Submitted by Eric Daniel
In every unit that I've ever been in, one common part of the field uniform has always been the field dressing. Normally carried at the left hand shoulder, this is the item we're supposed to reach for in the event we injure ourselves on the battlefield. Well, that's all good and well if that wound happens to be from a gunshot, or a bayonet, or artillery fragments, but what if it's a cut from a small piece of glass, or a skinned knee? I've always been impressed by the portable hospitals the medics in my units carried. They all take great pride in their work and almost to a man they are medical pack rats. One of everything is the absolute minimum, and they'd carry three if they could get away with it. Unfortunately, the end result is, when all I need is a band-aid, it becomes a major evolution just to dig one up out of their pack. This isn't a knock on the medic's preparedness, but rather an observation that, for the most part, they are focused on the "big picture" that being the treatment of large, multiple battle related injuries - not the "play ground" stuff.
A couple years back I started carrying a USFS personal first aid kit with me in the field. It's small, about the size of a canteen cup, and is filled with a good assortment of personal first aid items. In addition, it comes in a nice, durable, plastic case that was fairly crush resistant. Unfortunately, I even found that to be too large for what I was looking for.
What I eventually settled on was using an empty mint tin (Altoids, Fishermen's Friend, etc..) It was the perfect size. In it I carry a couple assorted sized band-aids, a couple alcohol pads, a couple iodine pads, a small patch of moleskin, a couple aspirin, Motrin and Imodium, and that's about it. The tin is small enough that it can go into any of my ACU pockets (I put mine in the right hand ankle pocket to keep it out of the way and since I don't use those pockets for anything else) and is robust enough that it keeps the contents in good shape (especially the pills.) More over, the size absolutely limits how much I can carry. The purpose of the kit is to treat truly minor boo-boos without having to break open the CLS footlocker; it doesn't have to get me through a 1-year tour, just the end of the day.
P.S. - As an added bonus, it fits inside that "hot beverage bag" (aka the Ziploc) that comes with MREs now so if you want to waterproof it, you can.