Essential Items for any camping excursion.
IFAK literally stands for Individual First Aid Kit. There are many different types of first aid kits and they should be designed around your purpose, whether that be hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, or just driving to and from work. Acronyms have become all the rage these days so don’t let the fact that a first aid kit is just that, a first aid kit. First aid kits come in all different shapes and sizes ranging from the MFAK, Mini First Aid Kit all the way up to full EMS Trauma bags. For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on various IFAKs.
Now I am not a Combat Medic nor am I in the medical field, so many of the these I will be referencing withing this post I HIGHLY advise getting the proper training before using. I am however someone who understands the importance of being prepared, which includes the necessary training needed to use the items that are contained in your first aid kit.
Now, while every IFAK should be purpose-built, there are a few things that should be in every IFAK no matter what. Those items are as follows.
Bag ( Obviously! )
Tourniquet ( CAT, RATS, or SWAT )
Pen Light / Small Flashlight
These are the starter items that are a must in every kit as these can be used for pretty much any scenario you could possibly encounter. Tourniquets are important as they are used to stop bleeding on the extremities. Clotting Aid is used for center mass wounds or wounds that aren’t able to be stopped with a tourniquet. Gloves help prevent contracting or passing infections and disease. Gauze and tape will be used to create bandages, which are vital in keeping the wounds from becoming infected and also help with bleeding. The Trauma Sheers are there to cut clothing, seat belts, or whatever else you may need to remove to gain access to the affected area.
Some of the more advanced items you can add to your kit, which I highly recommend gaining real training on before using on yourself or someone else is as follows.
PROFESSIONAL GRADE ADD-ONS
ARS Needle for Decompression
From here is where you can start to customize your kit based on the type of activity you are preparing for. Obviously, you could build a big kit that has everything I am about to mention, but for general first aid, these are the items I tend to keep in my personal IFAKs. Some items may be duplicated in these kits.
GENERAL ( Contained in all following kits )
Green Chem Light
PES Eye Shield
ETD Responder 6in
CPR Face Mask
Multiple Sized Bandaids
Wound Closure Strips
Anti Burn Cream
Wound Cleanser Bottle
Water Proof Wrap
Small Sharp Knife
Self Grip Wrap
Wound Irrigation Shield
Hyfin Vent Chest Seal
Small Needle Nose Pliers
Wound Irrigation Shield
Water Proof Wrap
Extra Burn Cream
Zip Lock Bags (Multi-Use Item)
These are just the basics and sometimes things will get added updated and /or removed from the kit. For me, I am usually not far enough away from civilization to need what I would refer to as an expanded kit. This would be a kit that contains enough materials for your entire party, along with items from every kit to account for every potential issue. Extended kits are great for backpacking trips and hunting trips that require you to be in more remote areas.
A few good resources if you are interested in purchasing a prebuilt IFAK kit or just looking for quality gear are below.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
– J.R.R. Tokien
When most people think about hiking, places like Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, etc don’t really come to mind. Unfortunately, people will lose out to some of the wonders and hidden gems that await you in these locations. Not all hiking needs to happen in or around mountain ranges. Hiking the Midwest can turn out to be wonderful experience.
Here are some of my favorite locations (in no particular order):
- Devil’s Lake State Park – Wisconsin
- Starved Rock State Park – Illinois
- Wyalusing State Park – Wisconsin
- Mirror Lake State Park – Wisconsin
- Glacial Lakes State Park – Minnesota
- Arrowhead State Trail – Minnesota
- Black River State Trail – Wisconsin
They each have a wide range of offerings, from hiking, camping, ATV and Snowmobile use. The trails range from easy to intermediate. Devil’s Lake in particular allows you to climb rock formations from during the Ice Age. With naturally cut rocks and a lake with canoe and kayaking.
There are many more great locations and I highly recommend getting out there and trying some out yourself. Whether you decide to do a day trip or a weekend excursion, hiking is great exercise, a great way to get out and enjoy nature, and if your a photographer or just love taking photos for Instagram or a Blog, hiking can help you snap some amazing photos to share.
A couple things to remember if you decide to take the plunge and go hiking. Although many of these locations may not be as challenging or as risky as some of the larger mountain style hiking trails out west, you should always be prepared and up for the challenge. Don’t for get to pack the occasion. Here is my list of go-to items to always take on a hike.
What to Pack
- Backpack ( I like at least a 21L )
- Water Reservoir ( 2-3L )
- Water Bottle
- Sun Hat
- Snack Bars ( Ones that won’t melt )
- Safety Whistle
- First Aid Kit
- Packable Jacket
- Good Supportive Shoes or Boots
- Maps or GPS ( Not just your phone )
- Pocket Knife
- and if you are going to an area that may have territorial wildlife ( cougars / mountain lions ) a firearm is always advised.
The most important thing is to just get out there and have fun. If you find some good locations, midwest or not, feel free to comment on some of your favorite locations.
Outdoor Edge Slidewinder Utility Knife / Multi-tool
The O.E. Knives or Outdoor Edge – Slidewinder is one hell of a workhorse. This little micro utility knife / multi-tool has been able to hold up to some of the roughest tests I could conjure up. Now, let me preface this by saying I did load this bad boy up with a serrated utility blade. The Slidewinder might be small, but is definitely mighty. I was looking for a small, flat, lightweight EDC option. Most of my knife uses end up being opening boxes, cutting para-cord, opening mail, and other daily basics. I decided to give this guy a test due to its low price and the fact that it had all the specs I was looking for. So lets get into the pros and cons after a two week test, followed by a rough use test. ( Links to both the Slidewinder & blades below )
For a slightly more in-depth review and a quick look at the knife and how it performs, check out our video. Video Review: https://youtu.be/cRhznf14g3I
- Very lightweight
- Has a bottle opener, Philips & Flathead screwdriver (along with the knife)
- Easy open & close
- Great clip
- Super thin
- Blade lock is lacking
- Part ABS plastic construction
- Philips head is 3 prong
Now don’t get me wrong, given the nature of what this tool will be used for the cons are not that big of a sticking point for me. The knife itself is not super expensive and with the serrated blades it cuts pretty much anything, while staying extremely sharp. For being such a small inexpensive little pocket utility tool, the Slidewinder is made its way to being my go-to EDC knife of choice.