Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lost in the Wilderness - The Common Sense Approach to Staying Alive


The most important thing you can do to insure your survival in a wilderness setting is not to get lost in the first place. Unfortunately, people still get lost and put themselves in serious jeopardy when it happens. When you do get lost, you will be on your own until rescued or you can find your way back. Here are a few common sense techniques to help you increase your chances of survival if you do get lost.

Common Sense Tips to Avoid Getting Lost in the Wilderness

1. Make sure someone knows where you're going and how long you'll be gone.- One of the mistakes people often make is to fail to properly inform someone of their activities. If you get lost on the first day of a three day trip, you will have to be able to survive on your own for at least two days and probably longer before rescue efforts may begin.

2. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the area where you will be camping and hiking. - Get a good map of the area and study it carefully. Learn all the major landmarks in the area where you will be staying. Keep the map with you at all times and make notes on it to indicate the area you will be camping and hiking and mark any trails in the area for future reference.  

3. Make sure you take your survival gear with you when hiking. - Survival gear is of no use if it is left in your camp. Make sure you have the minimum requirements to survive - a good knife, fire starting equipment, a means to purify water, a compass, a signal whistle, a flashlight and a good first aid kit.

4. Make sure you carry extra water and food on your hike. - Realize that if you do get lost, having extra water and food will keep you ahead of the game and will save you time that may otherwise be spent searching for water or food.

5. Mark the location of your camp so you can find it. - Mark the location of your camp with markers at different intervals around the perimeter to help you find your way back. Use “line of sight” markers when possible to help you easily see your camp’s location. You don’t want to return from a hike and wind up getting lost when you are only a few hundred feet from the safety and security of your camp.

6. Make sure you stay in the same general area and move only when necessary for safety or security reasons. - Generally your best option is to stay put when you become lost and let them find you. This may not always be possible depending upon the circumstances. If you are in a low area that may be subject to flooding, you need to seek higher ground. If you are out of water, you may need to look for a water source. If the weather is a factor, you may need to search for adequate shelter or the resources to make one.

7. Make sure to avoid traveling at night if at all possible. - If you got lost in the daylight, you won’t find your way back in the dark. You will also put yourself at risk for a serious injury if you are stumbling around in the dark. Always allow sufficient time to return to camp before it gets dark. It is a lot easier to become disoriented in your surroundings when it starts to get dark.

8. Make sure to leave plenty of tracks, trail markers or signs to indicate your direction of travel when hiking and remember to use these to help you return to camp. - Use whatever resources you have or can find and take the time to leave as many indicators for your direction of travel as possible. These may be the only thing you need to find your way back.

Got that lost feeling?

Staying above the water line!

Riverwalker





11 comments:

vlad said...

IMO minimum gear should include
knit cap, gloves, aluminized space blanket with slit so it can be worn as a liner under the lightweight hooded poncho.

wet = cold = hypothermia

vlad said...


my minimum kit

in day pack, or vest with pouch.
--knit wool watch cap
--leather palm work gloves
--lightweight GI hooded poncho
--survival blanket with neckhole to wear it as a liner under poncho (heavyweight blanket wth three grommets each long side aluminized one side and OD green other side. It folds to size of a magazine.)
--candle in a tuna can (or flat Altoids tin)
--mini-maglight and photon
--map and compass
--whistle
--knife and sharpener
--two Bic lighters
--magnesium firestarter w/ 3" hacksaw blade and P-38 can opener
--canteen(s) with canteen cup and water purification tabs.
--small fishkit ( 50 lb test braided Spiderwire, hooks, sinkers, a few Mepps and Daredevil lures, and six Speedhooks)
--food -- I carry sunflower oil and ground dried jerky.
1 cup/4 oz = 10 oz fresh meat = 50 protein grams.
1 cup meat powder, 2 oz sunflower oil, 20 oz water - shake well. Doesn't need refrigeration or cooking.
In SHTF/SERE scenario I would carry my Katadyn Pocket Water Filter. weighs 2 lb. rated at 13K gallons.
large bore sidearm or rifle.
If RON away from camp, lean against rock or tree. Clear combustibles ten feet in all directions. Insulate your butt from the ground. Put on liner and poncho. Place lighted candle in hole between your feet. Heat will rise inside the poncho. The Hilton it aint but it'll keep you alive.

NOTE when you realize that you are lost sit down, thinks things over, check your map, drink water, eat if hungry. Relax. If it is late afternoon plan to spend the night

Ed Vaisvilas said...

