Gear question – recommendations for a first aid case to fit in a BOB?
I’m looking for a “good” case for my first Aid Kit that I want to fit in a BOB or have as a not to large ride along. As a note and personal assessment – bit of an organize freak, everything needs its place!
I like the Large First Aid Kit by Surviveware that you can find here – clearly labeled mesh pouches, easy to find what you are looking for. I’m looking at the bag specifically here. And honestly, one of the better pre-assembled kits that I’ve seen. Contents list below for those interested.
- Cons – It does not have everything that I’d like to have a kit (fine, again few do). Given that, it in itself seems pretty full as is – does not leave much room for adding in my own materials.
Then I set out to look for just a case – preferably something easily organized that can be adjusted to suit my materials and needs, something like the Pelican EMS case found here. I love the Pelican aesthetics.
- Cons – The price is out of range by a large degree, as are the dims (16-7/8″ W x 20-5/8″ L x 8-1/8″ H) – too large to lug about unless I was using it constantly such as a lifeguard or park ranger. Definitely not a BOB option. Perhaps kept in the home.
Finally I was looking at JUST a case such as the NANUCK910. Its nice enough. Good sized at exterior dimensions of L 14.3″ x W11.1″ x H4.7″, not too large and not so small its pointless. The price point is decent (its just an empty case).
- Cons – it is literally just a shell. Any material placed in here is going to be dumped in haphazardly and a pain to find the item needed rapidly.
A final option would be getting pre-made single purpose kits like the Red Cross Professional Trauma Pak with QuikClot or the Everlit equivalent and throwing all the specialized baggies in a case. But that is disorganized and likely to get rather expensive.
But as you all must have thoughts on this matter and must have solved it for yourselves (and as I cannot be the only organize central fellow in the ether) I thought I’d post the question and see what advice was to be had!
Large First Aid Kit by Surviveware Contents:
600D Polyester Bag(1), 7.5″ Shears(1), 18″ Splint(1), Cold Pack(1), Combine Dressing(1), Conforming Bandages(6), Gauze Swabs(5), Ear Buds(20), Emergency Blanket(1), Eye Pads(4), Hydro Gel(5), Tape, Non-Adhesive Dressings(10), Laminate Baggies(6), Refuse Bag(1), Pressure Bandage(1), Safety Pins(10), Splinter Probes(10), Strip Closures(9), Triangular Bandage(2), Tweezers(1), Whistle(1), Wound Dressings(2),Adhesive Bandages: Butterfly – Large(5), Butterfly – Medium(5), Large(5), Standard(30), Square(5), Mini(5), H-Shape(5),First Aid Handbook(1).
Bob - July 9, 2021
Good morning Falcon,
It is a requirement to have in IFAK what you have already thought out as a need (“everything that I’d like to have …”).
Do you need a whistle inside IFAK ?
A mirror with one magnification side. Looking for that splinter or sliver of glass gets some help.
A magnifying glass ? They’re available real small and light nowadays. Helps for that splinter or sliver of glass.
Space for a vial or more of RX pharma ?
Can the bag be initially opened with golves on ? Whether it’s real cold or that bellowing black smoke from somewhere causing the skin irritation ……
Not usually applicable for most preppers since we are diverse throughout the fruited plain, …
I avoid cross symbols to include American Red Cross logo. Note the Red Crescent Society. I like the link you provided to “Surviveware” where they modificed the traditional Red Cross with bandaids. “You will find obstacles enough;what does anything I say matter in comparison?” Franz Kafka THE CASTLE
Robert LarsonContributor - July 9, 2021
For a bug out bag, I would look into getting a small Individual First Aid Kit also known as an IFAK. I don’t have one myself, but when the prepping budget is a big larger I’m going to invest in one. The Prepared’s guide looks like a decent place to start and tells you the why behind each of the items: https://theprepared.com/bug-out-bags/guides/first-aid-kit-list
I don’t know how to use everything in their recommended IFAK, so I will not include those and I’ll throw in extra things that I can think of that I may need.
If you don’t like their IFAK idea, that Surviveware that you linked to looks like a decent option. I would stay clear of the hard cased Pelican EMS case because that will just be heavy and bulky in a bug out bag.
Falcon - July 9, 2021
Hi Robert – Good observation on the EMS case being too heavy/bulky. Otherwise I was not TOO concerned with the contents at the moment — just the case. As Bob points out, context matters and this item or that depends on where I will be – for me I wished I had one when I came to a car crash minutes after it happened years ago and again while I was in a flight and the stewards PA’d for “any doctor on-board” (there was not but they got me…).
