Best First Aid Kits

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best first aid kits

Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere, and it’s better to be prepared than to find yourself scrambling around for a bandage or disinfectant. Everyone should own a first aid kit and have it on hand to deal with minor incidents that don’t require a trip to the emergency room.

The possible scenarios in which you could use a first aid kit are virtually endless. If you’re camping and get too close to the fire, a first aid kit can supply the ointment and bandages you need. If you’re building a new deck and get a bad splinter, the tweezers in your first aid kit can help lift it out in a jiffy. A first aid kit is meant to be used to treat minor cuts, abrasions, and burns. However, you should not rely on a first aid kit to handle more severe injuries.

We looked into numerous first aid kits in order to help our readers find the very best. We interviewed expert Amy Horton, an outdoor enthusiast and backpacking guide, about her experiences with first aid kits to help inform this guide.

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Consider taking a first aid training course to ensure you’re prepared and ready to use your first aid kit if the need should strike.

Types of first aid kits

Basic first aid kits

A basic first aid kit includes the essentials. This type of kit is readily available for purchase and is usually intended for home use. Basic kits vary in size. A larger family should definitely opt for a bigger kit. Examples of what you might find in a basic first aid include the following.

  • Antiseptic

  • Ice packs/heat packs

  • Bandages and gauze

  • Tools (tweezers, scissors)

  • Medications (Tylenol, personal prescriptions)

Travel first aid kits

A travel first aid kit is a compact kit designed to fit in a bag, backpack, or suitcase for folks on the go. Tools included are often smaller than those in a basic first aid, kit but the contents are essentially the same.

Commercial first aid kits

A commercial first aid kit is larger than an at-home kit. It’s meant to be used in an office or other workplace setting and includes enough supplies for multiple users. There are regulations that vary from country to country and state to state regarding first aid kits in the workplace. In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists minimal requirements for workplace first aid kits. The number of items varies depending on the number of employees. Some specific examples of required contents include the following.

  • Latex gloves

  • Splint

  • Resuscitation equipment

  • Antiseptic

  • Gauze

Outdoor-specific first aid kits

While there are a wide variety of outdoor-oriented first aid kits available, they all have one thing in common: they feature specific items that would only be used for first aid in the wild. Examples of what you might find in an outdoor-specific first aid kit include the following.

  • Allergy medication

  • Insect bite medication

  • Various emergency supplies (fire starter, whistle)

Sports-specific first aid kits

A sports-specific first aid kit is designed to treat sports injuries. A physical therapist who is on the scene at a sports game may carry a sports-specific first aid kit for this reason. Examples of what you might find in a sports-specific first aid kit are as follows.

  • Splints

  • Gloves

  • Emergency blanket

  • Cold compress

  • Analgesics

Amy, our expert consultant, explains that it’s important to evaluate your specific needs before deciding on a particular first aid kit. Ask yourself how many people you need supplies for. This is particularly important for outdoor settings where you won’t have the opportunity to restock materials. Do you need a kit for hiking or backpacking? You’ll likely require different items than those traditionally found inside a basic first aid kit. Where do you intend to keep your first aid kit? If it’s for home use, a kit with the essentials should suffice.

First aid kit features

In addition to the contents, what should you look for in a first aid kit? Here are some features to pay attention to as you shop.

Weight and size

For home use, the weight and size of your first aid kit probably won’t matter – unless you have very limited space in which to store it. Weight and size matter a whole lot more if you plan to take the first aid kit backpacking or on a trip. For those scenarios, the first aid kit you select should be light enough to easily transport and small enough to fit inside a suitcase or backpack.


Do you need a first aid kit that’s waterproof? Amy explains that some kits are designed specifically to be watertight and airtight. If you’re heading outdoors and could potentially get caught in a rainstorm or other wet conditions, this is a feature to consider.


Many first aid kits are outfitted with compartments to help with organization. Separating materials from one another makes it easier to grab the necessary tools in an emergency.  If a box is filled with jumbled materials, it might take longer to locate the proper items in a hurry.


Some kits feature helpful labels on materials and tools so you can quickly identify what you need.

Reflective trim

Amy tells us that some first aid kits are designed to be easy to find at night or in low-light conditions thanks to reflective trim. The trim makes the kit easy to spot if you need access to materials in the dark.

Instruction manual

Some first aid kits come with written first aid instructions and information. A manual is helpful if you’re unsure of your first aid skills, and it can help refresh your memory if you already have some basic knowledge.

First aid kit prices

The cost of a pre-assembled first aid kit could be as low as $10 or as high as $200+.

Under $50

Pre-assembled first aid kits for home use typically cost under $50. The cost varies according to the number of materials included in the kit. Basic low-cost kits are easy to find and suit the needs of the majority of users.

Under $100

Outdoor-specific kits tend to be a bit pricier because they contain more specialized first aid materials. Cost also varies per the size of the kit in question.

Under $200

The more people a first aid kit can serve, the more expensive it will likely be. Kits that are waterproof and kits that include specialized tools (CPR materials, stethoscope, forceps) or emergency preparedness supplies will also fetch a higher price.

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Remember to restock your first aid kit when necessary. It’s a good idea to replace an item as soon as you use it.


Q. I have diabetes/allergies/asthma. Do I need to include my medication in my first aid kit?
It’s a good idea to have an extra prescription in your first aid kit, especially in an adventure or travel kit. Ask your pharmacist to supply you with an extra refill for this express purpose. Alternatively, you could ask your doctor for an extra sample.

Q. Do I need to take a first aid course to use the items in a first aid kit?
Not at all. Though taking a class is highly recommended and can help you be better prepared in an emergency, you do not need to be certified to purchase or use a first aid kit.

Q. Where should I put my first aid kit if I have kids?
Some first aid kits come with a locking mechanism to keep kids from getting at what’s inside. Regardless, it’s best to keep a first aid kit stored out of the reach of children – and curious pets, too.

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