Going on a hiking adventure with friends, a guide or a group of adventure-minded strangers is fun…until it’s not. It merely takes moments for a happy hike to turn into you lost on your own with a dying iPhone that you start wishing you had learnt a few survival skills before heading out!
Whether due to a sudden onslaught of unexpected rain, injury or any other unforeseen circumstances, getting lost on a hiking adventure can be scary if you have no idea of how to sustain yourself until help arrives.
With the surge in popularity witnessed by survival shows on TV—that often tout ridiculous strategies for the sake of ratings—many backpackers are loaded with wholly unhelpful survival skills. Sure, it might be helpful to know how to build a fire with a stick and a rock, but what about the good old lighter?
Learning a few useful survival tricks before heading out to your next hiking adventure can help you stay alive when disaster strikes.
Make sure you always have the following 10 essentials in your backpack in case of any emergency: map and compass, lighter/matchsticks, energy bars, pocket knife, small first-aid kit, whistle, water (and methods of purification), raincoat, sunscreen/sunglasses and flashlight.
Carrying a map and compass and having no clue how to read them is like handing a blind man the latest bestseller to entertain himself with! Familiarize yourself with all of your gear before heading out.
You may also want to invest in a backpack that’s light but sturdy, spacious but perfectly balanced to fit all of your essentials in—along with an extra change of clothes and some food. Our bestselling Natural Exhilaration 30-33 liters is a perfect fit for the occasion.
The STOP Formula
Stop. As soon as you realize that you have been separated from the rest of your group or have lost sight of the track, halt where you are. Try to stay calm. Going into panic mode not only tires you out, but also prevents you from thinking clearly. Sit. Take deep breaths. If you’re hungry or thirsty, replenish yourself. You’re going to need the energy.
Think. Ask yourself some basic questions. Where are you right now? Where were you heading? Do you recognize any of the landmarks around you? What landmark did you last pass? How long ago was it?
Observe. Look around you. Try to remember if you’ve seen any of the landmarks around you before. Look for any clearly visible mountain tops or valleys where your group may be headed. Check your map and compass to learn where you currently are. If you’ve been taking pictures on your way (and you should be) these could help you narrow down your current position. Is there a natural water source nearby? Do you have enough dry fuel in case you need to build a fire?
Plan. Work out a plan. Is there enough daylight left to risk retracing your route? Should you wait until sunrise to start moving again? Use your whistle to figure out if anyone nearby might hear you. When you do start moving, keep all senses on full alert to take in any landscapes that might help you remember where you are.
Surviving Through the Night
If it’s close to getting dark, it might be a better option to stay put in your current location. Find a source of clean water if possible. Put on any extra clothing you may have to stay warm through the night. Find natural shelter nearby. Collect some dry fuel and use your lighter to start a fire. Surviving on the energy bars you stashed in your bag should be easy for a few nights. If it is raining, put on your raincoat and try to stay out of it as much as possible to prevent hypothermia.
Once the morning arrives, get started on finding your way out of the wilderness. Whistle with all your might, search for cell phone signals, build an SOS signal and you’re more likely than not to be found sooner or later. Good luck!
About Light Hiking Gear
We, at Light Hiking Gear, are a specialty store offering all kinds of affordable and highly comfortable ultralight hiking gear. Ranging from multifunctional daypacks, lightweight backpacks to hiking gear accessories, we have one of the largest collections of backpacking gear in America. Check out our selection and get started on your hiking adventure today!