Approximately 2,000 people get lost while hiking every year. The first 72 hours after becoming lost are critical because your chances of surviving and being located are most likely in this timeframe. You’re going to be scared, perhaps dealing with extreme temperatures, and it might be getting dark soon. Even the most avid and well-prepared hikers can get lost while backpacking, and that’s why it’s essential to always be prepared even if you’re going for a short hike in familiar territory.
You surely packed food and snacks for your hike, but did you pack the right food? A lot of backpackers put together a lavish meal to enjoy when they reach the summit, and while that can certainly be enjoyable, it’s not survival food. It’s important to always have high-calorie, easy-to-pack food that can stand up against getting crushed.
The role of calories is to provide energy, and that’s something you’re going to need if you want to safely survive getting lost in the woods. A good high-calorie camping food is also going to be rich in protein to help you feel full longer. If you do get lost for a long period of time, protein can also help prevent muscle waste. The average adult male needs about 2,500 calories per day and women around 2,000 calories. A quality high-calorie bar of 3,600 calories will give you the energy and nutrients you need for a full day when stress levels are running high.
Hopefully you told someone where you’re going, how long you expect to be hiking, and that you will check in with them when you’re due to return. That’s a must for preventing unnecessarily long instances of getting lost while hiking. You should also have enough water, waterproof matches, a watch, a flashlight, and a knife with you every time you go hiking. This is the bare minimum for day hiking.
If you do realize you’re lost, immediately sit down. Try to calm yourself. This is the time when people are most likely to make poor, rash decisions. Consider how much time you have before sunset and mentally retrace your steps. If you don’t have a way of telling time, comparing the sun’s distance from the horizon with your hand is an easy trick. Every finger represents about 15 minutes.
Back from the Land of the Lost
When you’ve calmed down, you can start looking at nearby landmarks. Specific mountains, sounds (like traffic!), or other visuals might help you reorient yourself so that you can get back on track.
In many situations where hikers get lost, they’re actually not far from a known trail or familiar terrain. It’s the panic that causes us to make wrong decisions. Simply sitting, calming ourselves, and taking note of the area is the best way to get back on track. However, you do always need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Food, water, and shelter (a means of keeping warm) are the absolute essentials you cannot do without. Let Shield-Safety be your go-to source for safe hiking.