Consider the activity and the most likely injuries and emergencies related to that activity. Maybe you include more blister care items for hiking, and more trauma material for mountain biking. You also wouldn’t carry heavy cold packs on your winter cross country ski trip. But you would want to have handwarmers or thermal blankets.
The duration of the activity is another consideration. You do not want to carry less or more than you need.
Take these two very different examples:
Kerr is a mountain guide. His activity of mountaineering will increase the likelihood of high altitude and cold related illness. His next trip is 21-days long. Kerr will add to his kit the medications used to combat the high altitude illnesses and he will have enough supplies to get him through his long trek.
Will is a backpacking trip leader. His trips are usually 2-3 days in length. His kit includes items that will help with blister care and sprains. He does not need to an entire bottle of ibuprofen, a few individually packaged doses should be enough for his trip.
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Next is environment. This includes climate, terrain threats and obstacles, the accessibility to medical care in relation to the location you will be in, and the resources available. Resources may be helicopters, ambulance, personnel, clinics, communication devices, shelters, etc.
Again, our two examples:
Kerr plans to climb a 25,000ft mountain in Pakistan. The climate will be extremely cold, the terrain encountered will be steep slopes and cliffs of falling ice, snow, and rock. Medical rescue or access to medical care is unlikely or multiple days away. The available resources are limited to what he will have in his pack.
Will he is planning a two day trip in Yellowstone National Park. The climate is warm with occasional thunderstorms. The terrain is relatively flat with areas of grass and mud. Medical rescue or access to medical care is easily reached by cell phone or within a few hours of walking. The available resources are plenty and may include an ambulance, helicopter, and nearby clinic.
And finally, the group you are adventuring with must be considered when planning your first aid kit. Here we need to look at: group size, the people themselves and their individual needs or issues, their age and experience.
Kerr is climbing with a team of 5 healthy and fit people, ages 25-35 years old. They are all very experienced in mountaineering, but one member suffers from headaches when he reaches a certain elevation. Kerr is sure to have extra headache medication in his kit.
Will, however, is backpacking with a group of 20 first time backpackers. The youngest of the group is 75 years old. While most are healthy enough to hike, many have medical issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Eighteen members of the group take aspirin daily and one member is severely allergic to multiple foods. Will carries a bottle of aspirin, extra benadryl, an epi pen...and maybe some denture adhesive...
Good luck to both Kerr and Will. It seems like each them of have considered their activity, environment, and group and have adequately prepared their wilderness first aid kits. Keeping an inventory will make it easier to restock a kit. Focus on items that are multipurpose and lightweight. Do not carry anything that you do not know how to use or is above your level of training. For a jumpstart on which items to carry in your wilderness first aid kit, see this article: I am wilderness medic and this is what I carry in my wilderness first aid kit
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