Just looking for the case/bag right now. I ended up ordering the Surviveware kit. Budget wise, for whatever reason, its a steal on the link I posted – $20 for bag + contents, with some good starter items for an IFAK.
Robert LarsonContributor - July 9, 2021
I would pay $20 just for the bag from the looks of it, then all the gear inside is a nice freebie. Let us know when you get the kit and if it lives up to what the pictures show.
Alicia - July 9, 2021
Hi Falcon! I have the same organizing desire and got both the large and small Surviveware kits just before I found this site. I’ve since updated the large kit to level 3 for my work office and the smaller ones to level 1.5/2 for the cars based on this site’s FAK that Robert linked to. Some items were upgraded/replaced and I found I could get even more than the FAK list into the large one. Some of the labels are incorrect now, but most are accurate. See the photos. There’s a splint and other large flat items behind the center section. I did find that I don’t have an accurate list of the large one’s contents – Oops!
The white boxes are plastic cases from Johnson&Johnson’s small FAK that keep the medications from getting crushed (ok to not be waterproof since it will be in my office once we’re no longer working from home). For my BOB, I got everything jammed into this smaller option with a micro-pelican case for the medications. Here’s my BOB Kit: and a photo with it packed.
I’ve also been the first on scene of a serious car accident a few times – one was when I was on travel and had nothing in the rental car but my wits and skills which still helped. So don’t sell yourself short. The first and very significant step is stopping to offer help and you did that!
Bob - July 10, 2021
Good morning Alicia,
Some “polishing” / “refinements FWIW;
When getting Vaseline or the equivalents, look for the “USP”. I’ve seen Equate brand with both USP and without. As much as this could not be important to a private citizen prepper, when helping “strangers” in eg a car crash, … we still live in a litigation society.
Ref the AAA penlight. Something to consider for an item to replace the penlight: If as a matter of routine, a hard hat is carried in vehicle, a helmet light is ideal as a replacement or even a supplement to a pen light. I’ve also worked with the non-helmet folks who only wear boonie hats or baseball caps. They packed in their FAK (a bit larger than an IFAK) a clip – on cloth hat light that also comes with an elestic band. Something to ponder.
Ref the dental med. Some of us use the overall head trauma approach. In case of eg a broken tooth, had learned that hydrogen perorxide (H2O2) is a “debriding agent”. Bacteria readily forms from food and swabbing the tooth and area can stop/slow the “dangerous” bacteria that starts to form after 24 hours. All this is situation specific of course.
A small ground cloth of eg ripstop nylon to serve as operating table can help and it weighs nil … anything else like a flat part of an old shirt can work.
Consider a writing instrument upgrade – nominal cost, no real weight change. Consider a clickable, one operation instrument that can attach to a lanyard. In my kit is also squares of all weather paper with top corner punched out for a real small cable tie. In case I help someone besides myself, this basic note is attached to injured. Yes, my address label is on doc. I’m somewhat of a public citizen but still liable for the ambulance chasers to ……..
For the record: My actual “kit” is a cargo vest.
Alicia - July 10, 2021
Thanks, Bob. You always have such good advice. I had to look up “USP” as I didn’t know what it was. I will look for that in future. I have the penlight in the FAK as auxiliary to a headlamp in the various locations: work, home, car. Similar for the paper/pen. I wanted something that would write on skin and tourniquet tab easily in the FAK, and have both a clickable ball point and sharpie in my other bags. Your point is a good one as they do make clickable sharpies.
Gideon ParkerStaff - July 10, 2021
You always make the best kits Alicia! I need to follow your example and make a more organized first aid kit and I want to base it off of your style. It looks like it works out well for you.
haha, right now my first aid kit is just everything thrown into an old portable DVD player fabric case. Nothing is organized and it takes quite a bit of time to find anything in there.
Alicia - July 10, 2021
Thanks Gideon. Having everything in one bag is a good start. At home, my FAK supplies are all dispersed and don’t include the trauma supplies they should given the power tools we use. I have learned a lot from this site and still have work to go!
Falcon - July 10, 2021
Hi Alicia, Appreciate the pics! Definitely the Surviveware looks well organized and versatile to purpose, I look forward to receiving it. Any thought on it vs the FATPack?
