Best First Aid Kits – Being Prepared
From the Marine Corps to the Boy Scouts, first aid kits have long been a must-have piece of gear for the adventurous type. As time progressed, it turned out that everyone benefits from having a first aid kit. Everyone and I mean everyone, should have a first aid kit of some sort. Many companies believe that and now more than ever, we have tons of options for pre-made medical kits and medical gear on the market. You no longer have to be a spec-ops commando to have a high-quality kit full of life-saving gear.
Our List of the Best First Aid Kits
- Blue Force Gear – Micro T.K.N.
- Adventure Medical – Field Trauma Kit
- My Medic – Range Medic Kit
- North American Rescue – T.O.R.K.
- Cuda Offshore First Aid Kit
- Dark Angel Medical – DARK Trauma Kit
- V.S.S.L. First Aid Kit – Minimalist
Why You Need a Medical Kit
Do you carry a gun? Well, if you carry a gun, then I shouldn’t have to explain why you need a medical kit. I would even say a medical kit is more valuable to have than a gun in the vast majority of situations. You’ll utilize a firearm in a self-defense encounter, but you can use a first aid kit in a wide variety of emergency situations or even day-to-day life.
Car accidents, accidental burns, scrapes, lacerations, and even bug bites can be treated with a first aid kit. In many situations, these first aid kits can save lives. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve only ever drawn my concealed carry once for self-defense purposes and the situation ended without a shot fired.
I’ve used a first aid kit almost a dozen times now from incidents both big and small, often caused by my own stupidity. I’ve hit myself in the leg with an axe, I’ve got a fishing hook stuck deep into my thumb, and cut myself more than once doing some task involving a knife.
In almost every situation, I was nowhere near any kind of formal medical vehicle. My first aid kit helped stop the bleeding, cleaned the wounds, and bandaged them up for care later down the road. Without my first aid kit, I’d be bleeding all the way to the hospital or the first sign of civilization.
The Best First Kits
More Than Just Gear
Having a first aid kit is important, and for most small scrapes, cuts, and burns, you’ll be happy to have it. However, for more traumatic injuries, you need more than a kit. You are going to need some form of training. It’s just like having a gun. To be truly prepared, you need some training and practice.
You don’t need to be a Doctor, a Nurse, or an E.M.T. to know how to use a first aid kit, but training and preparation are invaluable.
There are dedicated training outfits like Dark Angel Medical that provide high-level training on the use of medicine in tactical scenarios, and that’s an outstanding route to take. Besides high-level training, a basic first aid class offered by the Red Cross is a great place to start. Stop the Bleed classes are often free and hosted by local hospitals and fire stations.
Don’t forget to learn C.P.R. on top of stopping the bleed. Again, you can take a C.P.R. class at several locations, and they are often free or extremely affordable. It’s well worth the investment of a few hours and a few dollars.
Also, lots of medical manuals from the United States military are free online and offer you a ton of information. It’s not enough to consider yourself trained but can get you thinking differently and provide a good basis of knowledge.
The Best First Aid Kit Reviews
With the training advice out of the way, let’s get to the show and show you the best first aid kits. The kits listed here are premade and provide you with a basis for a first aid kit. We’ll talk about building your own at the very end.
Blue Force Gear – Micro T.K.N. Review
Blue Force Gear unveiled the Micro Trauma Kit Now a few years back, and it really kicked off the idea of minimalist kits. The Micro T.K.N. builds on the ideas behind the original T.K.N. Names making your medical gear quickly and easily accessible even when wounded. The Micro T.K.N. offers a minimalist setup for both tactical gear and as a belt-mounted everyday carry kit.
The kit is composed of an outer and inner element. The Outer element works like a taco that encloses around the inner element. This offers protection from the great outdoors and ensures the integrity of your kit. The inner component holds all your gear with elastic bands. When you pull the inner component out, your gear stays put but allows for easy access.
