My Wash Bag and First Aid Kit

In response to a recent post where I laid out my (excessive) backpacking kit, a number of people, across various social media platforms, expressed an interest in knowing what I might have inside my wash bag and my first aid kit drybag (both of which were considerably weighty against other items in my arsenal).

I’m grateful for all of the suggestions and tips that people have provided. Now, I’m going to reveal why they weigh so much.

The Wash Bag

This was a gift from my mother in 2014. I was preparing to go to my first ever festival and she bought me something that would be useful: a bag with a roll-top closure, complete with a contents of shower gel, shampoo, deodorant and a form of sponge. I can’t find the model anywhere but it’s produced by Muck-Off.

Wash bag (empty) – 95g
Face Wash – 159g
Moisturising cream – 81g
Dry Wash – 91g
Roll-on deodorant – 53g
Toothpaste and brush – 122g
Toilet paper in bag – 16g
Large trek towel – 97g
Hand trek towel – 63g

Total = 777g
(When I measured the bag as full, it weighed in at 791g)

On its own, the bag itself is heavy and vastly oversized (possibly a 6lt capacity). I don’t even know if it’s waterproof. I reckon I could comfortably fit all of this in to a 3lt dry bag (they’re only 40g), if not something smaller still.

I know that not everyone agrees with my option to include deodorant but I did factor in that I might encounter other people, especially along public transport routes. I find it’s also useful for easing the itch of unavoidable insect bites.

You could argue that I could make do with just the one towel… I use the larger one for showering while the small one often lives in a more easily accessible location within my rucksack.

One item I would like to add is a means of lubrication for my feet, in the aim of reducing hot-spots and blisters. Specialist creams can be bought but I wonder if a small tub of petroleum jelly may do.

I pack both a dry soap and a facial wash. One is more like a ‘hand sanitiser for your face’ and I mostly use when I’m in a rush or cannot be bothered to trek to the campsite sinks. While it may seem like a luxury, the face wash (159g) is considerably lighter than the All Purpose Soap (239g) that’s marketed towards people heading off on multi-day adventures. Arguably, I could also use one of these in place of washing up detergent.

My First Aid Kit

Like most people (I hope), I have one of those cheap-and-cheerful first aid kits that most outdoor shops will sell you for very little money. I don’t think I’ve ever taken anything from it, bar the occasional plaster to cover an open scrape.

But my actual first aid kit has grown to the point where it demands its own 2lt dry bag!

2lt dry bag (empty) – 30g
Basic first aid kit – 129g
Zinc-oxide tape (x2 rolls) – 185g
Painkillers and paracetamol – 22g
Compeed products – 37g
Anthisan – 12g
Glasses wipes – 1g
The Knife… – 115g

Total = 531g
(Again, weighing the complete bag, I get 540g on the scales)

I have added a couple of tick-removal items to my compact first aid kit and, having not needed to use them so far, I can only hope that the trend continues.

I like to think that much of this list is self-explanatory. Zinc-oxide tape is a great discovery and I’m currently the known hot-spots of my feet prior to a walk and it seems to be combatting the blisters.

Compeed do make good quality products but the roll-on solution doesn’t appear to keep very well and I’ve almost already expended their limited supply of otherwise excellent plasters. In short: they’re great for day hikes but perhaps not ideal for long-distance adventures.

Glasses wipes may not be essential but they’re not heavy either. I’m often surprised by the amount of crud that collects on my lenses and only take notice when I’m not wearing them.

Ah, the knife… That I’ve sharpened but never actually use!! Well, I’m pleasantly surprised to find it’s not the single heaviest item in my bag. Although I could equally be persuaded to leave it behind. Or find a lightweight alternative.

So, this may well account for 1.331kg of my current backpacking load!

I hope this has been interesting for you.

All thoughts, feedback and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

5 thoughts on “My Wash Bag and First Aid Kit”

  1. I use the white take from the pharmacy (like this: instead of Compeet or sports tape, I usually get some allergic reactions to those.

    Your washbag is indeed quite heavy, but as long as you don’t mind carrying it, there is not problem taking it! 😉

    For wales I only took: toothbrush, toothpaste, face cream and a hand towel with me. When I stayed in a hostel our someone’s home I borrowed a towel there. On campsites I just did what we call a “cat’s wash” in Dutch, you know just freshen up the essentials at the sink 😉

    While bikepacking I did take a bigger towel with me next to the small one, a small solid soap, small shampoo and a full bottle of sunscreen.

    Our first aid kit was quite heavy as well, but I rather have to much with me then be sick or injured en route.

    This summer I’ll only take my toothbrush, paste & hand towel with me, but that’s only a 5day trek… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nina,
      Thanks for the tip on the tape. That’s a good point about being able to borrow soap. I noticed the campsite I stayed at had some for anyone to use.

      You stayed in people’s homes? I’m intrigued. Have you written about this part of your journey?

      Where are you off to for your next trek?


      1. Yeah both on the wales coast path and on our bikepacking / big travel we’ve spend quite. Some nights in people’s homes, garden sheds, gardens,… 🙂

        Next up is the fjellraven classic in Sweden 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Awesome! I’ve heard of that trail. A friend of mine recently visited Sweden and said the country is well set up for long-distance trails. Even more so than the UK. 😉

        I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. 🙂


      3. Ah that’s good the hear! We’ve done a bit of Sweden by bike, but I’ve never been so far up north. I am looking forward to it! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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