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What To Do If You’re Lost In The Wilderness (5 Most Important)

If you are lost in the wild, then do not panic, use your gps, make a signal, conserve water and build a shelter. You have to survive long enough to find your way out or be rescued.

Exploration of the unknown can be all fun and games until things start to go seriously wrong.

If you ever feel like doing something with a dash of excitement and head out to hike and veer off the track, effectively getting lost you could be in potential danger.

The wilderness can be pretty unforgiving and will not spare you in the least if you do not know how to take care of yourself with whatever little resources you have. These tips just may help save your life someday if you do get cornered into a tight spot.


1. Do Not Panic:

Once you start panicking and hyperventilating you will not be able to think straight. If you cannot think properly you are done for. This is why it makes for an important step. Once you feel the panic setting in, opt for some breathing exercises so that you can calm yourself down effectively and start brainstorming ways to get out of there.


2. Tell Someone Where You Are Going:

If you cannot take someone with you it is best to at least let him or her know where you are going and give them a proper visual description. If you do not return after a certain time period your absence will definitely be noted.

They can let the proper authorities know who can start the search and rescue as soon as possible to get you out of there. Make sure that they have all the details of the route you intend to take and the landmarks you are likely to come across the path. This will help them narrow the area down and find you sooner.


3. Pay Attention To Your Surroundings:

When you are out and about it is a good idea to be highly attentive and observant of where you are going as well as any distinct landmarks that stand out. This way you can try to find them to get back on the right track if you get lost. They may even help you find shelter for the time being until someone comes looking for you.

Start building a shelter with trees, leaves, and mud.


4. Use The Equipment:

The very first thing to do is to check if you have any coverage so you can alert someone. If that is not possible try to use a GPS to get an idea of your bearings, as that will make it easier to know where you should go. If you do not have that there are ways of making your own compass that you should be aware of.

The Accuracy of GPS

To ensure that your GPS device is working accurately, it should firstly build an association with aspects like the compulsory number of satellites, the location environment, the ionosphere, etc. Depending on the receiver’s strength, this process takes somewhere around a few seconds or minutes. For instance, your car’s GPS tracking system will usually form a link more swiftly than the GPS receiver in your smartphone or smartwatch.

The majority of devices have some kind of position caching that makes GPS detection faster. If it remembers the former location, your GPS device speedily analyzes the forthcoming satellites the next time it is scanned for a GPS signal. Other elements that can affect the accuracy of GPS and should be considered are:

  • Atmospheric conditions

Keep an eye out for changing atmospheric conditions such as dense storm covers, ionospheric delays, and solar storms. They can all hinder GPS accuracy.

  • Physical barriers

The arrival time measurements can be chiefly affected if there are massive barriers on your way, such as trees, buildings, mountains, etc.

  • Mathematical miscalculations

This can affect your accuracy if your GPS device’s hardware is not upgraded enough or designed appropriately for specifications.

  • Ephemeris

This is quite rare, but the circular plane within satellites could be outdated or incorrect in some circumstances.

  • Man-made intrusions

This factor comprises deceptions or GPS jamming devices. GPS accuracy is higher in unobstructed spaces without any physical barriers like towering buildings or landscapes that can jam the signals. When some devices are encompassed by obstacles like huge buildings, such as in places like downtown Toronto or Manhattan, this can be a factor.

In such cases, the satellite network signals are first jammed and then rebounded off a building. Here they are interpreted by the GPS device. This can often cause miscalculations in the distance and estimated time arrival. Luckily, many of these hindrances have been identified and are being resolved quickly.

If it is cool, pull on extra clothing if you have brought any along and try to build a fire if night befalls the area making it hard for you to get out right then and there. You should also know about edible plants and berries that are not toxic so you can thrive on them if you run out of food.

GPS vs. GNSS Devices

A Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is a navigation system that provides worldwide coverage. Even though GPS is a subsection of GNSS, the receivers are categorized under their respective names. In 2020, there are 2 wholly functioning GNSS systems, namely:

  • Global Navigation Satellite System of Russia (GLONASS)

  • Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging of the United States (NAVSTAR)

A GPS receiver can only interpret information from the satellites orbiting around the GPS satellite network. Contrariwise, a GNSS device can gather information from GLONASS, GPS, and other systems concurrently. GNSS receivers have an availability of 60 satellites for observations.

Even though your devices require only a minimum of 3 satellites to find its whereabouts, a higher number of satellites lead to greater accuracy. A GNSS device views a more significant number of satellites. Hence the accuracy it provides cannot be surpassed by GPS. However, GNSS receivers are not without their set of disadvantages:

  • The GNSS chips are much more costly compared to the ones found in GPS devices.

