Take your first aid kit with you

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you’re probably going to have a need for a first aid kit sooner or later.

Being prepared for the worst is never a bad idea. However, if you carry everything you might need for any emergency, you won’t have room for your tent or sleeping bag.

A first aid kit needs to be light and compact, or it’ll be one of the first things you toss out of the pack when you’re looking to shave weight or make more room. And that kit won’t do you a bit of good when you’re out in the field bleeding to death if it’s back at the house, next to the big lantern and the extra can of white gas.

You can buy a first aid kit that’s pre-packaged and ready to go, or you can put together your own. There’s nothing wrong with either way, but most of the experts like to make their own. The store-bought kits tend to have more than you’ll need in them, and even some things you don’t have the faintest idea how to use.

That’s another argument for compiling your own kit. If you put it in there, chances are, you know how to use it.

My own first aid kit is fairly simple: an Ace bandage, a couple of squares of gauze, a few Band-Aids, a little bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a roll of Tums.

I know how to use all these things. If I cut myself, which I do on almost every outing, I can dab some alcohol on a gauze pad and clean the wound. Then I can put a Band-Aid on it, or if it’s big, I can wrap it with the Ace bandage and the other gauze squares.

If I get an upset stomach, I can pop a Tums or two.

That’s about the extent of my medical expertise. If it’s anything more serious, I probably need someone else’s help, so I’m going to do my best to get myself to civilization.

I hunt and camp with my dad a lot, and he’s a doctor. I let him carry all the fancy medical gear, and once in a while, I give him a reason to pack it along.

If you have a more advanced grasp of emergency medicine, you might carry a few more items in your own kit. Either that, or do like I do, and partner up with a doctor when you head to the hills. You might as well let someone else carry all that extra weight.