First Aid Kit Tapes

First Aid Kit Tapes

What are our top recommendations for first aid kit tapes?  Paul’s latest top tip shares some ideas.

The key to choosing items for your first aid kit is to try and select multi purpose items whenever possible.  For example, a triangular bandage is perfect for making an arm sling and yet can also be used to apply pressure to a bleed.  Similarly, some form of adhesive tape can be the perfect item for so many jobs.  I’d suggest it is an essential first aid kit item.

Tape can be used for securing wound dressings.  The right type of tape can be cut to create a viable alternative to Steri Strips.  In first aid emergencies you might need to label items or even casualties.  The right tape is perfect for creating a weatherproof label.  Tape can be used to secure splints or to form a support sling.  You can use tape to immobilise a limb or even to secure a head to prevent neck movement.  If you need to tape a thermometer or other instrument in place then tape will be your go to. 

And so, having established how useful it can be, which first aid kit tapes will do the job best?  Here are three we think are well worth considering.

Duct Tape

A very experienced wilderness medic once told me that duct tape is a first aid kit on it’s own.  They reckoned it would do all the jobs mentioned above and they are probably right.  Even better, it will also repair everything from a ripped jacket to a bike derailleur.  Duct tape is strong, very sticky, weatherproof and cheap. It is also fairly easy to tear across and along its length.  It works extremely well and there is always some in our wilderness first aid kits.  There are a few duct tape ideas that might be of use though.  

Firstly, although many people wrap duct tape around their water bottle or trekking poles, we have been using Coghlans backed duct tape for several years.  This makes it very easy to store and also ensures it remains at full stickiness.  It also makes it easy to manage if you have to cut it to size before use.  You can find info on Coghlans tape here.

Another tip for choosing duct tape is to choose a bright colour for first aid use.  Unless you are in a military context then having something bright and highly visible is always handy.  It is also very easy to write on duct tape with a Sharpie and this might be useful to label things at an incident.  It will stand out much more clearly on a colour like yellow.  Conveniently, Coughlans also sell their backed tape as a colour combo pack as well.  

Insulation Tape

Electrician’s insulation tape is also worth considering for first aid kits.  This tape sticks really well when wet and so it can be particularly useful for wet environments.  It also has a degree of stretch which can be useful when securing a splint or something of that type. Again, if you take some of this it is worth choosing bright colours. 

Zinc Oxide Tape

Climber’s will be familiar with cloth finger tape. This is Zinc Oxide tape.  It is sticky, strong and minimal stretch.  It can also be torn either length ways or cross ways by hand.  This makes Zinc Oxide tape a great option for wilderness first aid. 

There are some newer silk tape alternatives to Zinc Oxide such as 3M’s Durapore and this is also worth considering. It stays in place really well and is easy to tear. I generally wouldn’t recommend paper tapes such as Micropore for wilderness first aid. It isn’t very strong and certainly isn’t very weatherproof. 

There is one final version of Zinc Oxide tape that is certainly worth a mention.  There is a tape called Re Factor. As well as being strong, wide and durable Zinc Oxide tape, Re Factor comes in lengths that also have spaces printed on for recording information and vital signs. 

This could be useful if you are packaging a casualty off from an incident and want to ensure handover information can’t be lost or you are managing an incident in strong winds.  If it is stuck to them that seems a useful way to keep it with them. It is quite pricey though!  You can find Re Factor available here.    

If you are carrying first aid kit tapes we’d also strongly advise carrying a reliable cutting implement. We discussed the advantages of Tuff Cut Shears here.