I was reading a thread the other day on bushcraft Facebook page concerning what people carry in there medical / first aid kits. So it had me thinking do I carry to much or not enough.
The bizzare things I read people carry led me to think should you med kit depend on what you’re doing / going? Well yes I do think that the amount and contents should vary depending on what you are doing.
Someone had posted their message kit was in a large box weighing 5kg and included Israeli dressings, adrenaline, suture kit, full resus equipment and other items. Yes I’m a deep believer in ‘if you haven’t got it’ ‘you can’t use it’ but realistically look at the chance that you would need all of this. If you are camping out of a car then yes consider a larger kit.
Personally I have a small waterproof medical kit that is used in my day bag, a larger kit which is stocked for a longer duration and another pack that is used is I am a good distance from civilisation.
The other thing to think of is if the brown stuff hits the fan. How do you contact emergency service? We are lucky in the uk as mobile phone coverage is pretty good but if there is no signal how do you gain assistance?
The device I used whilst walking the Fjallraven Classic in Sweden was a SPOT tracker, this is a subscription device that locates you using gps and in emergency you can press a button and it will send a pre-determined message to emergency services in your area. The other great services it offers is you can press another button that will send an ‘OK’ message to predetermined email addresses and mobile numbers giving a link to your location to be viewed online. Also it can connect to your social media sharing your location.
But the question is what to take? So here’s a low down on what I carry in my hiking bag for a multiple day excursion.
From left to right
Needle and thread (used for treating blisters)
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
Smecta (diarrhoea treatment)
This is in a waterproof box and is taken on trips on water, hiking and fishing. It is relatively small but has enough for basics.
As we any piece of kit it is a good idea to have items that are use for instance if you replaced the betadine with potassium permanganate you would have something to clean wounds, sterilise water to make it drinkable and if mixed with glycerol is a great emergency fire starter.
Items in box
Obviously each kit should be tailored to your personal medical needs ie allergic reactions and regular medication should always be carried in a waterproof container. Also emergency contacts and medical he is handy to have kept on person or in medical box.
There really is no need to carry a personal A&E with you unless you are really that accident prone, if you are that bad then you need to consider if you have suitable enough experience to be out by yourself or a distance away from emergency help.
Everything you carry is designed really for self help.
As stated in my post about when we completed the Fjallraven Classic 2017, gear selection and packing for the fjallraven classic Sweden is something that you will probably do 100 times before leaving for Sweden.
One of the most helpful tips I can give you when packing for the fjallraven classic Sweden is once you have packed your rucksack purchase a cargo bag for it to travel in and also you can leave a change of clothes and your day bag in it so that it can meet you at the finish (this I found very helpful), Fjallraven will take your bag from the start at Camp Ripan to the end in Abisko.
• Tent* – I took a Vango 1 x Man
• Sleeping bag*, preferably three-season sleeping bag – Down is good but if it gets wet it doesn’t insulate as well
• Stove* with a deep pan – good for boiling water for the freeze dried meals – Something like a JETBOIL or Alpkit Wolf.
• Fuel* (included in the ticket fee, don’t forget to bring a bottle if you use petrol or methylated spirit) – Fuel is supplied you should only need one can.
• Sleeping mattress* – Something that packs small and lightweight, I took a EXPED DownMat Lite.
• Map* (included in the ticket fee)
• Magnetic compass*
• Fjällräven Classic Trash Bag* (included in the ticket fee)
• Thermal fleece/mid layer top* in down, wool or a synthetic material
• Long underpants for a dry change ( what I did and I found it worked very well was keep a pair of long johns, base layer and socks in a small dry bag to change into to sleep in).
• Wind and waterproof pants
• Wind and waterproof jacket with hood
• First aid kit (at least elastic bandage, blister pads, compresses and tape). It is recommended to complement the mandatory first aid kit with safety pins, butterfly stitches (skin closures), fluid replacement and pain relief.
