*First Aid Kit for BackPacking*
By: PaleHorse

When backpacking on the trail, minimal weight is the name of the game. Many things can be bought in 'light' weight styles, including medical kits. There are several commercial backpacking first aid kits available from places like Sierra and Campmor. Some come stocked with supplies, others do not. If you choose to put together your own kit, just remember, LIGHT WEIGHT! You're not packing enough supplies for a M.A.S.H. Unit, merely for yourself or your hiking mates.

The most common injuries while hiking include insect bites, abrasions, small lacerations, sprains, strains, rashs, and blisters. Note that none of these injuries require a field hospital to treat! So in packing your first aid kit, here are the most common items you will need:
Individual dose packs of Ibuprofen, Tylenol and Benedryl
10 assorted bandaids
1 sm tube Neosporin
1 sm tube Hydrocortisone cream
1 package moleskin
10 Alcohol Prep Pads
2 ACE bandages
1 sm bottle of hand sanitizer
4 4x4 gauze pads
1 roll first aid tape
tube Sting-Eze
Chemical Cold pack
1 package powdered Gatorade

Get these items in small 'travel size' packages if possible, and often a small cosmetics bag is perfect for carrying them inside your back pack.

When backpacking, prevention is indeed, the best medicine. Wear good boots with excellent ankle support and good boot socks. This will decrease the chances of a twisted ankle or blisters. Wear gloves if moving through thick brush to avoid cuts on the hands. Use sunscreen in all seasons whether it's clear and sunny or overcast and cloudy. Ultraviolet rays penetrate the clouds and a nasty sunburn can still result, even on cloudy days. Stay hydrated! Don't let yourself become sick from dehydration. Your urinary output (how much you pee) should match your liquid oral intake! Dehydration leads to nausea, weakness and painful muscle cramps.

Avoid contact with poisonous plants and insects. Know what poison ivy, oak and sumac look like! Getting a rash from one of these plants will ruin your trip! At the end of each day, check your scalp and body for ticks and if any are found, remove them immediately. Also treat any minor wounds you find. Usually washing with soap and water will do the trick, then apply a small amount of Neosporin to aid in healing. If the wound is deeper than the first layer of skin, clean it, apply the Neosporin and a bandaid.

(Scorpions are common in our area and love to snuggle up to you inside your sleeping bag... the one pictured above is Vaejovis carolinianus)

(My Daughter took two hits from the one shown above last, it was hiding in a towel. Their sting is very similar to that of a wasp)

(Poison Oak in the Wild

(Yes, It causes a rash :)

Backpacking is a lot of fun, and during the times I've been out, injuries have been quite minor. Be conscious of where you are and what you're doing (especially if on rough terrain) and a good time should be had by all!

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