First aid kits.....solo paddlers

I have yet to bring a real first aid kit with me on any paddle campouts…I’m gonna do a couple solo trips on sorta familiar waters this year and was wondering what people include in their kits…the kit (for me) should only be for myself and enough for 4 or 5 days trouble that I can get into…

Make your own
Nail clipper (for puling slivers and more) bandages, scissors, surgical tape, duct tape, Aspirin and others, antiseptic, diarrhea medicine, anti acid tablets, anti inflammatory cream (insect bite stuff for jelly fish stings etc.) Soap for poison ivy contact - you get the picture.

You can put together a nice kit with free samples and stuff you already have in your medicine cabinet and a small tupperware type container.

Just my opinion, but
I never leave home without it for the past 20 years. I once went two years without even opening it, then used it twice in the same day at Balcony Falls on the James River. I was appalled to find I was the only paddler out of 35 who had an actual first aid kit. Several of those paddlers had taken wilderness first aid and swift water rescue classes with me and they still weren’t packing. Boy did I give them the dickens. I think they carry now:-), and throw ropes, too!

I just read the list of contents from a NRS kit that sells for about $40, then went down to the big box and bought everything I needed for about the same $40, but now I have enough to outfit half a dozen kits for my friends. I also carry a CPR mask, SAM splint and finger splints. I’d carry a defib, too, if I could afford one.

Remember, the wound you treat may be your own:-)

I have a modified NRS kit
basically took a few things out and added a few things.

While pondering a first aid kit ponder this…

You would like a kit for 1 person for 4-5 days. What kinds of injuries will you need to treat/re-treat for 4-5 days that won’t end your trip early? What injuries will you need/want to treat that will end your trip early?

In other words, bring the stuff to treat a headache for 4-5 days, think twice about bringing enough stuff to treat different broken bones on different days.

Only three items needed
1. Roll of duct tape

2. Pepto Bismol tablets

3. Flask of a good bourbon.


I was thinking along similar lines…



Duct tape

First Aid
I used this book to build my first aid kits. My doctor found the info and instruction in the book to be very comprehensive. It listed everything from dental emergencies to off the shelve alternatives when constructing your own back country first aid kits.

As a first aid and CPR instructor
I’d definetly recomend including a few of the following in addition to the above mentioned goodies:

Tweezerman brand tweezers- they have the best grip and one of the finest points- about $5.

Butterfly bandages- about $1.50

Sam splint- about $12

Ace bandage- about $3.50

A plastic sryinge (like the kind they give out at the pharmacy for free). It’s great to squirt water at a wound to clean it out and for cleaning out sand in the eye.

I also include in my kit- a maxi pad. It is the absloute best at absorbing lots of blood if it’s a big wound.

Since I doubt you’d be doing CPR on anyone, you might skip the pocket mask, but in general I think they are important to have. Not only do they reduce the possibility of disease transmission, but also prevents the guy from puking in your mouth.

Just a few of the items off the top of my head.



– Last Updated: Feb-22-09 9:35 PM EST –

I used to make my own, but would invariably forget something. I like the pre-assembled kits since there's everything I'm likely to need and some space for extras I want to toss in. I also did a cost-analysis...cost me more with a dry sack and my own assembly than it does for the pre-made, and when I run out of something (like blister pads or bandaids) I just replace what's missing.

I consider a legitimate first aid kit as cheap insurance. If I have one, nothing ever seems to happen where I need one...Except once, and I was glad I had everything I needed - ice climbing accident that put a couple neat little holes in my leg from crampons.

If you can, take a wilderness first aid class, and make a list of stuff you use or (would need) dealing with the various scenarios in the class, or discussed in the class. Then get that stuff and include it in your kit, all in whatever bag or container works for you.

suggest adding these to your F.A. kit .
… a good wound cleanser like “Coloplast Sea-Clens-Wound Cleanser” (there are other brands just as good) , and “3M Steri-Strips” , and plenty of guaze and 1" waterproof med tape … these are a big deal should someone get gashed or slit pretty good !!

Plus any other stuff you might like to use for treating symptom discomforts of headach , nausea , itch , etc. normally , and a good brand of bandaid for nicks and scratches … duct tape is good if you have to rig a splint or “Contusion” padding .

A good field knife is a multi purpose tool (scissors if you must) .

Priority wise , I always think of possible injurys in order of seriousness … blood loss , breaks , nasty bangs (contusions) , then the feel better symptom stuff .

Even though the chances are remote , just remember what a “Torniquet” is for and the pressure points … CPR is important to know , especially in the water sports . And I reckon a communications and/or Personal Locating Beacon should be part of a well stocked emergencie kit for remote wilderness areas .

great idea rhat maxi pad …
… never considered that before !!

I make my own
I make my own, and I just recently posted on my blog-thing about it:

Here’s the list that I use. I cut back on some items for a solo trip.