• 65-75lr backpack with rain protection cover
• Sun hat/cap
• Trekking socks, preferably in wool – I discovered Armaskin Socks these are the best items I have found to stop blisters, they are a silcone layered undersock and I highly recommend them, they are worn as the first layer with a pair of hiking socks over them. See my other post on foot care.
•Underwear in wool or in a synthetic material
• A change of shoes or flip flops/sandals to give your feet a break – definitely worth taking.
•Trekking trousers, a pair that can be unzipped to become shorts are ideal – it does get warm up there sometimes
• Trekking boots – waterproof is a must it does get quite boggy in places
• Trekking poles – I relied on mine others didn’t use them. Helpful tip: wind gaffer tape around the top of one walking pole, gaffer tape is really a great ‘quick fix’ item and to limit space and weight you don’t need to carry a full reel of it carefully wind it around the top of one of our trekking poles.
• Matches and/or lighter – didn’t use but depending on your speed you may camp your first night in an area with fuel for a fire a lot of the terrain you will cover is above the tree line apart from the start up to Kebnakaise and towards the end near Keiron to Abisko. It is recommended to burn used toilet paper.
• Dish cloth – don’t see the need if you are eating the freeze dried food out of the bag.
• Small towel – had a small micro fibre towel in pocket as I was getting hot on the first day. If you fancy using the saunas en-route then a larger towel would be needed.
• Water bottle, minimum 0.5lt – Water is everywhere, you will be able to stock up along the route.
• Small knife with scissors or a multi-tool – A multi-tool comes in handy or did for me to help me re-stitch my boots.
• Toiletries – limit these: dry wash, cleansing wipes, toothbrush (cut most of handle off) and toothpaste (find small tube on amazon)
• Toilet paper in a plastic bag with some matches – you should burn your used toilet paper rather than leaving it in the ground
• Head torch – Not needed (doesn’t get dark enough)
• Sunglasses – A must
Other Items for the Fjallraven Classic :
•Camera – I took a GoPro and used my iPhone for photos (I attached a hosing for the GoPro and iPhone clip into the handle of one trekking pole so i didnt need a selfie stick) and navigation (I downloaded viewranger and purchased the relevant tiles for the area and also downloaded the Fjallraven Classic Route.
•Battery Pack for charging phone and GoPro
•Empty Plastic Bottle – I hate having to get out of my sleeping bag in the middle of the night for a pee!
•Sitting mat – these can be found online cheap.
•Waterproof rucksack cover.
•Poncho – Didnt use it but if the heavens did open this would have been invaluable.
•Mosquito Repellent – This is a must there can be swarm in the billions of these little monsters. I get bitten so much and there are so many that i’ve tried and the only effective one I have found was brought in Sweden. Mygga is made with natural ingredients and also has tea tree in it so feels really refreshing when applied after a wet wipe wash in the evening before relaxing and taking in the surroundings.
I purchased this from the supermarket in Kiruna and if i remember they also sell it in the Fjallraven pop up store at check in.
So do yourself a favour and purchase a couple once you return to Kiruna to take home.
•Mosquito head net. Also invaluable a must when the sun lowers and those micro zombies attack.
•Small Trowel. Very helpful for when answering the call of nature.
Energy Drink Tablets
Plastic bottle of Rum
Take your time when packing and really think about each item. If you think to yourself “do I really need this item?” then you probably don’t. The less weight you carry the easier it will be on your shoulders and back and obviously the less weight you will be carrying.
Most importantly your rucksack needs to be suitable for the weather, your shape and the equipment you are carrying. Don’t go out and buy and ‘off the shelf’ rucksack without getting professional advice assisting with fitting the rucksack to you.
Carry most of the weight from the ruck sack on your hips, move heavy items to the bottom of the rucksack and pack the rucksack so you can get to regularly used items first.
Use a liner in your bag something as simple as a refuse bin bag to keep everything dry.
Take small refuse bin bags with you to put wet clothes / dirty underwear to keep the rest of you clothes dry.
A lightweight bumbag will come in helpful to keep snacks, phone and other small regularly used items in, so you don’t have to take your rucksack off every time you make a quick stop.