Outside magazine, December 1995
I have a saying, "The right tool for the right job," and when I look at a single tool or an assembly of tools, I try to think of every job that those tools can help me accomplish in a fast and efficient fashion.
So I could hardly wait to open the box containing my Adventure Medical Kit--the top-of-the-line Comprehensive model. I've been to some strange and exotic places in the last couple of years, traveling with a small group of similarly inclined intrepid adventuresses: Sandy Pittman, Sharon Patrick, Sharon Hoge, and Blaine Trump. Although nothing very serious has ever happened to us in the way of bodily harm or life-threatening illness, our medical kits, which we assemble ourselves, have at times lacked the right tools. In the hope of ultimately coming up with the perfect packing list, each of us keeps notes on what we learn to be missing from our bags, and at the end of every trip we consolidate our findings.
Does my new kit give me everything needed? Is it comprehensive, like a kitchen knife set that includes a sharpened mandoline and a spiral vegetable shaver? The kit comes in a cheery, bright blue nylon case that, when unzipped, unfolds into a hanging bag replete with see-through pouches and pockets. These are chock full of stuff, like eight doses of Mylanta (none of us has used that), three packets of hydrocortisone itch cream (we've used lots of that), ten packets of Tylenol (I think we used ten times as much on our last extended hike at elevation), and a dental kit for replacing lost fillings (I love this item).
Everything has its place in the Adventure Medical Kit setup, but alas, I still don't feel like it represents a complete tool kit. For good reason, it does not contain prescription drugs. But what about the things that I consider staples of my own medicine chest? The kit should contain an enema or at least laxatives (something we could have used in India, of all places), a suturing kit for serious cuts, strong sunblock, bee-sting medicine, dry-scalp shampoo, antioxidants, and several other simple but critical medications.
Our next trek, already down on my March 1996 calendar, is to Everest base camp. We will be ascending to 20,000 feet, and while I'll certainly take along my Comprehensive kit, it will be supplemented by what we all think we need. Of course, the lure of the unknown is what lures us, and I don't know if we'll ever be completely prepared.
Martha Stewart is the best selling author of Martha Stewart's Christmas and host of the upcoming CBS Special Martha Stewart: Home for the Holidays. She is editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living