From the wilderness to the frontline—
be prepared for the unexpected.

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  • We will be CLOSED February 18-25, 2014.  All orders placed during this time will be shipped after February 26, 2014.
  • “Thanks for the great kit! I showed it to a few friends (2 doctors and an EMT) and they were VERY impressed.” Read more...
  • “My customized Absorkee kit is a well-organized and compact bag that allowed me to find everything I needed even while seasick in 30-foot seas. I even used the kit as a pillow for many of the 87 nights I spent on the Atlantic.” Read more...
Home / Medical Kit Selection Guide

SELECTING A first aid KIT for your needs

To effectively handle medical emergencies at home or abroad, you must choose a  comprehensive wilderness medical first aid kit designed for your needs.

Although it might be nice to have everything possible in your kit (this could easily mean a literal truckload), you will always have to balance the restrictions of volume and weight against capability.  When Dr. Preston created his very first emergency first aid kits, he used a three-proned approach which we still use today.  Wilderness Medical Systems kits are designed based on the following three criteria:

  1. Where do you live or where are you going? What is the probability of getting to definitive medical care within 8-12 hours?
  2. How many people will be in your party?
  3. How long is your duration of stay in the wilderness (number of days)?

With these criteria in mind, you can use the quick selection guide below to choose a kit, get more detailed information on the contents of each kit by viewing our Kit Comparison Chart, or get our personal recommendations by sending us a message or calling us directly at 406-328-7126.

We have experience and knowledge about the conditions you will find in remote areas of the world.  Remember, too, that the term "wilderness" refers to any location (even in the lower 48) that is an hour or more away from definitive medical care.  This includes many parts of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and the Dakotas, for example.

WMS Medical First Aid Kit Selection Guide

Kit Name Persons
in Party
in Days
Medical Care
Kit Size
Dash 1-2 1-7 95% 10" x 5" x 3" 1.33
Dash Plus 1-2 1-7 95% 10" x 5" x 4" 1.78
Grasshopper 1-4 1-7 95% 10" x 5" x 6" 2.00
Denali 1-6 7-14 >50% 12" x 9" x 7" 4.50
Denali Plus 1-6 7-14 >50% 12" x 9" x 9" 6.00
Humbug II 2-6 7-30 50/50 17" x 10" x 10" 10.5
Absorkee 2-8 14-60 Remote 18" x 12" x 10" 12.0
Kilimanjaro 4-12 30-60 Remote 21" x 14" x 13" 20.0

*Probability of medical care within 8-12 hours.

Here are some further thoughts on each of the criteria:

First, where you are going or where you live is the most critical consideration when it comes to deciding what kind of kit to have. Evacuation times to a U.S.-level medical facility are crucial in determining how medically self-sufficient you need to be.  If you are in the Central African Republic, say, where there is little to no medical infrastructure, or north of the Artic Circle where weather conditions may prevent a plane from getting to you, then the kit you take needs to be equipped with enough quantity and variety of supplies for you to sustain medical care, if necessary, for more than 8-12 hours....possibly even days!

Your second consideration should be how many people you will need to treat with your kit.  Include guests and camp/guide personnel in your estimation if there will be no other medical kits on your trip.  It is surprising how many supplies a few extra people can go through!  One other thought - If you are going to a Third World country where the local medical clinics have little to none in the way of even simple medical supplies, be prepared to share what is in your kit with villagers who may suddenly "show up" to get help (yes, this has happened).

Your third consideration should be how long you will be in the wilderness.  The longer the time away from even a small town or village, requires that much more preparation.  The philosophy here is, if you want it, take it with you.  If you are going to a remote place for a specific activity (i.e. hunting, fishing, photo safari, etc.) and you don't want to have to halt what you're doing to have to go somewhere else to treat someone, you must have what you need with you.


  • All Wilderness Medical Systems kits contain high quality components, chosen by the doctor. Some items are difficult to find unless you are in the medical profession.

  • Each kit is highly organized for ease of use — the true secret to a useful kit!

  • Also included in each kit is the doctor's 80-page Wilderness Medical Systems Flashcards™, first aid instructions 'for the panicked lay person' printed on waterproof paper.

  • Kit bags are tough and durable designed especially for us by Red Oxx. They are built to withstand repeated use with optimal access to contents.

All WMS kits can be customized by selecting various add-ons such as Dental Emergency modules, disposable surgical staplers, or extra SAM Splints. All kits (except the WMS Dash) include Dr. Gil Preston's Flashcards, a compact set of first aid instructions written with a highly-stressed average person in mind printed on waterproof, tear-resistant paper-like material.