First Aid in the wild

Better to have a First Aid kit never used than to wish for one come the moment of need.

I carry two – a larger, heavier and more comprehensive pack which fits in a kayak and also a smaller, lighter version which I carry on my person at all times.

The more compact of the two is called a VSSL First Aid – essentially it is a bouncer’s Maglite torch that has the handle battery space made available for storage because it uses energy saving LED bulbs. It retains the torch function and uses the handle space to store a multitude of survival items, one of which is a First Aid kit.

Other options include a survival shelter, fire lighting kit, fishing kit, liquid flask and more. The one I use contains the most common items required to triage minor medical issues. All the contents are contained in slotted plastic sleeves for easy access. Open the VSSL cylinder, unroll the kit and the contents are visible and easily accessible in a well-organised manner.

In addition, if your medical emergency leaves you stranded during a sea kayak expedition, the compact whistle and dual mode LED flashlight can both be used to signal for help. Each VSSL unit is 9″ long by 2″ diameter made from seamless extruded military specification anodised aluminium and is virtually indestructible.

Technical Spec

Weight: 14 ounces Length: 9″
Diameter: 2″

My other First Aid kit is larger and more comprehensive – when I lay out the contents I feel I could perform heart surgery. It is made by Lifesystems, is big and bright red so you just can’t miss it.

Made from tough, waterproof material, the First Aid kit contains enough equipment for injuries typically sustained from water sports and ideal for canoeing, kayaking and rafting expeditions. Each pack uses hard wearing fabrics and waterproof zips which provide that extra level of durability and protection. I have, over years of expeditions, topped up the contents so that they include:


– Safety Pins
– Resuscitation Face Shield
– Scissors (5.5cm Blade)
– Spot Check Thermometer
– Tweezers
– Tic tweezers
– Vinyl Gloves
– Stitching needles
– Stitching thread
– Scalpel blades


– Paracetamol Tablets
– Ibuprofen gel
– Ibuprofen tablets
– Oral rehydration salt tablets
– Antiseptic spray
– Iodine
– Sun block


– Crepe Bandage 5cm x 4.5m
– Triangular Calico Bandage 90 x 127cm
– Open Woven Bandage 7.5cm x 5m
– Knee / ankle support

Preparations, Disposables & Tapes

– 4-Ply Sterile Gauze Swabs 5 x 5cm
– Micropore Tape 1.25cm x 5m
– Hygienic Cleansing Wipes
– Burn Gel Sachet (3.5g)


– Assorted Plasters
– Blister Plasters
– Low Adherent Dressings 5 x 5cm
– Medium Wound Dressing 12 x 12cm
– Small Plaster Fabric Strip 4cm x 1m

First Aid Kit Technical Spec

Weight: 500 g
Length: 330 mm
Width: 160 mm
Depth: 80 mm

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