What to do if you get lost hiking

What to do if you get lost hiking

Heading out on the trail? Correct planning, a map and compass, will help you avoid Getting Lost. But what do you do if you get lost hiking to ensure you get home safely.

Here’s a few tips

  • Stop and think. Stay calm.
  • Recheck navigation and map
  • Re tracing your steps a short distance may assist. Locate your last known point if possible.
  • Gaining some height may assist in orientation.
  • If above does not help STAY WHERE YOU ARE.
  • Find or make shelter to stay warm and dry.
  • Call for help using any communication devices you have with you; e.g. radios, mobile phones, satellite phones. Call your designated contact people and/or local emergency services.
  • If other communications are not possible, and there is a threat of grave and imminent danger, activate a Distress Beacon (PLB) if you have one.
  • Attempt to make your position visible to searchers on land and in the air; e.g. lighting a fire or leaving bright clothing or your pack cover in an open area that can be seen.
  • If you are in a group, stay together, never separate.
  • Be aware it can take a considerable time for rescuers to reach you so your priority is to remain warm and dry.
  • Ration your food and water if necessary. Source local water if possible and safe to do so.

10 thoughts on “Getting Lost

    1. Torches are great provided that someone can see you, the batteries don’t go flat and it is nigh time. A distress beacon will share your location no matter where you are. For less than $300 they are a good investment

    2. Sometimes you can inadvertently end up on an unmarked trail.

      Generally an ounce of prevention can go a long way. When out hiking you don’t need to only consider the distance to the end, but also every single way point (such as junction, river, summit, land mark etc) along the way. Plus remember the last way point you reached. With a bit of common sense intuition this can help in aiding in figuring out where you are if you do get lost (at least reducing the potential area size down in pinpointing where you are). Plus will help prevent you getting lost in the first place e.g. you’ll know you should have reached x way point by now…

      Plus always having a good map and compass is mandatory. Whilst a smartphone certainly can help, you can easily run out of batteries. If worse comes to worse and you are not able to figure out where you could use a map and compass to navigate to a major landmark such as a river or road then work it out from there. e.g. walk due East until you hit a river and follow that downstream…

  1. Hi Dougal. Great reply, thanks for the tips.
    Do you know where I could learn to use a compass and map properly? YouTube videos confused me!

  2. Great advice, just missing map and compass, multiple resources out there to learn how and with the basic awareness/skills you probably won’t ever need the rest of the advice!

    1. Haha. Not really missing the map and compass from this article as these are mentioned in the opening sentence. If you plan correctly, you should have already been carrying these and as such would not have become lost 🙂

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