When you need medical gear, you pull out the inner kit and get after it. You can pull the inner portion out for either side and have instant access to your medical gear. Blue Force Gear offers three different gear setups, and you can utilize a Basic, Pro, and Advanced kit with a variety of different high-quality medical gear. On top of that, the kits are modular, and a hanger can be added to carry a tourniquet. It’s a great solution when you need a minimalist option.
Blue Force Gear – Micro T.K.N. Pros and Cons
- Easy for E.D.C. carry
- Minimalist offers less gear
Adventure Medical – Field Trauma Kit Review
In my hiking ruck, you’ll find several things, including the Adventure Medical Field Trauma Kit. This hiking-friendly kit provides all the necessary must-haves for adventuring. Just add a splint and tourniquet. Both are easy additions, and the Adventure Medical brand packs some of the very best gear on the market.
You get basic and traumatic bandages, wound care goods, bug bite treatment, and a manual on treating wounds in the wild. The Field Trauma kit comes in a basic pouch with a top strap that makes it easy to remove and toss into action. Better yet, it weighs a mere pound!
Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. Hikers know that, and it’s not a bad idea to keep things light. You get just that from the Adventure Medical Kit without sacrificing high-quality gear. I’d certainly add a splint and tourniquet, but other than that, it’s complete and ready for adventure. Toss it into an outer pouch and hit the trails.
Adventure Medical – Field Trauma Kit Pros and Cons
- Excellent wound care manual
- No T.Q. or Splint
My Medic – Range Medic Kit Review
If you run a gun range, regularly shoot, instruct, or do anything involving firearms, it’s silly not to have a medical kit on hand. The My Medic Range Medic Kit provides all the necessities to treat a gunshot wound, as well as the little boo-boos that occur at the range.
This includes Quikclot gauze, regular gauze, compression bandages, a chest seal, gloves, and a full-on burn treatment kit. You get a little bit of everything to ensure your day at the range is as safe as possible. The Range Medic Kit also comes in a very handy modular pouch that can be attached via MOLLE gear, hook and loop, and more.
The Range Medic Kit is designed for quick access and easy use. The last thing you want to do is fumble around when someone’s injured. The Little Range Medic Kit is almost complete but unfortunately does not include a T.C.C.C. approved tourniquet. I’d ditch the included and replace it with a C.A.T. Gen 7. Other than that, the pouch and included goodies are more than enough to keep you rolling.
My Medic – Range Medic Kit Pros and Cons
- Excellent Gear Selection
- Modular Pouch
- Well designed
- No TCCC approved tourniquet
North American Rescue – T.O.R.K. Review
T.O.R.K. stands for Tactical Operator Response Kit, and it comes from North American Rescue. North American Rescue, or N.A.R., produces the highest quality medical gear on the market. They constantly innovate and improve and have created things like the C.A.T. Gen 7 T.Q., the HyFin chest seal, and beyond. As you’d imagine, both of those awesome pieces of gear make their way into the T.O.R.K.
The T.O.R.K. is a complete I.F.A.K. designed for tactical applications. It can be tossed onto a plate carrier or battle belt with little issue. This all-in-one kit ensures it’s easy to have all the basics for treating a traumatic injury. We get plenty of gauze and bandages on top of the T.Q. and chest seal.
The T.O.R.K. is a well-designed pouch that holds all your gear with ease. The internal elastic straps allow you to completely open the pouch without your gear coming out. It’s held in place for when you need it most and always easily accessible. N.A.R. makes amazing gear, and their premade I.F.A.K. is a great plug-and-play solution.
North American Rescue – T.O.R.K. Pros and Cons
- Simple but effective
- All High-Quality Goods
- Excellent Pouch Design
- Needs Quikclot Gauze
Cuda Offshore First Aid Kit Review
If you go fishing, kayaking, tubing, or anything else on the water, you have to have a first aid kit. An ambulance isn’t coming out to the middle of the ocean to save you. As such, having a medical kit on hand is a must-have. You need a dedicated maritime kit to deal with common on-the-water injuries.
The Cuda Offshore First Aid Kit comes packaged in a waterproof container to keep the gear inside nice and safe. Inside we get tons of bandages, wound cleaning gear, trauma shears, and more. When you have a hook in your thumb, you know you have the gear on hand to treat the injury.
