|A little preemptive duct taping never hurts|
Homemade kits vs ready-made?
Many outdoor shops sell the "Adventure Kits" and other ready-made first aid kits. I have an adventure medical kit and except for the band-aids in it and maybe a packet of cream and the tiny little first-aid guide, I find that most of it is rather useless. I much rather prefer putting together my own personal kit in a sturdy ziploc. Especially after treading 4,500 miles, I pretty much know what I need and what I don't.
Speaking of the first aid booklet, it isn't a bad idea to go take a first aid course before you venture out. While you may not need it yourself, someone else might. Many rescue squads and recreation centers offer these kinds of courses. And taking CPR is an added bonus. If you like to lead hiking groups, this is really a must.
some assorted size bandaids (some waterproof)
small tube of antibiotic cream
small tube of hydrocortisone cream (take the one that has about 30% left in it from home. Same with antibiotic cream. No sense carrying full tubes)
small ace wrap (ankle sprains, and I have been glad several tiimes I've had it -)
thread and needle
Epipen if you have a bee allergy and /or a few benadryl tabs
Body glide (if you are prone to chafing)
Take a Swiss army knife with tweezers and scissors on it for first aid and useful for cutting duct tape, trimming toe nails, etc.
Medicines and Vitamins
assorted Vit I (Advil) and Tylenol. If you are prone to ulcers, DO NOT take Advil or Aleve
few tabs of Immodium (if you get diarrhea for several days though, you may have a water-borne illness, and you need to get antibiotic treatment for it)
If you can get it from your MD, some doxycycline tabs for tick bite (you can take a one time loading dose of 200 mg if you find a deer tick has embedded itself to protect against Lyme according to the website, but clear this with an MD first - I am no doctor, but I am an RN)
If you are male over 40, suggest taking some low dose aspirin (can save your life with a heart attack)
I also take some vitamins. Its hard to get all the nutrition you need when backpacking, so I add this to my "medicine" bag -
Multi vitamin (for women, make sure it has iron in it)
500 mg Vitamin C
Calcium carbonate with Vitamin D in it (important for women over 40 and for warding off stress fractures. One website advocated Calcium Citrate type if you take medicine for ulcers - like me).
Cranberry tab (why? I have come close to a urinary tract infection. This just helps keep that from happening)
Glucosomine / chondroitin tabs (good for knees)
And always get a physical AND dental exam before you go on a long distance hike. Many people skip the teeth but infected teeth can make you very ill.
The last thing, please take maps. You can read why here on my blog, but maps and a guidebook can help with bail-out situations in an emergency. And a cell phone isn't a bad idea either.