Medic Kits - The Survivor's clinic in a bag

Note from the webmaster, the medic kit described below is not currently sold by, please contact to purchase one of the medic kits.

One of the most overlooked, insufficient, neglected and misunderstood aspects of a good survival plan is a portable medical kit.   A fairly complete kit is going to be overkill for an individual, but  probably fairly important for a small to medium sized group.   Basically, the larger the group, the more supplies you should have.   Regardless of the supplies you have, it is important to have people who are versed in the use of some of the more sensitive items and complex treatments.   A lot of the stuff can be used by anyone who can use common sense and read the labels, but more risky treatments require the judgment of trained personnel.   This is also a cause for concern over liability when it is possible for various treatments to cause more harm than good.   If at all possible, you want emergency treatment to focus on stabilizing the patient until they can be given professional medical care, but there is another important issue to remember:  any minor injuries or sickness that you can fully treat with your medical kit will reduce the strained workload given to the medical professionals during a widespread crisis situation.   Even having professional level supplies can help reduce the cost that would conceivably be put on a strained medical infrastructure that would possibly be inclined to consider you or your personnel unacceptably low on their priorities for treatment in a crisis.   The brutal realities of war and large natural disasters often see people dying not for lack of care, but for lack of supplies that would otherwise have been easily and cheaply obtained and stored before they were needed.   This includes certain lifesaving drugs and antibiotics that can literally save your life for pennies, but can be priceless when there is little to go around.  

For most survival scenarios, the medic kit is going to serve two purposes.  First, it contains first aid supplies used to treat minor injuries and sickness without the need for costly or time consuming medical treatment.  While the safe advice is to always see a doctor after any injury, many of us see the common sense that the cost of even a very short visit to an emergency room for a treatable injury will pay for an extensive medical kit.   The second major reason to have a medic kit is to have the supplies necessary to stabilize and treat a victim for transport to a medical facility.   In normal modern urban society, it is rare for this to require much more than what is necessary for a few minutes trip to a hospital or until an ambulance arrives with qualified experts in emergency medical care.    For survivors who often find themselves in the wilderness far from easy access to emergency medical help, sufficient supplies for longer term aid can be the critical difference between survival of a team mate and a preventable death.    Actual GI medic kits can be hard to get with all of the "correct" contents, but paramedic type trauma kits can be combined with a basic first aid kit to approximate or surpass the capabilities of a military kit.   Note how most of the more important items in the military kit are sealed in plastic to prevent contamination and dirt from getting in.   One thing to keep in mind is that although these items are usually sealed in plastic, thy are not waterproof.  Kits to be used in and around the ocean must be double sealed to keep corrosive salt air out.   

Obviously, it is usually unrealistic to be able to travel as well stocked as a professional ambulance or EMT crew, but, it is entirely realistic to travel in the wilderness with one person trained and equipped to a level similar to military medics.    In many ways, higher threat scenario survival situations will dictate a package nearly identical to that used by special forces.   Not only would such a package be important for traveling, but it would play an important role at the homestead or retreat where you may lack access to better medical facilities in a crisis situation.  

We have done a lot of research on medical kits, likely treatable injuries and supplies and equipment available on the open market.   Some of our findings have been encouraging, others have been disturbing.   What is encouraging is that most professional quality medical supplies are available one way or another on the open market, but in many cases, there are legal ramifications of the use and possession of certain medical supplies.   This is especially the case with certain medications which have different legal status in different places.  

That said, one of the best "open source" medical kits I have found that follows a military pattern, is both portable and durable, is the kit assembled by a Canadian guy named Mike Gulenchyn.    He can be contacted by email at  The contents of the bags do vary a bit according to climate and time of the year.  Don't consider one of the kits to be fully complete with everything you would possibly need when you get it, but the kit makes what I consider one of the best starting points you can have when assembling a real survival medic kit equal to that used by any military unit.    Pricing varies since the cost of the bags and contents is partially dictated by currency exchange rates, but the prices usually hover in the $250 (US) range.   The smaller kits usually run in the $90 range and are packed in either a USGI M3 medic bag or the improved Specops brand medic bag.   

This is the Medicman M17 medic bag.  It is based on the USGI M17 medic bag, but made from more durable materials.  Contents vary on availability, but this layout is typical of what would be carried in a platoon kit, minus perishables and meds. 

The bag is very durable and has six main compartments, plus one smaller compartment for surgical instruments (some are included).  

The layout of the bag (below) shows the contents to include most bandaging that would normally be used in the field to treat a number of injuries.  

