Make Your Own DIY Backpacker First Aid Kit

This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

When you’re on the road long enough, cuts, scrapes, bruises, illnesses, and general cases of “not feeling so hot” are all too common. After living and dealing with these uncomfortable experiences on a case by case basis, I got sick of having to detour my travels in order to buy something as silly as a single bandage for a cut, but being forced to carry along a whole box of them. While you can pick up pre-packaged first aid kits, you’ll find they’re typically overpriced and usually have some items in them that you’ll never use. The folks at REACTINE® partnered up with me to come up with the perfect DIY Backpacker First Aid Kit.



1. Empty Altoids Tin

The trusty Altoids tin is used in countless DIY projects and crafts. Head to your local convenience store and pick one of these up, share those mints with your friends and family to get rid of them. Or maybe keep a few if you consider bad breath an emergency. In this DIY First Aid Kit we’ll be using an Altoids tin, or if you can’t find Altoids, any sturdy slim case will do. At the end of the day, you just need something that can take a mild beating.


2. Bandages

Small cuts and blisters are all too common when you’re lugging around a bag filled with your life. I’d recommend keeping a variety of bandages, but really any will do. See what you can dig up around your house and throw 3 – 4 of these lifesavers in there. If you’re able to track down a small package of gauze as well, I’d recommend including that in there for anything more heavy duty than a small cut.


3. Mini Ziploc® Bags

You’re going to want to find a tiny Ziploc® bag which we’ll use to keep a few important things dry. You can usually find these at craft or jewellery stores. My wife had a few that she had picked up from Michaels.


4. Pain Management

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you’re not going to come down with a headache. Even for things more serious like sprains, I like to keep around 6 pills of either Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Rather than taking the whole jar, just grab few and throw them into one of those mini Ziploc® bags. I’d recommend using a Sharpie to mark that bag just as a reminder in case you have to store any other medicine in your DIY First Aid Kit.


5. Allergy Relief

Whether you suffer from allergies or not, chances are you know somebody that does. Cutting out a couple of pills from a package of REACTINE® Non-Drowsy Liquid Gels only takes up a tiny amount of space in the kit, and has the added bonus of fighting allergy symptoms for 24 hours. Nothing will make you look like a bigger hero than when that new travel friend of yours is complaining about their allergy symptoms and you bust out your DIY first aid kit and save the day.


6. Tweezers

I’m convinced that there are few things worse than a nasty splinter. Tweezers are small enough that they can easily fit in your DIY first aid kit and can save you from having to deal with the pain and risk of infection that a splinter can cause.


7. Infection Prevention

If you wear contact lenses, or know someone who does, chances are finding an old contact lens case should be easy. Wash it out thoroughly, and you now have two airtight vessels for storing liquids or gels. I recommend storing POLYSPORIN® in one, and any other common ointments like iodine or betadine. I usually use something my family calls “brown salve”, but after Googling around for its name, I found out it’s actually called “petro-carbo medicated salve“. You want to store something that’s going to help with things like bug bites, burns, cuts, scrapes and skin irritations.

8. Fire

You never know when you might need to make a fire. Hopefully you’ll never have to rely on these, but having them is smart. You’ve got a couple of options here. You could go for a cheap magnesium fire starter, which has the benefit of countless uses, or just track down a few matches (preferably waterproof).


9. Earplugs

In my opinion you should keep several pairs of these scattered throughout your bag, as you never know when you’re going to have to find them. But keeping a spare set on hand in case of emergency, may very well save you a full night sleep when you’re sleeping in a hostel dorm, or camping near a beaver that’s living up to his busy name.

altoids tin

10. Rubber Band

You never know when you need to keep something together. You’re going to want a strong and thick band, like the ones you find on broccoli bunches in the grocery store. Wrap the rubber band around the packed Altoids tin to keep everything secure. It also has the added benefit of providing grip to the kit in case you ever place it on a hard surface.

Am I missing any other important first aid kit items? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Special thanks to REACTINE® for sponsoring this post and helping keep people safe & healthy during their travels. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

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