Paddlers who spend enough time on the water see injuries. Cuts and scratches are frequent while, fortunately, more serious injuries are rare. However, even management of small injuries requires basic first aid materials. Cover the most common contingencies with this DIY first aid kit, perfectly sized and sourced to fit your canoe or kayak.

The Perfect DIY First Aid Kit for Paddlers

If it weren’t for Boy Scout leaders and open boaters (is there a difference?) you’d be hard pressed to find a first aid kit on the river. Off-the-shelf wilderness first aid kits are simply too cumbersome and get left behind. Designing a first aid kit for small group day trips in the river environment is a challenging task. However, so is managing even the smallest of injuries without basic first aid materials.

Photo: Matt Cruchet
If you spend enough time in a canoe or kayak you’ll see some injuries, so be prepared with this DIY first aid kit. | Feature photo: Matt Cruchet

This kit contains most of the essential supplies for likely first aid scenarios on a single day canoe or kayak trip and reflects the unique challenge of first aid in an aquatic environment. Every item has its purpose. Store in a Nalgene water bottle, which is waterproof, durable and easily packed.


3M Steri Strips3M

Steri-Strip Reinforced Skin Closures

SALE $25.99  $29.95  | Box of 20

6 strips per pack, each ½”×4” in size. Topical sutures used to close small lacerations.

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3M Tegaderm transparent film dressing3M

Tegaderm Transparent Film Dressing

$9.99 | Box of 20

Waterproof, breathable dressing. Choice method for protecting wounds in wet environments. Pack two.

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Band-Aid Tru-Absorb gauze spongesBand-Aid

Tru-Absorb Gauze Sponges

SALE $5.97  $6.53  | Box of 50

4”×4” sterile gauze pads to cover wounds. Pack two.

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Med Pride Latex Examination GlovesMed Pride

Latex Examination Gloves

$17.93 | Box of 100

Heavy-duty, powder-free first aid gloves. Pack one pair in a film canister in your PFD pocket to keep them dry. Keep an extra pair in your kit.

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Covidien Curity sterile abdominal padCovidien

Curity Sterile Abdominal Pad

$12.71 | Box of 36

5”×9” trauma pad for heavy bleeding. Packed on top for easy access.

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Band-Aid flexible rolled gauzeBand-Aid

Flexible Rolled Gauze

$7.99 | Box of 5

Stretch gauze roll to secure dressing. Each roll is 3” wide and 75” long.

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Mighty-X tensor bandagesMighty-X

Elastic Tensor Bandage

SALE $11.95  $12.95  | Box of 4

Includes two 3 bandages and two 4bandages, each 15 feet in length. Good for compression and holding a pressure bandage.

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Nalgene Sustain Tritan BPA-free water bottleNalgene

Sustain Tritan BPA-Free Water Bottle

$12.99

A one-liter bottle fits the whole first aid kit. Use cord to attach kit to boat. Tie to bottle-neck—the plastic loop on the cap always breaks.

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Deiiro Bloor Publishing Accident & Incident Report BookDeiiro Bloor Publishing

Accident & Incident Report Book

$6.99 | 109 pages

Tear off a few sheets and take them with you. “If it is not recorded, it didn’t happen.” Don’t forget to bring a pencil.

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Duck Tape Original Duct TapeDuck Tape

Original Duct Tape

SALE $5.86  $7.95  | Single roll

For when it really has to stick. 1.88” wide by 60 yards long.

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Prestige Medical Nurses Utility ScissorsPrestige

Medical Nurses Utility Scissors

$11.98

These 5.5” EMT shears will cut almost anything (even pennies). Low profile handle so they fit in the first aid kit and high-quality stainless steel construction.

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Hampton Adams white athletic sports tapeHampton Adams

White Athletic Sports Tape

SALE $10.19  $12.99  | Box of 4

1.5” roll, to tape strains and sprains.

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Humco Benzoin Compount TinctureHumco

Benzoin Compound Tincture

$12.93 | 2 ounces

Used to prep skin for adhesive tapes. Essential in a wet environment to make things stick.

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CareAll Triple Antibiotic OintmentCareAll

Triple Antibiotic Ointment

$13.99 | Box of 144

Offers limited antimicrobial action.

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Dynarex BZK antiseptic towelettesDynarex

Antiseptic First Aid Wipes

$6.58 | Box of 100

Benzalkonium chloride or povidone iodine are a safe antiseptic to clean a wound. Not alcohol-based, 5”×7” in size.

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Primacare First Responder CPR Face ShieldPrimacare

First Responder CPR Face Shield

SALE $14.45  $15.77  | Box of 10

Many models available for rescue breathing. Pack in your PFD pocket for quick access.

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Thinksport SPF30 Face & Body Mineral Sunscreen StickThinksport

Face & Body Mineral Sunscreen Stick

$8.79 | 0.64 ounces

Enough said.

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Tensoplast Elastic Adhesive Bandage RollTensoplast

Elastic Adhesive Bandage

$12.50 | Single roll

Cut-to-size bandages. Roll is 4 wide by 15 feet long.

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MediTac Extra Heavy MoleskinMediTac

Extra Heavy Moleskin

$10.95 | Single roll

Traditional staple of DIY first aid. Protects from getting blisters. Roll is 2 wide by 15 feet long.

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Spenco Second Skin Dressing KitSpenco

Second Skin Dressing Kit

$14.99 | 8 dressings

Aqueous based burn dressing is great for cushioning nasty blisters. Adhesive knits offer pliable and water-resistant dressing thinner than moleskin, the best way to deal with paddling thumb blisters. Pack two sets of dressings.

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P&P Medical Surgical sterile cotton tipped applicatorP&P Medical Surgical

Sterile Cotton Tipped Applicator

$16.99 | Box of 100

For eye injuries and wound cleaning.

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Curad Small Non-Stick Gauze PadsCurad

Sterile Non-Stick Gauze Pads

$3.99 | Box of 20

2”×3” pads to cover wounds. Easier to remove than plain gauze. Pack two.

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Paddling Magazine Issue 65 | Fall 2021

This article originally appeared in Fall 2004 issue of Rapid Magazineand Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.

 


First Aid Tools | Photo by Roger Brown from Pexels

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. The idea of selecting the items you feel best suited for a first aid kit for your needs is good. It can be tailor made to your particular needs.

    One way to carry them is to space out the items and tape them to a large sheet of reasonably thick polythene, leaving enough space around the items so that the sides can be folded in. The whole kit is then rolled up much like a tool roll. A couple of strips of tape holds the roll together. Then everything is put into a suitable watertight bag.

    So when needed, all that is necessary is to pull the kit out of the watertight bag. Remove the pieces of tape. Unroll the first aid kit, which is laid out easily accessible on a clean surface ready for use.

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