  • The bandwidth of GNSS tends to be broader (1559-1610 MHz) in comparison to GPS (1559-1591 MHz). This signifies that standard radiofrequency constituents of GPS like filters, antennas, and amplifiers, are not fit for GNSS receivers. This might lead to higher cost implications.

  • Energy consumption tends to be slightly higher for GNSS receivers because it is associated with many satellites. It also runs more calculations to detect the location.

5. Know Your Equipment:

Before you go hiking you should know just what kind of equipment you should bring along and how to use them so you can get by even if you are lost. The very first thing is of course food and water. This should be present in plentiful supply so that you do not run out at any point and you can sustain yourself until you find a way out of the messy situation.

Additionally, having a lighter is a smart idea if you do need to build a fire to keep yourself warm. Though most hikers do have a cell phone and GPS to try and navigate back to the track, it is always better to have a conventional map as well in case your gadgets run out of battery or suffer any damage.


Triangulating your position in the Wilderness

The advancement of material and health science has made it easier for outdoor buffs to stay out in the wild. The prevalence of modern gadgets like smartphones, satellite phones, and GPS ensures that you won’t be lost if you are out in the woods.

A good survivalist must have an array of talent that will keep him alive out in the wild. A survivalist knows how to forage for food, hunt food, look for potable sources of water, construct a shelter, and navigate the wild and not get lost.

Navigational Compass – It comes in different forms: magnetic compass, thumb compass, solid-state compass, specialty compass, gyrocompass, and GPS receivers as a compass. A compass is an aid used for orienteering and navigation. It shows the direction relative to the north, south, east, and west points.

Topographic Map – It is a map that has the details or reliefs of the terrain of a specific location. It will show peaks, ravines, forests, buildings, lakes, rivers, and other water forms through contour lines. It will show points of interest.

Binoculars – A pair of binoculars will prove handy in visually inspecting the terrain, identifying landmarks, and viewing the lay of the land from a distance.

It can also be used to inspect the ground that you are expected to traverse. Spotting crevasses and plotting safer routes can be achieved with the help of the binoculars.

Navigational Knowledge

Find North, South, East, and West using the Sun – The sun always rises from the east and sets in the west. It can be used to know roughly where the cardinal points are. Plant a stick and observe where the sun shadow is pointing. That direction is north.

The North Star – Polaris will always direct you to the North. Polaris can be identified through the pointer stars of the Big Dipper. The pointer stars are the two brightest stars far from the handle.

Other Essential Equipment

Knife – A versatile and essential tool needed in any trip outdoors. A knife can be used to prepare game and fish caught.

First-Aid Kit – The essence of uncertainty in a trip to the wild makes it a good idea to pack an emergency kit. These kits are expected to handle small-scale health issues like blisters and cuts. It must also pack over-the-counter medications, disinfecting agents, gloves, bandages, pen, and paper.

Fire-starter Kit – A firestarter will provide an individual way to create fire for cooking, light, security, signalling, warmth and heating.

Emergency Shelter – In case you get injured or stranded in the trail, you’ll have ways to protect yourself from the elements.

Extra Food and Water – It is quite essential to have extra food and water in case of an emergency or else you can eat wild berries.

Headlamp or a flashlight – There are no sources of artificial light in the wild. Having a source of light in the dark is a plus. It is also advisable to carry extra batteries or a way to charge the item.

How to Triangulate Your Location in the Wild

  1. Ideally, you need to be at a high point. These locations are often identified in topographic maps. Once you are at the vantage point, scan the surroundings and pick three features or landmarks. These features could be structures, peaks, rivers, and trails.
  2. Open the map and try to match the landmarks you have observed.
  3. Orient the map with the compass. Ensure that the north of the map is pointing the same way as the north of the compass.
  4. Find the landmark or the direction of your travel on the map. Draw a line.
  5. Next, find the first feature or reference point you have identified on the map. Orient the compass so that it points to the true north. Make sure that your reference point is in the direction of travel. Draw a line.
  6. Follow the same procedure with the second and third reference points. Plot the lines on the map.
  7. Check where the three have intersected or have formed a small triangle. This is your approximate location.



All these tips and tricks may seem fairly obvious but you need to pay them attention if you hope to survive an ordeal like that and live to tell the tale. The wilderness is certainly not to be played around with especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. It is always better to be braced and updated on the skills and hacks that could save your life someday.

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