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The Tower of Mordor

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
Photo: Matthew Parent

All Photos: Matthew Parent

Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Gareth Leah’s Pico Cão Grande Expedition

A dark tower of volcanic rock shrouded in clouds dominates the unearthly landscape. Formed millennia ago when high-pressure magma solidified inside the vent of an active volcano, its presence is foreboding. This is the peak of Cão Grande, a 370m volcanic plug situated deep in the jungle on the island of São Tomé in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to the expedition, I’d spent a year planning (mainly dreaming) of the day I would be able to visit this island whose landscapes resembled a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. It was a project I knew was ambitious on so many levels. Everything had to be carefully planned and arranged, as the island offers almost nothing in the way of purchasable goods or medical help. If something was to go wrong, we would be on our own.

Arriving on the island was a cultural eye opener. Stray dogs running wild through the busy streets, a seven-person family riding a single 125cc motorbike, a balancing act fit for a circus performance. Navigating the narrow roads that winded south from the capital we arrived at Agripalm plantation, the furthest point we could reach before being forced to continue on foot through the jungle. A 3km hike through thick jungle and we emerged at the base of the wall, greeted unknowingly by a 100m high roof that jutted out some 30m. There was no information on the peaks rock formation prior to arrival and standing at the base we gained a very real sense of the task at hand.

image003        image002         image004

We climbed in 14-hour shifts every day for 4 weeks and had only 1 attempt on each pitch to make it happen before we had to leave the island. In the end we established a new 15 pitch 455m line up the wall, which goes at F8b (5.13d). We named it Nubivagant (Wandering in the clouds).

When we at last stood atop the peak, we were blown away by the magnitude of the challenge and not just by the climbing! It had been wrought with difficulties, many of which had threatened to end the project from the start. Luggage problems, blown battery chargers, generator issues, snake bites, jungle logistics, currency exchange, sickness and stuck vehicles all looked that they would stop us in achieving our goal. However, with each new obstacle that stood in our path, we would find a solution, though none were what you would describe as “traditional”.

Having now completed the route and with time to reflect upon the island, the peak and the people we have encountered along the way. I am thankful in all that I have gained from the trip which amounts to a lot more than just a new route, but new friends, skills and an understanding of a life where people are masters of their environment.

About Gareth
Gareth Leah is a worldly adventurer, passionate writer, business developer and rock climber. Born and raised in UK, he discovered rock climbing and quickly became obsessed with adventure and the unique problem solving qualities it presented. Leah owns his own guiding company and is currently living in Mexico, where he is working to grow climbing as a community, culture and sport through development of new climbing areas, local communities projects, and industry education and awareness. He supports a number of causes that benefit climbers such as, the Access Fund and Climbers Against Cancer. See more at

Essential Gear for the Journey:
Bug Spray – Natrapel
This stuff works great. I like the non-Deet option and it smells great.

Ben’s Face Net-Great to have when the bugs were fierce.

Ben’s clothing spray – We sprayed the entire basecamp with it. Tents, clothes, sheets etc and it definitely worked at keeping the bugs at bay.

Adventure Medical Kits Comprehensive- This was amazing to have. There were a handful of cuts, small health issues such as diarrhea, fever, headaches, vomiting, all the good stuff you get from visiting a jungle that no ones really been too. I think the really good thing about this was the book. When people were becoming sick, i used it to help diagnose the problem and decide on a solution.

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .7– It is great to have in the backpack. It has all the essentials needed to deal with common problems. If you can’t fix your problem with this kit, you’re up a creek and need an EMT anyway.

Dental Kit – I never used it in the end, my fillings held out. However, I did use it on one of the locals who developed a MASSIVE abscess in his molar. The information in the pack gave again helped me diagnose and decide the best solution. Using some broad spectrum antibiotics and this kit I was able to clean the wound out, numb the pain and he is now perfectly back to normal. Huge success!

3 Useful & Life Saving Items You Should Take On Your Next Adventure

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Reflection of mountains and trees in water, Moor Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

3 Insanely Useful & Life Saving Items You Should Take On Your Next Adventure

So you are heading out to explore the Allagash Wilderness of Maine, backpacking in the Sierras or mountain biking an old logging road. You’ve got the gear packed and the posse assembled, but have you thought about the fact that you’ll be 20 miles from a road? That means your crew will be depending upon each other in case something goes down.

Prepare for anything and get #AdventureEquipped. Channel your inner Scout with a few simple items that could make you the hero if you and your buddies are stranded out in the wilderness. Trust us, you’re friends will thank you for taking these along.


The Doctor is in

Accidents can happen. Carry a first aid kit and you’ll be ready for bee stings, punctured wounds, sprained ankles and a host of other emergencies. The Ultralight watertight .9 is an easy take- along filled with all the supplies you’ll need. It even comes with a handy first aid guide and is housed in a waterproof zip lock bag in case your canoe capsizes.

