7 Best First Aid Kits for Hiking of 2024 & Medical Checklist

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The HART Extended First Aid Kit on a rock with moss and ferns
HART Extended – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)

A good selection of first aid supplies and some know-how will help you manage injuries and illnesses on trail with confidence. Our team of backcountry experts has spent years working as certified Wilderness First Responders, so we have managed medical incidents on both personal trips and guiding groups.

We researched 30 first aid kits and tested the most promising options side-by-side looking at variety, quality, and quantity of supplies, and weight, size, and organization of each kit. With 20,000 miles of backcountry travel behind us, we’re well equipped to help you choose the best first aid kit for your needs.

To complete your wilderness preparedness setup, we also recommend a trusty pocket knife and/or a pick from our favorite multitools and GPS watches.

Quick Picks for First Aid Kits

Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best first aid kit overall: Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 ($33)

Most compact first aid kit: HART Day Hike ($15)

Well-rounded kit with a thorough first aid guidebook: Adventure Medical Kits Hiker ($30)

Best budget first aid kit: General Medi Mini ($20)

Best first aid kit for groups: HART Extended ($66)

Organized & durable first aid kit: Surviveware Small ($64)

High-quality cut & scrape kit for everyday use: Welly First Aid Kit ($25)

Custom DIY first aid kit

What’s new

After additional time in the field, we’ve taken a look at our list of favorites as well as new additions:

  • The HART Day Hike is a fantastic option to have on hand for summertime day hikes when you need a smaller but practical kit.

  • The HART Extended earns a spot for its quality supplies for large groups.

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7

Best first-aid kit overall

Price: $33

Weight: 8 oz.

Highlight Inclusions: Elastic bandage, duct tape, benzoin tincture, Moleskin, butterfly bandages, tick/splinter remover

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • Weather-resistant case

Cons

  • Lacks organization
  • Zippered case isn’t actually waterproof without resealable bag inside

The Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 is one of the most popular first aid kits among backpackers because it strikes an excellent balance of preparedness and minimalism. It has all the basics you’d expect and a few items you don’t see as often, like a compact roll of duct tape, Moleskin for blisters, and an elastic pressure bandage to treat common overuse injuries. The bag doesn’t offer much in the way of organization, so you may have to dump the contents to find what you need. That said, the Ultralight/Watertight contains pretty much everything we’d put in a custom DIY kit, but without the expense or work of buying all the supplies individually. It’s a great kit to start with and has plenty of room for customization. This kit is also available in bigger and smaller sizes.

HART Day Hike

Most compact first-aid kit

Price: $15

Weight: 4 oz.

Highlight Inclusions: Shears, splinter lancet, woven bandages, Moleskin, tape, meds

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Ultralight
  • Compact
  • Well-organized

Cons

  • Small quantities of single-use supplies

The HART Day Hike Kit is so lightweight and compact that you’ll hardly notice it in your backpack. It’s not as complete as some of the bigger kits on our list, but it has all the basics to treat cuts and scrapes, blisters, stings, splinters, etc. Plus, a dose of each of the most important medications hikers commonly need, like painkillers and antihistamines. The case fits in the palm of your hand and has several convenient pockets to keep things organized. The Day Hike Kit is an excellent value, and it’s a perfect starter kit that you can customize to suit your needs for longer trips as well. HART also offers a selection of Refill Kits to make restocking easy and affordable.

Adventure Medical Kits Hiker

Well-rounded kit with a thorough first aid guidebook

Price: $30

Weight: 7.2 oz.(not including 2.5 oz first-aid manual)

Highlight Inclusions: Butterfly bandages, Moleskin, tick/splinter remover, shears, Wilderness First Aid book

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Organized

Cons

  • A bit bulky
  • Small quantities of single-use supplies

If you’re looking for a great balance of weight to preparedness, the Adventure Medical Kits Hiker is an excellent choice. It’s an awesome value and has a well-curated assortment of supplies in goldilocks quantities. We love the hangable, roll-out bag with labeled compartments as well. It makes it easy to find what you need and keeps supplies out of the dirt while you work. One unique thing about this kit is that it comes with a handy little first aid guidebook. It’s a great inclusion for learning, but you could leave it at home to save weight if you’ve already studied up on first aid protocol. We recommend the Day Hiker Kit to anyone who’s willing to carry a few more ounces to be well-prepared and neatly organized.

