No matter how good your first aid kit is, it will do little good if you don’t know which items to use or how to use them. Before heading into the field, take a good first aid course. The simulations and role-playing will help you retain the information better than reading any book could. If you can, take a course that’s wilderness- or backcountry-oriented.

It’s especially important to take a course on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This is perhaps the most important life-saving skill you can learn, but to master it, hands-on practice is required.