If you cut out all of the bells, whistles and tongue depressors from the average first aid kit, it begs the question, “What should be in there?”

What do you really need when the chips are down? What kind of medical gear do you need for the most common outdoor injuries? In the first part of this two-part post, we are going to look at the basic hardware of a good medical kit. Then, in the follow up, we’ll dip into the necessary medicines to keep you going until you can get to the doctor.

1. Non-stick dressings

These versatile bandages are critical for bleeding control, and for applying pressure to open wounds and snake bites. You can even use them as emergency fire starting tinder.

2. Tourniquet

This is another item for heavy bleeding, specifically on limbs. The tourniquet is for occasions when a person would bleed out without the constriction. You might do permanent damage to the limb with a tourniquet, but the limb is still no good without the life to go with it.

3. Headlamp

A reliable headlamp should be right in the top of your medical bag, to allow you to see what you are doing after dark.

4. SAM splint

This is a flexible, multi-purpose splint for many injuries. Most importantly, the SAM splint can help to immobilize broken bones and neck injuries.

5. Gloves

These are for your protection. You never know who might have a communicable disease, or what you may have to touch in the course of providing first aid.

6. Disinfectant

This could be Betadine or a similar product to disinfect a wound or equipment. Betadine can even be used to disinfect drinking water.

7. Butterfly Strips

Since real suture kits for doing your own stitches aren’t exactly common at the drug store (for good reason); you’ll have to make do with the idiot proof version, Butterfly Strips. Use these band aid cousins on lacerations of all kinds to keep them closed so that the healing can begin.

8. Tape and Gauze

I lump these together as bandaging material. You’ll usually need one or the other (or both) to keep dressings in place and to keep dirt out.

9. Band-aids

These are the perennial wound cover. From bites, blisters and burns; to cuts, corns and circumcisions; the band aid covers it all.

10. Tweezers

Nothing pulls out ticks, splinters, thorns and broken off Rattlesnake fangs like a good pair of tweezers. Buy the good ones with a sharp point to really let you dig in there.

Of course, there is plenty more gear that you could add to any list like this. It’s always better to add more gear than to strip it away. Leave us a comment about the medical hardware you are packing.