SHARE

Dressings, medicines, band-aids, and gauze all have a rightful place in your medical kit. Whether your kit is built for a day hike or the end of days, there’s always room to cram a little more gear in there. But what should it be? More dressings are always good. Some additional meds wouldn’t hurt. But there are some other things that might not seem like they belong, yet are very useful and practical to carry. Here are five odd pieces of gear that I like to keep in my medical kit.

1. Disposable Razor: Grooming isn’t just low on the list of survival priorities, it’s not even on the list. But razors aren’t just for grooming. A furry person will sing your praises if you shave the perimeter of their wound before you apply that super-sticky tape to hold their dressing in place. This makes dressing changes more comfortable, and it keeps you from pulling at the hair and skin hard enough to reopen wounds. It’s also helpful for shaving areas where you’re applying a venom extractor. If you aren’t sold on the idea yet, know that you can smash the razor apart and afix one of the blades to your multi-tool for an insanely sharp improvised scalpel. Break off part of the plastic handle to make the disposable razor even smaller to fit in your kit.

2. Cordage: 550 cord, or something comparable, can serve a multitude of purposes. A 50-foot length won’t take up much room in your medical bag, but it will serve you in more ways than most of your other gear. Tie together a splint to cradle your smashed arm, or lash together a litter to carry out your wounded buddy. Use the cord whole, or strip it down to its individual strands. Cordage is a great commodity for emergency medicine, and emergencies in general.

3. Vodka: A sip for courage, a splash to sanitize your hands, a bowlful to disinfect medical tools—vodka, moonshine, or any other clear liquor makes a great med kit addition. Keep a flask of it in larger medical kits, or some of those little airplane bottles in smaller kits. Clear liquor has many uses, and most of them are productive.

4. Dental Floss: As emergency suture material—or emergency dental care—floss is hard to beat for its strength-to-size ratio. Multitudes of uses, one tiny container.

5. Aluminum Foil: It’s not just for hats anymore! Foil can be used as a patch for sucking chest wounds. It forms a nifty tray to use with the vodka for disinfecting tweezers, forceps, and other gear. Pack strips of cloth in sections of foil and bake them to disinfect them for improvised, semi-sterile dressings. Plus, foil is handy for a number of survival chores.

Tell us what weird items you carry in your medical kit, and why, in the comments.