Whether you’re packing light for a quick trip of hiking, kayaking, backpacking, mountain biking or climbing, a medical kit is an important piece of equipment to take along with you. As part of the “10 essentials” for survival, a medical kit is highly recommended anytime you venture off into backcountry far away from any emergency care. If you’re a minimalist and just don’t want to be weighed down by your gear, then a compact individual kit is just for you. “Perfect for those one-to-two-day solo trips when you need an ultralight kit with enough supplies to treat common injuries.”
After trying a few compact medical kits over the past years, we have a pretty good idea what sort of stuff it takes to patch you up and keep you going and were pretty impressed with the Adventure Medical Kits Ultra & Lightweight (.5). It’s designed to be durable and with minimal weight and bulk. Unlike many near useless small first aid kits found in commercial bug out bags, you can tell this kit was put together with some people with outdoors experience.
The Adventure Medical Kits UL / WT .5 medical kit comes ready for rugged use. It’s packed in a tough waterproof coated nylon bag with an impermeable ziplock plastic liner. Water and dirt isn’t going to get in there too easily. The kit is so tiny it could fit in the palm of your hand and it weighs just a few ounces. There are no excuses for not carrying a kit such as this especially since it takes up no room at all and is way more comprehensive than the typical “bandaids in a baggie.” For instance, the inner bag can cut open, laid out flat and be used to cover penetrating chest wounds to relieve tension pneumothorax.
Looking inside we find that the .5 medical kit has a pretty decent supply of fairly large gauze and sponge dressings. With a little imagination and some tape, these can be used to cover large wounds. No changes needed there.
A couple of knuckle bandages are included. These work really well to cover a bending area of the body that is a bitch to get a bandaid to stick too. A plus for including these.
Butterfly bandages are included and work great to close wounds that would otherwise need stitches. However, we feel that three are not enough and recommend supplementing the kit with a pack of 3M Steri-Strips and a little packet containing a tincture of benzoin adhesive promoter. With these additional items you can close pretty big wounds with good results. This would hardly add any weight or bulk to the kit and would still easily fit into the inner liner bag. Most mini kits don’t even have butterfly bandages so points scored here.
Five large bandaids for small cuts. Because, when do you ever use the small bandaids that come in the package you have in your medicine cabinet at home? Small bandaids are useless. You don’t even get a small bandaid for a flu shot.
It’s great that this kit comes with an entire full sized roll of adhesive tape. Useful for many things. In a medical situation, you can’t get enough and those little mini rolls you find in your typical small kit are a joke. Also included is a roll of gauze. We would ditch this roll and replace it with a roll of Johnson & Johnson Kling Gauze which sticks to itself somewhat aggressively. Most mini first aid kits don’t even come with a gauze roll so you are still ahead of the game with the .5 medical kit.
Included are several doses of Ibuprofen and antihistamines which are great for pain, cold, fever, allergic reactions and bug bite symptoms. We would add some OTC anti-diarrheal medication like Imodium and Pepto-Bismol as diarrhea is easy to get in an emergency situation and can be crippling or fatal due to dehydration, especially in time of limited resources. A few travel packs of additional stuff will fit with very little room needed.
This pack contains various alcohol and chlorhexidine antiseptic wipes with some packets of triple antibiotic ointment. This is all good but we would add some Betadine wipes as well for some serious broad spectrum germ killing. The Betadine packs won’t take up much space or weight.
The kit contains a generous amount of moleskin. Moleskin is godsend if you are developing blisters on a long walk or run. Blisters can cripple you rendering you immobile. In an emergency, like a forced bug-out on foot, blisters can be life threatening. Moleskin can be applied to known troubled areas on your foot beforehand or take pressure off a blister that has already formed. This moleskin has pre die cuts in it to make application easier. We have had moleskin save us more than a few times deep in the woods. Many kits lack this yet it is vital if you plan to travel by foot.
Three safety pins which are great for making field expedient slings or fastening bandages etc. We feel that the kit needs an elastic Ace bandage to complete it’s versatility. An Ace bandage is bulky and won’t fit in the kit but it should be carried. It is super versatile as it can be used for compression to help control bleeding or if you blow out an ankle or knee. We have used them in the field before and they can be a lifesaver.
We decided to hop up our kit in order to make it a little more versatile. Like we said by our experience 3 butterfly bandages are not enough to close a significant gash we we added a 10 pack of 3M Steri Strips, one of the best wound closures. To really make sure the strips stick when you gotta close a wound, we put some vials of Tinture of Benzoin skin prep in the bag. Also, Benadryl is an antihistamine that can counteract the inflammatory effects of bug bites and stings or any sort of allergic reaction. It is one of the best over the counter treatments for severe allergies and can even act like a sedative. To stop bleeding from deeper wounds the new generation of quick clotting wound dressings really works so we added one to our kit as well. We added some moleskin plus, from our experience this is better for blister relief and a life saver if you get a blister but still have to keep going. Imodium is one of the best OTC anti-diarrheals and diarrhea can kill quickly through dehydration in an emergency situation. The Betadine wipes are a superior antiseptic so we added some of those as well.
Our additions all fit into our original bag without overstuffing it. Now this kit is even more useful and is something that could see you through more than just a few days of being away in the great outdoors. Unfortunately the QuikClot dressing could not fit in the bag but we figure it could easily be tucked away somewhere in your gear.
So far we have not been able to find the perfect super compact personal first aid kit but the Adventure Medical Kits .5 Individual Medical Kit comes close. This kit with a little simple supplementation will do the job. It is also a great supplement for a “blow-out” kit.
If you are on a budget, you can also assemble your own kit by mimicking this one. You could place it in a heavy duty Ziplock bag and tuck it into your bag pockets. But Adventure Medical Kits has a whole bunch of well thought out kits designed by real outdoors people and survival experts and we suggest you check out what they have to offer.