Lost in the Wild, What Now?


Being lost in the wild is a serious threat to your survival.  The fear that goes along with it can overwhelm and cloud your mind making you response slow or irrational.  This is the last thing you want when you are already fighting just to stay alive.  Here are some tips on what to do if you find yourself lost in the wild.


  • Don’t panic because you aren’t sure of your exact location. Finding or building shelter might be a higher priority than determining where you are at the moment.
  • Take a minute to consider where you are trying to get to instead of thinking about where you are. What do you know about the area?
  • Aim for things that are hard to miss. Instead of trying to find your way back to your car or campsite, try finding the highway your drove there on or a river that you know the relative location of compared to your goal.  It’s a lot harder to miss a highway that is hundreds of miles long that is either on your right or your left, than it is to miss a single car or even a parking lot.
  • Get to a vantage point. If you can get to a high point or climb a tree safely then take advantage of this to help you determine where you should head next.  If you are aiming for a town or a highway you might want to wait until it’s dark in hopes that you can see the light even on the horizon.
  • Once you have started moving again, keep track of your direction using the sun or terrain. Count your steps, keep track of every ten steps by putting a stone in your pocket or a notch on a stick, and remember that if you deviated to the left 50 steps you will need to turn back 50 steps to the right when possible in order to get back on track.  Don’t walk in circles wasting energy and time.


Realizing that you are lost in the wild can be intimidating, but it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost.  Remember that shelter is your number one concern, if you are lost, you might be spending the night where you are.  Stay calm and thinking about what to do next.  No one ever credited panic with their ability to survive in the wilderness.

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