How To Make The Best Over-Landing First Aid Kit?

Setting out on an overlanding adventure demands preparation for every twist and turn of the unexpected. Whether you’re exploring remote deserts, dense forests, or rugged mountains, safety is paramount. First aid kits are essential, not just as a checklist item, but as a critical part of your journey’s plan. They equip you to handle accidents or health issues that may arise.

In this article, discover the key components every overlanding first aid kit should include. From basics like adhesive tape and gauze pads to advanced items such as tourniquets and CPR masks, we’ll help you choose the right gear. We’ll also discuss DIY versus pre-packaged kits, offer tips for maintenance and restocking, and share important safety considerations. So, let’s get into it!

Understanding Overlanding and the Importance of a First Aid Kit

Overlanding is an adventure that takes you through remote terrains, often far from the nearest medical facility. It’s a journey that demands self-reliance, especially in terms of health and safety. The importance of a first aid kit in such scenarios cannot be overstated. But don’t worry; we’ll tell you everything you need to know about first aid kits before you hit the road, so, stay connected!

The Essentials Of Medical Preparedness

  • First Aid Training: Before you hit the road, it's crucial to understand not just what goes into your medical kit, but also how to use it. Training in First Aid and Wilderness First Aid Certification provides a solid foundation. For those planning longer trips, a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification is advisable. This includes courses available from reputable institutions like Aerie Backcountry Medicine, Remote Medical, and the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
  • Regular Re-Training and Practice: Medical skills aren't static; they need refreshing. Regular re-training ensures you're always prepared for emergencies. Being an active member of a local Search and Rescue (SAR) outfit, as some overlanders are, can provide both training and real-world experience.
  • Tailored Medical Kits: Your first aid kit should be customized based on your training, expected challenges, and the remoteness of your journey. Imagine you're two days away from help; that's how stocked and ready your kit should be. For group travels, a large medical kit for the team, supplemented by Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) in each vehicle, ensures comprehensive coverage.

Importance Of Individual First Aid Kits

Traveling in a group necessitates having IFAKs in each truck. These kits, smaller than the master kit but no less important, should be strapped to an easily accessible spot, such as the passenger side headrest. This ensures quick access in emergencies like vehicle rolls.

Understanding The Types Of Care

Your first aid kit should cater to different types of care, especially when you’re miles from help. Breaking down your needs into “Boo Boos”, “Basecamp First Aid”, and “Trauma Care” can help you organize your kits to address potential injuries and ailments effectively. Having a separate trauma kit, for instance, allows for immediate access to necessary equipment without delay during emergencies.

The Reality Of Backcountry Trauma Care

No matter your level of preparedness, the reality is that you’re limited in what you can do when far from civilization. Understanding this helps in organizing your first aid kit and tools to be accessible and effective under the right circumstances. It’s about being prepared to the best of your ability, knowing that sometimes, all you can do is mitigate the situation until professional help is available.

Essential Items for a First Aid Kit for Overlanding

When you’re miles away from the nearest hospital, having a well-equipped first aid kit can make a significant difference in an emergency situation during your overlanding adventures. Below, we’ll explore the essential items that should be included in your first aid kit, categorized into bandages and dressings, medications and ointments, and emergency tools and equipment. Each category is crucial for addressing a wide range of potential injuries and ailments you might encounter on the road.

Bandages And Dressings: Ultralight/Watertight .9 Medical Kit ($46)

  • Summary: This kit is ideal for adventure seekers. It's compact, waterproof, and contains a variety of bandages and dressings for wound care
  • Features: Includes adhesive bandages, gauze dressings, blister prevention, and a wound cleaning system
  • Pros: Waterproof bag, lightweight, comprehensive wound care options
  • Cons: May need replenishment after significant use

Gauzes And Bandages: Field Trauma with QuikClot ($68)

  • Summary: Designed for serious injuries, this kit includes QuikClot gauze for rapid bleeding control and other essential trauma supplies
  • Features: QuikClot gauze, trauma pads, sterile dressings, and a tourniquet
  • Pros: Contains life-saving QuikClot, comprehensive trauma care
  • Cons: Higher price point, may require trauma care knowledge to use effectively

