Before Johnson & Johnson started commercially distributing first aid kits in the late 1800s (1), the best choice was to get a patient to the neighborhood doctor as quickly as possible. If the doctor was miles away, this meant a long, painful, and often unsuccessful journey to get life-saving medical care.
Accessibility to first aid kits has improved our ability to provide emergency care, even in remote or disaster situations. Bystander CPR, while only recommended after proper training, has been found to double a victim’s chance of survival (2).
Whether you’re a hunter, fisherman, rock climber, backpacker, or simply need a healthy supply of Band-Aids for your accident-prone children, having a first aid kit on hand is essential. In order to help you find a kit that’s right for you, we’ve compiled our Top Ten First Aid Kits list.
Also, be sure to check out our Buyer’s Guide for a few important characteristics of first aid kits that you must consider when shopping around.
1. TripWorthy Compact First Aid Kit
The Compact First Aid Kit from TripWorthy is a great option for anyone searching for a kit that is lightweight and portable. Weighing only one pound, this kit is perfect for to store in your car, boat, or off-road vehicle.
The TripWorthy kit is FDA-approved, which means the supplies it contains are of high-quality medical-grade. It is also OSHA/ANSI compliant for the workplace. This kit contains all that you’ll need to treat everything from minor cuts and scrapes to a serious traumatic injury.
2. Swiss Safe 2-in-1 120-Piece First Aid Kit
This 120-piece kit from Swiss Safe has been upgraded in 2018! The main part of the kit features 120 medical grade items and weighs only 1.2 pounds. This 2-in-1 kit also includes a small 32-piece Mini First Aid Kit.
The main kit is FDA-approved and contains stainless steel trauma shears, an instant ice pack, various survival tools, and more. The Mini First Aid Kit is designed for easy transportation and offers Band-Aids, antiseptic alcohol and sting relief pads, gauze, CPR kit, and refill essentials.
3. DeftGet 163-Piece Waterproof First Aid Kit
DeftGet offers this 163-piece First Aid Kit in a compact, nylon waterproof case. Their 2018 upgrade features bigger, stronger metal scissors and tweezers and a more accurate compass. It’s a perfect first aid kit for avid fishermen or an extended backpacking trip.
This waterproof kit contains 163 high-quality medical essentials, including triangular bandages, an emergency blanket, flashlight, saber cards (3), non-woven adhesive tape, and so much more. At a weight of just 10.4 ounces, it’s durable to withstand harsh conditions and light enough to go anywhere with you.
4. SURVIVAL Work/Home First Aid Kit
This intelligent first aid kit sets itself apart with labels on each item detailing exactly what they should be used for and how many should be kept in your kit. This goes a long way to help you refill when supplies are depleted and it’s great for those who want to keep their kit effectively organized!
The FDA-approved SURVIVAL Work/Home Kit comes in a water-resistant bag that also features reflective piping on the exterior to help you locate it in the dark. It also contains a zippered mesh section that allows you to customize the medications, puffers, or other items you’d like to carry.
5. Delta Provision Co. First Aid Kit
This kit from Delta Provision Co. is uniquely designed for military, first responders, and wilderness medics. It features a MOLLE and PALS (4) compatible pouch and everything is contained in a portable 9” x 6” x 3” pouch.
This kit also contains an 18-inch roll up split and an emergency Israeli bandage designed to reduce blood loss. Other supplies include cold pack, CPR mask, medical tape, emergency blanket, compass, whistle, razor blade, tongue depressor, and much more.
6. Lightning X First Responder First Aid Supplies Kit
The Lightning X is specifically designed for wilderness first responders and medics, but it’s also great for special events, concerts, hiking, camping, schools, and daycares. All supplies are packed in a waterproof backpack with an abrasion resistant bottom and reflective triple trim on top and bottom for safety and visibility.
The First Responder First Aid Supplies weighs 9 pounds and offers four removable foam dividers in the main compartment, as well as small and large elastic loops, tool pockets, and mesh pouch. It contains a number of lifesaving essentials, including Kelly Hemostats, Ammonia ampules, adult blood pressure cuff with a case, and much more.
7. Northbound Train First Aid Kit for Camping
Designed by a U.S. Marine, the Northbound Train First Aid Kit is perfect for camping and hiking but it’s also a tactically minded dream. This lightweight kit weighs only 11 ounces and measures just 3 x 5 x 7 inches, making it extremely portable.
This kit features a TSA-compliant design manufactured with durable nylon and high-quality zippers. It contains stainless steel shears, sharp tweezers, and waterproof laminate pouches for all other contents. Adventure seekers will love this excellent, fully stocked first aid kit.
8. Always Prepared Ultra-Light 100-Piece First Aid Kit
This ultra-light, 100-piece first aid kit is perfect for the ultimate deal shopper. Always Prepared is currently offering a limited time ‘Buy 3 Get 1 Free’ deal on these awesome kits and each purchase comes with a bonus emergency auto escape tool!
This kit comes in a convenient size that’ll fit under the seat in your car or store nicely on a shelf in your mudroom closet. It contains extra large adhesive bandages, a slim rescue howler whistle, compass, CPR facemask, Moleskin blister relief, one disposable raincoat, and much more.
9. SURVIVAL Traveller First Aid Kit
Another FDA-approved option from SURVIVAL, The Traveller First Aid Kit weighs one pound less than SURVIVAL’s Work/Home model but still contains all the first aid essentials you’ll need in a roadside emergency. It’s the perfect kit for your car, truck, or off-road vehicle.
