My Colorado Trail med kit

A lot of people bring complicated first aid kits into the backcountry, and I think that's fine for them and I wouldn’t fault them for it. But personally, I bring a really minimal med kit.

In three years of backpacking and a lifetime of being outdoors, I’ve found that I get injured often but it’s almost always very minor.  I thus built my med kit to be full of things that are either incredibly light or frequently used, or ideally both.

Here’s what I packed for the Colorado Trail:

  • Benadryl: This can be topped off at resupplies, but I only used about 5 pills on this trip.
  • Ibuprofen: I used this often, and I ended up buying more halfway through the trip. I think I started with about 20.
  • Leukotape: I learned about this from a backpacking Facebook group before the trail and it is the very best thing in my med kit. It is a lifesaver for blisters. I can’t believe how many years I wasted with fancy blister treatments and moleskin when this works so much better. I put some on as soon as I develop a hot spot and then remove it when I’m in town and can clean my feet up a bit. 
  • A small pair of scissors: For the leukotape. I managed a few times with a knife, but it was a huge pain.
  • Altitude sickness medication: It’s called Diamox, and I never used it and probably wouldn’t take it again unless I were going over 14,500 feet. 
  • Pepto-Bismol chewable tabs (about 12): I went through these and bought more, and also gave some out to other hikers. 
  • Allergy meds: I brought and used both Allegra 24 hour tablets and Nasacort. My allergies were terrible in Colorado.
  • Sleep meds: I brought ZzzQuil Sleep Aid, and I used it once. I didn’t find it that effective but it did make me feel groggy the next day. I wouldn’t bring it again in the future.
  • After-bite. I got a small squeeze tube of some anti-itch medication for mosquito bites and I was very grateful for it. The first kind I got was not a squeeze tube but rather a pen-shaped roll-on version, and that opened up in my pack and was a mess. 

I packed all the pills in tiny little pill baggies, which you can buy cheaply on Amazon. (Not sure those are the ones I got, but you get the idea.)

That’s it. I also packed chapstick and sunscreen.

Can you get by on more or less? Sure. But this was what ended up working for me. If I could do it over again, I’d drop the Diamox and the sleep meds and add in a small tube of Neosporin.