The Best First Aid Kits for Home or On the Go
Be prepared for life’s accidents and unexpected situations, whether you’re at home, on the job, or out in nature.
Whether you cut yourself while opening the mail at home or while scrambling over rocks on a forest hike, you’ll want to have a first aid kit on hand and within easy reach. Of course, first aid kits don’t cover every health need under the sun—but they do cover many of the basics. Continue reading for our guide to differentiating between the many options available, and for our roundup of top picks, below!
- BEST OVERALL: DeftGet First Aid Kit
- BEST FOR FAMILIES: First My Family 4-Person Survival Kit
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: Johnson & Johnson Safe Travels First Aid Kit
- HONORABLE MENTION: Surviveware Survival First Aid Kit
The best first aid kit is accessible, up to date, and customized to your family’s needs. As you compare first aid kits, consider the specific items your kit should contain. Also, think about what size kit to get, how it’s organized, and where you will store it.
What to Include
The Red Cross’s list of essential components for a first aid kit includes includes items. These recommendations fall into the following categories:
- Wound dressing, which means various-sized bandages, gauze pads, and adhesive cloth tape
- Medicine, especially aspirin, hydrocortisone, and antibiotic ointment
- CPR aid, in the form of an Emergency Face Shield
- Other medical aids, including non-latex gloves, thermometer, hand sanitizer/cleaning wipes, instant cold compress, and tweezers
These essential items should be included in any commercially available first aid kit. Beyond these basics, if you or a family member has a health condition, you will want to include up-to-date (non-expired) medications.
Aside from wound care products, some first aid kits include items related to survival and disaster preparedness. These deluxe kits may contain items like food, water, blankets, and body warmers for unexpected threats such as natural disasters, pandemics, and extended power loss.
One important item the Red Cross doesn’t include on its list is a cell phone. For direct access to emergency services, store an old, functioning cell phone with a charger in your first aid kit. The phone doesn’t need a service provider in order to dial 911. Also, consider writing and keeping what’s known as an “advance directive” in your first aid kit. This legal document can guide emergency workers and doctors in case of incapacitation (e.g., stroke, heart attack, etc.).
What Size to Buy
Where you store your kit will affect the size of kit you’ll want to buy. First aid kits fall into four basic size categories:
- Travel-size kits are great for purses, backpacks, glove compartments, and carry-on suitcases. These tiny kits should fit in your hand and weigh a few ounces.
- Small kits can still weigh under a pound but contain more products than travel-size kits, like additional bandages, scissors, and a safety whistle. Store in your trunk, kitchen or bathroom cupboard, garage, or inside your camping gear.
- Medium kits may be backpack-sized or a bit larger. These deluxe kits are useful for households with multiple members (especially children) and may also include disaster preparedness products. Store in your trunk or a designated spot in your house, like a safe room.
- Large kits are designed for companies and industries that must comply with federal safety regulations.
When an accident happens, panic can set in quickly. The last thing you want in those circumstances is a first aid kit that doesn’t perform under pressure. For this reason, various brands have attempted to organize their kits intuitively. Most kits come in a brightly-colored (usually red) durable nylon bag or plastic box. The best-organized kits include easy-to-read/color-coded labels; separate clear compartments for different items; and an itemized list of products so you can easily replace and restock. Smaller kits can become disorganized more easily because of their lack of space, so be sure to familiarize yourself ahead of time with the various items inside. This way you’ll know exactly what to reach for in the event of an accident.
Where to Store It
The Red Cross advises keeping a first aid kit in your home and in your car, as well as learning the location of any first aid kits at your place of employment. In other words, a first aid kit should be readily accessible where you live and and wherever you regularly go. We advise buying multiple kits and making all family members aware of their locations and how to use the various items inside.
It’s important to note that while many items (like bandages) have a long shelf life, medicines, ointments, and survival items (food, water), may expire sooner (within one to five years). Be sure to check the expiration dates of products upon purchase, and regularly check your kit for items that need to be replaced or replenished.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: DeftGet First Aid Kit
From DeftGet, this 163-piece first aid kit contains essential medical-grade supplies within a well organized, hard-backed red case that’s both easy to store (it fits into a glove compartment) and easy to use. Peruse the itemized list of what’s inside, and you’ll see DeftGet’s kit offers plenty of bandages, antiseptic pads, and tools (tweezers, scissors, safety pins, flashlight) to handle a range of accidents. This kit doesn’t include a thermometer, aspirin/ibuprofen, or a face shield for CPR, so you may wish to add those important items. The kit does, however, come with a refund guarantee if you aren’t completely satisfied.
2. BEST FOR FAMILIES: First My Family 4-Person Survival Kit
A household first aid kit needs to take the entire family into account. That’s why we recommend First My Family’s 4FKIT. Combining essential items for both first aid and disaster survival, this kit can provide crucial support for your family’s preparedness plan. In addition to an 85-piece first aid kit, the 4FKIT also contains a 72-hour supply of emergency drinking water, basic food, an LED flashlight, and more. It all fits within two heavy-duty packs that you can grab quickly and carry easily on your back.
3. BEST FOR TRAVEL: Johnson & Johnson Safe Travels First Aid Kit
Be safe and prepared wherever you go with Johnson & Johnson’s Safe Travels Portable First Aid Kit. Inside this sturdy plastic box that weighs just a few ounces, there are 70 essential first aid items, including bandages, cleansing wipes, and antibiotic ointment. For cuts and scrapes, there’s everything you need to clean, treat, and cover minor wounds to prevent infection and fend off scarring. Important to note: this is also among the most affordable kits out there.
5. HONORABLE MENTION: Surviveware Survival First Aid Kit
Surviveware offers one of the best organized and most comprehensive first aid kits for home and outdoor use. First of all, the labeled compartments are color coded: red (first aid); black (survival); green and blue (hygiene). That makes it easy to find what you need in a flash. Second, in addition to supplies for treating cuts and scrapes, this kit also contains items for alleviating burns and fever—a rarity among first aid kits. Last, Surviveware comes with a raft of handy-in-a-pinch extras—flashlight, knife, handsaw, multitool, poncho and more. Easy to store and access, Surviveware’s red 600D polyester case comes with a removable Velcro system, so you can just stick it wherever you want to keep it (or hook it in place with the included D-rings).