Extractor Snake Bite Kit
July 9, 2007
Name: Jennifer Koles
Height: 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: Salt Lake City, Utah, United
I started taking overnight backpacking trips
four years ago in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah. I
found myself taking entirely too much gear. I am finding out
slowly how to minimize my needs and not require extra luxuries.
My previous outdoor experiences consisted of 4-wheel-drive
camping in primitive areas and day hiking. I use a four
season convertible tent or a three season tent for my
shelter. I plan to take more trips, increase my duration,
and reduce my two to three day backpack base weight from 17
lb (8 kg).
Year of Manufacture: 2000 (still manufactured)
Model: Sawyer Extractor Snake Bite Kit
Manufacturer Website: www.sawyeronline.com
Colors Available and Reviewed: Yellow
Manufacturer's Listed Measurements: None
Actual Measurements: 4.72 in x 2.95 in x
1.38 in (12 cm x 7.5 cm x 3.5 cm). The height is measured
at the highest point.
Manufacturer's Stated Weight: Not indicated
Measured Weight: 4.10 oz (116 g)
Warranty: None indicated.
MSRP: Not indicated on website.
The Sawyer Extractor Snake Bite Kit is designed as a first
aid treatment kit for snake and insect bites.
The kit contains the Extractor pump, four different sized
plastic suction cups (to be used for different sized stings
and bites), four alcohol prep pads, three 1 in x 3 in (2.5
cm x 7.5 cm) adhesive bandages, 2 Sting Care pads (a topical
wipe for sting relief from mosquitoes and other bug bites),
a disposable razor (for hair removal to increase suction),
and "The Complete Bite & Sting Book".
The kit itself is a rectangular plastic case with a lid that
snaps closed. There are four raised plastic pieces inside
the kit to place the suction cups on for storage. This is
to secure them in place and to prevent them from rolling around
inside the case. All the contents fit nicely into the plastic
protective case. The case is marked on the lid with the Sawyer
brand name and the words "First Aid Kit".
The Sting Care wipes are a product by Sawyer. The wipes contain
benzocaine, isopropanol, and menthol. The booklet with the
kit indicates that the wipes give instant pain relief.
The Extractor pump is designed to create a strong vacuum
(750 millibars) to suction out poisons and other foreign fluids,
thus diminishing pain, itching, swelling, and a reduction
in risks of more serious reactions. There is no need to cut
or use a scalpel in order to use the Extractor device.
The Extractor pump is a plastic device that has a plunger.
The different sized suction cups attach to the end of the
pump. No twisting is necessary to place the cups on the pump.
I pushed them on to the end of the plunger with no force or
difficulty. The smallest suction cup can be placed on the
end of the plunger on either side.
The instruction booklet contains information on how to use
the Extractor plunger for snake and insect bites. The booklet
is very detailed on the treatment of various bites that may
or may not need treatment with the Extractor. Some of the
treatments suggest using other Sawyer products that are not
included in this kit. The brochure also lists information
on the prevention of bites, poison control numbers, care of
the Extractor, sun block and insect repellent information.
I found that the information in the brochure definitely increased
my knowledge and understanding of snake, spider, insect, and
marine creature bites and stings.
I will admit I do not like snakes, spiders, bugs, or just about
anything else that bites. I purchased this snake bite kit seven
years ago after I was rock climbing and I had a rattlesnake fall
from a rock above me. I have carried this kit with me off and on
over the years. I had people tell me that the Extractor would not
work and that the kit is very heavy. Some of the locations that
I carried the kit in my pack include: Utah (Arches National Park,
Canyonlands National Park, Escalante Grand Staircase area, Zion
National Park, Wasatch Mountain Range, and American Fork Canyon);
Wyoming (Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks); Pennsylvania
on the Appalachian Trail. I think that about sums up all the locations
it has been carried in. The elevations ranged from 480 ft to 13,770
ft (146 m to 4,197 m). The temperatures have been below freezing to above 100 F (38 C). I did put a few extra first
aid items into the protective case such as: poison ivy cream, burn
cream, iodine, and extra bandages. This is not included in the above
Just like all first aid products that I carry I had hopes of never
using the contents of this kit. I did use some of the adhesive bandages
for cuts, a few of the alcohol prep pads, and one of the Sting Care
wipes while on the trail. I used the Sting Care wipe specifically
for a bee sting, but I did not need to use the Extractor. I found
that the Sting Care wipe dulled the pain from the sting. I did not
have any adverse reaction to using the wipe. However, I still had
to take an oral antihistamine after I was stung just so I did not
end up with a severe allergic reaction.
So after carrying the kit for seven years I finally used the extractor
on a snake bite. I accidentally stepped on a Great Basin Rattlesnake
and it bit me in the ankle. It was almost dusk when I was bit and
I was almost to the trail head. I was able to recall how to use
the Extractor from reading the instructions and I used the bite
and sting booklet for reference. The manufacturer suggests to improve
suction the user should remove any hair with the razor. My ankle
was not hairy so I skipped this step. I placed a suction cup that
I thought would be ideal to extract the venom out of the bite on
the end of the Extractor. Then I pulled the trigger of the plunger
out and placed the suction cup with the Extractor attached to one
of the bite holes. One handed, I pushed the plunger in with the
thumb of my right hand. I felt the suction when the plunger was
pushed in. The manufacturer suggests in the bite and sting book
that the snake bite should be treated within 5 minutes. I think
I began treatment within that timeframe. I alternated every two
minutes between fang holes for about 10 minutes. I was still noticing
fluid on my skin that I wiped off with water and an alcohol pad.
I did not have any swelling at this point. After walking to the
trail head I noticed that my ankle became swollen and I noticed
I then decided to drive to the local hospital. It took me about
45 minutes to reach the emergency room where I received treatment.
They still had to give me an antivenin. The hospital staff educated
me on the future treatment of a snake bite. They suggested to clean
the wound and apply a sterile dressing (not a pressure bandage),
do not use a tourniquet, do not cut the skin in the area of the
bite, do not elevate my heart rate, and remain calm. They did not
state if the Extractor was effective in the treatment of my bite.
Both the suction cups and the Extractor are reusable. However.
the manufacturer warns not to wash or get the pump wet. The suction
cups can be washed or treated with alcohol.
Things I Like:
- The sense of security I received from carrying the kit.
- The protective kit.
- Ease of use.
- The detailed bite and sting booklet
Things That Are So So:
- I don't know how well it worked. I still needed antivenin.
- The kit is on the heavy side.
So after using the Extractor pump I am uncertain if I will continue
to carry it. I do not know how effective it actually was. I did
manage to get some fluid out of the bite holes. But, apparently
not enough since I still received antivenin. The Extractor was very
easy to use and there are not parts that can get lost easily. I
do like the convenience of the kit and the sense of security it
gives me. I definitely felt more secure when I had the kit with
me in my pack.