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The Best First Aid Kits for Adventure, Road Trips and Camping

Jan 24, 2024

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Emergencies wait for no one. Come prepared with one of these well-equipped first aid kits.

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Want to be lucky in the outdoors? Bring a first aid kit. A first aid kit sits in a unique position in the world of outdoor gear: it's incredibly useful and important, and for many recreationists, it's an afterthought. Think of how many day hikes you've gone on that you didn't even bring a pack, let alone a first aid kit. Opportunity — or in this case, disaster — can strike any time, anywhere. Do you really want to try your luck?

If you're shopping for the first aid kit that best suits your outdoor lifestyle, there's a dizzying selection to choose from out there. Most first aid kits will contain the same general assortment of items: bandages, medical tape, supplies for splinting broken bones and wrapping sprains, tweezers, scissors and more. So how to choose?

When it comes down to it, shopping for a first aid kit that you'll actually use should come down to where you'll use it. If you're into backpacking, go for something small and lightweight. Going on a rafting trip? You should keep an eye out for waterproof fabrics and containers. Car camping? You can afford the extra weight — bring more supplies. Chances are your crew will be bigger, and it's always a "more is better" mentality when it comes to first aid supplies.

While there are varying "basic" first aid kit checklists (featuring anywhere from the eight basic items to the 24, and beyond) there are common items that a first aid kit should contain, which include bandages and cleaning supplies, a thermometer, over-the-counter medications, a flashlight and a list of emergency contacts. A complete and detailed rundown of what you'll need in your kit can be found on the American Red Cross Society's website.

While you can always pack your own custom first aid kit, many outdoor brands develop pre-packed kits made for adventure, road trips and camping. These kits can vary from the size of a dopp kit to a completely kitted-out backpack, and which you'll choose depends on what you'll be doing, how many people are with you and where you're going.

Below, we've rounded up our top choices in pre-packed first aid kits.

This adventure-ready first aid kit is our top pick for a few reasons, and with over 4,400 five-star reviews on Amazon, it's clearly made an impression on others as well. We like it for its thoughtful, durable construction: labeled compartments help take some of the panic out of an emergency situation, and durable, water-resistant 600-denier fabric keeps its contents safe from the elements. Inside, your bandages, medications and first aid tools are protected by waterproof laminate pouches, and there's even a separate, empty pouch for prescription meds or other personal first aid items. At just one pound, and with the MOLLE-compatible straps on the back, we could easily strap this to our backpack or belt. It's important to note this pack doesn't come with a tourniquet or first aid manual, so you'll want to purchase those separately.

If you're willing to pay the premium price, this comprehensive, high-quality first aid kit is a great option for situations that require speed and efficiency. It's HSA/FSA approved (meaning you can get reimbursed with flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HSA), comes with a lifetime guarantee and is built right here in the U.S. The "what's inside guide" provides a comprehensive view of the over 100 pieces of first aid equipment that come in the kit, which weighs in right around two pounds and can equip 1-2 people. The external, laser-cut MOLLE panel allows for easy tool and accessory attachment, and there are two carrying features: a tear-away panel and a hidden cross-body strap. Attach the kit to the back of your headrest or off-road vehicle, and use the tear-away panel to take it with you on the go, or use the hidden strap to carry it over your shoulder.

If you're equipping a large group, are rough on your stuff or churn through emergency equipment quickly, sometimes it pays to go budget. The Be Smart Get Prepared First Aid Kit is a fraction of the cost of the MyFak, and while it's got 110 safety items in it, the price cut is reflected in its cheap plastic case, which isn't nearly as durable or water-resistant as its more expensive counterparts. The high-density case is impact resistant, so if your kid drops it out of the car, it'll stand up to the fall. This is a great first aid kit to keep in your camping bin, in the trunk of your car or under the bathroom sink for emergencies, but we like its no-nonsense approach for general use in the outdoors.

A first aid kit may not need to be sleek, but that doesn't mean it can't be. VSSL's cylindrical first aid kit stands out from the crowd thanks to its minimal and compact design that features almost 50 first aid essentials. Yes, that's half the amount of the other kits on this list, and may not be enough for group use, but for 1-2 hikers, backpackers or overlanders, that's enough to get by, and then some. And to prove less is more, this kit actually includes tweezers, which some of the other, more "well-equipped" kits leave out.

Our tester carries this first aid kit on every outdoor adventure she goes on — from bikepacking on Catalina Island to riding her dirtbike in Ocotillo Wells to day hikes in the preserves and trails near her home. At 7.2 ounces, this teeny-tiny overnight first aid kit packs a pretty big punch: it comes with a trauma pad, butterfly bandages, medical tape and an elastic bandage for setting sprains and broken bones, as well as EMT shears and precision forceps — and that's only about half the list. The nylon bag that holds it all together is durable and water-resistant, and at less than 30 bucks, this is a well-equipped bargain that can go just about anywhere.

On the other end of the spectrum from AMK's Hiker Medical Kit is Uncharted's Seventy2 Pro Survival System Backpack, which as the name suggests, can keep you alive for 72 hours before supplies start to dwindle. We recommend this pack for overlanders or car campers who prioritize safety and preparedness over minimalist packing — the Survival System isn't exactly lightweight at 16 pounds, but each ounce has value, and if you've got the space, you may as well fill it with this insanely-equipped kit. The pack contains enough supplies to keep two people alive for 72 hours and includes everything from a Mylar thermal survival tent to a Sawyer water filter with collapsible water tank, which is good for up to 100,000 gallons. Sure, this is probably overkill for a weekend camping trip with the kids, but it's really not made for casual trips anyway — this one's about survival.

Well-equipped and compact — is there a better combination when it comes to first aid? The slightly bigger brother to the aforementioned Hiker Medical Kit, the Explorer Medical Kit from Adventure Medical Kits is built for extended camping trips or backpacking adventures and has enough supplies in it to serve four people or be used for seven days. Its case isn't just durable and water-resistant — it also has an external map, so you can locate what you need at a glance. (It also has a reflective logo, which makes the bag easy to spot when you've got a headlamp on.) It's a pound heavier than the Hiker Medical Kit, but that's to be expected when you double the number of supplies. Even at just over a pound, this little first aid kit is still minimal, useful and chock-full of useful items. We like to keep one in our glove compartment and one permanently in our backpacking kit — that way help is always close at hand.

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