First Aid Kits and Mess Kits

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Here’s what you need to know about a first aid kit and a mess kit for camping

This post is transcribed from our podcast. You can listen to this episode here.

Pamela: Hello and Good day, eh. Welcome to the Super Good Camping podcast. My name is Pamela

Tim: And I’m Tim

Pamela: and we’re here because we wanted to inspire other families to enjoy camping adventures such as we have with our kids. Today we thought we talked about some essential equipment that you need to take with you when you go camping.

Camping First Aid Kits

First off, we’re going to talk about first aid kits. Being in the medical field myself, that’s kind of an important thing as far as I’m concerned. So anyway, we pulled out our first aid kit and we thought we would go through just a few things that are in here. This is a particularly large kit. It’s not necessarily everything that you’re going to take with you. You want to have some disinfectant wipes or some kind or rubbing alcohol, but we have disinfectant wipes in ours. We have some After Bite. When you get bitten by the mosquitoes, you’re gonna have to have something to put on that to try to remove some of that itch. Especially if you’ve got little ones and they’re going to be up half the night scratching themselves. You will need some scissors so that you can cut bandages if you need to. You need to have some bandages. We’ve got several different choices of sterile bandages. In our first aid kit, we’ve got a triangular bandage that can be used as a sling. We’ve got a variety of different types of bandages, different sizes of Band-Aid type bandages. We’ve got some Q tips. We’ve got some burn cream, which is actually just an aloe gel. And in addition to that being a bit more in the natural field, the kind of things I would tend to add to a conventional first aid kit would be things like calamine lotion again for bites, homeopathic, Arnica. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy that’s used for any sort of trauma so bruises, bumps, scrapes. You can also use Arnica as a cream for the same thing for any kind of bruises, bumps, and trauma. Aloe as a gel. I would like for sunburns. It does help to cool things off and helps people feel more comfortable for sleeping. And there is a natural bug spray that was developed actually by a park ranger. The one that we like is called SNC natural outdoor spray. So it does not contain DEET. If you do want to bypass that one. I do find that it works reasonably well and doesn’t expose especially the young ones to the DEET, and that’s it for first aid kit. Tim was going to talk a little bit about paring it down for when you go backcountry camping.

Tim: Okay, so I’m all for not putting chemicals into your body, given the opportunity by all means. Backcountry-wise, man, when you’ve got a canoe over your head and you can’t swat at the bugs, which are swarming, like 40,000 of them in any given minute DEET’s your friend, especially in the early months, June-July. It’s insane. It’s just absolutely crazy. And you’re going to portage through boggy spots where they are, honest-to-God, it’s like 10,000 mosquitoes in a square foot.

Pamela: You’re not making that really appealing for me, Sweetie.

Tim: Oh, sorry. So backcountry camping is awesome! If you wear lots of bug spray, the bugs don’t bug you that much. So first aid kit-wise I tend to not take, for sake of argument, if you’re trying to save weight, don’t take a splint. Chances are there’s a branch around and you have duct tape. That’s a splint. Take a handful of the wipes. Don’t take 47 of them, you’re not going to need that many. You’re going to bug out if you’ve got a serious issue.

Pamela: Any additional things that you might want to take out of this first aid kit?

Tim: I would take some ibuprofen because you’re going to have swollen things, swollen muscles, whatever.

Camping Mess Kits

Pamela: Did you want to talk about mess kits?

Tim: Sure, mess kits are easy! Pamela bought me a GSI mess kit for some Christmas or birthday, something at some point. I’m very easy to buy for – she will disagree. Fabulous kit! It has two pots. It has four plates, four cups, four bowls, caps. It has a compact, foldable grabby thing (a handle) so that you can hook up the pots and it has a pan as well as lids for all of those things. It’s fabulous. It’s in this tiny little kit thing everything’s packed in. It’s everything you could possibly need. It is a little bit much if you’re not four people, but you can cut down some of the weight by pulling out a few things. So in short, we use it with all the plates, all the cups, all the cooking things that you could possibly need. And we have cutlery kits – trying to think what the brand name was it Coglans?

