Pills For Your Pack

Having some medications in your first aid can definitely be helpful. And, unless you're a prescriber, or you're able to get your provider to prescribe medications for you, you'll be limited to over-the-counter options. 

But that's okay, the OTC options can handle plenty of situations. Here's what I suggest for your kit.

First, and I shouldn’t even need to say this—don’t take a medication if you have an allergy to it or otherwise don’t tolerate it well. For example, people with liver problems should avoid acetaminophen, people with kidney problems should avoid NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), and that's just two examples. Please make sure that any medication discussed here is safe for you.

  • Acetaminophen/Tylenol: This comes in 325mg tablets, or 500mg tablets, I recommend having two 500mg tablets, which is a good dose that should last 6hrs.
  • Ibuprofen/Motrin/Advil: These medications are all the same and come in 200mg tablets, most people can take three to four tablets which is 600mg to 800mg and that should last 8hrs. Another OTC NSAID is Aleve/naproxen, but I prefer ibuprofen. You can pick whichever you like, but an NSAID is a good pain reliever to have in the kit.
  • Because NSAIDs and acetaminophen work differently, you can take BOTH at the same time to get the advantage of two types of pain relief. 
  • Chewable aspirin: The four chewable aspirin (four x 81mg = 324mg) recommended for potential cardiac chest pain really needs to be chewable, and not enteric coated. Aspirin is an anti-platelet medication and has a long record of proven benefit in patients with a heart attack.
  • Benadryl/diphenhydramine 25mg tablets (2): For allergic reactions, Benadryl/diphenhydramine is great but can cause drowsiness. This is one of the active medications used as a sleep aid. If you DO take 50mg of Benadryl, you probably shouldn’t drive.
  • Pepcid/famotidine 20mg tablets (2): As additional (or alternative) medication to use in an allergic reaction, the antacid medication famotidine/Pepcid (two x 20mg tablets) can be taken—without drowsiness.
I really just take JUST the minimum because my typical pack is for day trips (local hikes or rides). If I need a pain medication or an allergy medication, I really only need one dose as these are going to last 4 to 6 hours until another dose may be needed. I want my pack to be light, but for longer trips, I'd bring more. If I use a dose of a medication, I just make it a point to replace it. 

I typically write down expiration dates and at the beginning of the season, I make sure the meds are still okay. And, that being said, it's fairly well known that the expiration dates are sort of just suggestions, and many meds have been shown to be totally fine years later

Once you know what medications you're going to take, the next thing to think about is how you'll carry them. I wish film canisters were as readily accessible as they were before the advent of digital photography, but there are many other options

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