Adventure Medical Kits - Adventure Discussions

Ask the Doc Mailbag Round-Up

Here are some questions that people reading our blog have submitted recently…

Q: How do I verify the expiration date on your oral rehydration salts?

A: The manufacturer of the oral rehydration salts we use does not include and expiration date on the package, as rehydration salts aren’t classified as a drug by the FDA.  Because this product is fairly inert (unlike a pharmaceutical), I wouldn’t have a problem stocking a packet that was a few years old in one of my own kits.  However, if you are concerned that your product is too old to be used safely, you can contact our customer service department and arrange a replacement.

Q: What are the differences between the SOL Thermal Bivvy and the Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy?

A: The Heatsheets bivvy is made of a single layer of metalized polyethylene, making it very lightweight.  It is a true emergency product in that, while being easy to repair and resistant to tearing, it won’t stand up to repeated heavy use.  Also, because the material doesn’t breathe, you will have condensation when you’re inside it, making your clothing wet.

The SOL Thermal Bivvy is made from a much more durable 2-ply non-woven fabric material with a metalized coating.  It will work as a primary sleep system in temperatures down to 50 degrees or provide about 15 degrees of extra insulation when used over a standard sleeping bag.  In emergency situations, this bivvy is much more comfortable to occupy, since you can use the Velcro side opening to regulate heat and moisture inside the bivvy.  Of course, the trade off with the Heatsheets bivvy is that the SOL Thermal Bivvy is bigger and weighs about 4.5 more ounces.

Q: Does your space blanket hold cold in and protect from the heat outside. I want to cover dry ice and boxes of bottles. If it can cool a little that would be better than nothing at all.

A: The Heatsheets blanket will help keep cold from escaping, although it is hard to quantify by how much.  The studies done on this material focus on heat reflectivity, although the same principle is used to make metalized heat shades like reflective cooler interiors or automobile sun shades.  If you do try it, I’d be interested to know how well it works.

Q: I have just ordered and received the Trauma Pak with QuickClot from LA Police Gear (excellent company).

I consider myself a fairly well prepared individual (various Red Cross First Aid, WMS Wilderness First Aid Course, CPR, AED, etc.) and intend to keep this small trauma pak kit in my shooting/range bag, along with other general first aid supplies (my heavily modified AMK Day Tripper – actually, it’s mostly just the bag any more with so many various add-on kits and items).  Fortunately, I live in Dallas and have excellent access to high quality emergency medical aid – but certainly would not want to just stand there for 5 to 7 minutes until EMTs arrive for a problem.  I intend to keep the kit sealed in the original package and watch the expiration date.  What I am writing about is the instruction sheet – was hoping that more information was on the exterior of the package or available on your web-site (if there I couldn’t find it).  Just don’t want the first time reading any specific, particularly new information to be during an actual emergency.

Is it possible to get a copy of the instruction sheet by e-mail or on-line?

A: You make a good point about not waiting until an emergency to read key medical information.  I will post a copy of the instructions on our company blog, located at

Q: Going to Botswana in June 2010.  Should I use DEET repellant or not?  I don’t know the pros and cons.

A: There has been quite a lot of research done concerning the safety of DEET – much more than can fit in this email.  To break down the basic issues: DEET is an extremely effective insect repellent, and it has been on the market for half a century with very little (if any) known toxic effects.  That being said, some have argued that DEET may have adverse health or neurotoxic effects.  The EPA, which regulates insect repellents and insecticides, has evaluated the merits of these controversial studies and concluded that DEET is still safe for human use, with 30% concentrations such as Ben’s 30 Wilderness formula being safe for use on children above two months of age.  One other potential downside of DEET is that it can melt synthetic fibers and plastic, such as Gore-tex jackets, fishing line, or nylon clothing.

If you are concerned about DEET, I highly recommend using Natrapel 8-hour, which is made using a 20% concentration of the ingredient Picaridin.  Picaridin has been widely used in Europe for around 20 years and has made its way into the US market over the last few years.  It is just as effective as DEET and will not affect plastics, so many people prefer it to DEET for that reason alone.

Personally, if I am on a backpacking trip in high infestation areas, I use Ben’s Max 100% DEET because it has always worked for me, and that’s what I trust, although some of my coworkers swear by Natrapel 8-hour.  As long as you’re using a CDC-recommended ingredient (such as DEET or Picaridin) and following the label instructions so that you’re applying it often enough, you should be able to keep insects at bay.

Q: We purchased the Suture/Syringe Kit from Adventure Medical Kits but were disappointed not to have instructions for use. Can you recommend a book(s) for those who might need to deal with the contents in an emergency?

A: Because this kit is designed to be purchased and used by professionals only, we don’t include instructions in it. Suturing wounds, administering injections and IV’s, and performing field surgery are not practices that are advisable for a novice to perform – these types of procedures require professional instruction with hands-on demonstrations and significant field experience. In a case where surgery or suturing is indicated, it is best to stabilize the patient as much as possible and either evacuate the patient so medical care can be obtained or await wilderness rescue. If you are traveling in an area where sterile supplies may not be available at a local hospital, this kit (or the smaller Suture/Syringe Medic) can be given directly to the medical practitioner to ensure the use of safe equipment.

Q: I have a Thermo-Lite 2.0 Bivvy and it is a bit stinky.  Can I put it through the laundry?  How do you recommend it be cleaned?

A: I wouldn’t recommend machine-washing a Thermo-lite 2.0 Bivvy (now renamed the SOL Thermal Bivvy).  To clean it, wash it by hand using warm water and mild soap, and hang it to dry.  Open the velco side-vents as far as they go to aid in drying.

Q:  Could you tell me yourself or direct me to a site that would explain the usual procedure to treat a deep open wound, especially using the products of AMK.  Recently I had an episode where I cut my finger with a chain saw and luckily I had some quickclot at home which stopped the bleeding quickly until I could get to the hospital. I was by myself and had to drive myself to an emerg. clinic nearby. They simply deadened the finger with a shot(wow!), soaked it in a Betadine solution and stitched it with 6 stiches. Then wrapped it in a splint and gauze.

But what would I do if something like this happened out on a hike or wilderness trip? Could this be handled with substitute or similar medical products and medicine?

A: As you found out, stopping the bleeding is the most important step to take when confronted with a laceration, so it’s good to have a pack of QuikClot on hand at home and in your pack if you’re in the wilderness.  Once bleeding is under control, the best way to clean and close a wound is to irrigate it (preferably using an irrigation syringe) to clear out debris and then to hold the edges closed with wound closure strips (or butterfly bandages).  This technique is explained in detail in Dr. Weiss’s Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness Medicine, and you can see an improvisational technique, should you find yourself without the requisite supplies here:

Most of our most popular kits contain an irrigation syringe and wound closure strips, including the Ultralight / Watertight .9, Weekender, and Hunter.  If you already have a medical kit and just need wound closure supplies, we also offer the Wound Closure Medic, which you can find here:

Leave a Reply