Beyond that, we have some awesome, well-thought additions for water-borne activities. This includes a burn treatment kit, sunscreen, a cold compress, a C.P.R., and shock treatment kit, and so much more. It’s perfect for family and individual-sized boats and boat trips. It won’t serve a charter service but will take care of you on the family fishing trip.
Cuda Offshore First Aid Kit Pros and Cons
- Perfect for Maritime Use
- Well Thought Out
- Excellent Waterproof Container
- Non-floating design
6. Dark Angel Medical – D.A.R.K. Trauma Kit
Dark Angel Medical – D.A.R.K. Trauma Kit Review
I’ve mentioned Dark Angel Medical before as one of the premier medical training groups in the country. They also provide pre-built medical kits designed for traumatic injuries with a focus on the tactical aspect. The D.A.R.K.trauma kit is Dark Angel Medical’s premier first aid kit and their best-selling design.
D.A.R.K. is a clever acronym that stands for Direct Action Response Kit. It’s a small room-saving kit with multiple external pouches. This design makes it very easy to get your tourniquet and trauma shears in action. Inside the main kit, we have hemostatic gauze, bandages, compressed gauze, an N.P.A., and more.
It’s enough to treat your individual traumatic wound. It ditches the band-aids and insect bite relief to save space and keep it to the traumatic essentials. The D.A.R.K. pouch provides a means to wear the kit vertically or horizontally and makes it both easy to wear and easy to access. It’s designed by skilled professionals, and you can tell by the kit’s included gear and ergonomics.
D.A.R.K. Trauma Kit Pros and Cons
- Designed For Quick Access
- Extremely High-Quality Gear
V.S.S.L. First Aid Kit Review
This is an oddball kit that I can’t help but like. I have a few V.S.S.L. caches and find them to be super handy for the great outdoors. This specific kit is almost like a grab-and-go design or to be used as an emergency backup first aid kit. It’s very small with limited goods. It’s mostly focused on the minor wounds that can happen in the field.
It’s complete with bandages, gauze, wound cleaning gear, tweezers, gloves, burn cream, and the like. No tourniquets or combat gauze, and you are limited in your ability to expand. The outer casing is a waterproof canister made from aluminum. It is completely waterproof and packs an L.E.D. light on the side and a compass on the other. Inside the tube sit all your medical goodies.
It’s perfect when you are extremely constrained on space and weight. I like it for day trips with the kiddos. I have everything I need in a tough case to treat the small boo-boos we encounter on any outdoor trip. The disposable thermometers are perfect for heat issues, and the multitude of small bandages and wound cleaning gear makes it easy for quick wound treatments. It’s not a trauma kit, but for basic first aid, it’s tough to go wrong.
V.S.S.L. First Aid Kit Pros and Cons
- Awesome multipurpose container
- Tons of Gear Included
- Very small and lightweight
- No trauma gear
First Aid Kits 101 – Buyers Guide
When shopping for any first aid kit, you have a few things you have to consider. First and foremost, you want high-quality gear. There are hundreds of dollar store-grade first aid kits out there that are just glorified band-aid boxes. There are also plenty of kits out there that proclaim quality but have nothing to back that claim up beyond a high price tag.
When you begin shopping, you want to ensure the kit utilizes high-quality gear from well-reputed companies. North American Rescue sets the standard for basic medical gear. They are often the most popular option with police and military forces, and the N.A.R. seal of approval means something.
Tourniquets save lives, but only good tourniquets save lives. For some reason, tourniquets draw in a lot of crappy products. I don’t know why, but there are lots of crappy tourniquets out there that won’t save lives. The Department of Defense has Tactical Combat Casualty Care guidelines and an approval process to certify tourniquets.
The T.C.C.C. certification is the gold standard for tourniquets, and they maintain a list of T.C.C.C. approved tourniquets. If the tourniquet is not on the T.C.C.C. approved list, it’s not worth it. As of June 2021, here are tourniquets that make the T.C.C.C. approved list.
