Medical essentials for a long term travel

You won’t probably need most of what is listed below if you are heading for a holiday to enjoy luxuries. However, if you plan on going to wilderness and remote areas, there are some essentials you must absolutely take. The list I put together is actually what I’m taking with me for the Arctic expedition this year.

The least obvious items that perhaps need some explanation are tourniquet, hemostatic dressing and stretch wrap. I learned about these at the first aid training we had in May. Tourniquet (CAT recommended) is the fastest and most reliable way of stopping limb blood. We have these mostly in case of an accidental gunshot (meeting a polar bear in a short distance renders such device pretty much useless). Now, in case the tourniquet cannot be applied a wound could also be filled with a hemostatic dressing using a dedicated applicator (like to one from Celox). It is important to use chitosan-based agents which are naturally broken down by your body. Again, this solution comes straight from the battlefield, but wounds are wounds no matter what caused them, and in remote areas having a way of stopping bleeding almost instantly might be crucial for coming back home in one piece. The most versatile item on the list is probably the stretch wrap: ideal material for improvised bandages, fracture stabilization, burn covering etc. It’s waterproof, flexible, quite clean when unrolled and fairly strong.

Wilderness medical kit

Pain relief and fever:

  • paracetamol / acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen (it’s better to take paracetamol in case you suffer from gastrointestinal diseases)

Antibacterial:

  • zinc oxide ointment
  • antibiotic ointment (e.g. tetracycline) 
  • broad-spectrum antibiotic pills (avoid using antibiotics “just in case”)

Cleaning and closing wounds:

  • antiseptic spray
  • adhesive bandage of various sizes
  • adhesive tape
  • gauze pads
  • skin closure strips

Severe bleeding and burns:

  • tourniquet
  • hemostatic dressing with applicator
  • stretch wrap
  • cooling gel dressings for burns

Abdominal issues:

  • activated charcoal tabs
  • diosmectite sachets
  • smooth muscle relaxant

Respiratory issues:

  • throat lozenges
  • oxymetazoline nasal spray

Skin care:

  • vaseline
  • greasing cream with SPF 20+ sunscreen
  • intensive moisturising ointment
  • blister healing gel pads

Allergic reaction:

  • antihistamine pills
  • adrenaline injection
  • calcium tabs
  • eye drops

Dental emergency:

  • temporary filling
  • disposable dental kit

Orthopaedic injuries:

  • elastic bandage
  • ankle and knee support sleeves
  • anti-inflammatory gel
  • muscle and joint injuries gel
  • stretch wrap

Dehydration:

  • oral rehydration salts

Hypothermia and frostbites:

  • emergency reflective blanket
  • instant foot and hand warmers
  • nikethamide and glucose lozenges (for increasing endurance)

Medical instruments:

  • tweezers
  • scissors / knife