Have you ever wondered what items would be good to take with you on the trail just in case your ride does not go as planned?
As both a physician and a mountain biker I have put a lot of thought (and practice) into what I think is the best kit to carry and why!
As weight and space are often key concerns it is ideal if you can prioritize what you are carrying to ensure you are covered for the most important and more probable circumstances.
What I would generally recommend is that you put this first aid kit together yourself and store it in a Ziploc water tight bag. However, you can also buy some pre-made basic first aid kits through companies such as St. John’s Ambulance or Red Cross to name a few examples that will get you started and you can customize it from there. These recommendations are for an every day light kit that is primarily useful for day trips and local trail riding. If you are venturing out into the back country or planning on multi day riding a more extensive kit is required.
The Crucial Basics
Here are some of the key basics I would recommend:
- A set of disposable medical gloves – important for your own protection if you have to help a friend – as we know mountain biking can result in some blood shed and if you are helping a friend with a scrap or wound it is important to keep yourself safe and protected first.
- Band-Aids – usually a variety of sizes is key – including some of the larger ones to cover a bigger surface area like a shin or knee. I usually buy a multi pack and then just select a few to carry in my kit.
- Arm sling or triangle bandage – due to mountain bikers often injuring their appendages such as arms and legs it is important to carry this sling. It is very compact when folded up and is very useful for stabilizing a broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder or any injury associated with the arm or wrist. It also doubles as a good stabilizer or can be tied around a larger area to hold bandaging in place.
- Gauze – this is a material used to keep wounds clean and reduce bleeding. Carry a variety of sizes.
- Waterproof adhesive tape – this is extremely useful! Can be used to keep a bandage on or stabilize a sprained wrist, finger, or ankle/knee. I usually carry one roll of at least one inch thick tape.
- Tensor bandage – this is very helpful if needed for additive support to the adhesive tape, or wrapping around the gauze to hold it in place and also good for sprains.
- Tampons or pads – I would recommend pads for ease of use out on a trail just in case you get caught unexpectedly.
The Cool Stuff (or at least I think so)…
These are the specific items that I find come particularly in handy:
- Topical antibiotic ointment or cream – I like to buy a natural cream for this usually containing healing ingredients such as calendula and antimicrobial ingredients such as tea tree oil.
- Electrolyte tablets – it is important when riding lots in the heat or for longer periods of time that you ensure your electrolyte balance is maintained to avoid cramping and dehydration. My favorite electrolyte brand is Nuun as they have tablets that contain very low sugar/carbohydrate calories but have a good balance of key ingredients needed to replace your key electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer – yeah, this is on the list. I am sure most of my lady friends can relate to how important it is to have clean hands. I use this when stopping for snacks, after tree watering adventures, and in many other situations.
- Bug spray – I constantly have an internal argument with myself on this one because ideally I would use the less harmful citronella natural bug spray. However, for dual protection against mosquitos and potentially ticks – it is useful to use products containing at least 20% DEET.
- Protein bar – it is important to have an emergency stash of food with you in case your blood sugars drop due to an unexpected longer duration of your ride or even if you miscalculated how hungry you were before leaving for your ride. One key feature I look for in a good quality protein bar is that the protein content is substantial compared to the carbohydrates. A good rule of thumb is if the protein content to carbohydrate ratio at least exceeds 1:1.
- Lip balm – very essential. I hate having dry lips while riding! Some of the best for protecting against drying are those that include ingredients such as: coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, and beeswax. I generally try and find one that also contains some SPF to protect against sunburn.
Stay safe and happy riding!
• CDC website on tick prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/features/stopticks/
Dr. Robyn Prescott is a Naturopathic Physician who is passionate about mountain biking, road cycling, and working with the body’s basic mechanics. Her focus is restoring and maintaining healthy motion for individuals. When not in her office, you’ll find Robyn her turquoise Transition Smuggler with purple highlights.