Definitely agreed on not selling oneself short. Having ones wits and the willingness to help should probably be the first two items listed on any IFAK “contents list”!
Alicia - July 10, 2021
The main differences between the Surviveware and Fatmax is both size and weight as well as protection. The BOB/Fatmax kit includes a pelican case for the meds which is both sturdier and waterproof (my BOB is stuffed and compressed so crushproof is key). The Surviveware is HUGE and holds everything including the meds and more (there are still unused corners in mine). All that organization adds weight as does the quick rip double back with straps. I can’t justify that volume and weight in a backpack BOB, but works in a house, office or car and made use of my previous purchases. It would also help office/house mates who didn’t make it find items. The Fatmax is large enough in footprint to hold the flexible splint without re-folding it while still slim enough to stuff into an external pocket on my BOB making it easy to access and has some internal organization (I want a bit more). My BOB kit is on the bottom of the kits link if you want to peruse it. Photo of it packed with the FAK on the outside is below. The pelican is at the bottom of the same pocket.
Falcon - July 13, 2021
Thanks for your pics and comments! The large Surviveware bag arrived yesterday – you’re right, its very large. Much too big to consider trying to jam into a backpack, or even hanging off the back of one. The quality however is awesome even to most of the included supplies, large sippers, etc, as are its organized pouches. Definitely a good option for my office kit or something to keep in the car where size does not matter too much.
pnwsarahContributor - July 11, 2021
I’ve had some of these same frustrations, Falcon! When I got my WFR through NOLS, I purchased a backcountry medical kit via some preferred vendor, and that kit has sort of been my template (i.e., I replace what was originally in it when it gets used, expires, or leaks) ever since. It worked really well because everything in it corresponded to what I was trained to use, and there was a little extra room to add some additional things. But (as TP often notes) there are some important differences between prepping and outdoor recreation that trickle down into gear requirements in unexpected ways, and that combined with some other issues (e.g., changes in directives on tourniquet use in the last twenty years; access to epi-pens!) has meant that as I’ve grown my IFAK for prepping, I’ve outgrown the bag. I’ve ordered some empty pouches from Amazon, but I’ve ended up returning all of them because they’re just not quite the size I need. Alicia’s post on this thread has given me new hope of getting a decent IFAK to fit into a single case— thank you, Alicia!
… in the meantime, though, (as as I’ve said on other threads, so sorry to repeat myself), I decided to store what I think of as “seconds count stuff” in an external pocket of my BOB where they are easily reachable, and keep the rest in the original pouch. Only a few key items in an IFAk are actually helpful if someone is facing imminent death, and those are almost all bulky items (e.g., tourniquet, epi-pen), so this has solved for space- and time-problems simultaneously. I think it’ll tide me over until I can examine Alicia’s set-up and spend the money to emulate it! If you have something that could easily store wound care supplies and the stuff you need for sprains and non-compound fractures, as well as basic meds, you might package that stuff together and have a separate pouch for trauma/severe bleeds?
Alicia - July 15, 2021
Hey pnwsarah! Not having your WFR skills (had to look that up) and thinking I may grab the FAK and go off to the injured person or incident scene (that BOB is pretty unruly), I prefer to have as much in the FAK as I could while keeping it accessible. I know the iFAK is supposedly more for someone else to use for me (why it’s tailored to my meds/needs), I have found that so far all of my FAKs have been grabbed for others more often (happily!). And I’ve outfitted my husband’s BOB to be as identical to mine as possible so I could be grabbing his in theory here. You have definitely thought through your process given your skills and if it works, stick with it. And as you point out, methods and our knowledge both evolve over time. I must also poke a friendly jest in your direction that this is so different than your post on organization in Backpacks for BOBs. 🙂 Aren’t we all a fun mystery to unravel?
pnwsarahContributor - July 15, 2021
Ha, do you mean because I acknowledge that what you want for outdoor rec and what you want for prepping is often different, whereas on the other thread I ardently defend technical packs for BOBs? 😀 Honestly, the main difference between backpacking and a disaster scenario vis à vis my IFAK is that I never felt like I needed a SAM splint when hiking/backpacking because I’m pretty confident in my ability to make a workable splint from my gear/objects in nature. In a disaster scenario, I feel like the better, purpose-built splint could make an important difference in mobility relative to an improvised splint. And the reason that matters is that I couldn’t fit a splint, a tourniquet, and an Israeli bandage in my IFAK pouch (which seems to be the size of most IFAK pouches on the market?). I really feel like the size and shape of the IFAK pouch is the limiting factor— which is why I’m so intrigued by that tidy little IFAK on the back of your pack. (HOW DID YOU GET IT SO SMALL?!)
