Recommendations for wilderness/mountaineering first aid kit?

Kelly Carter

Forum Ride Along
I'm not an EMT or anything like that. I joined this forum to look/ask for ideas from experts/professionals on this question: If you were building a lightweight first aid kit to be used in wilderness hiking/scrambling in areas like the Colorado 14ers, what items (being very specific would really help me) would you choose, remembering that the kit needs to be as light in weight as possible?

In anticipation of questions, I would say that the most common injuries for the kind of hiking/scrambling I am involved in would be, more-or-less in order: blisters, cuts/abrasions, bug bites, minor burns, dehydration, sprains, fractures. Illnesses would be headaches, indigestion, allergies, nausea. But if you have wilderness EMS experience, you know far better than I do what to prepare for.

I have built kits that included tons of stuff based on recommendations found in a number of places, but my problem is that these kits always end up being way too large and heavy. I now split my first aid kit into two parts: one (heavier) that I can leave at my basecamp, and one (lighter) that I can carry on the ascent to a mountain summit.

Any advice will be appreciated, and thanks in advance.


Pot or Kettle? Unsure.
An adventure medical kit is a good option.
Otherwise some 4x4s, gauze and gloves in a zip lock bag would probably be more than enough.


Forum Lieutenant
I'll second the wilderness first-aid / first-responder course. I haven't taken one myself, but I know people who have and they all seemed to enjoy it.

Re: a first-aid kit, I keep things pretty simple myself:

- gloves
- sterile roller gauze (I've never been a fan of 4x4s)
- steri-strips
- antibiotic cream/ointment (even if you have access to clean water, sometimes I'm a day or two away from higher level EMS)
- medical tape

I have been considering bringing a couple triangle bandages and a 36" SAM splint, but splinting and lashing material could also be created with clothing and natural products (i.e., tree branch). If you're mountaineering, this may be less available.

Lastly, an emergency contact system. SPOT device, sat phone, or Emergency Locator Becon.


Critical Crazy
10 essentials yada yada yada

This is a philosophy issue:

1. What will prevent a problem?
2. What will allow us to self-extricate instead of requiring SAR?
3. What will allow us to stabilize, summon help, and survive?

The 0th essential is a combination of good training, good planning, and knowing your limits.

You will find that non-medical gear helps you far more than medical stuff in all of those categories. Extra clothes, water, headlamp (extra batteries), hiking poles, duct tape, nav (really an altimeter is more useful than a compass in CO), knife/multitool, 550 cord, whistle, fire starting, giant trash bag, comms, (sport specific emergency gear)... I'd rather have all those things before I put any gauze in my pack.

My personal medical specific kit varies by season/sport, but it is small and I mostly look at how I can improvise nonmedical supplies into medical treatment (eg improvised splints). A WFR class will help you a lot with this. The only whiz-bang medical specific things I carry for a true immediate life/health threat is some bandaids, hemostatic gauze, coban, ibuprofen, gloves, and an OPA+numask (the last only because of my professional role and frequently being in the river/avalanche terrain).

I save heavy kits for if I am leading others professionally or am on long trips.
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Justifiably Delusional
I agree with Summit, but if you're that bent on making a kit, here's what I carry: two or three 5x9s (never liked a 4x4), one or two 3 in rollers, ibuprofen (for fever control only), a tourniquet, a handful of bzk wipes, bandanna and a two way radio (keep it off till you need it) oh and gloves.


Critical Crazy
Well.. that's the first time I've ever seen someone link to TGR :)

ray xu

Forum Ride Along
Steri strips are made of non woven,rayon backed material reinforced with filaments for strength coated with hypoallergenic adhesive.Effectively prevent and reduce the scar proliferate.


Forum Asst. Chief
Leukotape! It’s great for blisters & hotspots so it replaces moleskin, but it’s also stronger than medical tape and can be used for splinting, hemorrhage control, etc.