Make Your Own Backcountry Emergency Kit

DSC_01462007-07-01_16-16-50It's not all coding and Jui-Jitsu for me. I'll be spending the first two weeks of June traveling around Alaska. The plan is for a few days exploring Seward and the Kenai peninsula, then 4 days camping in the backcountry of Denali National Park. Thankfully, this will be one of my first trips unrelated to work in some time. So, packing will be limited to essential gear only.

Given that the Denali backcountry is unmarked, remote, and full of wildlife that can eat you, I'm preparing a little more than I have for previous treks where I've relied on blazed trails, guides, and being the biggest carnivore in the area. (The picture on the left is from the Salkantay Pass at 4,600 meters/15,000 feet on route to Macchu Picchu.)

My daypack kit (a.k.a go bag, ready bag, emergency kit, survival kit, etc.) was already based on the assumption that every day hike can become an unplanned overnight. (I learned that lesson the hard way during my younger days in the Boy Scouts.) To that end, it carried (most of) the Ten Essentials. However upon reviewing my kit, I noticed that my first aid kit had picked clean over the years (only a few band-aids, alcohol wipes, and some Benedryl left), I almost never carried extra food, and — most importantly — I only carried one. Generally, I hike with my wife. So, sharing a single (and deficiently supplied) kit between us may not be the best idea if we where to get separated. 

So, based on experience, some research (listed below), and a few of the ready-made kits available through REI, EMS and a few other suppliers, I've complied a list of items for my DIY Backcountry Emergency Kit. It's probably cheaper to buy a ready made kit and add to it. However, building from individual components let me control the quantities and quality of each component and, in some cases, was more cost effective since some items came in packages of two already. Plus, the majority of items are non-perishable and can be used for refills. Really, it's not a big deal if you end up with extra band-aids around the house, is it?

Here's what I came up with. Collectively, it weighs between 1.8 – 2 pounds so, it's a bit on the heavy side for a day hike. I tried figuring out what could be removed without comprimise, but I really couldn't. If you have suggestions, please add comments below.

  • Emergency
  • First Aid
    • Antibiotic Ointment – CVS sells a box of one-time use packets
    • Ibuprofen tablets (10) – look for travel size containers)
    • Antihistamine tablets (6) – i.e. Benedryl
    • Anti-Diarrhea tablets (4) – i.e. Imodium AD
    • Hand salve
    • Antiseptic towelettes (10)
    • Wound Closure Strips (6) – aka Butterfly bandages
    • Moleskin
    • Band-aids (15)
    • 2" gauze pads (5) 
    • 3" gauze pads (5)
    • 2" roller bandage
    • 4" roller bandage
    • Ace Bandage
    • Bandana – can be a tourniquet, sling, water filter (for silt only), sun protection.
    • Athletic tape
    • Hemostatic Agent/Sponge – QuickClot
    • SAM splint
    • Latex gloves
    • Safety Pins (4)
    • Needle and thread
    • Tweezers
  • Optional
    • Fresnel Magnifier
    • Fishing kit – 4 hooks, bobber, 2 sinkers
    • Brass Wire (22 gauge) 8 ft. – for snares, repairs, etc.
    • Camp Stove – this Esbit pocket stove with solid fuel is really small and light

This list assumes you're also carrying

  • Topographic map
  • Sun Protection – Sunscreen/Sunglasses
  • Extra clothing (assume coldest weather for your area, water resistant) 
  • Water ( 2 liters per person per day)

To this, I will have to add Bear Spray which I apparently can't get in New York though I doubt the TSA would let me on a plane with it anyway. Not if they're patting down Henry Kissinger

Hopefully, you find this useful. Again, if you have any question or suggestions, please add to the comments below. 


One thought on “Make Your Own Backcountry Emergency Kit

  1. This experience made me realize that most of the people I know probably don’t have a real first aid kit anywhere. And they don’t even know, how to make it? I will share it with my friends as the information is really very useful. Keep sharing your excellent work.


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