I have nine first aid kits in my house if you count the ones in the glove compartments of each car. Don’t call me crazy — I can justify every first aid kit I have. The cars’ first aid kits hardly need explanation, nor does the larger well-stocked kit we keep on hand as the primary go-to for day to day injuries, burns, stings, and so forth.
I have three different first aid kits I bring along for outdoor activities: a compact one for hikes or climbs, a mid-sized one for weekend campouts, and a larger kit for car camping or when I’m headed to the wilderness with a large group. I also have one first aid kit in a stocked emergency bag (the bug out bag, in other words), so that’s seven kits justified already!
While you may not need all of these (or the additional two that I have at home because they look cool), it’s best practice to be stocked with these five essential first aid kits:
Best First Aid Kit for the Home
This Be Smart Get Prepared first aid kit ($35) meets OSHA guidelines for use in a workplace (or school or other organization) with up to 100 people, so it’s more than adequate for use in your home. Why buy a first aid kit that was curated for dozens of people when you have only a handful of people in the household? Well, not to judge or anything, but you’re probably not going to replace items that have been used, so it’s wise to stock up ahead of time. The kit has all the bandages, wipes, creams, and dressings you’d expect, and its hard-shell case organizes everything in a particularly clever way: there is an upper tray for the smaller items, like alcohol pads and sting relief wipes, and a larger compartment for larger items like a cold pack and bigger bandages. The time you don’t spend fumbling for the right item is the time you can spend staunching bleeding or treating a burn. Also, the kit can be wall mounted for even quicker, easier access.
Best First Aid Kit for the Car
Coleman’s Expedition First Aid Kit ($19) was designed for camping, but I actually recommend this one for keeping in your car. It’s the perfect size for a glovebox and its contents are designed for meeting life’s little mishaps when you’re far from home. Having two kids as I do, I know minor injuries are always just a split second away, so the fact that this kit has six different types of bandages is comforting when we’re miles from our house, not to mention from a store (or hospital). It also includes plenty of antiseptic and antibiotic products as well as gloves, gauze, and adhesive tape, so it will let you treat even larger or deeper gashes. Just add your own burn relief gel and you’ll be good to go.
Best First Aid Kit for Car Camping
The Monoki First Aid Survival Kit ($24) is almost like a miniature bug out bag, albeit without the food and water. It has bandages, antiseptics, gauze, scissors, and all the stuff you’d expect from a decent first aid kit, but it’s the gear they included beyond the medical stuff that makes this one my favorite for car camping or for use on moderate-difficulty treks. The kit comes with a knife, a flashlight, a wire saw, fishing supplies, an emergency blanket, a fire starter tool, a compass, a whistle, and even a multitool. If you wander away from your campsite and get lost, or take a wrong turn on a day hike, the survival gear in this kit will be welcome stuff indeed. And if you also get hurt while you’re lost, well, there’s first aid supplies right there too.
Best First Aid Kit for Hiking
When you’re on rock, trekking for miles, cycling for days, or packing all your gear into the hull of your kayak, weight matters. The I Go Compact First Aid Kit ($11) weighs half a pound yet has 85 pieces of medical gear packed into a small hard-shelled case. Assuming you already have the other items that outdoor adventures call for, like a knife and light, then this kit is ideal for its simplicity. Most of those 85 items are bandages or antiseptic products, with the only distinctly non-medical item being a miniature emergency whistle that can be heard for miles in the right conditions. The theory behind the curation is clear enough: for minor injuries, take care of yourself and keep on going. For a major issue, call for help!
Best First Aid Kit for Bug Bites or Stings
Having been stung on the face by a yellow jacket last week, let me tell you this: being stung on the face by a yellow jacket sucks. I didn’t have to turn to my handy Sawyer Extractor Pump Kit ($17), as the pain faded fast enough and I could see no evidence of a stinger hanging out of my cheek. For bad stings from bees, or, say, scorpions, or if you are bitten by a venomous snake, an Extractor Pump Kit isn’t just a matter of mitigating discomfort, it might be the difference between unpleasantness and serious medical danger. The kit contains a razor and prep pads or clearing the skin around your bit or sting and a high powered suction pump that can literally suck poison/venom right out of your body. It can reduce the severity of everything from a mosquito bite to a rattlesnake strike to a scorpion sting to a hornet attack — no need to orally suck out venom or cut an X into the skin. In fact, don’t try either of those things even if you left your Extractor Pump Kit at home as they just make it worse.