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Getting Lost In The Wild

Getting Lost In The Wild

When events take an unexpected twist against you, it can be easy for your emotions to take over. Above all, fear can set in and if you cant control it, the outcome could be devastating.

Remember fear is not a negative emotion. It's purpose is to keep us alert to the environment and situations around us, bringing our attention to any potential danger. Use it to your advantage.

If you're going to have any chance of getting through it, you must take back control.


A survival situation doesn't have to mean a plane crash or ship wreck, it can be a simple as exploring off the beaten track, and losing your way.

Couple that with fading light, low temperatures, and lack of suitable gear, and that's a dire situation.

Its important to keep physically fit if you are going to explore in the wilderness, but without a strong mind, fitness will only get you so far.

If you panic, you cant think clearly, and you will make bad decisions.

Dont Panic

The best thing to do once you realise you are lost is to just stop where you are. Stay calm and gather yourself together. Having something to eat or drink may help to clear your head. Perhaps you may not be as far from the path as you think.


Think about your route and where you might have went wrong. If possible try to orientate yourself with your compass. However if you don't have any navigation equipment or have lost it, there are ways to find direction from nature.


If you have trouble with navigation or retracing your steps and darkness closes in, your best option is to stay put for the night. Make or find a basic shelter and get a fire on the go. What ever you do, do not go marching on through the darkness.

This could lead you to injury and you will be likely to end up in worse circumstances. So stay put, get sheltered and get a fire going for warmth.

Having and maintaining a positive attitude is so important when we are up against it. If we are going to win, we cannot lose the ability to think clearly and make the right decisions.

The most likely place to be spotted by a rescue party is close to where you first discovered you were lost. A nice acronym to remember is,


  • S – Stand or sit where you are for a few minutes and stay calm.
  • T – Think about your situation, and where you may have went wrong.
  • A – Acquaint yourself with the immediate area taking note of resources.
  • N – Navigation – use equipment or nature to find direction.
  • D – Decide if you can shelter where you are or if you need to move out of the immediate area for your own safety if you can't retrace your steps. The most likely place to be found is close to where you first realised you where lost.

If you are going to try and retrace your steps or attempt self rescue, make sure to leave a clear trail for yourself to get back to your base camp if you need to. This will also help rescue party's to follow you should they pick up your trail.

Use the environment to help show your direction of travel by arranging sticks or rocks etc. into large indication shapes. Make them stand out as much as possible so they cannot be missed. 

Some useful configurations are:

  • Arrow made from rocks.

Stone Arrow

  • 'Y' shaped stick with another stick laid into the crook pointing in direction of travel.

Stick Sign

  • 'Y' shaped stick laid flat on the ground with the long end pointing in the direction of travel.

Stick Direction Sign

  • Sticks pushed into the ground to form an 'X' to indicate “Don't go this way”.

Stick X sign

  • Three rocks, sticks or clumps of grass in a row will indicate present danger or emergency. 

Three Sticks

It goes without saying, weather you are an experienced outdoors man, or completely new to getting out and exploring our wilder areas, you should always be prepared. With the right knowledge, suitable gear and skills, the opportunities for adventure are endless.

If things do go wrong as they sometimes will, always remember you can take back control of the situation if you can take control of your mind.

Thanks for reading, and remember, What you don't know, can hurt.


Great advice, staying calm and thinking things through can make all the difference
jean 19-09-2016 at 18:50


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