Hiking the wilderness can be an exhilarating experience and a great way to see the world from a different perspective. Whether your hikes are local or far-flung, the solitude and majesty of nature can be truly addictive.
Whether you’re out hiking, camping, or something in between, going out into the wilderness should include a healthy amount of preparation. It’s important to consider what you’ll do if, for some reason, you become lost. Even if you’re an experienced outdoorsman or are just heading out for a day hike, being prepared and cautious is important. It can take only moments to become lost in the woods, which is why you should feel comfortable being able to navigate back out if the need arises.
So, ask yourself, could you make it back out of the woods if you got lost? If you’re puzzling over the answer to that question, consider taking into account these four tips to help you navigate in the wilderness.
1. Know before the go
An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, which is why it’s so important to learn about the area you’ll be hiking in before heading out. Check out websites associated with the park you’re heading to, or maps of the trails you’ll be on, and read up about the weather, current conditions, and how long it should take to traverse. This knowledge will help you clue in faster if something’s gone wrong and you’re lost.
2. Use smart technology
Be prepared when you’re out adventuring by bringing a way to stay in contact, a GPS, and a means to charge both. Proper equipment can mean all the difference between a few scary moments and becoming well and truly lost. Before buying anything, look for outdoor equipment reviews to make sure what you’re purchasing will work for your needs and that it can withstand the weather you’ll be in.
3. Bring a compass
When all else fails, rely on nature’s own means to tell you where you’re going by investing in a good quality compass and learning how to read it. While it might seem outdated for a lot of people, understanding how to read a compass can be a convenient skill to have in life and something that will benefit you most when you’re out in the wilderness.
4. Find and follow a river
Rivers begin high in the mountains and wind their way down to a larger body of water, be that a lake, a bay, or the ocean. Following this can be one way to find your way back to civilization. Waterways are also spots where humans have long set up their homes, which makes them a likely location to find your way back to people.
If you find that you’re lost, the best possible tactic is to stay put and use the STOP method. The worst thing you can do is panic and try to venture further without proper guidance. Try to pinpoint your location and, if you can’t find your way out for certain, make a shelter and a fire and stay hydrated and find a way to signal your location.