What medical equipment do you bring with you into the backcountry?

When I go into the woods with friends I am always interested in the medical equipment people bring with them.  For some being prepared means a fully stocked first aid kit that features everything from sucher kits to instant ice packs.  Personally, I bring far less than that.

My standard medical kit contains toilet paper, blister pads, a few different sized bandages, sunscreen, extra contacts, eye drops, a small mirror, painkillers, pepto-bismol pills, chapstick, ankle tape (wrapped around chapstick) and a small knife with scissors.  I find that with these items I have been able to tackle every minor medical need I come across.

A couple notes on the things I have listed: The mirror, eye drops and extra contacts are hugely important to me. I, literally, am blind without contacts or glasses so if something goes wrong with the contacts I’m wearing I need to be able to deal with it.  If you can’t see there is no way you are hiking to safety.  Even the non sight impaired should carry eye drops in my opinion in case something gets into your eye.  I also think its important to carry a knife that has a good pair of scissors attached to it.  I use the Leatherman Style CS.  It has a knife, nail file, screwdriver, bottle opener, tweezers, and scissors.  Scissors preform the task of cutting dead skin off a blister, removing a hang nail, trimming long toe nails, or trimming frayed fabric off a broken piece of gear far better than a knife.

The key for me is to have the knowledge that makes up for a lack of “traditional” medical equipment.  Taking an afternoon backcountry medical class that teaches skills like creating a splint, how to treat hypothermia and other cold injuries, what to do in the event of an animal/snake/spider bite and other outdoor emergency skills is a huge step forward.  What you will learn is that most problems can be solved with a level head and a little ingenuity rather than pounds of gear.