Backcountry Essentials for First Aid and Survival

By Jon Hunt


Staying safe, and being prepared to handle an emergency, are critical, life-saving tasks faced by the Alaska hunter. Before venturing in the wilderness, whether day-hunting or off for a week or more, hunters need to have a kit of essential first-aid items packed and ready to go. Following is an example of an essential first-aid kit from a professional—and Hunt Alaska regular—Jon Hunt.

The following information is a list of the contents that I pack in my Backcountry Kit, as well as a brief explanation as to why the item is included. Notice this kit is a combination of both first-aid and survival supplies that I always carry on me. Rarely is there a trip where the kit is untouched. It is intended to be small and lightweight, carrying only items that are hard to improvise in the field. Depending on the people I am with, season, duration and location of the hunt, I may slightly adjust the contents, but this is the basic kit: 


CONTAINER: 420 Denier Nylon Bag, 9- x 6 inches, with waist strap, by Loksak.  


FIRST AID CONTENTS: (waterproof 9- x 6-inch sealed bag, by aLOKSAK)             

               QuikClot Silver, 25 mg, by Z-MEDICA. Qty: 1  

                        -Stop severe bleeding with antibacterial ionic silver.

            Nitrile Medical Gloves, disposable. Qty: 1 pair

                        -Field dressing game, medical emergencies.

            Medical Tape, .5 inches x 5 yards. Qty: 1

                        -Bandaging dressings.   

            Adhesive Bandages, 1- x 3 inches. Qty: 3  

                        -General adhesives for cuts, reduce infection.

            Adhesive Knuckle Bandage, 1.5- x 3 inches. Qty: 2  

                        -General adhesives for knuckle cuts.

            Adhesive Fingertip Bandages, 1.75- x 2 inches. Qty: 1  

                        -General adhesives for fingertip cuts, reduce infection.

            Povidone-Iodine Swab. Qty: 3   

                        -Wound cleansing.

            BZK Wipes. Qty: 2

                        -Antibacterial cleansing towelette.

            Gauze Pad, 2- x 2 inches. Qty: 2  

                        -Sterile dressing.

            Safety Pins. Qty: 2  


                Tweezers, 1.5-inch, protective tube, by Adventure Medical Kits. Qty: 1  

                        -Remove foreign objects.

                 Wound Closure Strips, Pkg./10, by Dukal

                                -Non-invasive wound closure, it needs adhesive to stick

                 Topical Adhesive. Qty: 2  

                        -Used to secure the wound closure strips.

            Glacier Gel, by Adventure Medical Kits. Qty: 2

                        -Blister/burn treatment dressings, durable adhesive.

            Fingernail Clippers. Qty: 1    

                        -Trim nail injuries, cutting tool.



                 Lubricant Eye Drops, sterile, by TheraTears. Qty: 4 pack

                          -Eye irrigation.

                 Triple Antibiotic Ointment, .5 g packet. Qty: 2

                          -Wound treatment.

            Anti-histamine, 25 mg Diphenhydramine HCl, 1/packet. Qty: 4

                        -Severe allergic reactions.

            Anti-diarrhea, 262 mg Bismuth Subsalicylate, 2/packet. Qty: 3

                        -Diarrhea relief, avoid dehydration.

            Ibuprofen, 200 mg each, 2/packet. Qty: 3

                        -Reduce swelling/pain.

            Aspirin, 325 mg, 2/packet. Qty: 1

                        -Heart attack.

            Electrolyte Tablets, 2/packet. Qty: 1


            Aleve, 220 mg Naproxen, 1/packet. Qty: 4

                        -Pain relief.


SURVIVAL CONTENTS (waterproof 9- x 6-inch sealed bag, by aLOKSAK)

            Piranta-Edge Knife, w/ 1 replaceable blade, by Havalon. Qty: 1

                        -Field dressing game, sharp edge (can’t be carry-on luggage).

            Pico Zipper LED Flashlight, by e-Gear. Qty: 1

                        -Compact emergency light, 10 lumen, 1 oz.

            UCO Stormproof Matches, by Industrial Revolution. Qty: 12

                        -Bombproof matches (not allowed by TSA). 

                        -If flying to my destination I pack the Sparkie, by Ultimate Survival Technologies. 

            Match Case, 3-inch orange/plastic, waterproof, by Coghlan's

                         -Holds 12 matches plus striker. Qty: 1

            Flagging Tape (roll), orange, approximately 15 feet. Qty: 1

                        -Mark trail, signaling device.

            Duct Tape (roll), 2- x 50-inch, by Adventure Medical Kits. Qty: 1

                        -When all else fails…

            Parachute Cord, approximately 12 feet. Qty: 1

                        -Shelter, hang meat, secure items, etc.

            Water Germicidal Tablets, bottle/50 tablets, by Coghlan's. Qty: 1

                        -Iodine-based, makes most water safe to drink, fast acting.

            Water Bottle, 1 L Platy SoftBottle, by Platypus. Qty: 1

                        -Collapsible, lightweight water storage.

                Mosquito Repellent Wipes, 30% DEET, .12 oz, by Ben's. Qty: 2

                         -Compact repellent for desperate moments.

            Starter 1-2-3 Compass, by Silva. Qty: 1

                        -Compact and reliable compass with baseplate.

            Emergency Blanket, 84- x 52-inch, by Dynarex. Qty: 1

                        -Shelter, first aid, signaling, ground cloth, etc.

            Whistle, Rescue Howler, by Adventure Medical Kits. Qty: 1

                        -Fox 40 signaling whistle.

            Zip Tie, two 4-inch and two 8-inch. Qty: 4

                        -Secure items.

            Sunscreen Pouch, 30 SPF. Qty: 1

                        -Reduce burns from snow, water and sun

I’ll be the first to admit that the list is long, but you will be surprised how small (9 x 6 x2.5 inches) and light (19 oz.) it packs! Of course, you can always add more to this list, but that’s a conversation for another day. 

The importance of ensuring that you always have some basic survival and first-aid gear on your person cannot be stressed enough. Most hunters would agree in theory, yet often fail to follow through with putting this safety rule into practice. One other thing to keep in mind is that first aid/survival items are no good to you if you don’t know how to use them. As the Boy Scout motto proclaims, “Be Prepared!”


Jon Hunt, an avid hunter and fisherman, is an Alaska resident and licensed Wilderness First Responder. He is the owner of Frontier Safety and Supply, which offers training in Wilderness First Aid, CPR/AED and Standard First Aid. Call Jon at (907) 301-5155.