What’s In Your First Aid Kit?

We all know we should have one, and maybe you carry a first aid kit (FAK) in your car, or you have one in your backpack, or maybe under the sink at home. But trust me, you will never realize how much you need a well-stocked FAK until you need one.

And if you spend enough time on or around the water, you WILL need one. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

As an outdoor instructor with wilderness first aid training, I have always made sure I carry a first aid kit, but after my sup surf fin accident at Wrightsville beach two years ago, I added a full, EMT first responder kit to the things that always stay in my car. Following my second fin accident, which happened during a trip to Costa Rica last year, it became more than evident that I needed a compact paddling specific kit to take along when I travel.  And it needed to have more than just a few Band-AIDS, polysporin and aspirin in it.

Enter Global Odyssi’s Surfer’s First Aid Kit

This kit was exactly what I was looking for. Just the right, portable, packable size, but with enough room to add some extra supplies, and with the right combination of medications, bandages, and tools you need for a surf trip – or really any active trip – at home or abroad.

And like many of my favorite things, this kit was born out of necessity by folks who do what I do. Here’s how the website explains how this kit came to be:

”Global Odyssi was started before a surf trip to Bali, Indonesia in April 2010. While Searching for a first aid kit geared towards surfers, Global Odyssi’s founder, Curt Johnson discovered that a kit like this is hard to come by. Realizing the time, energy and money it took to create a custom first aid kit, he discovered the need for an “out of the box and ready” first aid kit, specifically designed for surfers. After researching first aid supplies, procedures, surf climates and terrain, and consulting physicians, the Global Odyssi Surfers First Aid Kit was born.

The Global Odyssi Surfers First Aid Kit is designed specifically for surfers by surfers.”

So, here is what is in the Nomad version, which sells for $143 and comes in a bulletproof “rip away” Molle style bag:

Bandage Materials

  • 1 elastic bandage 3” x 5 Yards
  • 2 gauze roll bandages 2” x 4.1 Yards
  • 4 gauze dressing pads 4” x 4”
  • 15 fabric band aids 1” x 3”
  • 10 butterfly wound closures 3/8” x 1 13/16”
  • 4 non-stick gauze pads 3” x 4”
  • 1 roll of 3M Transpore first aid tape ½” x 10 Yards


  • 1 pair of Bear Claw nitrile gloves
  • 1 Tourniquet/Triangular Sling


  • *2 – .2oz. satchels of Manuka Honey – Use as ingestible energy or for topical use on cuts to promote healing and reduce infection risk.
  • 2 packets of Honey Stinger Organic Acai & Pomegranate Electrolyte Energy Gel
  • 8 electrolyte 2 packs


  • 1 cold compress 4” x 5”
  • *1 – 3/4 oz. tube of Topricin – For the treatment of numerous sports injuries such as muscle pain, impact injuries, dislocations and other trauma injuries to the joints and muscles.


  • 1 pair of scissors 4” Angled Blade
  • 1 pair of tweezers 4”

Medical Information

  • 1 Global Odyssi First Aid Manual  (specific for ocean/surf related injuries)


  • 4 Ibuprofen 2 packs
  • 4 aspirin 2 packs
  • 8 antihistamine tabs
  • 10 Activated Charcoal Capsules (260mg each to treat upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, acid indigestion and more)
  • 2 motion sickness 2 packs


  • 1 Surf Trip Essentials packing list card
  • 1 Rip Away EMT Pouch – 8″ H x 6″ W x 3.5″ D
  • *2 – 50″ Rolls of Duct Tape by SOL
  • 1 pair of wax earplugs
  • 4 vinegar packets

Survival Tools

  • * 50 Water Purification Tablets
  • 2 – 4oz. water packets


  • *1 Suture/Syringe Medic Kit Includes –


  • 1 – Gloves, Nitrile (Pair), Hand Wipe

Suture / Syringe

  • 1 – Angiocatheter, 18G x 1 1/4″
  • 1 – Needle, Disposable, Sterile, 18G x 1 1/2″
  • 1 – Needle, Disposable, Sterile, 21G x 1 1/2″
  • 1 – Needle, Disposable, Sterile, 25G x 5/8″
  • 1 – Suture, Nylon, 5-0
  • 1 – Syringe, 1 cc with Needle
  • 1 – Syringe, Luer Lok, 3ml

