August 2, 2019

First Aid Essentials Every Hiker Needs

Whether you’re taking on the climb to Angels Landing or going for a stroll or bike ride on Pa’rus Trail, accidents happen. Knees get scraped, palms get skinned, and bug bites, blisters, and bumps will put a damper on your day. To stop the pain and prevent an even worse situation, it’s always a good idea to pack a first aid kit, no matter how long you plan to be out exploring the wilderness. Keep reading to learn a few first aid essentials every hiker should have on hand.

Bandages for Covering Wounds of Various Sizes

The first thing that many people think of when they’re putting together a first aid kit is bandages. But before you grab a box at random off of your drugstore shelf, think about the types of wounds you might experience.

From tiny cuts that require just a simple bandaid to larger scrapes, burns, and more, you’re going to need a variety of shapes and sizes. And when you’re sweating it out on the trail, you’re going to wish you’d thought ahead and packed some waterproof ones as well. Your first aid kit should hold a variety of shapes and sizes of bandages to keep you covered no matter what happens.

Butterfly Bandages for More Serious Cuts

While we’re on the subject of bandages, this is one specific type that you don’t want to forget. Your standard bandaid will take care of everything from papercuts to skinned knees. But if a cut is deeper and gushing blood, you’re likely going to need stitches. 

Unless you have medical experience, you shouldn’t try to give them to yourself on the trail. Even with medical experience, the threat of infection means that it’s always better to wait until you’re in a clean, sterile environment, or until medical personnel can arrive and take over. Instead, pull the butterfly bandages out of your first aid kit and hold the skin together and help stop the bleeding until you can get help off the trail.

Antiseptic Wipes for Disinfecting Wounds

Tiny scrapes and scratches seem harmless enough. But the threat they carry has less to do with the scratch itself and more to do with what can get in. Infections can start in even the smallest of wounds, and can be deadly. Simply slapping a bandaid over a cut without cleaning it first means that you’re leaving the wound exposed to any bacteria that may have been on whatever scraped you to begin with.

That’s where antiseptic wipes come in. Whether you’re planning an easy day hike or a multi-day trek, these are a staple in any first aid kit. Pack more than you need, and use them to clean any wounds, no matter how small. When it comes to fighting infection on the trail, it’s always better to play it safe.

Antibacterial Ointment for Healing and Disinfecting

Since you’re already playing it safe, before you slap on that bandage, but after you use those handy antiseptic wipes, rub on some antibacterial ointment. 

Not only is this good for cleaning the wound, it also promotes healing. That cut might not be bothering you much while you’re on the trail, but when the excitement wears off later, you’ll be glad you took steps to help it heal faster.

Tweezers for Splinters and Debris in Wounds

Tweezers are like the Swiss Army Knives of your first aid kit. Actually, they might even be on that Swiss Army Knife in your pack. You can use them to remove painful splinters. They can also help you get debris out of wounds, remove thorns, and more. Before you use them on cuts and scrapes, always disinfect them to prevent introducing bacteria to your wound.

Blister Kit for, Well, Blisters

Blisters are not only the most common hiking injury, but also perhaps the most annoying. They strike both beginner hikers and experienced pros. Get one on your foot, and you’ll likely spend more time thinking about that than the incredible landscapes around you.

Unfortunately, wet socks, new hiking boots, sweaty feet, and lots of walking mean that blisters are incredibly common, even for experienced hikers. Luckily, blister kits can help. You can either shell out $10-plus on a store-bought kit, or make your own with just a few ingredients.

To make your own, you’ll need the following:

  • Duct Tape: Avoid carrying a big, bulky roll by making your own. Simply roll the duct tape around itself, skipping the cardboard center. You won’t need the whole roll, but bring yourself enough to wrap several times around each foot.
  • Antiseptic wipes, bandages, and antibacterial ointment: If you’ve followed the rest of this list, these items will already be in your DIY first aid kit!

To use your DIY blister kit, you’ll first want to clean the area around your blister. When a blister pops, it rips your skin, exposing sensitive under-layers to the air and bacteria. Those antiseptic wipes will prevent infection. Follow them up with antibacterial ointment. This will help your blister heal faster. Next, cover your blister in a small bandage. Finally, wrap the area of your foot where the blister is in several layers of duct tape. The duct tape not only protects the bandage from slipping, but also reduces friction between your foot and your socks and boots. This takes the pressure off and keeps the blister from getting worse or others from forming. 

You can also put your blister kit to use before a blister actually occurs. If you feel a pressure spot rubbing in your boot, simply use the last step, with the duct tape, to cover the area and take the pressure off.

Anti-itch Treatment and Antihistamine for Bug Bites

Bugs are an annoying presence in the region during the heat of the summer. Don’t let a bug bite keep you from enjoying your day. Pack anti-itch ointment and an antihistamine in your first aid kit to stop the scratching and treat any allergic reactions that might occur.

Preparing for Your Zion Adventure

Hiking in Zion or any other national park is a great chance to experience some of our nation’s most beautiful landscapes. But while millions of people take to the trails every year, hiking can be dangerous, especially if you aren’t prepared. Besides your first aid kit, check out the other supplies you should have along next.

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