Medications And Ointments: Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series ($45.39)

  • Summary: This kit combines essential over-the-counter medications with first aid supplies for a wide range of situations
  • Features: Pain relievers, antihistamines, antidiarrheal, and topical ointments like hydrocortisone
  • Pros: Comprehensive OTC medication selection, well-organized
  • Cons: Might need to add prescription medications based on individual needs

Emergency Tools And Equipments: Surviveware Small First Aid Kit ($49)

  • Summary: Compact and durable, this kit is equipped with high-quality first aid tools, including shears, tweezers, and CPR masks
  • Features: Heavy-duty zippers, labeled compartments, and MOLLE compatible straps
  • Pros: Organized and durable, easy to attach to gear
  • Cons: Basic kit, might require additional specialized tools

Carrying And Transportation: Lightning X Small First Responder EMT EMS Trauma Bag ($129)

  • Summary: For those prepared to deal with more serious injuries, this bag offers space and organization for a wide range of medical tools
  • Features: Multiple compartments, reflective strips for visibility, and ample space for additional tools
  • Pros: High storage capacity, customizable organization
  • Cons: Tools not included, higher initial investment for the bag alone

What We Think:

Each of these recommended products available on Amazon has been selected for its suitability for overlanding adventures, ensuring you’re well-prepared for any medical situation that arises. Remember, while having the right equipment is essential, knowing how to use it effectively through proper first aid training is equally important.

How to Choose the Right First Aid Kit for Overlanding

When preparing for an overlanding adventure, selecting the right first aid kit is crucial for ensuring safety in remote locations. Your choice should be informed, strategic, and tailored to your specific needs. Here are the key factors you need to consider before making your choice.

1. Size And Portability

Your first aid kit must be easy to carry and store within your vehicle. Overlanding often involves challenging terrains and tight spaces, making compactness a virtue. However, the kit should also be comprehensive enough to handle a variety of medical situations.

A balance between size and content is essential. For instance, the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 is a stellar example of a compact yet sufficiently stocked option, perfect for individual use or brief outings. It’s light, easy to pack, and offers quick access to essential first aid items.

2. Specific Needs And Medical Conditions

Every overlanding group or individual may have unique medical needs based on personal health conditions, allergies, or specific risks associated with their chosen routes. It’s important to customize your first aid kit to reflect these needs. For example, if someone in your group has a known allergy, ensure that an EpiPen is readily available.

Similarly, if your adventure leads you to high altitudes, consider including altitude sickness medication. This customization extends to the activities you plan. For instance, if your journey involves hiking or rock climbing, include items like moleskin for blisters and splints for potential sprains or fractures.

3. Quality And Durability

The items in your first aid kit should be of high quality and capable of withstanding the toughness of overlanding. This includes not only the medical supplies themselves but also the bag or container holding them. It should be durable, water-resistant, and easy to open in an emergency.

Products like the Surviveware Small First Aid Kit exemplify durability with its heavy-duty materials and organized compartments. This makes it an excellent choice for those prioritizing longevity and ease of use. Remember, while having the right equipment is crucial, knowing how to use it effectively is equally important.

Regular training and refreshers on first aid practices can enhance your ability to respond to emergencies confidently and competently. Your first aid kit is your frontline defense against the unpredictable nature of overlanding adventures. Choose wisely, stay prepared, and explore the great outdoors with peace of mind.

4. DIY VS. Pre-Packaged First Aid Kits

When embarking on overlanding adventures, ensuring you have a reliable first aid kit is as crucial as your journey’s route. However, the debate between DIY (Do-It-Yourself) vs. Pre-Packaged First Aid Kits is a significant one, with each option offering distinct advantages and drawbacks. Here, we delve into the pros and cons of both, so that you make an informed decision for your next adventure.