0125-0290 AMK Ultralight Watertight 9 RT copy

A $20 Box Could Save Your Life

Who ever said $20 doesn’t buy anything? Then they haven’t explored the immensely useful items inside the Survive Outdoors Longer Traverse survival kit. Packed into the small tin are essentials like water purification tablets and water storage container, fire starter with flint, emergency blanket and signaling mirror. The box covers the basics of water, shelter, fire and signaling. The Traverse is easy to slip in your bag and weighs about 6 ounces.


A Knife with a Purpose

About the size of the palm of your hand, the Phoenix incorporates 8+ survival tools into a small pocketknife size multi-tool. The contents include a fixed, serrated and drop point bladed knife, 3-7mm wrench, flat head screwdriver, fire starter and flint striker, LED light and signaling whistle.




How NOT to Get Stranded Out in The Wilderness

North, South, East, West, you thought you knew where you were going but now you’re lost. Of course, knowing the terrain, watching the weather and knowing how to use your compass is key in the wilderness. Check out these links below to learn the skills, scout the terrain or get a read on the weather.

Learning Map & Compass Skills

Learning Wilderness First Aid and Rescue:



National Weather Service



Basic First Aid Skills- How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

ankle injury

Adventure Medical Kits Empowers You Series

Heading out into the wilderness can be an amazing experience that allows you to explore remote areas and challenge yourself. As a smart adventurer, you’ve probably already taken the steps to prepare for your journey by bringing along the basics for survival (Food, Water, Shelter, First Aid Kit, extra Clothing ) and knowing the terrain. But anytime you’re a few hours from advanced medical care, you are assuming risk and should be prepared for injuries and illnesses. That’s why it’s good to know some first aid basics. In our Adventure Medical Kits Empowers You Series, we’ve compiled a list of skills and treatments we consider essential for anyone who goes out in the backcountry. Our articles are not a substitute for professional medical training or treatment. We recommend taking a full Wilderness First Aid course for more comprehensive knowledge and seeking professional care as soon possible.

Basic First Aid Skills- How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

Taken from Adventure Medical Kits’ Wilderness & Travel Medicine Guide, By Dr. Eric A. Weiss

There you are, just hiking along the trail when suddenly the footing changes and you roll your ankle to one side. You feel it stretch and maybe even feel it tear. It stops you cold and it hurts.


A sprain is stretching or tearing of ligaments that attach one bone to another. Ligaments are sprained when a joint is twisted or stretched beyond its normal range of motion. Most sprains occur in the ankle and knee.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms include tenderness to the site, swelling, bruising, and pain with movement. Because these symptoms are also present with a fracture, it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. Use caution and treat the injury until x-rays or further medical evaluation is available.


  1. First aid begins with R-I-C-E (see below). If the victim cannot bear weight at all, use a splint to stabilize the foot and ankle and get assistance out of the backcountry.
  2. If the victim can still walk, use a C-Splint,  compression wrap or tape the ankle for support.
  3. Continue R-I-C-E-S for at least 72 hours following an injury and administer a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, 3x per day with food to reduce pain and inflammation.
  4. As soon as possible, seek medical evaluation to determine the need for X-rays to check for fracture.

A leg tensor bandage being applied outdoors

R-I-C-E-S- Immediate steps for treating sprains and strains

Rest: Resting takes the stress off the injured joint and prevents further damage.

Ice: Ice as quickly as possible as it will reduce the swelling and pain. Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the area for up to 20 minutes, 3-4 times per day. Follow with a compression bandage. Wrapping is key, as the joint will swell as soon as the ice is removed.

Compression: Compression wraps prevent swelling and provide support. Pad the injury with socks or soft items, and then wrap with an elastic bandage. Begin the wrap at the toes and move up the foot up and over the ankle with the wrap. The wrap should be comfortable but not too tight. If the victim experiences numbness, tingling or increased pain, loosen the wrap.

Elevation: Elevate the injury above the level of the heart as much as possible to reduce swelling.

Stabilization: Tape or splint the injured area to prevent further damage.

Next Steps:

Continue R-I-C-E-S for at least 72 hours following an injury and administer a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, three times per day with food to reduce pain and inflammation.


Ask the Doc Mailbag Round-Up

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

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:

Dental Emergencies – Tips from Dr. Weiss

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Everyone has had a toothache at some point in their lives, but what do you do when you are in a remote area, traveling in a developing country, or on a back-country expedition?  Below are some tips from AMK’s Founder, Dr. Eric A. Weiss about what to do when you find yourself with a dental emergency far from the nearest dentist…..

Excerpt from A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine, by Dr. Eric A. Weiss.


A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine




The common toothache is caused by inflammation of the dental pulp and is often associated with a cavity. The pain may be severe and intermittent and is made worse by hot or cold foods or liquids.


1) If the offending cavity can be localized, a piece of cotton soaked with a topical anti-inflammatory agent such as eugenol (oil of cloves) can first be applied.

2) Place a temporary filling material, such as Cavit® or zinc-oxide and eugenol cement, into the cavity or lost filling site to protect the nerve.