__ 4 – Ibuprofen (200 mg) Pkg/2

__ 2 – Acetaminophen (500mg) (Tylenol) Pkg/2

__ 2 – Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25mg)

__ 6 – Diamode (Loperamide HCI 2mg), Pkg/1

__ 1 – Instructions for each medicine


__ 1 – Tweezers

__ 3 – Safety Pins

Wound Care/Cleaning/Splinting

__ 1 – Trauma Pad, 5”x9”

__ 4 – Gauze Dressing, Sterile, 3”x3”, Pkg/2

__ 1 – Syringe with 18 Gauge Tip, 10cc

__ 2 – Xeroform Dressing

__ 5 – Steri-Strip Adhesive Skin Closures (1/4”x4”)

__ 1 – Tincture of Benzoin Topical Adhesive, Vial

__ 4 – Benzalkonium Chloride Towelettes

__ 2 – Povidone Iodine Prep Pads

__ 1 – Tape, 1”x 10 yards

__ 3 – Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 1/32 oz packs

__ 2 – Co-hesive, Elastic Vet Wrap, 2” (Warning: Latex)

__ 1 – Triangular Bandage

__ 5 – Nexcare Waterproof Bandages (1-1/16 x 2-1/4 in. & 1-1/4 x 2-1/2 in.) 3M

__ 2 – Cotton Tip Applicators

__ 1 – Nitrile Gloves (Pair)

__ 2 – Hydrocortisone Cream 1%1/31 oz packs

__ 1 – Burn Gel (3.5g packets) Burnaid


__ 1 – Moleskin, 4”x7”


__ 1 – Nu-Mask

Diagnostic/Medical Information

__ 1 – WFR Cheatsheet

__ 1 – SOAP Notes – All weather

Emergency Supplies/Gear Repair

__ 1 – Duct Tape, 2”x3yards

__ 1 – ACR Signal Mirror with Foam Float

__ 1 – Emergency Key Chain Light (Battery taped off)

__ 4 – 9” Zip Ties bound together with a garbage bag closure

__ 1 – Box of waterproof/windproof matches

__ 2 – Sewing Needles

__ 1 – Bobbin of thread

__ 1 – 2”x6” Zipstop Nylon Tape

Weight of the First Aid Kit

My standard first aid kit weighs a little more than a standard lightweight kit, but I think that it packs what I’ll want on hand to treat the situations that I think I’ll run into. Remember, your needs may differ from mine, so get the training and knowledge to create your own.


* 8.3 ounces - First Aid supplies and Medicine

* 4.3 ounces - Emergency and Repair Supplies

* 3.6 ounce - Waterproof Bag

* 1.1 ounce - NuMask

Additional Items that I Sometimes Carry

* 4.6 ounces - SAM Splint

* 1.3 ounces - EMT sheers

* 2.1 ounces - Emergency Blanket

* 8.5 ounce - 2 person Bothy Bag

NOC ideas

Hey Bryan
I would also add some Arnifloria Gel…eases the aches and pains of long days…No Masseause where Your going to be…forget the sauna or hot tub too.

small addition but for me …I always carry it and some Truama oil (combination of Arnica, St Johnswort and Calendeula)

Best Wishes…Good luck on the journey


Check out the following first aid kits on their website:

Paddler Kit

Pro Paddler Kit

I carry the Pro Paddler kit I own on every river trip I take, whether it is a multi overnight, or a day trip.

Have been lucky; I have never had to use any of the contents of the kit on myself. On the other hand, I have used the kit to assist friends on several occasions.

The most serious being the splinting of a broken wrist(result of a fall), and the bandaging of a 3 inch gash to the forehead(result of close encounter by kayaker with a boulder during multiple, failed roll attempts).

Would rather deal with the slight hassle that carrying it creates, than not have it available if needed. I always carry a river knife, and a throw bag for the same reason.


Always carry a flask of whiskey …

– Last Updated: Feb-24-09 11:12 PM EST –

... in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake.
W.C. Fields

Here's my article on paddling first-aid kits, suitable for trips of several days.

I'll also second the suggestion to get some wilderness first-aid training, as the best equipment in the world is no good to someone who doesn't know what to do with it. Here's a great place to start:

This thread has some additional good suggestions for kit contents, which I may have to add to my own list ...

Good Luck!


the basics plus
You know the basics obviously. but think of worse case scenarios.

I bring : Sutures to give myself sticthes for severe cuts…duct tape works too.

Dental kit to fill broken teeth and lost fillings.

Flagyl—For giardia

A good antibiotic for infections.

A high pain killer in case you break a leg.

Dental Floss–nothing like having a piece of meat wedged in your teeth for the entire trip!

Chemical Ice pack. Have carried one
ever since someone got a shin badly bruised on a hiking trip. She wound up with a wicked infection. The ice would have slowed or stopped the bruising.

depends on where you are…
Paddling Arizona Lakes and Rivers requires a comb and tweezers for the cactus.

BUT nothing for jellyfish or sharks.

Arizona needs salt and aspirin (high temp & low humidity) and a water-purifier is a good idea as the water can be drunk…

But we don’t need a snake-bite kit as only a total idiot bothers snakes (yes, I did that as it was swimming across the lake. my fault, not his) in the desert.

so, ask for the conditions in your area and gear it to that locale.