When it comes to packing for mountaineering and trekking, regardless whether you are doing the Inca Trail or Everest, one item that should always be on your checklist is your High Altitude "First Aid Kit." But, the real question is: what should be in your First Aid Bag?
Well, here’s the first tip: the best and most practical first aid bags are not those bought from mountaineering and trekking stores, nor are they the bright red ones adorned with a first aid symbol.
If you’ve made this mistake too, know that you’re not alone… I’ve done the same! I bought one the first time I did a high altitude trek back in 2015. Regrettably, I ended up using only a single item from that bag—a plaster that fell off within an hour.
Thankfully, 8 years on from that mistake, I’ve refined and perfected what a high altitude mountaineering & trekking First Aid Bag should include and I’d love to share it with you, but please remember, I am a High Altitude Coach NOT not a doctor - the advice I share here is based on personal experience.
Tip: Use a ziplock bag as your first aid containers.
Why ziplock bags, you ask? They are waterproof, easy to open, and highly foldable, making them perfect for fitting into small, convenient pockets.
Tip: Always pack two ziplock first aid bags, each with an equal supply of medicine. Having a spare bag ensures you're fully stocked even if you misplace one and secondly, having two bags means you can keep one bag in your day pack and the other in your larger bag or the one handled by your porters.
The 11 Must-Have's For Your High Altitude First Aid Kit:
1. Your personal medications
2. Water purification drops or tablets
Drops take about five minutes to be effective, while most tablets require between thirty minutes to two hours. Although drops are pricier, they are worth the investment.
3. Blister plasters
Plus a few small pieces of Kinesiology Tape. If you do get a blister, put on the blister plaster and then a piece of the tape completely covering the plaster. Doing this helps the plaster hold better and reduces the chance of it moving due to friction.
4. Headache pills
Opt for paracetamol and ibuprofen, as you can combine them at higher altitudes. Remember to eat something before taking ibuprofen, as you shouldn’t take it on an empty stomach.
The best remedy for an upset stomach.
6. Cold or flu medicine
7. Hydration/electrolyte effervescent tablets
8. A general antibiotic
Consider amoxicillin, azithromycin, or ciprofloxacin.
The standard medication to help with reducing altitude sickness and improving acclimatisation. Check out these videos I did, explaining the two ways to take Diamox + the pros and cons:
Medication or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
Medication for High Altitude Cerebral Edem
Tip: Clearly write the instructions and dosages on the back of each medicine just in case you forget what dosages to take and when, you can simply look at the back of each
Remember, this list serves as a guideline for your first aid bag. Tailor it to your specific needs and consider adding any additional medicine that you think is necessary.
I totally understand that sometimes getting ready for a high altitude adventure can feel overwhelming and pretty stressful with all the gear, the packing list, the do’s and dont’s, possible travel requirements…
Let alone the training part and actually getting fit enough for it!
The point is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful.
In my coaching programs, I not only craft an epic mountain specific training plan focused on getting my clients ridiculously fit, strong and with the endurance of an Ethiopian marathon runner (and I mean that with the deepest amount of respect) but I also cover all the finer details. Those small questions that if left unanswered become the things that keep you awake at night because you don’t know which pair of boots or jacket to choose or what layering system you should use for your summit night attempt.
That’s why, when my clients finish my coaching program, they depart for their high altitude adventure, they are not only fit and strong but they are best prepared because ALL of their questions have been answered and done in a way that is specific to them.
I’ve got the answers to your questions and so much more. Click the button below and let’s book you in for a call today and I’ll walk you through what that can look like for you.
I can’t wait to talk to you and start turning that stress and overwhelm to confidence and excitement!
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