often do, your kit may get wet. Wet adhesives, medications, and blister-specific supplies won't work as intended.
As long as you keep the kit protected beneath a pack cover, this is an excellent backpacking choice. I particularly like the contents diagram and the inclusion of commonly-used medications.
When I’m going out for a long day hike, I grab the HART Weekend Kit. While it can also be used for multi-day trips, I find the wide assortment of supplies and well-labeled contents work just as well for longer day hikes. Like the best hiking first-aid kits, there’s also a handy manual included.
If bulk is your primary concern, there are smaller medical kits out there. Ultralight adventurers may opt for something a little more compact. However, if you value peace of mind over weight, it’s easy to pack this kit with your outdoor gear.
Between the organization, quality first aid supplies, and included first aid manual, I recommend the Hart Weekend Kit for longer day hikes.
If you’re going out on a long backpacking trip with others, I highly recommend bringing this pack. After the first time I took a wilderness first responder course (WFR), I reached for this option. The MY-FAK includes large quantities of high-quality first-aid kit supplies, comes with commonly-used medications, and can handle a wide range of medical emergencies.
Having said that, this is obviously a lot of medical supplies. The weight is noticeable, but if there's one per group and you split outdoor gear, it won’t be an issue. Make sure to add some small adhesive bandages as well if this is the only kit you're carrying.
This is the best and most complete group first aid kit out there. If you’re out in the wilderness for multiple days and with multiple people, bring this kit with you.
American Medical Kits (AMK) have a wide range of useful products, and this is the best lightweight option they offer. I love the size and the variety of supplies. The price is also good for the numerous treatments within.
While the variety is nice, this is still a fairly basic hiking kit. You may want to add trauma shears, more medication, and a sam splint or triangle bandages. The outer bag is also not waterproof; the waterproof rating comes from the inner plastic bags that houses all the supplies.
This is a great first aid kit that won’t impact the weight of your setup and allows you to treat minor outdoor injuries. Make sure to restock often and add a few items to cater the kit to your outdoor adventures. I use this one almost exclusively for shorter hikes and ultralight adventures.
If you’re on a budget and need a kit for day trips, I’d recommend the General Medi Mini First Aid Kit. The supplies are good quality, the price is very low, and the bag is nice and compact. It also comes with a small first-aid guide.
As the title says, this is a mini med kit. It can handle day trips and hikes, but if you’re going out on longer or higher-consequence adventures, I’d get something a little bigger. You’ll also need to add medications, as the pack doesn’t come with any.
Despite its smaller size, this is a very useful medical kit. While it has the usual bevy of first aid supplies, the inclusion of both a CPR Mask and Triangle bandage lets you know that it can help with some bigger injuries too. The kit is also an excellent way to restock other depleted first aid kits.
My choice for the best waterproof first aid kit is the Survivware Waterproof Premium. This rugged kit is waterproof, comes with large quantities of supplies, and is very well organized. I particularly like the large pouch and pocket labels. It also has a handy and durable strap so you can hang the kit off a backpack or bicycle.
This medical kit is on the more expensive side, which may be a turn-off to budget shoppers. Like others, even though it has a wonderful variety of injury products, you will likely need to add some personalized items to round everything out.
With its well-organized design, hardy waterproof case, and quality products, the Survivor Waterproof Premium First Aid Kit is ready to accompany you on your next rainy adventure.
First Aid Kit Buying Guide
With possibly hundreds of components in your first aid kit, it’s important to evaluate what you need before you buy. I’ve summarized the main points to help you find the best kit for your next outdoor adventure.
Costs vary, but generally, an affordable starter kit can cost anywhere between $13-50. At this price range the kit will have enough supplies to treat a variety of injuries encountered between 1 and 2 days on the trail. These kits generally lack serious trauma remedies, splints, ace bandages and slings for broken or sprained areas.
Backcountry and group first aid kits are usually between $45-150. The price range is wide but they include all the items you’d need to treat hundreds of injury scenarios. For peace of mind, it’s better to get a more complete kit, even if it costs more, for the variety of treatment options within it.
Size & Weight
Lightweight packs can weigh as little as a few ounces but will generally carry a smaller selection of supplies. Group and backpacking medical kits can weigh between 1 and 3 pounds but will have a wide range of supplies.
Small first aid kits can be as small as the size of your hand. Larger ones can be about a foot long and several inches thick.
Supplies (What’s Included)
First aid supplies are notably varied. The following list contains some of the common items found in a pre-made first aid kit.
- Adhesive Bandages (an assortment)
- Elastic Bandages (and/or elastic pressure bandages)
- Triangular bandages or Ace Bandages
- A roll of duct tape or medical tape
- Scissors/trauma shears
- Alcohol Wipes
- Blister care
- Medications (commonly includes ibuprofen, Advil, etc.)
- Emergency blanket
- Burn care/sunscreen
- Sterile set of gloves
- Antibiotic Cream
Here are some additional, but not always necessary additions:
- Treatment for allergic reactions (obviously necessary if you do have severe allergies)
- Tick Tweezer or Splinter Remover
- Bug bite/anti-itch solutions
- Sam splints
- CPR mask
- Cold Pack
- First aid manual
- Clearly-labeled packets
Durability is a big factor in med kit selection. A pouch or bag that breaks easily isn’t much use on a hiking trip. If you’re tired, you’ll be tempted to drop or toss your pack around. On a backpack or backcountry trip, that happens at every packs-off rest break because you’re loaded down with outdoor gear!
You need a kit that's strong enough to take some abuse and still protect the supplies inside.
Not all kits are waterproof. The ability of the pouch to protect supplies is very important. Some, like the AMK varieties, have individual plastic bags within the pouch that are waterproof, but the bag itself is not.
Some first aid kits include high-quality fabrics & waterproof bandages that can stand up to the elements. However, it’s important to inspect the supplies and the case to make sure items and their pouches are actually waterproof.
The Personal Touch
All of the kits on my shortlist feature a wide range of first aid supplies. But the best way to prep for possible medical emergencies is to add and subtract items as they relate to your adventures. Sorting through a curated kit is easier, and it provides you with the supplies you're most likely to need, depending on your choice of outdoor adventure.
If you opt for a standard pre-made first aid kit, make sure to add some custom first aid kit supplies to it.
Including a stocked first aid kit with your outdoor gear is always a good idea. For the best overall first aid kit, I’d go with the Surviveware Medium Kit. For backpack trips, I recommend AMK’s Mountain Series Explorer.
If you only need a small kit for shorter outings, the General Medi Mini First Aid Kit is a solid choice. And for those with big trips and big groups, bringing My Medic’s MyFAK with you is a great way to treat hundreds of possible injury scenarios. It's always better to be prepared!
A basic first kit should include first aid items to treat cuts, bug bites, and burns. If it has commonly used medication, that’s a nice bonus. Fever reduces, anti-swelling medication, and digestive aids are all very useful depending on the scope of your adventure.
You should absolutely bring a first aid kit on a hike. Nature doesn't discriminate, and even if you’ve been out hundreds of times, there will come a day when you need the supplies of a first aid kit.
Do not include or dispose of expired medication, bandages that are no longer sticky, sterile bandages or pads that have become moist, and surgical gloves that have already been used. For existing products, make sure they are sealed and ready to go should you need them.
It depends on the kit, but most first-aid kits are good for as long as you need them, provided you refill supplies that have been used. A half-full kit with items missing won’t be of much use in a medical emergency.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.