         Wound Care

  • 3 – Antiseptic Wipe
  • 4 – Alcohol Swab

Wound Care

  • 1 oz. of Elemental Herbs All Good Goop (Healing balm/Infection inhibitor for cuts, scrapes, abrasions, minor burns, sunburn, insect bites, stings, blisters and more)
  • *12 packets of Triple Antibiotic (Gel that prevents infection)
  • 9 povidone-iodine infection wipes
  • 6 antiseptic cleansing wipes
  • 6 alcohol pads
  • 6 Qtips
  • 1 pack of cotton balls

Some things about this list you won’t find in other kits: REAL scissors and tweezers capable of doing the job – not cheap, mini -sized versions that can be frustrating to use.  A container of Elemental All Good Goop, which is a big favorite of mine for minor skin irritations. A complete wound irrigation kit, which is critical for any injury where dirt, sand, grit might get lodged in the wound, leading to infection if not removed. Manuka honey, which can be use as an anti-bacterial healing agent or for diabetic emergencies. There are some surf specific things as well, including a card for how to treat surf related injuries, wax ear plugs and vinegar packets for treating certain types of stings.

But like any off the shelf FAK, there are some things missing.

Steri-strips. If you haven’t ever used these little wound closure miracles, you are missing out. These are especially useful for cuts in hard to bandage places. There is a right and wrong way to use them, however, so it pays to read up on them or better yet, take a Wilderness First Aid class.

Tegaderm. Tegaderm is a waterproof bandage material by 3M that is essential if you want to keep a minor wound dry and out of harm’s way from yucky water. I added both pre-made Tegaderm bandages of multiple sizes to my kit, along with some cut to size pieces of bulk Tegaderm film which you can buy in rolls. This is better than duct tape for wet environments.

Active Skin Repair. I do not go anywhere with out a bottle of this. I’ve written about this great product before, so check out the info on the science behind it. But this stuff is key for any kind of reef cut, scrape or even sun burn or chiggers. Yes. Chiggers. It was THE ONLY thing that helped cool the itch and promote drying and healing of a massive chigger bite fest I incurred earlier this summer.

Hemostats. These are super useful for removing fishing hooks.

Manuka Honey-infused bandages. The kit has honey packets, but I find the bandages can be a little easier to work with and less wasteful. Be sure to know whether you have any sort of sensitivity to the honey before using either the bandages or the honey itself.

Needles. I added some heavy duty sewing needles to my kit just in case I need something larger and easier to use to get out a splinter or other pointy skin invader.

Gauze sponges and Cohesive bandages. Like wooden spoons, you can never have too many of these items. I added more to my kit. Cohesive – or “Co-ban” wrap self adheres so you do not have to have tape. It’s great for managing all kinds of injuries and it can come in cool colors! If you are traveling abroad, you may not have access to a Target or Walgreen’s drug store, so carry extra dressing material so you can manage your injury better. Lack of these supplies sent me home from Costa Rica early last March. Now I know!

Herbal wipes. These can be great as an alternative bug spray, for post session clean-up or even as aroma-therapy.  Recently, while treating a 13 year old who broke her arm during one of our mountain biking classes, I opened up a lavender wipe and placed it where she could smell it while I splinted her arm.  Lavender can be a calming agent. At the very least, the lovely aroma helped take my student’s mind off of things for a bit! Use eucalyptus for bug deterrent.

Refresh and Replace

Once you have your FAK, don’t forget to resupply after each use and check for expiration dates.  Pain relievers, motion sickness tabs, sun screens, anti-bacterial and burn creams  and quick clot bleeding stopper – just to name a few -will all expire. So check those dates and replace when needed.

Get Schooled, the Good Way

None of this stuff will do any good unless you know how to use it properly. And in fact, some things in a FAK can do more harm if used improperly. I’m looking at you, Mr. Tourniquet. So, take a class. I would recommend a NOLS Wilderness First Aid course and if you really want to up your game, a NOLS Wilderness First Responder course.

And, the FAK won’t do you any good if it stays at home. The beauty of this kit is that it’s easy to throw in a dry bag, backpack or carry-on.

I don’t leave home without it.