Anyone can get lost in the wilderness – even the most experienced of outdoor enthusiasts. Unreliable cell service, spotty GPS, or just one wrong turn can take you far from main trails, leaving you disoriented and forced to attempt to navigate your way out of the wild on your own. With the right tools, skills, and a solid plan in place, you can avoid navigational issues on your trek and know exactly how to tackle unexpected issues. Keep reading to discover your top 4 secrets for not getting lost in the wild.
1. Be Prepared for Anything
Any trip or trek outdoors carries its own risks. It’s essential to be prepared for anything you could encounter by arming your person or pack with must-have items. In addition to having a durable backpack or bag, you should have outdoor necessities such as a compass, fire starter, knife, water or water purification, extra food, emergency gear like a first-aid kit and blanket, and emergency shelter. If you’re on a hunting trip, you’ll already have your personal firearm.
It’s good to get in the habit of bringing your essentials on every hike or hunting trip, whether you’re a pro at the trail or heading somewhere new. Though you likely won’t use them each trip, you never know if you’ll encounter unexpected weather conditions or lose the trail. The right gear will keep you level-headed, which is critical to making solid decisions and not getting lost in the wild.
2. Bring a Compass, and Know How to Use It
Though technology is useful, it can also be unreliable or useless when you’re in the wild due to a poor signal or dying batteries. It’s beneficial to bring a compass as your backup method, or as your main navigational tool if you prefer. However, it’s not enough to just have a compass with you; you need to know how to effectively use one before you adventure outdoors so you can successfully navigate through your environment.
Even if you know how to find north, you still need to know which direction you’ll be heading on the trail and back to your start. Learning how to use a compass is a core skill that’s useful for any outdoor enthusiast, especially if you’re heading to an isolated or challenging area. Your compass will help you know the direction you’re traveling in, follow your bearing, and help align your map with your surroundings.
3. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Situational awareness is a vital tactical skill, whether you’re hiking, hunting, or camping. Even if you’re experienced in the area and have solid navigational skills, it’s always a good idea to pay close attention to your surroundings, including any wild animals, the terrain you’re walking on, and your environment. When you’ve been outdoors for an extended time, it’s easy to lose focus – especially if you’re on an unmarked trail or your surroundings have a similar appearance. Even with a map or GPS in hand, you’re going to need to identify where you are to determine where you’re going next. Try to familiarize yourself with the area before and during your trek, including any landmarks and terrain. Identifiable marks will aid you in your journey forward or if you get turned around, and physically keep you safe.
4. Don’t Navigate Blindly
When the sun begins to set and you’ve ventured too far off or if your tech has spotty to nonexistent service, do not make any guesses as to where you should be going. The biggest mistake that people make when they feel like they’re in a time crunch or getting lost is to panic. This leads to poor navigational decisions, such as walking blindly in one direction. Remaining calm is imperative as to not make directional guesses out of fear or anxiety.
Keep track of your course and direction as you move so you don’t get lost. If you’re unsure of a direction, listen to your instincts and stop to prevent making any problems worse. Observe your surroundings, find your bearings, make a plan, and use your navigational tool(s) to guide you back on track. If necessary, turn back or head to a major landmark in your area.
Though getting lost in the wild is common, it doesn’t have to be the norm if you’re prepared and prepped with essential navigational skills prior to your trek. Follow your instincts and remember these 4 secrets to leave yourself better equipped to successfully navigate your way through the wild without issue.
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