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One of the most terrifying situations that you can get yourself into is getting lost in the woods. You certainly do not want to get to the point where you have realized that you are completely lost and are waiting for rescue. Those couple of days of waiting would be gruelling.

But if you are well prepared, you can keep yourself from getting lost. First, lets go over some of the reasons why someone would get lost in the woods in the first place.

Reasons Why People Get Lost in the Woods

You never think that it could happen to you. With a little bit of common sense and some preparation, you should be good to go right? But there are several ways to get lost in the woods without even realizing it beforehand:

  • Not having a map: When going camping in a group, some people rely on the leader of the pack to guide the way. But what happens if you need to go to tinkle, and the rest keeps walking? Or you break away for a second in order to take a photo?
  • Taking a detour in order to take photos: The entire group could break away from the trail and actually get lost unless they are prepared to find their way back.
  • Reliance on GPS signals: In this day in age, we are so used to relying on our cell phones in order to find our way around. Don’t ever expect to maintain GPS signal when you are in the woods.
  • Trail breaks off: You are on a clear trail you have been walking for about an hour, and as luck would have it, the trail disappears. Which way do you go?
  • Not knowing how to use a compass and map: Using a compass and map takes practice. Don’t expect to be completely confident using them the first time around.
  • Not paying attention: If you have been on the trail for a while and are getting tired, you might not be paying attention to where you are going. This is the easiest way of getting lost.

What to Bring With You

Getting lost while in the woods can happen to anybody. But there are definitely ways that you can greatly minimize the risk, and this involves bringing along a few of the items below:

  • Map of natural features: Maps of hiking trails can be purchased online or at tourist stores for almost any major trail. Think well in advance and order a map before going out on a trip. If you are going on an impromptu hiking adventure and don’t have a map, find the trail on Google Maps and make several printouts of different areas of the place you’re going. Of course, make sure that this is the natural terrain map.
  • Compass: This goes without saying; a compass is one of your greatest protectors in the woods. Learn how to use one before you go into the woods.
  • Watch: A watch will help you with various tasks. A great use of a watch is to keep track of how long it takes to get from one point to another. This way, if you need to trace back your steps, you can have a log of how long it will take to get to the previous point.
  • GPS technology: Keep in mind that GPS technology is not always reliable when you are in the woods. You may lose signal halfway through your excursion.
  • Satellite technology: Satellite technology is more expensive than GPS and all of the other items combined. But it is also a great way to stay completely safe if you get lost. Using a satellite telephone, you can be sure to always have reception. This way, you can call search and rescue if you get lost.
  • Pencil and paper: This one is not so obvious, but you will want to keep track of where you have been by logging your way points. This will allow you to trace back your steps.
  • Food rations and survival kit: In case you do get lost, remember to bring some compact food rations and a survival kit.

What To Do If You Get Lost

So you have taken all of the safety precaution and still have gotten lost. What now? First of all, if you have brought along some of the items above, you’re in good shape.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Use your map in order to get a bearing on where you may be. Hopefully, you have kept track of where you are and where you have been all along.
  2. Use your map and compass to point yourself in the right direction. As you begin to walk in a direction, look at where the sun is positioned and keep track of where it is. This will ensure that you do not go around in circles.
  3. As you move about, make sure to notice any obvious landmarks that you might be able to associate with the map.
  4. With your pencil and paper, keep track of your way points by using map locations and coordinates. Don’t be afraid to mark up your map with where you have been.
  5. Use your watch in order to keep track of when nightfall might be. Try not to go further in the dark. If possible, set up camp and wait for the next day.


We suggest that you practice using a map and compass before you even go far into the woods. This will keep you much more confident when you actually have to go deeper into the woods.

Getting lost in the woods is definitely a scary prospect. In our own opinion, renting a satellite telephone is well worth the cost for that peace of mind. This way, you can call the Coast Guard and they will definitely be able to locate you.

Please remember that you must really be able to rely on yourself to find your way back. After all, other people in your group might get lost as well and not know how to get back.

If you have any questions regarding getting lost in the woods, please ask it by filling out the form below.

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