Many people think they know what to do if they get lost while camping or hiking yet hundreds each year wander off into the woods unprepared, finding that they do not have the tools that they need to survive in the wild. When you are going to be going off into the woods for a camping or hiking trip, even if you are only going a little ways away to gather firewood or explore a new trail, make sure that you have your survival kit on you in case you get lost.
Even the most attentive adult can find that they have wandered off the beaten trail, and finding your way back can be more difficult than you anticipate. Before you set off into the woods, make sure that you have a pack prepared with food like energy bars or trail mix to keep you moving, plenty of water, dry, protected matches, a space blanket to keep you warm and to signal for help during the day, an LED flashlight or LED lantern for use at night, a compass, and the best survival knife that you can find or afford.
You will want an LED flashlight instead of a regular flashlight for several reasons. For one thing, the LED flashlight, even a mini LED flashlight, will burn brighter than a traditional light, making you easier to spot. The LED light will also use less battery power, so that your flashlight lasts longer, and your bulb will burn for many times longer than a traditional bulb, meaning that you won’t have to remember to change bulbs out between trips.
You will need to start out with food and water, however if you are stuck in the wilds for very long, you will need to know how to catch and eat animals for food or how to find food naturally in your area. Local guides will be able to tell you which plants are good to eat and which are not, and will even be able to tell you what kinds of animals are prevalent in your area, increasing your chances of setting the right traps or of hunting the right spots. For these pursuits, you will need a survival knife or a folding pocket knife.
Survival knives are supposed to be able to handle just about anything that you need them to do, from sawing through branches that can be used to make a shelter to catching and cleaning animals for food or digging for roots. These knives can be simple small pocket knives as long as they get the job done, but keep in mind that skimping on your knife could mean skimping on the tool best suited to ensure your survival.
Once you realize that you are lost, it is time to stop moving. Rescuers will begin to look for you where you were last known to be, so wandering farther away could delay a successful rescue. If you know where civilization is, however, then take out your compass and make your way back to the road or the trail.
If you are waiting for help to arrive, lay out colorful clothing or your space blanket in an area that is easy to see from above so that rescuers can find you from the air. You will need to keep your food and water as long as possible, so start looking for food and water sources right away, and do not be shy about setting up camp by making a shelter and covering it with your bright clothing. You need to keep warm and dry in order to preserve your energy. Above all remember to stay calm, and you will find yourself safe in no time.
Ben Anton, 2007