Quick relief of dental pain and bleeding.  Bleeding and pain from the mouth can often be relieved by placing a moistened tea bag onto the bleeding site or into the socket that is bleeding.



Monday, October 19th, 2009


Download first aid and survival instructions (PDF) by clicking on the links below:

Wilderness First Aid Pamphlet

Rescue Flash Signal Mirror Instructions

Accident Report Form

Amazing Bug Facts!

Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors

West Nile Virus Fact Sheet

Tick Reference Card

Customer Letter – SWAT Training and AMK’s Kits

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Sept 21, 2009

Dear AMK:

I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I enjoy your medical kits. I’ve used them for several years when traveling in Colorado and Moab. They’ve always served me well when an injury occurs. With this experience, when it came time to update the first aid kit for my SWAT Team I choose to use Adventure Medical Kits. Well, it turned out to be a great choice! Last week we were conducting our “SWAT Applicant Test” and we were on the Missouri River bluffs, outside Leavenworth, Kansas conducting some land navigation courses when one of the SWAT applicants collapsed. We immediately moved the applicant to a cliff and I began evaluating his injury. The first thing I did was grab my AMK “Adventurer” kit and pulled out the “The Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine”. The guide helped me determine that the applicant was suffering from heat stroke and shock. I immediately treated him based on the guide’s advice. We summoned an ambulance and had to evacuate the applicant off the cliff and over a quarter mile down the river bluff and through some dense woods. I’m please to say, that after a two day stay in a local hospital the SWAT applicant is back at work.

I can not stress enough how much your product has helped me in critical
situations and therefore you’ll have a customer for life.

Paul Carrill, Captain, Platte County Sheriffs Department

What is the Best Kit for an Extended Backpacking Trip in Asia?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

I’m back packing through Asia for 6 weeks and would like to know what you would recommend for a first aid kit in case of an emergency.  Thanks, Dan R.

For 6 weeks in Asia, I highly recommend our World Travel kit plus a Suture/Syringe Medic. The World Travel kit is designed for trips like yours, with comprehensive wound-care supplies and a large suite of medications for pain, flu, and stomach maladies.

The World Travel also contains our Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Eric A. Weiss, M.D. The guide includes information on wilderness and travel medicine including: “Weiss Advice” improvised techniques; “When to Worry” tips; 97 illustrations; recommended prescription medications to pack; medical supplies for extended expeditions; and information on how to use the components of your Adventure Medical Kit.

The Suture/Syringe Medic contains sterile supplies to administer IV drugs or injections in case the medical clinic in the area you’re traveling doesn’t have sterile needles or sutures. Since it is still a common practice in many developing countries to re-use supplies, it is important to carry a sterile set that you can give to the medical provider that is treating you.

Be sure to read our blog to learn more about avoiding the most common ailment that travelers face.

Thanks for your interest, and let us know if you have any further questions.
Frank Meyer, Marketing Director and Co-Founder


When Will AMK Publish A New Version of the Comprehensive Guide?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009


I really like your wilderness first aid book but am wondering if you are going to update it soon to include things like new CPR techniques.  Beverly F, MD



Thanks for the kind words about the AMK Comprehensive Guide.  We are working on a 4th edition of the book that will be available sometime in the next year; we have also updated our Wilderness Medicine and Survival pamphlet to include the recent CPR guidelines and will be educating consumers about updated CPR techniques via our blog.

If you have any other tips or suggestions, please let us know!


San Francisco Bay Guardian Names AMK’s Women’s Outdoor Kit ‘Best in Bay’

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The arts, culture & news weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian has named Adventure Medical Kits’ Women’s Edition Outdoor Kit tops in its ‘Best of the Bay’ issue. The annual feature, in which the paper’s senior editors highlight the most prominent people, places and things in the Bay area, singled out AMK’s Women’s Edition Outdoor kit in the ‘Sports & Outdoors’ category for its high quality components, superior organization and tasetful, decidely non-girly design. Wrote the editors:

AMK’s women’s edition outdoor medical kit comes jam-packed with all the fixings adventurous boys get — wound care materials, mini tweezers, insect-bite salve, a variety of medications, and a first-aid booklet — plus a couple things only ladies need, like tampons, leak-safe tampon bags, menstrual relief meds, and compact expands-in-water disposable towels. And it’s all packaged in a sporty blue nylon bag that weighs less than a pound. No lipstick? No diet pills? No frilly, lacy case made to look like a purse or a bra or a tiny dog? We’re buying it.

The SF Bay Guardian held a gala event to celebrate its 2009 ‘Best of the Bay’ winners at swanky San Francisco night club Mezzanine. Joe Sementilli (AMK’s National Sales Manager), Sarah Tantilo (AMK’s Sales Co-ordinator) and Chris Gubera (AMK’s President) selflessly gave up their free time to represent whilst sampling some nosh and suds along the way. Click here to read the SFBG’s full write up on the Women’s Edition Outdoor Kit.