The kit does not come complete as it is imported from Canada and certain medications and ointments would have a problem in customs.   You will need to ad an assortment of antibiotics, pain killers, ointments and specialized meds members of your group might need.   That said, all of the items We examined in the bag are all current production modern items and materials, none of which appears to be older surplus.   The bag comes full, but there is sufficient room left to include some other items.   

More info will be added on the inventory of the bag and use of the contents later.  

As you can see from the pictures here, the medic kits include a good assortment of bandages, splints, instruments some ointments and disenfectants.    Since the kits are shipped from Canada, they will not always include certain medications that might be a problem in customs.  

Given that the kits come well stocked with new production supplies, unlike those from other suppliers that have out of date or surplus supplies, you still need to add a few things (and there is room in the bag).    Most of these items can be found at a larger discount drug store.

A mid size bottle of saline solution eye wash.   This is normally used for cleaning contact lenses, but more importantly, it is used for flushing wounds and is usually safe for flusing debris out of the eyes.  

Anti-biotics.  These will usually come in pill form.   There are now more advanced and specific versions of penicillin, but they are all mostly related.   Obtain what you can and get familiar with the warning labels since some of these meds can be dangerous to some people.   

Anti-histamine inhaler and or tablets.   This stuff is used on people suffering from asthma, but can also be a quick and dirty way of reviving anybody who is really short on breath since the drugs enhance the lung's ability to process oxygen.   It is sometimes used by endurance athletes for this purpose.   Be careful though, overdo it or mix with the wrong drugs and you will be doubled over coughing blood.  

Anti-bacterial wash.  Iodine is getting out of fashion, but you have to have some sort of liquid for sterilizing and cleaning wounds and instruments if you need to deal with a wound that will not be in front of a well equipped doctor within a half hour.   

Ointments for dealing with toxic plants.   I prefer Tecnu which is a fairly effective poison Oak treatment used in the western US.   

A snake bite kit

Pills - general recommendations:  In general, you want to get multiples of smaller bottles of pills and leave them sealed rather than get large size bottles and dispense from them.  The reason being that pills can be contaminated when the bottle is opened and contents handled.   Note that blister packs are not going to be waterproof.   

Pain killer pills, the preferred medication is Motrin or something similar.   If possible, get both over the counter dosages and the lowest of the prescription dosage pills.    Again, store brands and generics are usually going to be just as good.  

Caffeine pills - used to keep people awake, this can be important for people suffering from certain exposure related injuries where you cannot afford to let their body shut down for sleep.   More effective, but controversial "wake up" pills contain Ephedrine extracts.   This is a fairly strong herbal stimulant that comes from the bark of an exotic tree.   Some negative side effects include insomnia, shivers, a metallic taste in the mouth, and complications if the user is pregnant, has heart trouble or thyroid problems.   Ephedrine is used in the manufacture of met amphetamine, so the purchase of products containing Ephedrine is sometimes regulated or monitored.   Exercise caution when using products containing Ephedrine since it can be addictive (although I can't see how someone can actually like being a nervous insomniac).  Psychological effects of long term use include paranoia, hallucinations and other symptoms similar to amphetamine use.   That said, there are situations where the need to become quickly alert and stay alert are more important than risks of side effects.   Pills like the "Yellow Jacket" and "Stacker 2" from NV Pharmaceuticals and their various vendors.  NV Pharmaceuticals has a website with direct sales at, but the product can usually be found cheaper from vendors.    On the useful side, these stimulants can be used by a person who has not built up a tolerance to stay awake for as long as three days at a time, and to be fully alert within minutes of taking a pill upon waking up.   These pills are the dirty little secret of many military personnel who undergo rigorous training with little sleep.   

Sleeping pills - used to help people go to sleep, this can be important for people with injuries or sicknesses that can be healed while sleeping, or people under stress who are unable to fall asleep when the situation allows for needed rest.   In looking over the ingredients, they seem to be pretty similar regardless of manufacture and local drug store generics seem to be better priced for the same dosages.   

Activated Charcoal, powder or capsules.  This is a special fine powder charcoal that is reported to help remove poisons and toxins from a person's system.   It is not an antibiotic and I don't fully understand the logic of how it works, but experts tell me that it does help in detoxification and removing poisons from someone's system by absorbing them into a form that is not easily assimilated into the human body.    It is apparently some special charcoal and not something just scraped out of the campfire.   Pretty cheap anyway.  

More to be added later


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