Survival Blog: What to do if you get lost Hiking

by Sally Lim on Jul 21, 2020

Survival Blog: What to do if you get lost Hiking

We all loving hiking and getting outdoors. The connection with nature is something that speaks to us on another level. While we are out though it’s our responsibility to know where we are going, how long it will take, what the weather will be like, and any information about other people hiking with us. you should be familiar with the route you will take, or know how to navigate it with a certain level of confidence, either by 1) previous knowledge acquired by others, 2) by looking at a map or 3) by reading the trail on sight and understanding the lay of the land.

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Saying that however, sometimes we find ourselves in a bit of a tricky situation. We loose track of where we are - due to bad navigation, not paying attention in the first place, or things like weather.

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Prevent yourself getting lost

please make sure to:

  • Plan for the worst and hope for the best
  • Always travel with someone
  • Tell someone where you are going, what time you are expected back, and what time you will check in with them latest (and what to do if you don’t show up)
  • Make sure you have appropriate equipment for what you will be doing
  • Make sure you have appropriate equipment for the conditions you might face
  • Bring enough food and water
  • Take a map and compass with you or means of navigation
  • While hiking make sure you keep track of your location regularly


hiking watches


What to do if you get lost

There is a famous acronym for when you get lost - STOP:


S - Stop. As soon as you realise you are lost then stop moving and regain your composure, Have a drink and some snacks. A clear mind is what will get you out of this, not panick.

T - Think. Think about your location, where did you come from, where did you think you were headed, what landmarks did you see. (You want to try and make you way back to your last know position soon but not yet), so spend some time thinking. Before you do, make sure you have all the evidence you need to be confident in trying to re-find yourself. What if that way is wrong? Will you leave any markers where you are so you can make your way back to your current spot?

O - Observe. Look around you quickly, go a few meters in each direction and get a feel for where you are, did you go off the trail? What were you following, or walking towards? Were you supposed to be walking down hill, flat or uphill? What are you walking now? What was the expected trail supposed to be? The more questions you can ask the better.

P - Plan. Now plan what you will do in order to get out of this situation. Try and find you last know location by backtracking. What if you can’t find it, what will you do? How will you stop yourself from getting more lost? If you have any navigation equipment what can you see on the map and in person now - does any of it match up?…what do you expect to see if you go your chosen way. If you don’t see it, when will you stop and return? What is the weather doing? When will the sun go down? Will you have to stay overnight, and what will that entail?



The important lesson/ takeaway.

The most important thing to do to stop yourself getting lost is to prevent yourself getting lost make sure you check in with your navigation equipment regularly be aware of your surroundings notice large trees big rocks et cetera look at where you are heading and what is in front of you that way if you do get lost you can easily go back to your last known position and recalibrate your route.