But yeah, to your larger point, I guess we all just have to take the general rules and modify them based on skills, bodies, budgets, existing gear, preferences, personalities, and perceived threats, and then these idiosyncratic systems emerge from that. And sometimes the principles aren’t consistent! There are definitely some cases where I’m like, “Why would I ever carry an x when a y will serve that function and do three other things besides?” and other cases where I’m like, “OF COURSE I need an x— a y won’t do that nearly as well!” (See also: “Why would I spend money on a top-of-the-line x?” and then, “How could you NOT invest in a really good x?”) 😀
Alicia - July 16, 2021
I was meaning your questioning of the need for organization and its priority, where here you state you seek clear organization like Falcon and myself. I had yet to read your reply on the BOB pack thread though, and you clarified well. I really enjoy learning from your point of view.
On the Fatmax being ‘small’. It is larger in volume than the Fox Outdoor IFAK Pouch that listed in the FAK on this site. The form factor is different – wider and ‘thinner’ which makes it easier to stuff into the shove pocket. I was also seeking something long enough to get the SAM splint in without the need to refold it as I don’t think it would be quite as space efficient. Below is a photo with scale. The Surviveware large FAK is there to hold up the Fatmax on its side and also for comparison for Falcon. And I do scrunch, fold, squash and wrestle items into every nook and cranny while still trying to keep them tethered so they don’t go flying when the pack is opened. Some of the packaging is resistant, but got there eventually. I think someone mentioned in one of the forums or blogs about how surprised they were at how Tom Rader did this. I think we non-experts consider sterile things as more fragile than the experienced pros.
And to be open as well, I haven’t carried nearly as much FAK supplies while backpacking, and from this site, learned that I likely didn’t take enough – agree it wouldn’t be the BOB level. I have had inflammation swell a knee on the last leg out on a trip and a friend have a similar issue much farther in on a subsequent trip and still didn’t really learn these lessons.
I totally agree on how we can all be so inconsistent. I enjoyed your description of x and y. Much of that is what you mention and sometimes it’s out of ignorance which this site is helping us all correct – together.
M. E.Contributor - October 1, 2021
I have been using a “shower kit” that came with one of my suitcases for my first aid kit. It is clear, has multiple pockets, and has a hanging hook so that in an emergency I can hang it from, say, a car door to access what I need (I’d post a picture but that means I’d have to get off the couch!).
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves with commercially available first-aid kit cases and other survival gear is that most of them are not washable. If I have to help someone in an emergency and they bleed all over my gear, or if I help a sick and contagious person, for sure I’m going to want to wash the gear afterward. It seems like a major product design oversight to me that much of the commercially available equipment can’t be washed. Even carry bags advertised for home health nurses are not washable. It seems pretty disgusting to me to go from patient to patient without washing the bag that you’ve been touching and taking things into and out of all day.
After much research it seems like the only relatively tough bag maker that advertises their bags are washable is “Baggallini“. I’ve ordered some of their red totes to keep first aid gear in at home (as opposed to the shower kit in my BOB). If anyone else knows of gear bags that are WASHABLE please let me know!
Bob - October 1, 2021
Good afternoon ME,
I’m not posting above link for washability; just the selection … and the cost increase.
Your washing concerns are valid – but not enough. You’d want to disinfect the container.
There could be more than just blood-borne germs on it. Although time does wonders, medical stuff is best disinfected even to just have peace of mind.
Peter 44 - October 1, 2021
I hadn’t thought about the washability of a first aid case, but that makes a lot of sense. In that case, I would tend to lean towards a hard plastic case that you could hose off and it wouldn’t absorb weird stuff. Also easy to just wipe down with one of the alcohol swabs you have in your kit.
Bob - October 1, 2021
USN EMTs here have a long axis poly plastic kit that’s easy to disinfect like you described above. Worth looking for it on web. Might be in link I posted above.
I don’t use it because too small for the extra stuff I carry.
Bob - October 1, 2021
My mistake; wrong Navy.
Saw it when loading supplies as a volunteer in Israel during the second Intafada.
My work was at IDF MC logistics base Tel Hashomer, TLV area.
