Choosing the Right First Aid Kit to Carry on Your Boat

Crew size and time away from shore are just two considerations when choosing a first-aid kit.

Orion first aid kits
From basic to deluxe, these kits have you covered. Courtesy Orion Signals

Special deliverySign up for the free Boating email newsletter. Subscribe to Boating magazine for $14 for 1 year and receive 4 bonus digital issues.

A first-aid kit is a must-have on any boat, but where you do your boating—and how self-sufficient you have to be before you can get help—dictates a lot about the contents. It’s also imperative to consider the size of your crew and your time away from shore. Here’s a comparison of three kits, one ultra-basic, one full-featured, and one capable of handling offshore emergencies.

Basic: Orion Runabout First-Aid Kit

Why it Rocks: Like the name implies, simple combos like Orion’s Runabout first-aid kit cover the first-aid basics for everyday recreational use on smaller boats. Contents include antiseptic wipes and plenty of Band-Aids for small cuts, gauze pads and adhesive tape, sting wipes, first-aid/burn cream and aspirin. A compact waterproof case keeps everything together and dry, and stows easily in the glove box. It really covers the basics, providing items you might find in a typical medicine cabinet to keep on your boat.

Call the Docs: Supplies are minimal, covering just the basics for minor medical needs. Plus, restocking used items is vital, and there’s little room to add additional items.

Price: $20;

Offshore: Orion Offshore Emergency Medical Kit

Why it Rocks: The farther you venture offshore, the more you need to be prepared for any emergency. Orion’s Offshore kit ups the sheer inventory of basic supplies, including a variety of adhesive bandages, gauze pads and tape, first-aid/burn cream, pain-reliever tablets, latex gloves, scissors, forceps, sunscreen and motion-sickness tablets. Also included are items such as a rescue blanket, prepackaged CPR and shock-treatment necessities, serious burn dressings and sterile eyewash. 

Call the Docs: Prepackaged kits are convenient but generic. Experienced offshore cruisers might rather put kits of their own together with more or fewer of certain items.

Price: $78;

Read Next: Picking the Right Life Jacket

Deluxe: Orion Weekender First-Aid Kit

Why it Rocks: Arguably a better choice for most boaters, Orion’s Weekender kit includes more of just about everything, including antiseptic wipes, bandages, gauze pads and tape, burn cream and pain relievers. The Weekender, however, wisely aids other necessities like scissors, forceps, latex gloves, ammonia inhalant, eye patches and motion-sickness tablets. The water-resistant storage case can also be mounted to a bulkhead so that it never gets misplaced. It probably would cover the needs of most recreational boaters who spend a few hours or the day on the water.

Call the Docs: Might be overkill for your typical afternoon at the lake—but we’d rather be safe than sorry.

Price: $40;

More Gear