This is a list of what a first aid kit for cycle touring of two doctors contains. By no means is this a professional recommendation and you should always talk to your doctor and ask them to help you out putting your custom made personalized first aid kit together. They know your history, allergies, medications you may be taking or any other relevant circumstances (or at least they should know).
This is something we put together for our needs and in some cases is probably an overkill coming from the professional deformation by one of us being a surgeon in training (that’d be me…).
Some of the listed medication might not be available worldwide due to local regulations.
For some of the stuff listed in the extended list special skills or knowledge may be required.
General first aid kit + injuries
- Resuscitation mask/shield – there are many different designs so reading instruction how to use it when you pack it in is a wise idea.
- Isolation foil – other than its intended use to keep the affected warm, it can do the same for you in an emergency situation (sudden snow storm, etc.)
- Wound disinfectant – iodine based which doesn’t burn in wounds
- Bandages (normal + elastic)
- Tape – other than for human first aid it’s a great first aid tool for the bike. Just make sure you have a fabric one.
- Steri-strips – special band-aids designed to approximate edges of wounds. Great for cuts or injuries which don’t need stitching, but are a little gaping and these will help “close” it. They don’t hold well on very wet or hair body parts though (dry and cut the hair before application if possible).
- Anti-inflammatory gel/cream for sprains – twisted ankle, aching knee or that sore overused muscle/tendon
- Sterile gauze – to dry, clean or cover wounds
- Non-adherent dressing – cotton mesh impregnated with jelly. Good for oozing wound like “road rash” or small burns. Will make redressing much much more bearable.
- Suture kit + local anaesthetic + syringe – this is one of the “special skills and knowledge” points. For obvious reasons… The needle holder (or mosquito clamp as I have) is very handy when you need to repair some of the other equipment as well – like sewing a very stiff velcro on a dog trailer because the zippers failed.
- Blister cushions – although we only used it few times, it’s small and light item enough to be carried around for thousands of kilometers because once needed, it’ll make a big difference.
- SAM splint – already mentioned overkill, was sent back home. Great piece of multi-functional high end medical equipment, but in emergency situations easily replaceable to make a splint (sticks, tent poles, double/triple elastic bandage…). It is light, but really bulky.
- Tourniquet – and another overkill which was eventually sent home. Belt, T-shirt and stick or simple pressure can be used instead and will save weight and volume.
What to pack for a bike tour? Check out basic gear list we’ve put together.
- Paracetamol/Acetaminofen – also for fever control
- If either of these is not enough on its own, they potentiate each other (each have different mechanism of action) and can be combined on max dose of each.
- Algifen Neo oral drops – for spasmic abdominal pain (smooth muscle spasm). Works great against period pain.
- Allergy medication
- What you usually take – levo-/cetirizine for us
- Stomach/Bowel medication
- Oral rehydration powder
- Activated Charcoal – works as a sponge – sucks in and binds toxins in the gut. Works best against food poisoning.
- Endiaron – bowel disinfectant for suspected infectious diarrhea
- Espumisan (Simeticone) – works against bloating and abdominal pain caused by excessive gas – makes it easier for it to exit the natural way
- Eye drops
- Ophtalmo septonex – disinfectant non-antibiotic drops, for dropping out dust/sand/flies/other foreign object from eye and also for general eye irritation
- Thermometer – not a medication, I know, but fits here the best. Not a necessity, but very helpful for obvious reasons. Especially when considering starting antibiotics.
- Painkillers – if was going solo I would also carry something stronger that would be able to control even strong pain (fractures, wounds…) to be able to function and get myself to civilization on my own
- Prednisone – back up medication, only for more severe reactions where regular medication doesn’t work – bug bites, skin reactions
- Loperamide (Imodium)– my personal LEAST preferable. It basically stops bowel movement. Which of course stops the diarrhea, but also keeps in all the toxins and bugs that cause it and in some cases may lead to systemic toxicity. I only consider to use it in situations where it is ONE DOSE ONLY to get myself to toilet/civilization/hospital and can’t stop the bus/train every few minutes to…..
- Wide spectrum, we carry a box of Co-amoxicilin. Would consider starting an ATB course only after 3 days of being unwell, with fever and paracetamol not working to take it down.
- Antimalarials (prophylaxis) – Box of Doxycycline each. Been carrying it since the beginning and ended up not using them, since we skipped the malaria prevalent regions in Colombia.
- Always check with your doctor or local travel clinic which is the best suited medication for the region you plan to visit. Thanks to increasing prevalence of resistant parasites it is important you take the medication that will actually work.
- Antibiotic cream
- Framykoin/Ophtalmo Framykoin – the second is the eye variant with the same active agents. Great for cuts, bites and all skin lesions which leak, are murky or produce some pus or just take long to heal. The eye version have it’s special obvious use for eye infections. Both are few grams each.
Don’t get lost during your adventures. Get one or more of apps mentioned in our route planning article.
While a well organized first aid kit for cycle touring can take care of many simple problems, it’s still a very very wise idea to have a reliable travel insurance. Yeah, I know, why bother and pay a lot of money for something that in many parts of the world you pay directly and is actually very cheap? Well, you might be right and hopefully you’ll never need to claim the expensive insurance. But think about a situation you get yourself into real trouble – car accident, injury, complicated tropical disease – these are expensive to treat anywhere in the world (in some parts you might have difficulties to pay it off before you die). But more about this will come in a separate post in the future.
The next article, or volume two, will be the first aid kit for Phoebe and Lolo. And in case you found this quite extensive, stay tuned, this was really just an appetizer ;).
What do you carry in your first aid kit for cycle touring? Do you even have one when you travel? Let us know below in the comments.
Great list thanks! I also carry wound glue, very useful for kiddies, much quicker than attending local emergency. A 16g needle is also key in our kit for thorns, using the sharp bevel vs needing to dig or squeeze them. Ps am also a Doctor so do stock up before leaving ED.
Thanks for your comment, Kim. It’s good to see somebody understands our first aid kit passion :D.
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