Still, even something from big box stores allowing for a case to be wiped down w/ alcohol is ideal.
Bob - October 6, 2021
Under that usual “while looking for something else …” ;
The US Army used to issue an IFAK with the case being poly-plastic of some sort.
It was issued in era of the Alice clamps.
The pouch is officially known as: 6545-01-094-6136 Insert, First Aid Kit case.
M. E.Contributor - October 6, 2021
That one looks interesting but to use the supplies you’d have to dump them out. Someone needs to invent a washable IFAK that makes it easy to find what you need in an emergency without contaminating the items!
Bob - October 6, 2021
Good morning M.E.,
My exact thinking also.
There’s a relatively new term floating around the gear marketplace: “dump pouch”. Still, where are the contents dumped to ?!
I’m reconfiguring my field evac espresso-making kit to use a mini-flight bag that can attach to belt … more accurately to a belt of load-bearing suspenders I’ll be wearing.
Want to have everything visable and accessable with arrangement to place 2 empty water bottles back in bag.
Preparedness requires much thinking, rearranging, and et cetra. It’s time-consuming but that espresso out in the damp field becomes more enjoyable.
A field evac here does not involve an environment of velvet sofas and silk curtins. The ground here is wet, filthy and much polluted from the recent over-population.
M. E.Contributor - October 6, 2021
I applaud any prepper who prioritizes coffee in any form! It was funny during the pandemic – you could see where my biggest concern was as I had coffee stashed in at least five different places in my house (and still do!)
Bob - October 7, 2021
Good afternoon M.E.,
Just had a second cup of quality coffee to test my field rig.
All systems AOK !
Coffee is one of the healthiest beverages – combined with being a mild stimulant so as to be alert during a field evac.
Alicia - October 16, 2021
congrats Bob! I also have an inordinate amount of coffee stashed, M.E.
Clark Thompson - October 7, 2021
Take a look at Plano soft tackle boxes. Ruggedly constructed, many sizes, built to take various sizes of Plano configurable organizing plastic boxes. They may well have exactly what you need, just not sold for “first aid”
JB - October 8, 2021
That’s the kind of first aid kit box that I was looking for!
Bob - October 8, 2021
Good afternoon Clark,
I will be BELO – be on the lookout for those Plano soft tackle boxes.
They sound ideal for multiple uses as situations dictate.
Clark Thompson - October 8, 2021
Check out Planomolding.com then search for fishing storage. Cabelas, Dicks, Walmart, Amazon etc all carry Plano so find what you want on Plano’s site then go shopping for price. Their hunting and other storage boxes might be also useful for other preps. The good thing about their soft tackle boxes is they are all built around their standard plastic insert boxes so you can swap gear from one bag to another easily. I wouldn’t use Plano as a first choice for delicate electronics or optics but their stuff is tough, durable and reasonably priced imho.
Bob - October 8, 2021
Good evening Clark,
Appreciate link. Merci.
I go out of my way to get multi – use items.
M. E.Contributor - October 16, 2021
Hooray! The Plano boxes are exactly what I was looking for, and I would never have found them without your post. Thank you so much! And as luck would have it I already had an order lined up with Cabela’s so you helped me get free shipping. Love these forums.
rangerjohn - October 18, 2021
Having very basic first aid training, no certifications, I went with the ITS Boo boo kit, and a Wild Hedgehog ankle trauma kit.
I don’t have decompression needles, or the airway thingy, not trained in their use.
Essie Carroll - October 19, 2021
Same here. I don’t pack “recommended” first aid kit items that I don’t know how to use, because I probably will just cause more damage.
rangerjohn - October 19, 2021
Good Afternoon, Essie,
I feel the same way, I can use everything in my First Aid kit(s).
Clark Thompson - January 14, 2022
Take a look at Plano tackle box inserts. They have sturdy water resistant boxes of all sizes set up with multiple divider options. Way cheaper than Pelican… not waterproof, but unless you are swimming with your FAK they’ll do. That plus a Plano soft tackle bag sized to your needs and you should be good.
Alicia - January 15, 2022
Plano does have some waterproof options with organization. I got the small ones for medications so they would fit inside the FAK. Eventually did switch to the smallest Pelican 1010 when I realized I needed more space and moved the meds out of my FAK. I needed the strength to withstand the crushing compression of my overstuffed BOB. The Plano small ABS looks to be the same size and price as the Pelican 1010 which has more colors and a clear lid option.
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