Experts in fields of survival tend to assemble their own first aid kits to ensure a decent amount of what ex–U.S. Army Special Forces medic and paramedic Mykel Hawke calls “dressings for real trauma,” but given the exponentially increasing rate of natural disasters lately, more and more companies are offering the kind of kits that can make even the most tactical first responder swoon. “Premade kits are much better nowadays. They’re better thought out,” says off-the-grid homesteader Morgan Rogue of Rogue Preparedness, who buys preassembled kits and makes her own. And when you consider that most people — even if they have a first aid kit — don’t know much about what’s in it, what’s not in it, and how many of those things expired five years ago, anything is an improvement. Below, six experts in disaster preparedness give us their picks for the best first aid kits to meet a variety of needs and budgets.
First aid kits under $50
Acclaimed survival instructor Thomas Coyne says that Adventure Medical Kits make “the best first aid kits on the market [that are] definitely the closest to what I would customize for myself.” This one is great for home, but it’s light and watertight, so it’s also ideal for hiking or backpacking.
When she does buy them, Rogue likes first aid kits from Surviveware. This small, light (one-pound) kit has inner zip pouches that keep everything well-organized while you’re using it. It’s an excellent choice for home or car, but also attaches easily to backpacks and bikes.
John Ramey, founder and editor of the modern prepper website the Prepared, considers a lot of what’s out there to be “almost always garbage,” but he does like some kits from specialty vendors like ITS (Imminent Threat Solutions) Tactical. This one has a clear, crushproof case, and it’s small enough to fit in your pocket.
“Whether creating your own or purchasing a premade kit,” says Stephanie Fox of the American Red Cross National Headquarters, “you should always have first aid supplies readily available at your home, workplace, and in your vehicle.” A classic kit like this from the Red Cross has everything for a variety of minor injuries and is the perfect thing to keep at home for a family of four.
First aid kits under $100
This kit, also from ITS Tactical, comes in a heat-sealed, stand-up bag that keeps everything contaminant-free between uses, and has highly visible opening tabs that are helpful in a tense situation.
This small but comprehensive kit from another Rogue-approved company called Refuge Medical has everything you’ll need for common household injuries and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
“It would be hard to find better medical kits than those sold by Dr. Joe and Amy Alton at Doom & Bloom,” says Lisa Bedford, a.k.a. the Survival Mom. From gunshot wounds to labor, they have a kit for everything. This one is what’s called an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit), which means it contains things like blood-clot packs and a tourniquet for more serious trauma.
First aid kits over $100
As a Special Forces medic, medical service officer, and licensed national and state paramedic, Hawke’s needs in a first aid kit are a bit different, but he does concede that there are some good brands, like NAR (North American Rescue), out there. This one’s small (8.3 inches by 3 inches) and comes with the items most requested by first responders, including blood-clotting powder and a top-of-the-line CAT tourniquet.
For large groups of adventurers, you can’t beat Refuge Medical’s foldout Adventure First Aid Bag. It has multiples of all the essentials, plus provisions for fractures, wound closure, and exposure.
Not merely a first aid kit, but a full-on bugout (or bug-in) bag with everything a family of four would need for three days, this emergency-preparedness kit from the American Red Cross contains everything Fox recommends (food, water, flashlights, hand-crank radio, toiletries, etc.) in a durable, easy-to-carry backpack. Just add your important documents and some cash, and you’ll be ready for most anything.
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