General Medi Mini

Best budget first aid kit

Price: $20

Weight: 9 oz.

Highlight Inclusions: CPR mask, space blanket, triangular bandage, shears, tweezers, saline solution, tourniquet, brief first-aid guide

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Large quantities of some supplies (can be used for refilling)

Cons

  • A bit bulkier than some
  • Lacks organization
  • Doesn't include meds

The General Medi Mini is an incredibly affordable way to get you started on building your own personalized kit for the trail. It includes many of the basics you’ll need and some less-commonly seen items that you can pick and choose from. We recommend paring down the quantities of some supplies to reduce the weight and make room for additions like medications and your preferred athletic tape. If you take only what you need for the length of your trip, you’ll have plenty of extras to refill your kit when you get home. While you’ll have to spend a little more money to stock the General Medi Mini with commonly-used medications, you’ll be hard-pressed to find such an array of first aid kit supplies for less money.

Surviveware Small

Organized & durable first aid kit

Price: $60

Weight: 1 lb. 1.4 oz.

Highlight Inclusions: CPR mask, wound closure strips, space blanket, shears, tweezers, triangular bandage, whistle, small bags for personal meds, basic first-aid guide

Pros

  • Comprehensive
  • Very well-organized
  • Durable carrying case

Cons

  • A bit heavy & bulky
  • Slightly expensive
  • No meds included

The Surviveware Small Kit is one of the most organized first aid kits we’ve seen, which makes finding what you need quick and easy in an emergency. The kit contains all the usual first aid items like bandaids and gauze, plus some less common upgrades like an elastic wrap, medical shears, and a CPR mask. While it doesn’t come stocked with medications, we appreciate that it does include small bags to add your own – which we often do anyway. The kit as a whole is pretty heavy/bulky for backpacking, but it’s a great size for camping. But you could easily pare it down a bit to save weight by removing items you don’t expect to use. Overall we’re really impressed with the quality of the Surviveware Small Kit, and it’s a great building block for anyone starting from scratch.

HART Extended

Best first aid kit for groups

Price: $66

Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.(with 3 oz. removable day-hike kit)

Highlight Inclusions: First-aid manual, pencil & incident recording cards, irrigation syringe, tweezers, shears, splint, pressure bandage, triangular bandage, electrolyte tabs, aloe vera gel

Pros

  • Comprehensive
  • Well-organized
  • Removable day-trip kit
  • Compact for the car or basecamp

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Full kit is too heavy/bulky for hiking & backpacking

If you’re looking for a comprehensive first aid kit that can handle just about anything, we highly recommend the HART Extended Kit. It’s designed to treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses in the field, and the labeled organization and first aid manual make it great for amateur medics and experienced First Responders alike. The Extended Kit itself is a bit excessive to pack into the backcountry unless you’re attending to a large group on a long trip, but it’s a great compact size for basecamp. We love that it comes with a removable, wallet-size kit for day trips as well. The price is well worth paying for what you get in the Extended Kit, and it’s the one we take on our remote car-camping trips.

Stock image of Welly First Aid Kit

Welly First Aid Kit

High-quality cut & scrape kit for everyday use

Price: $25

Weight: 14 oz.

Highlight Inclusions: High-quality fabric & waterproof bandages, butterfly closures, triple antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer

Pros

  • Well-organized
  • Generous quantity of supplies
  • Durable, stylish case

Cons

  • Basic (mostly intended to treat minor cuts & scrapes)
  • Not much room to add personal items

If cuts and scrapes are a regular occurrence in your rambunctious family and you’re looking for more of a basic boo-boo kit for everyday use, you’ll love the Welly First Aid Kit. This kit features stylish and colorful fabric bandages that have great holding power as well as triple antibiotic ointment and hand sanitizer packets. It’s a midsize kit that you could take car camping with the family or just have on hand at home. It’s by no means comprehensive for serious medical emergencies, but it’s well-organized and comes equipped with an array of fabric and waterproof bandages, butterfly strips, cleansing wipes, hydrocortisone cream, non-stick pads, tape, and ibuprofen – the stuff that tends to get used the most. It’s hard not to love this kit for its charm and basic practicality.