Pros And Cons Of DIY Kits

Here are a few pros and cons of choosing a DIY kit:


  • Customization: The most significant advantage of a DIY first aid kit is the ability to tailor it precisely to your needs. You can include specific items based on your medical knowledge, the nature of your trip, and personal health conditions. For instance, if you're prone to allergies, you can pack an ample supply of antihistamines.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Building your own kit can be more budget-friendly. You can source items individually, often at a lower cost than buying a pre-packaged kit. This way, you're only spending on what you know you'll use.
  • Familiarity: When you assemble your kit, you become familiar with its contents and where everything is located. This can be invaluable in an emergency when time is of the essence.


  • Time-Consuming: The process of researching, purchasing, and assembling a DIY kit can be time-intensive. It requires a good understanding of first aid to select the right items.
  • Overpacking: Without proper knowledge, there's a risk of overpacking or selecting unnecessary items, making the kit bulky and less portable.
  • Missing Essentials: There's a potential risk of overlooking important items that a more experienced medical professional wouldn't miss in a pre-packaged kit.

Pros And Cons Of Pre-Packaged Kits

Here are a few pros and cons of choosing a pre-pacakged kit:


  • Convenience: Pre-packaged kits offer unparalleled convenience. They're ready to use out of the box, saving you the time and hassle of assembling a kit from scratch.
  • Expertly Curated: These kits are often assembled by professionals, ensuring a well-rounded selection of items that you might not consider otherwise.
  • Compliance: Pre-packaged kits typically adhere to regulatory standards. This ensures you have the essentials required for a basic first aid response.


  • Cost: Pre-packaged kits can be more expensive than DIY kits. The convenience of a ready-made kit comes with a higher price tag.
  • Lack of Customization: While they include general essentials, pre-packaged kits may not cater to specific needs or preferences. You might end up carrying items you don't need or lacking ones you do.
  • Unfamiliarity: If you don't take the time to familiarize yourself with the contents, you might find it challenging to locate items quickly in an emergency.

What We Think:

Choosing between a DIY or Pre-Packaged First Aid Kit boils down to your specific needs, budget, and the level of customization you desire. If you have the time and knowledge to build a kit tailored to your adventure, DIY might be the way to go.

However, if you prefer the convenience and reliability of a professionally assembled kit, then a pre-packaged option is likely more suitable. Remember, the best first aid kit is the one that meets your unique requirements, ensuring you’re prepared for any situation on your overlanding journey.

Maintaining and Restocking Your First Aid Kit

Maintaining and restocking your first aid kit is crucial to ensure that you’re always prepared. Here’s how to keep your kit in top shape:

Regular Inspection:

  • Store Properly: Keep your first aid kit in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent damage to the items inside.
  • Six-Month Check: Set a reminder every six months to review your kit. Check and replenish all expired items, including food, water, medicines, and other perishables. Also, replace items that will expire in the next six months.
  • Yearly Check: Once a year, do a thorough inspection of your kit and emergency plan. Update your kit to address changing needs and ensure all gear is working correctly.

Replacing Used Items:

  • Immediate Replacement: If you use any items from your kit, replace them promptly to ensure your kit is always complete.
  • Check Expirations: Regularly check the expiration dates of all items, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. Dispose of expired items safely and replace them with new ones.
  • 3.Battery Check: Inspect batteries for leaks and replace any that are leaking or partially used. Unused batteries should be replaced every three to five years, depending on their shelf life.

Upgrading Your Kit:

  • Experience-Based Adjustments: As you gain more experience in your overlanding adventures, you'll better understand what you need in your first aid kit. Use this knowledge to add or remove items based on past incidents and potential future needs.
  • Training Insights: Incorporate items into your kit based on new training or certifications you acquire. Advanced medical training might necessitate adding more specialized items to your kit.
  • Group Needs: If traveling in a group, consider the medical needs of all members. You may need to add specific medications or equipment to accommodate everyone.

What We Think:

By following these steps, you can ensure that your first aid kit remains a reliable resource for handling medical emergencies during your overlanding adventures. Regular maintenance, timely replacement of used and expired items, and thoughtful upgrades based on experience and training will keep your kit ready for anything.