This kit offers SURVIVAL’s authentic SMART snake and spider bandage (5) and their intelligent, customizable design. It also features a water-resistant case with durable strong zips and double-stitched handles. It also contains the essential medical tools and supplies for any emergency.
10. Sportsman Series Grizzly First Aid Kit
The Grizzly First Aid Kit is part of the Sportsman Series by Adventure Medical Kits. This kit is specifically designed for adventurous hunters and fishermen and offers all the supplies you’ll need to treat common injuries in the field.
The Grizzly kit includes sterile bandage materials, essentials to care for wounds, blisters, burns, fractures, and sprains, common medications, CPR face shield, and essential first aid tools. Everything in this kit is packed in an organized, high visibility container for quick, easy access.
A quality first aid kit should be part of any hiking, camping, or backpacking essentials checklist. But it is also a must-have item for your home, car, off-road hunting vehicle, or fishing boat. First aid kits have been around since the late 1800s, but they’ve grown significantly in effectiveness over the years.
The origins of first aid can be traced back to June of 1859 when a young Geneva businessman, Henry Dunant, helped to mobilize the civilian population to care for the wounded victims of the battle of Solferino (6).
First aid and civilian care are just as vital as it was that day more than 150 years ago. That said, we’ve created first aid kits for a wide variety of uses since then. In the interest of helping you make a selection, our Buyer’s Guide will focus on three main factors: your first aid experience, how you intend to use it, and what you’re willing to spend.
First Aid Experience
Your level of first aid or medical experience has a large impact on the type of first aid kit you need. If you don’t know how to use a hemostat or an oropharyngeal airway kit, for example, there’s not much need for you to splurge on a kit that contains these items.
In general, more experience means you’ll want a larger variety of first aid supplies at your disposal in an emergency situation. If you’re a Wilderness First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician, for example, tools like hemostats are incredibly handy if the situation calls for their use.
However, one important rule of first aid is to never take action to make the situation worse. If you have an educated idea for how to improve a patient’s health, take action. If not, you’re often better off deferring to more experienced medical personnel. Fortunately, the new First Aid app from the Red Cross (7) can guide you through a lot of basic care.
Examine the scenarios you’ll most likely use a first aid kit in. Fishermen, for example, need a kit that can help them remove a fish hook and patch the resulting wound. Moms need a kit that has plenty of Band-Aids and triple antibiotic ointment. Avid backpackers want a kit that will help them provide care for everything from hot spots and blisters to a severe leg injury.
The most common household accidents include trips and falls, falling objects, cuts, sprains, bruises, choking, and burns (8). Well-documented backpacking injuries, on the other hand, include blisters, dehydration, hypothermia, and bug bites (9).
Your intended use will have a large impact on the type of first aid kit you ultimately select. How you plan to store the kit, such as in a backpacking pack, under the back seat of your car, or under the kitchen sink, should also factor into your decision.
First aid kits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. More expensive and comprehensive varieties are specifically designed for medical personnel. Others provide the basic essentials for every household. Your choice will likely come down to how much you’re willing to spend.
For reference, complications from an infected wound include fever, continual or increased pain, redness and swelling, and fluid drainage (10). The first step to proper first aid care is to have the right supplies at your disposal when treating various wounds or illnesses.
Some of the largest first aid kits on the market today cost over $300. The kits we’ve highlighted in this post range from $15 to $115. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide how much your safety and health, as well the health of your friends and family, is worth.
Frequently Asked Questions
While we hope we’ve provided sufficient information to help you select a new first aid kit, we recognize that you may still have a few questions that we have not been able to answer. So, let’s look at a few of the most frequently asked questions about first aid kits.
What is the definition of “first aid”?
The term “first aid” is defined as the initial care given by a responder with little equipment to someone who is injured or suddenly becomes ill.
What items must a first aid kit contain?
As you’ve seen through the 10 first aid kits we’ve highlighted today, these kits can contain a variety of medical tools and supplies. Generally, however, a first aid kit must contain the following items:
- Absorbent Compress
- Adhesive Bandages
- Adhesive Tape
- Antibiotic Treatments
- Antiseptic Swabs, Wipes, and/or Towelettes
- Bandage Compresses in Multiple Sizes
- CPR Barrier
- Burn Dressings and Treatments
- Cold Packs
- Eye Covering with means of attachment
- Eye/Skin Wash
- Hand Sanitizer
- Roller Bandages in Multiple Sizes
- Sterile Pads
- Triangular Bandage
- First Aid Guide
How do I become certified in first aid?
The American Red Cross (11) provides some of the most comprehensive, accessible first aid training out there. In general, first aid classes require your participation in all course activities, which can include lecture, DVD, skills practice, and written and skills testing.
Certification is awarded to participants who demonstrate 100% proficiency in all required skills and who pass the written examination with a minimum score of 80%.
When do first aid kits expire?
Most first aid kits have a shelf life of three to five years. That said, it’s extremely important to regularly check the supplies in your kit to ensure they are in good condition and haven’t expired. Administering expired medications or using supplies that are no longer sterile can have the opposite of the desired effect.
The human body contains an average of 10 pints of blood. A loss of two pints usually results in shock and a loss of five to six pints results in death (12). A bystander with an adequate first aid kit could easily prevent loss of life in this type of scenario.
First aid kits come in handy for thousands of people every year. When the need arises, we hope you’re prepared, and we hope that the information we’ve provided will help you select your next first aid kit!