First Aid kits

How many of you carry a first aid kit with you on every paddle?  <br />

Being a former EMT and a volunteer firefighter, I tend to carry a 6" x 8" Sawyer products first Aid pouch, purchased from the local Wal-mart. I've also included an aluminum folded up emergency blanket (3" x 5" still in the orig. pkg.) Needless to say this drives my wife crazy. Am I being excessive or just practicing good common sense?

What do others of you carry for emergency first aid?

Good practice

– Last Updated: Jun-05-09 9:13 AM EST –

Jim and I carry similar stuff, as do everyone we know paddles bigger water. The minimum, unless something got forgotten in switching boats, is a mid-range Adventure (or Wilderness?) Systems emergency kit that fills a small drybag to about 4" by 8" and one of those silver and thin cheapo-use-it-once reflective blankets. The better one from Adventure Systems that is big enough to fold double as a sleeping bag usually goes into a bulkhead as well. I also have a small pack, some band aids and sterile wipes, that lives in the right hand pocket of my PFD under the camera. That's an after-work paddle.

For bigger trips, I also have a small drybag with the large and small Sammi splint and a couple of other things that I forget, and a larger dry bag with a 6 by 9 tarp and the 3/4 length changing top that came with the Bomber Gear bag. The day hatch always has an extra large cag, and usually a jug of hot beverage with tea. The other PFD pocket has a couple of packets of Gu and/or nut snack bars, for on-water boost and heads off low blood sugar. (and I love those fattening sweet and salty nut bars)

I have shed the bag with the tarp for training when there was a request to reduce weight, but what stayed in (and I needed just this last weekend) was the cag and the weighs-nothing better blanket.

Jim also has a three person shelter, the one from Sea Kayaking Essentials. This is a more refined solution than my tarp for when we may have to hole up from a surprise storm. I also consider a neoprene hood or a wool cap as part of the emergency gear, it's not uncommon for me to have what I am wearing plus one until it gets quite warm.

Early on in our sea kayaking, we got stuck on an island offshore for three hours while storms kept rolling through. We were just exactly OK - our gear would not have gotten us thru an overnight stay. I suspect your wife would change her mind about being prepared after an experience like that.

You will get a rainbow of replies

– Last Updated: Jun-05-09 9:07 AM EST –

I was a Sierra Mountain Guide and have a Wilderness First Responder Certificate. So we have similar skill sets and knowledge. Wilderness training shows you what to take, what to innovate to create, and how to stabilize, dx, and plan to get back to definitive care. Many folks don't have this. So, folks get concerned about things they don't have to worry about and rely on dumb luck for things that could be easily dealt with.

In our local group people have some BCU and ACA training. So most of us take basic first aid kit items. In addition we all take spare dry clothing, VHF radios, waterproof flares/smoke, a small compact emergency shelter, and we let each other know if we are on medications and have a medical problem others might be impacted by or we require help with.

If you have not had the training you and your wife might profit from this video posted here recently regarding dangers of cold water also!

I have a rescue-orange drysack that I just always leave in my day hatch, so it’s with me every paddle. It makes it slightly heavier to lug my boat around, but I find it easier than constantly remembering to stick it in the boat.

That bag has some repair stuff for the boat, multitool, a medium-sized wilderness first aid kit, mylar bivy sack, a hat, spare gloves, lighter, and I usually throw my phone in there to keep it dry (radio and flares and other signaling stuff are in my PFD).

Just seems simplest to me to always have it along, rather than weighing which trips justify it, and which don’t. It’s in the boat if I go out for 8 hours of rock gardening, or a 30 minute paddle towing the kids within a quarter mile of the house.

First aid kits…
I carry a first aid kit on every river trip, whether it be multi overnights, or day trip.

My kit(Comprehensive Watersports)is from Wilderness Medical Associates. I have even added extra gear.

Not a problem for me to carry, and I have “never” had “any” complaints from those who have benefitted from me having it available.

Ex Wilderness First Responder

Ex Fire Department Search & Rescue/Ground Team Leader



– Last Updated: Jun-05-09 9:33 AM EST –

I'm also a volunteer FF/EMT, so I do carry supplies while hiking & paddling. I carry a small assortment of waterproof band-aids and moleskin for the small stuff. For bigger trauma there's gloves, a SAM splint, 4x4s, tape, a couple of folded cravats, and an Ace-type bandage. Baby aspirin and children's chewable oral Benadryl -- can work for kids or adults. Good tweezers and small shears.

I take a half-size closed-cell foam pad and a small tarp even on day hikes. A bug net makes waiting for help more bearable this time of year.

