Hiking into the wilderness is a wonderful way to get back to nature and escape the rush of your day-to-day life. But it can also be dangerous. From encounters with wild animals to trips and falls, there are plenty of hazards you need to be aware of if you want to stay safe.
While there are some dangers that are tough to avoid, others can be managed by adding one simple item to your day pack; a first aid kit. Keep reading to learn a few of the essentials you should have in your kit.
Blisters are not only the most common hiking injury. They’re also the most annoying. They strike everyone from beginner hikers to experienced pros. Get one and you’ll have a hard time enjoying the rest of your hike.
From wet socks to new boots to sweaty feet, plenty of things contribute to blisters while you’re hiking. Breaking in your boots, choosing the right fit, and keeping your socks dry can help prevent some blisters. Those you can’t prevent can be treated on the trail so that you can keep hiking mostly pain-free.
It’s easy to make your own blister kit. All you need is a bit of duct tape, antiseptic wipes, bandages, and some antibacterial ointment. The latter three items should be in your first aid kit anyway (more on that later).
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 an 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, but 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 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.
Building Your Own First Aid Kit
Every hiking shop and outfitters will offer you their own ready-made first aid kit. These are a good way to make sure that you have everything you need. But making your own kit is not only cheaper but also allows you to add the important extras, like butterfly bandages or a DIY blister kit.
Looking for other ways to stay safe and comfortable during your next Capitol Reef adventure? Check out these protein-rich snacks that will help you stay energized on any hike.