Pamela: Yes, I think so.

Tim: Maybe they were Coughlans from a Canadian Tire store possibly or who knows? We might have bought them from the Scouts thing, which I think is quite possible back in the day. They used to come from Zellers. Am I referencing anybody here? It’s a spoon and knife and a fork. They all slide into each other and they’re a married set for space-saving and for theoretically knowing where they are. You don’t have to go digging through bins of crap looking. Where’s my plate? Where’s my…it’s awesome. They’re great. They stick together. The plates are a little bit small in the grand scheme of things. Smaller than your ones at home.

Pamela: Portion control

Tim: Portion control! Of course, which children don’t do, just so we’re clear. Children are like nom, nom, nom, more must have more. We’re running around today. We spent two hours running around, I must have 14 portions more. That’s pretty much it. If you’re front country camping, I can’t express how much I love to take a cast iron pan just for doing bacon for doing all that sort of stuff. The heating is so much more even. With our GSI kits, Pamela has replaced the pan because we burned the crap out of the centre of it with numerous different types of backcountry stoves – not a wide flame very tight, very focused flame. So it burns the crap out of the centre of it. And I think we scraped the crap out of something else, just with somebody not being so good with using non-metal things on nonstick surfaces. That’s also part of when you’re doing a mess kit. I don’t want to have 14 mess kits because we have at least four different types of camping. Preferably the one with a few additions, covers everything. It does but you have to realize that you’re using a nonstick because you can’t scrub the crap out of it. You don’t want to be putting all that soap and stuff into the lake in the backcountry. You don’t want to do it in the front country either, to be honest. So use plasticky things, use rubbery things. Don’t use metally things when you’re scraping the way-overcooked rice at the bottom of the pan or whatever.

Pamela: So just in summary, you need some bandages, you need some disinfectant of some sort, you need something for bugs, whether bug bites, so that will be After Bite or calamine lotion, you need some sunscreen. Of course, you’re going to need something if there are some injuries. You might want some sort of ointment to put on that. You might want something if there is a sunburn to put on that like an aloe gel, and you need some bug spray of some kind. And then in terms of mess kit, we have this all-in-one that’s our pots and pans and all of our plates and cups and bowls and lids for the cups and it’s also a washing bin all-in-one, that we love. It’s called a Bugaboo, which is by GSI. And also in terms of just extraneous things, we might want a cast iron frying pan, and you’ll need some utensils like flippers and tongs.

Tim: Right, and if you’re in front country, a drying rack. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is, as opposed to just having everything piled on top of each other on top of your picnic table and taking three days to dry. A drying rack where you can prop things up and so worth the extra space that a flat bit of wood takes. And Pamela just mentioned the bag that comes along with our Bugaboo. The fact that it all packs into one small little bit of business is amazing. Certainly for backcountry but even for front country. I’m pretty sure I didn’t realize it for the first year. I’m sure I didn’t realize until the second year that that bag was for doing dishes and we just thought it was the thing that held all our mess kit together. So I felt like such a moron when I went “Oh my God”. That’s for doing the dishes – oh my God. So when you’re in Sail or Atmosphere or Mountain Equipment or Bass Pro, or wherever the heck it is that you’re buying your stuff. Don’t hesitate to ask the people “hey, give me all the things I need to know about this”. Tell me all the stuff. We had to figure it out on our own and I felt like a complete moron when I figured it out. But it’s like Yay!

Well, we actually saw our exact mess kit at Killarney Outfitters when we went there, and as Tim mentioned that was one of his favourite places. That’s it for us for today. And as we’re recording, this it’s Valentine’s Day. So Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and we’ll talk to you next week.

Big hearts and hope you got a big hug from your favourite other person.

Take care. Bye.

Tim: See ya.

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