I Have a Pretty Good Sized First Aid Kit
In the last 5 year’s I’ve “Used” or had “Used on me” ace wrap, Sam’s Splint, bandaids (large and small), ABD pads (Large, bulky bandage for large wounds), small bottle antiseptic irrigation solution, neosporin, space emergency blanket, wind/water proof matches, and disposable hand warmers, and instant ice pack. I’ve broken an arm and a bone in my back paddling and have seen and dealt with lots of injuries in camp or on the river over the years. Thank God my friend “” wasn’t a minimalist paddler without a good first aid kit when I broke my arm a few years ago! WW

Just completed

– Last Updated: Jun-05-09 10:54 AM EST –

a WFA and CPR certification. Our instructor was a paramedic. He also carried some basic CPR and rescue with him everywhere he goes.

My main thing is a VHF. I'm real good about not getting injured, but like having the option of contacting the CG.

The FA kit depends on the kind of trips, pretty much the basics, without shots for anaphylactic shock, etc. Although I can recognize the symptoms.

me too
… vol firefighter - and usually take a kit with me. Even little scrapes are a lot easier to look after if you use a first aid kit instead of hockey tape and a piece cut out of your t shirt.

Military Mindset
EVERY paddle, even a 2 hour day paddle, sees the Eclipse loaded with all I need for an extended weekend…Hammock, Tarp, Sleepy Bag, Stove, Food, Gas Lantern, Clothing changes, Headlamp, and yes…

First Aid Kit and a VHF radio.

I’m Land locked in the South, 9 Miles from the Tennessee River, there are river islands, lakes, backwater wildlife refuges, barge traffic, lake lice, yachts, bass boats, and all the critters both land and aquatic that could pose problems…

Packing like that makes a portage near impossible, and slows me down loading and unloading, but I know short of a disaster, I can handle what comes my way, not just for me, but for anyone who may be paddling with me…

Peace of mind.

Do not change
I carry first aid, VHF radio etc… Have never used them but will be ready when and if I have to. Kayaking is preparation.

The first aid kit
is determined by a medical doctor, that’s why it changes from trip to trip.

It’s all about risk
If you are out on a leisurely 3 hour lake paddle with a club with lots of people, it really isn’t necessary for everyone to have a kit. If you’re out on big water, alone, at night, it’s a little different.

I personally always carry a small kit in a dry bag, but I know that for many trips the chances I’ll need it are about 0.1% because the danger is low and others have kits as well. I tend to be a little overprepared, but I’ve been on day trips with folks who had so much gear, they couldn’t get to anything. They were always rummaging around with it, repacking this and that, and slowing up the rest of the group. At some point you just want to say, “Hey, while you’re messing around with all that stuff, the rest of us are gonna go paddle a bit.”

The other extreme is worse. You should at least be a little prepared for a small cut or a headache. The happy medium for me is slightly overprepared.


cold water boot camp

Thanks for sharing that video link with us, got a lot out of it. Too bad more boaters have not seen it and taken its warnings.

Here’s a list and some tips
You may appreciate my technical article on a paddler’s first-aid kit:

For simplicity, I generally use the same kit for everything from a daytrip with the club to weeklong wilderness trips.

Don’t forget to replenish whatever supplies you are unfortunate enough to use during a trip: bandages, Neosporin, painkillers, bonesaws, etc…

Happy paddling!

just wondering what first aid training or certification you have received?

good link
nice link. very thought provoking and a good refresher for me.

Always go prepared
when you take a LONG trip you are far from help and must be prepared. On a short trip you are more likely to goof off and twist an ankle or some other simple mistake, so you must be prepared.

I am sure that somewhere in the archives of this great site have some of my ramblings about my Peanutbutter Jar first aid kits, but I will save you looking them up.

A regular full sized Jif peanut butter jar will hold a plethera of items. I have packed them full of just about everything. There is a ziploc bag of band-aids and neosporine and the like in my PFD, but the jar holds the mother load. Three different rolls of gause. Once you need Gause you can’t have enough. a bit of tape, splints, large bandages, matches, birthday candles, lighter, safety pins, gloves, wet wipes, alchol prep pads, mini-sharpie, variety of OTC pills (labeled), Pen with Duck Tape wrapped around the end, small Multi tool, tweezers, sapce blanket, Glow stick or small flashlight, or anything else a person could ever want for a basic trip.

I have a friend with larger medical concerns, so I have a jar with regular med/first aid stuff filled to the brim and a second with more specific items so that he feels at ease with the idea of longer term camp trips. The first jar covers small cuts, bumps, bruises and hypocondria, the second jar helps him sleep at night just knowing it is there.

I find the jars convenient, but I go through a lot of peanut butter, so I have had an ample supply. It is just easy to get three or four jars and all the supplies at once and make up a few kits for yourself and friends. throw them in a pack, in a day hatch, in the trunk, where ever you can and they are there and ready.

also go to Borders or Barns and Noble and read “Making the perfect survival kit”. It may take an hour or two, but it is a quick read. Give you a whole new look on first aid kits and what you really need and what you can really use and how you can hold it all.