Custom DIY First Aid Kit

Build your own

Price: Varies upon items included

Pros

  • Fully customizable
  • Includes resupply stock
  • Likely ultralight/compact

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Likely lacks organization
  • Time-consuming

Many backpackers and thru-hikers opt to build their own first aid kit because a homemade kit will generally be lighter and more compact than one you can buy commercially. Going this route allows you to choose the quality and quantity of each item and pick your own case, which can range from a Ziploc to an ultralight stuff sack or waterproof toiletry bag. The biggest downside to the DIY method is how expensive it can be. That’s why we often recommend starting with one of the kits above and customizing it. Even if you buy generic, the cost of medications, bandages, and other supplies in relatively large quantities adds up quickly. Of course, you probably already have some of these items around and you’ll have plenty of extra supplies to refill your kit after trips. If you’re willing to do some work and don’t mind spending more on inventory initially, a DIY kit may ultimately be the best value in the long run.

A HOMEMADE FIRST AID KIT AND A SWISS ARMY CLASSIC MULTITOOL IS WHAT YOU’LL FIND IN OUR PACKS ON MOST BACKCOUNTRY TRIPS

What’s Most Important to You in a First Aid Kit?

PRICE/VALUE

The cost of first aid supplies really adds up if you’re building a kit from scratch since you have to buy everything in relatively large quantities. We found that it’s much more affordable (at least in the short term) to buy a pre-made first aid kit because it provides a variety of supplies in smaller quantities. We consider all of the following kits to be an excellent value, though some are exceptionally low-cost.

Best budget first aid kits

WEIGHT & SIZE

It’s important to have what you need to be safe and prepared in the backcountry. You’ll also want to keep the weight and size of your kit in check. This is especially key if you’ll be traveling a long distance or tackling difficult terrain. That said, it can be worth it to pack a more comprehensive kit with all of the extras if you’re backpacking with a larger group.

Best ultralight first aid kits

Best lightweight first aid kits

Best heavy-duty first aid kits

ORGANIZATION

Good organization makes it quicker and easier to find what you need in a stressful situation. Clearly-labeled pockets also allow you to see what you need to re-stock after each trip. However, some find a simple pouch to be more convenient than one with multiple compartments. Whatever you choose, it’s important to be familiar with what you’re carrying.

First aid kits with basic organization

Single-compartment first aid kits

QUANTITY & VARIETY OF SUPPLIES

When looking for a first aid kit, you’ll need to decide whether you’re more interested in getting a greater variety of supplies to cover a wide range of situations or a larger quantity of the more basic stuff you’ll use the most. Eventually you’ll have to refill items in any kit you use, and you’ll likely want to customize it a bit. We recommend making a list of all the items you definitely want, then seeing which kit makes the best building block for you.

Most comprehensive first aid kits

Most basic first aid kits

Critical First aid Kit Considerations

FIRST AID TRAINING

The most important thing you can carry into the wilderness is the knowledge of what to do in a variety of emergency situations. If your first aid skills are rusty, brush up with some online training. To start, watch our Emergency First Aid Skills for the Backcountry video (we are not medical professionals, but our team has navigated backcountry emergencies and we have taken several Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder courses over the years). Similarly, you may also want to consider taking an outdoor sports-focused first aid course. These classes can be a lot of fun and the skills you learn can ultimately make a huge difference in an emergency situation.

Wilderness First Aid (WFA)

A two-day introduction to wilderness medicine offered by REINOLSRed CrossMazamas, as well as local colleges.