Look behind you often, when leaving camp, so the scenery will be recognizable when returning.

Ed Vaisvilas said...

I gave my 10 year-old step-daughter one of those personal panic sirens to carry when she went wandering, which she did a lot.

Monsoon Matriarch said...

Great points from author and comments. The only thing I'll add is to Vlad's short advice on ' when you find yourself lost" and sit down, eat a little protein and fat (NOT SUGAR) whether hungry or not. Many normal people do not recognize when they have low blood sugar and how that will diminish problem-solving capabilities. Most people are also more easily frustrated or angered when their blood sugar is low, and may do stupid things that makes being lost worse.

Double Tapper said...

I find that just sitting down. Maybe building a small fire and having a warm beverage tends to help clear my mind and allows me to figure out my next move.

Anonymous said...

Great point on the traveling after nightfall. I wear eyeglasses anyway and I can't count the number of times I've had a branch hit my face - eye damage would be very bad.

Vlad - great advice and list - much obliged sir.

vlad said...

re eyeglasses
you may cut pieces of a plastic soft drink bottles to make side shields to protect your eyes in the field.

Josh said...

It’s always mentioned that you should have a good map of the area that you will be in, and without a doubt, that’s an invaluable item to have with you. However, if you’re not paying attention to how far you’ve gone and if you haven’t traveled in a straight line but instead meandered about, it may not do a whole lot of good if you’re unable to determine your position on that map. Perhaps it’s because I’m in my early 30’s and am very familiar and reliant on computers, cell phones, and other modern technology, and perhaps it’s because it was so useful during my time in the Army, but I can’t say enough about how valuable a GPS receiver is in the field.

I used to work with an older guy who was elk hunting in Montana or Colorado and, as it was beginning to get dark, he and his hunting partner couldn’t agree on which direction their camp was. He had a GPS receiver in his pack but hadn’t really been using it and wasn’t real familiar with it – probably because he was a bit older and not terribly tech savvy. He remembered he had it and pulled it out (having marked their camp as a waypoint), and discovered they were both wrong. Had they gone in either direction they thought camp was they’d only have gotten farther away from camp.

It would be my first choice for navigating my way out of an unfamiliar area because it takes the guess work out of it. As long as it’s functioning and you’ve got good signal and batteries (I always care spares), it should be able to show you right where you are. I have street level and topographic maps loaded on the micro SD card in my GPS, so if ever lost, it can show me where the nearest roads are, the nearest small towns, rivers, lakes, streams, etc. Even if you have one of the basic GPS units that only shows you waypoints and gives you your coordinates, if you’ve got a map I would think it would be impossible to get lost – you should be able to find your position on the map and navigate your way out.

vlad said...

Monsoon Matriarch is correct. One should eat proteins and fat. It may be that low blood sugar is the reason you got lost.
A 3.25 oz can of Crown Prince Kipper Snacks (smoked filet of herring) has 19 grams protein 13 grans fat. yum.

vlad said...

Monsoon Matriarch's remark made me think. I made significant changes.

my minimum kit in day pack, or vest with pouch.
--knit wool watch cap
--leather palm work gloves
--unlined hooded nylon pullover jacket
--lightweight GI hooded poncho
--heavyweight survival blanket (aluminized/OD) 3 grommets on each side with neckhole to wear it
as a liner under hooded poncho.
--candle in a flat Altoids tin)
--mini-maglight and photon
--map and compass
--whistle
--knife and sharpener
--two Bic lighters
--magnesium firestarter w/ 3" hacksaw blade and P-38.
--canteen(s) with canteen cup and water purification tabs.
or Katadyn Pocket Water Filter weighs 2 lb. rated 13K gallons.
--small fishkit (50lb test braided Spiderwire, hooks,
sinkers, Mepps and Daredevil lures, and six Speedhooks)
--food - 4 each kipper snacks (19 grams protein, 13 gr fat); 6 oz
sunflower oil and 12 oz ground dried jerky.
1 cup/4 oz = 10 oz fresh meat = 50 protein grams.
1 cup meat powder, 2 oz oil, 20 oz water - shake well.
--large bore sidearm or rifle.

NOTE when you realize that you are lost sit down, relax, check
your map, drink water, eat a kipper snack to restore blood sugar to normal. If it is late afternoon plan to spend the night.
If RON away from camp, lean against rock or tree. Insulate
your butt from the ground. Put on liner and poncho. In cold weather you will need a Dakota fire pit.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUM0jsBUPSs

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