As the size of the expedition group gets bigger or the trip longer, you will need to carry more of the basic first aid kit contents and additional drugs to treat medical problems that typically don't arise on shorter trips due to the one to three week, or longer, incubation period required for most infectious diseases. Our Expedition Pack can typically hold enough supplies for a group of 8-12 people for up to three weeks, more with resupplies. The needs of larger groups (typically found on commercial raft trips) can be met by using multiple packs.
It's important to limit access to your first aid kit to people who are trained. This may mean training your expedition members before or during an trip or simply restricting access to instructors or guides who are already trained. It may also mean splitting your first aid kit and training members to use one pack while restricting access to a different pack to guides or instructors. A common approach is to issue a basic first aid kit to two- to four-person tent or cook groups and train them how to use its contents while the instructors or guides carry a larger first aid kit for more complex problems. A variation on this approach is for the instructors or guides to carry a first aid pack with all the drugs while a second—and sometimes a third—pack contains supplies to treat wounds, extremity injuries, and/or major trauma. Depending on a number of variables—longer trips, more people, the type of travel, etc.—some companies also carry a central resupply kit.
The Expedition Wilderness First Aid Kit
Below are some wilderness first aid kit suggestions for trip leaders working with 2-12 clients or friends for greater than one week with an evacuation time > 24 hours. Most of the listed materials fit into our Expedition Pack; if you have a larger group or a very long expedition with limited resupply options, you may need multiple packs.
Wound Treatment Supplies
Extremity Strains, Sprains, & Fractures
Optional Extras (if space permits)
In addition to selling first aid packs and supplies, we build custom first aid kits based on our packs and experience. Check them out here.
Want more information on this and other wilderness medicine topics? Take one of our wilderness medicine courses. Guides and expedition leaders should consider taking our Wilderness First Responder course.
Looking for a reliable field reference? Consider consider purchasing one of our print or digital handbooks; our digital handbook apps are available in English, Spanish, and Japanese. Updates are free for life. A digital SOAP note app is also available.