Wilderness First Responder (WFR)

A more in-depth (and more expensive) class that will land you a certification – also offered by REI and NOLS. This is the one usually required for professional guides and trip leaders.

KNOWING HOW TO PREVENT & TREAT BLISTERS WHILE HIKING IS AN IMPORTANT BASIC FIRST AID SKILL TO MASTER

BLISTER CARE

One of the most common problems hikers and backpackers experience are blisters. They may be small, but they can be really painful – enough to pause or end your trip. We highly recommend reading our post on How to Prevent and Treat Blisters While Hiking and checking your first aid kit’s inventory carefully to make sure you have what you need to take care of them properly before heading out on your next adventure.

OVERUSE INJURIES

If you’re planning a thru-hike or intend to cover lots of miles quickly, it’s worth your while to learn as much as you can about common hiking overuse injuries and how to avoid them. Repetitive and excessive movement on the trail without time to properly heal can cause injury to your tendons, bones, and joints.

TO ENSURE THE AMK ULTRALIGHT/WATERTIGHT .7 IS WATERPROOF, CAREFULLY CLOSE THE RESEALABLE BAG INSIDE AFTER EACH USE

About half of thru-hikers report having to stop or slow down during their trek due to nagging pain or an injury to their feet, ankle, knee, or leg. In a nutshell, it’s important to train, build up to big-mile days slowly, choose your footwear wisely, and consider using trekking polesKT Tape is also a serious game changer if you need to treat a sprain or strain in the backcountry.

KT TAPE IS BREATHABLE, STRETCHY & HAS A+ HOLDING POWER SO IT’S GREAT FOR TREATING A VARIETY OF COMMON TRAIL INJURIES

GROUP SIZE & LENGTH OF TRIP

A lot of first aid kits are marked with an estimate of the number of people and number of days it will serve. Kits for bigger groups will generally have more single-use supplies, like bandages and meds. Things like tweezers, shears, or splints remain fairly consistent from kit to kit.We don’t find this metric particularly useful since actual results vary wildly in real-life.

Instead, we create our own estimates based on experience and our personal needs. We always take a base amount of 1-2 doses of each medication, plus a bit more of anything we know we’re likely to use daily (like ibuprofen or sleep aids). For things like bandages, use your best judgment while thinking about maintaining a balance of preparedness and weight.

PACK FOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT, FOR EXAMPLE; BRING TWEEZERS & TAPE TO EXTRACT CACTUS SPINES WHILE BACKPACKING IN THE DESERT

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

You won’t need the same stuff in your first aid kit for every trip. It’s really important to think about the specific environment you’ll be in so you can add and subtract items from your kit accordingly. The basics remain the same, but the hazards you’ll come across on a snowshoeing trip are different from those you might encounter while backpacking in the desert. For example, it’s helpful to pack tweezers in tick country, tape to extract cactus spines in the desert, and extra supplies for blister prevention on routes with lots of wet or sandy terrain.

THE HART DAY HIKE KIT IS SO LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMPACT THAT YOU’LL HARDLY NOTICE IT IN YOUR BACKPACK

REFILLING YOUR KIT

It’s really important to be diligent about keeping up your first aid kit’s inventory to ensure its effectiveness in an emergency. Check through your kit before each trip (it might be helpful to print a list), and make it a habit to restock it as soon as you get back. You can refill your kit from your household stock or buy a refill kit from the list below.

WE LIKE TO INCLUDE THE ULTRALIGHT SWISS ARMY CLASSIC IN OUR FIRST AID KIT FOR THE SCISSORS, KNIFE & TWEEZERS

Honorable First aid kit Mentions

These kits are awesome too if your looking for a speciality option:

BlisterPod Ultra – An expensive, but very professional kit full of blister-specific supplies

AMK ADS Trail Dog – A dog-specific first aid kit for your hiking companion

General Medi Mini – Offers more refill supplies at an affordable price point

THE WELLY EXCURSION & QUICK FIX KITS FEATURE STYLISH & COLORFUL BANDAGES AS WELL AS OTHER COMMONLY-USED SUPPLIES