Additional Tips for Overlanding Safety

When you’re gearing up for an overlanding adventure, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget about the potential dangers that come with exploring the unknown. To ensure you’re prepared for any situation, here are some additional tips that focus on emergency contacts and information, training and preparedness, and vehicle safety and tools.

Emergency Contacts And Information:

  • Have Legal Representation: Before you set off, it's crucial to understand the laws and regulations that apply to your journey. Having an experienced lawyer can help you navigate any legal issues that may arise.
  • Emergency Contact Numbers: Always have a list of emergency contact numbers, including local police, ambulance services, and fire departments. In case of an emergency, you'll need to reach out for help quickly.
  • Communication Devices: Equip your vehicle with reliable communication devices. Whether it's a walkie-talkie, CB Radio, satellite phone, or a beacon, having a way to communicate can turn a minor inconvenience into a manageable situation.

Training And Preparedness:

  • Get Trained: The importance of first aid and survival training cannot be overstated. Invest time in learning how to use your equipment and take classes to familiarize yourself with recovery gear and emergency procedures.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Regularly practice using your navigation tools, such as GPS, maps, and compasses. Knowing how to quickly find your way back to safety is essential.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Recovery Gear: Having the right gear is useless unless you know how to use it. Work with trusted friends or take courses to better understand how to utilize your recovery equipment safely.

Vehicle Safety Tools:

  • Know Your Vehicle's Capabilities: Understanding what your vehicle can and cannot do is crucial. Familiarize yourself with its weight capacity, terrain handling, and towing capabilities.
  • Invest in Quality Navigation Tools: A reliable GPS, map, and compass are indispensable for keeping you on track, no matter the terrain.
  • Carry Essential Tools: Make sure to have a comprehensive tool kit that suits your vehicle's needs. This might include socket sets, spanners, screwdrivers, pliers for larger items.
  • Preparation for Wildlife Encounters: Learn about the wildlife in the area you're traveling to and how to avoid conflicts. Carry bear spray, mace, or other personal protection devices where legal and appropriate.

What We Think:

By incorporating these additional safety tips into your overlanding preparation, you can ensure that you’re ready to handle whatever challenges come your way. Remember, the key to a successful adventure lies in thorough preparation, proper training, and the right equipment.


As we’ve explored the essentials of first aid preparedness for overlanding, this article has focused on customizing first aid kits, balancing DIY and pre-packaged options, and maintaining essential skills. Choosing durable, high-quality products and preparing through practice are crucial for your safety.

Selecting versatile first aid items and prioritizing training ensure effective emergency response. This mindset fosters preparedness and responsibility for personal and group safety. Have you prepared your first aid kid yet?


For a successful overlanding trip, ensure you have the following essentials: a reliable vehicle (if you don’t already own one suitable for the journey), sleeping gear for comfortable nights, navigation tools to guide your way, tables and chairs for camp comfort, adequate lighting, kitchen supplies for meals on the go, a comprehensive first-aid kit, and camping shower and toilet necessities for personal hygiene.

A well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for handling emergencies. Make sure yours includes adhesive tape, elastic wrap bandages, a variety of bandage strips including “butterfly” bandages, super glue for sealing cuts, a rubber tourniquet or a 16 French catheter for severe bleeding, assorted sizes roller gauze, an eye shield or pad for eye injuries, and a large triangular bandage that can double as a sling.

When traveling, your first aid kit should be equipped with a quick reference card for first aid, disposable latex-free gloves, adhesive bandages in various sizes, hydro-colloid blister plasters for gauze, adhesive first aid tape, an elasticated bandage wrap for sprains and strains, and steri-strips for wound closure.

For hiking trips, ensure your first aid kit includes antiseptic wipes (preferably BZK-based), antibacterial ointment (e.g., bacitracin), compound tincture of benzoin to enhance bandage adhesion, assorted fabric adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages or emergency wound-closure strips, gauze pads in various sizes.

Disclaimer: The links provided in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.



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