When we head into the woods for an adventure, it's incumbent upon us to make some basic safety plans. Once we've covered the basics--somebody knows where we are and when we plan to return--it's time to cover the next level of safety planning. Do we have enough water, calories and layers to sustain us if today's adventure goes sideways?
Once we've packed those basics, it's time to think about how to handle some of the more specific risks of trail running. I keep a micro first aid kit in my running vest. My view is that my run is long enough to need a liter of water, it's long enough to take these basic supplies too.
It's pretty easy to get your hands on a prescription pill bottle, which makes a compact container for basic supplies. If you fold and roll the larger items, it's remarkable how much you can get into such a small bottle
What do I actually keep in there?
1. A large bandaid. We've all fallen. It's nice to be able to cover knee scrapes so you don't keep abrading them on underbrush while you finish your run or limp back to the trailhead, depending on your pain level.
2. Several smaller bandages. It's nice to have the right tool for the right job.
3. Duct tape. Rip off a small length and make a mini-roll. It will patch ripped gear or even ripped skin in a pinch. I've also used it to cover hot spots on my skin when some unexpected chafing has arisen.
4. A tampon. While it's useful for its intended purpose, it also gives you bandage options in the backcountry. If you're bleeding heavily, duct tape and a tampon can be your best option while you wait for help.
5. Safety pins. They're incredibly versatile, and I won't head out without them. You can patch ripped gear, secure items to the outside of your gear to increase your storage, lance gnarly blisters, and even make a rudimentary sling with them. I'm not even kidding about the sling, too. I've knocked my arm out of socket in a bad fall, and pinning the wrist of your affected arm to your opposite shoulder or pack strap stabilizes the injury. If you're hurt in the back country and hiking yourself out, this is the difference between pain and total fucking agony. I'm never without a safety pin on a long run.
6. NSAIDS. You can buy a single-dose pack at most convenience stores, which crumple perfectly into the pill bottle. Some ibuprofen can sure take the sting out of a tough slog out of the woods.
These are my basics, which to me feels like enough without overdoing it. I like how these choices give me versatility relative to the weight and volume they take in my pack. Combined with my other standard gear, my micro first-aid kit helps to mitigate the risks inherent in my adventures.