How To Deal With Injury In The Backcountry


We know and everyone knows that hiking is fun and exciting as it can be. With all these new activities and fun adventures that we can experience gives us happiness and something we really look forward to. Well, we hate to say it and cut off the happy vibes but, hiking also comes with great risks. Apart from the fact that you are heading into a place far off from your comfort zone, it is also an area mostly far from any medical facilities just in case you needed one. Keep in mind that the outdoors is home for the wild which means, there are about no human rules that can apply to nature. The only rule is the survival of the fittest. The heat, the spiky contours, insects and wild beasts, unknown terrains and many more are just some of the threats that are always present on our trail and sometimes, these factors are unavoidable.

Regardless of these facts, knowing how to manage yourself and others in times of emergency until assistance arrives or you get home is very important. Even if you're not a medical professional or a doctor, you'd be astonished at how much an average person can do to aid themselves or another hiker if needed. Here's what to do if you find yourself in a dangerous scenario.

First things first. Bring your First Aid Kit!

This is just text book hiking. No one goes to the outdoors without at least a couple of first aid kits. These medical supplies are essential and will always be reliable when it is needed. There are a lot of first-aid kits available out there and you can even choose and make them for yourself. But, as we say, first-aid kits will and can only be useful if you know how to use them. It is the difference between having one and knowing how to use one. The easiest step is to read the labels or manual that came with the kit for instructions. You can also do your own research for basic know-how with each kit.

Do not PANIC

In any dire situation we are in, the best way to deal is by not panicking. The concept is, how can you think straight if you are panicking. It can also add fire to the already burning situation and can make things even worse. Stay calm, assess the situation and think of alternatives and remedies until medical help has arrived or is available. If you are giving assistance to another injured hiker, tell them to stay calm, take deep breaths, if available, give them water to drink to soothe them and reassure them that help is on its way. If something bad happens to you and you are alone, first is to contact any person you think that can help. If communication is not available, assess the situation, move yourself away and find a safe spot to prevent further injuries.

Remember that choosing what medical supplies and first aid kit to bring can easily be "over-killed". To avoid the tendency of bringing too much, the best way is to research the area of where you are hiking and what possible threats you might face. This will give you a better perspective and an objective idea of deciding what to bring and what not to bring. 

Evaluate the Injury

This should be done before applying any first-aid procedures.  Assess how big the threat of the injury is. From just a scratch to blisters or dislocated ankle to bleeding wounds and broken bones. Is it life threatening? Or can easily be fixed. Knowing what you’re dealing with gives you an idea of how you’d take your next step and figure it out. 

Generally, you should be able to do it and fix it yourself. However, certain injuries need prompt attention from medical personals or emergency responders. If you're stranded in the wilderness, you may have to wait for a while for aid to come. Till then, do your best to keep the injury under control. If there are open wounds, best is to stop the bleeding, keep it clean and cover it to prevent further infections.

Take a look at some of the common injuries that might happen on your backpacking trip.


Hikers often suffer from blisters, which are bothersome. They are a very common injury and easy to manage. There are several methods to cope with a blister, here is the easiest and most effective way to do it. Poking a small hole and draining the blister is the first step. Once it's mostly emptied, clean and cover it like any other wound. Hike on with a bandage over and hope that it doesn't hurt any more thereafter.

Cut and wounds

If you're going to assist someone else, don't forget to put on gloves first. If gloves is not available, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect it with an alcohol. Apply pressure to the affected area. Elevate yourself as much as possible and wait for the bleeding to cease or manage it as well as you can. Apply a bandage to the wound without severing the blood supply unless it is necessary to make a tourniquet, in which cases would be a more serious injury. Immediately after the bleeding has stopped, flush the wound with water. Using an antibiotic ointment, cover the area with a bandage, then clean and inspect it every day until the wound has healed.


Soak the burn with cold water as soon as possible. If available, antibiotic ointment should be applied to the burn.  Apply a petroleum jelly or a mild lotion preferably the one with aloe vera to keep it from drying out and administer relief.    Keep the burn area elevated depending on where it is and  cover it with a gauze or any piece of soft cloth.  Take an ibuprofen and drink plenty of water while you wait.

Sprained ankle or twisted knee

Rest the joint, apply ice, compress it, and elevate it if you can still move it. Remember the abbreviation "R.I.C.E." to remember this. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.

Broken bone or torn ligament

A fracture may be exceedingly painful but bearable in the best-case situation until the wounded individual completes the trek. It is important to keep the region straight and prevent mobility. Do this by improvising a splint using a trekking pole, a stick or a firm, thin item. Use a rope or a piece of cloth to tie it in the injured area. Be sure to check that it is not too tight and does not restrict blood flow.


Take good care of the injured area afterwards. It is also important to tell you that prevention will always be the best cure. If we can prevent things from happening, do it. Avoid trails that are beyond your skill and experience. Research on the dangers that are present within the trail and do your necessary preparations. Always expect the unexpected and keep it in mind that our safety is our most priority when venturing the outdoors! Get wild, have some fun, be boundless and be safe out there.

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