What to Do If You Get Lost While Camping or Hiking

Since camping and hiking are usually conducted in huge areas of wilderness, the potential of getting lost is always a concern. It is especially true of many who travel off the beaten track. And even while sticking to well-marked tracks, it is still possible to feel lost and become overwhelmed.

While finding yourself lost can be very scary, tackling such challenges is certainly possible. You just have to make smart decisions for your particular condition. Here, as we begin to devise a strategy to find your way back, we will address some of the most critical components to understand and examine some of the tactics and methods that you can facilitate.



Firstly, share your itinerary with those you trust, including maps, travel schedules, check-in times, and so on. If you find yourself stranded, standing where you're will give others a greater chance of success in finding you.

Everybody likes to be adventurous, but you should really plan your day and then take the appropriate measures to make it possible. Study a map, have a compass and learn how to use it, and also have a powered GPS device, if accessible. Don't trust your mobile phone! If you get your instructions from a page or an earlier travel guide, cross-referencing it with various sources will help make sure the guidelines are valid.



A very popular and useful acronym is always discussed when talking about getting lost -- S.T.O.P.

S means “staying put” or simply “stop”. The biggest advantage of staying put is that things won't get any worse. You're not likely to advance in the wrong direction for miles, meaning you're going to lower the risk of making things worse. Staying put always ensures rescue workers can reach you faster.

The farther you move, the longer it takes for rescue workers to reach you. If you don't know where you are, going forward has roughly a 75 percent likelihood of being the wrong way. If you're not comfortable where you are, travel to somewhere safe and stay there. Lay back and take a drink of water, grab some food and calm down while you think things over.

T stands for thinking and tracking your steps back in your head. What sights have you seen? Have you got some pictures to assist you in navigating your way back? Don't move until you calm down a bit and you've had time to think clearly about your situation.

Ask yourself some important questions. What steps did you take? What was the previous iconic landmark? How long has it been since you were there? Since then approximately what distance have you travelled? While, hiking on the trail, most people just move around 2 miles an hour. Where and when was your last location? These are some basic questions you need to ask yourself.

O stands for Observe. If you're on a trail, remain on the trail, as you've used the same trail to get to where you are. Take it out if you have a compass and use that device to determine your location better. Follow a downward stream or runoff, as the last option. This may be risky, so don't make it your first choice. But usually a stream or downhill route leads to a path or trail.

Take your phone out, go back to the photos and do the same. Think about time. How long ago did you start hiking? What are you feeling? How much time until sunset? What's the weather? How is the weather forecast? Is there a nearby natural shelter? Do you see dry fuel around you for fire? Will a fire involve dry fuel?

P means plan. Develop a strategy based on the preceding measures. If you're not convinced with this plan, stay put and calm until you consider a solid route. If it's getting dark and you're quite tired, staying put until morning is probably a good idea. Sunrise also allows for better thought and logical decisions, as well as vision.


Formulating a strategy

Don't move until you come up with a strategy. When you move, do so thoughtfully and calmly. When you whistle, will anybody hear you? Have you got sufficient sunlight to retrace your steps? Is it nearly dark, and should you start building a fire?

Optimally, any time you find yourself trapped in the wilderness, you should have a map with you. Generally speaking, with a map you'll be able to know where you are, and most specifically, where you will go. Just be certain to locate any easily recognizable landmarks before you start moving, so you can navigate your map to make sure you are moving in the right direction.

If you plan to return to civilization by yourself, you'll have to be very cautious not to walk in circles, which is a frequent occurrence for those who wander off the trail. The easiest way to avoid this is to trust your compass so that you keep the moving in the right direction.



If you have a working GPS and take the necessary measures before you get lost, you will have the highest chance of success in finding your way back to safety or civilization. Many GPS systems come with maps to help you find major landmarks that can assist you in getting back to safety.

But even mapless GPS devices will help you find your way. The first and most important thing to do in these instances is to mark your tent, car or home base as a waypoint on your GPS. This way, even if no maps are around, you can plan your route and find your way back.

When you take all the above measures, you improve your odds of being found tremendously. But don't let your energy get so low after a few days of waiting that you can't make a concentrated effort to get out on your own.

Each year, thousands of travellers get lost and end up finding a way out (generally with a compelling story of barely avoiding disaster). It is helpful to have a few survival skills and the proper equipment, but rational thinking and calmness are paramount.