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When you're in the great outdoors, allergies, the sun and bugs can all put a damper on your fun. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. That's why everyone needs a first aid kit.

When you're in the great outdoors, allergies, the sun and bugs can all put a damper on your fun. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. That's why everyone needs a first aid kit. You can purchase a pre-made kit in a water resistant pouch or make your own. Include bandages, blister pads, scissors, splints, forceps and wipes as well as homeopathic basics, essential oils and herbal creams.

A couple of drops of the essential oils cypress and hyssop mixed together on your fingertip and applied to the back of your tongue clears sinus congestion for an hour or two. Or try homeopathic remedies like Allium cepa, which turns off runny noses and watery eyes, and Sabidilla, which works on hay fever-like sneezing.

The sun can give you a heck of a headache and a burn. If you have a sun-headache with a flushed face and dilated eyes then homeopathic Gelcemium matches the symptoms. For sunburn, you can use aloe vera gel for immediate relief and healing. Washes made from tea, baking soda or milk ease the pain. Make sure you rinse off the milk after 20 minutes or it will sour and smell. Washes should be repeated every two to four hours.

Poison ivy is sometimes hard to detect and spreads fast once your leg brushes against the plant. Be sure to include the homeopathic remedy Rhus tox with you.

Bug Off!

Bugs love to bite, so make your own insect repellent! Just put one bay leaf with a teaspoon of dried eucalyptus, two teaspoons of dried rosemary and four teaspoons of pennyroyal into a jar, add enough oil to cover two inches above the herbs and then seal the jar and put it in a sunny location for two weeks. Drain out the herbs and it's ready go into your survival kit.

Citronella lotions and skin patches are natural alternatives to toxic DEET-based repellents. Neem tree oil, which contains the compound salannin, also deters insects. Lemongrass, combined with citronella, eucalyptus and rosemary oil in a spray, is another non-toxic alternative.

If you're bitten, lavender, tea tree, everlast or blue camomile oils dabbed on the bite every 10 minutes will reduce swelling. The homeopathic remedy Apis comes in a gel, pill or tincture and works on sting-like symptoms. Meat tenderizer is a wonderful cure for bites since insect stings are made mostly of protein and the papain or bromelain ingredients in the tenderizer work to break down the protein and reduce the inflammation.

Hiking can be very tiring if you're not in shape. Bruising, abrasions and muscle cramps occur. Putting Arnica cream for contusions and muscular pain and calendula ointment as an anti-bacterial treatment into your first aid kit are good ideas.

For a backpacker's backache, apply a paste of ginger and water to the area. After 15 minutes, wash it off and then massage in eucalyptus oil. Be sure not to use this treatment on a red inflamed area. To relieve the swelling that accompanies a strain or sprained muscle, spread on a mixture of one part salt to two parts turmeric blended with enough water to form a paste. Do this once a day for 20 minutes. It's a good idea to cover the ointment with a cloth, since turmeric stains badly.

Hiking is dirty work, but when you don't have a lot of room for supplies, you need an all-in-one cleanser. There are concentrated body and travel washes on the market as well as natural shampoos in a bar no more leaky shampoo bottles! These biodegradable soaps and gels are designed for your skin, clothes and dishes.

A Perfect Fit

A backpack is the most important purchase you can make. A properly fitting pack is a necessity to prevent back injury. Daypacks need to be anatomically designed with padded shoulder straps, back, waistband and internal aluminum stays, since the majority of weight is carried on the shoulders. Packs should be breathable and non-absorbent, as well as being durable to withstand outdoor activity. They are designed to carry everything you might ever need in the wilderness. The size you get depends on your back length. The padded shoulder straps, back, sternum straps, hip belt and internal frame allow you to carry weight at a low centre of gravity. Preferably, you should be able to walk upright with little pressure being felt in the shoulder area.

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