The Fakes Problem
On top of seeking T.C.C.C.-approved tourniquets, you’ll have to ensure the tourniquet you are choosing is real. Fake C.A.T. tourniquets are the most common fakes you’ll run into. Typically the best way to tell a fake from the real thing is the price. If you are paying 15 bucks for a dozen C.A.T. tourniquets, you’re getting fakes.
Well made, T.C.C.C. Approved tourniquets cost about 30 bucks a pop. A small investment for sure. Make sure you are buying from reputable retailers to ensure you are getting a real tourniquet and not a flimsy fraud.
Combat gauze, HyFin Chest seals, and H bandages are less likely to be faked, but it’s still smart to ensure you are getting the real thing when ordering. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
Match Your Kit to Your Mission
When choosing a first aid kit, you really need to consider where it will be used and where it will be stored. You have different knives, different guns, and even different footwear for different tasks, and first aid kits are no different. A good first aid kit should match your specific mission and task.
With that being said, having only one first aid kit might not be wise. I keep one in my car, one in my house, on my chest rig, and another for my kayak. First aid kits are relatively cheap, at least compared to my firearms hobby. A half dozen good kits cost about the same as a nice AR 15. If you adventure, be prepared to have multiple kits.
Inside and Out
The first consideration I make is where the kit will be used. What environment will it face? My kit for kayaking fits into a large waterproof box that floats. I don’t want my gear exposed to the water and moisture constantly. For tactical applications, it needs to attach to MOLLE. Considerations like that are critical when choosing the external means to carry your gear.
Here are a few common first aid kit considerations by task assigned.
Tactical and Range Use – You certainly want to be able to stop the bleed with these kits. If you’re worried about people putting holes in you, you need to focus on treating gunshot wounds. Tourniquets, chest seals, combat gauze, and the like should be necessities. Consider a burn gel or burn treatment kit too. Hot barrels, hot suppressors, and the like can be rough when accidentally touched.
Band-aids, Neosporin, and the like aren’t major considerations but can be added once the priorities are met.
Vehicular – Vehicular kits might need to focus on stopping the bleed, as well as burns and trauma. Since these kits go in vehicles, they can be large enough to treat multiple people without storage issues. You’ll want tourniquets, combat gauze, burn gel, an instant cold pack, gloves, trauma shears, and you might want to consider some extra equipment. Tossing in a window breaker, seat belt cutter, and some kind of emergency flare or light system can be invaluable.
Maritime – You’ll want all the basics of a medical kit for sure, as well as sunscreen, cold packs, sunburn aloe, and beyond. I would pack a good multitool as well and a pair of trauma shears. Ensure they are corrosion resistant as well. Gloves will be even more valuable here because it’s tough to wash your hands when you’re on the water. Also, keep both a visual and audible emergency signal in the kit just in case.
Hiking and Camping – Hikers are always mindful of weight, and that goes for a first aid kit as well. You’ll likely want to go lightweight, but you don’t want to ditch the basics. You’ll want good bandages for scrapes and lacerations, bug bite treatment, and bug repellant as well. Plus, you’ll likely want a good tourniquet or two, something to sanitize and clean the wound, and a good H bandage or the like for securing wounds. Good shears will also ensure you can cut through tough outdoor clothes to get to the wound and don’t forget a splint!
Be Mindful of Expiration Dates
Like everything in your fridge, a lot of medical gear has expiration dates. As such, you need to notate when your gear expires and replace it as necessary. Personally, I use Google calendars to remind me because I’ll forget if my phone doesn’t alert me. Things you don’t expect to expire will, like tourniquets, as well as burn gels. Also, on occasion, everything is still good to go and functional.
First aid kits are like guns. You hope you never use it, but if you have to, you’ll be happy to have it. Having a good first aid kit can be literally life-saving. You can stop the bleed, patch up boo-boos, and keep yourself ticking. Having a first aid kit is great but knowing how to use one is better. Get a first aid kit and get trained on how to use it. Hopefully, you’ll never use it, but man, if you do, it will be invaluable.
May 26, 2023
May 26, 2023