Outdoor AdviceWildlife Tips

What to do if You are Lost in the Wilderness? Here are Some Survival Tips!

Regardless if we are going out for camping or other outdoor activities in a day or two, we always want to plan ahead to eliminate encountering the risks. We communicate with the area administration and check on their policies, gather information from the locals, and pack necessary things up. However, there will always come a time that despite a planned outing, unexpected things may still happen like getting lost. So, what to do if you are lost in the wilderness?

In this blog post, we will have you covered. We have here survival tips that you can do once you find yourself lost in the middle of the wild. It is always important to remember that during an unfortunate situation, knowing the basic survival skills can make a big difference between life and death in the wilderness. So, as you pack your things up, also pack these tips inside your mind.

What to do if You are Lost in the Wilderness? Know the Tips for Survival

In case you find things go wrong all of a sudden in the middle of the woods, you just don’t need to be an expert in order to survive. If you want to find your way back to civilization, don’t panic, and don’t forget the following tips:

1-Always remember to STOP

Initially, when you are already aware that you are getting lost, you would start panicking. What to do if you are lost in the wilderness is to remember the STOP method.

S-Stay Calm

Basically, you need to take some deep breaths and calm down. Just stop and do not ever panic. Be in a calm state so that you would able to process and recall your thoughts. In case your life is in peril, try everything that you can to remove yourself out there.

Moreover, if first aid is what you need, just go and seek ways to take care of that. The moment the immediate threat of safety is already gone, and then it’s time to stay positive. Start to take control of the situation in a calm manner.


If ever you get into the middle of a survival situation, what to do if you are lost in the wilderness is to keep a positive attitude. That is actually very crucial in scenarios like this. Remember, you must have to think clearly and allow yourself to work with nature and not against it. This is really important in order to keep alive until the emergency situation is totally gone.

In every real-life scenario, the most important thing to do is dealing and overcoming challenges. Along with it, you also need to work out any possible solutions to the problems that you are dealing with. Another essential must-have during an outdoor adventure is a clear head and a positive attitude. Unfortunately, these two can’t be packed and carried in a backpack.

If ever you are lost in the wilderness with others, try to gather your whole group all together. Most of the time, more heads are far better than a single mind. As much as possible, think back to the last landmark that you passed. Try to recall where you might probably get off the course.

Consider looking at the map if you have one. Check on it, determine landmarks and think back on any landmarks that you have passed through. That way, you may have the chance to figure out your present location, or at least in an approximate or nearby area.


Look around your present surrounding. Identify the direction, where the north is, or where is the south. Check yourself or your group’s situation. What is the weather condition? Observe the environment for any presence of running water or is there a sign of vehicles or nearby main road.

In case you see a hill closer to your present location, try to make it there without getting lost even further. Afterward, go to the top of it and look for any landmarks. That way, you may able to see the trail that you’ve passed through. Moreover, there will also be a probability that you can get your bearing and that you can find the trail once again.

Maximize the use of those natural and manmade structures that you see. Get help from the rivers, streams, and mountains. Based on those figures, you will able to identify your location. Utilize the numbers of landmarks as you find them using your compass. Consider triangulating your location. Remember, the high numbers of landmarks that you use, the more accurate your triangulation will be.


What to do if you are lost in the wilderness? Well, it is better to establish a plan especially if you already figured out your current location and your situation. This will help you to formulate concrete steps on what to do next. Think and check on the things that you already have on hand versus the things that you need. Moreover, figuring out your situation may help you to calmly identify the ways of taking care of your basic needs.

2-Give first aid

what to do if you are lost in the wilderness

Part of figuring out your survival plan is providing of the first aid immediately. Once you notice any serious injuries, giving first aid must be your top priority. As always, stay calm and this actually very important. Moreover, check on all the resources available next to you.

If you are in group, there would be someone who may have medical training. Basically, allow them to help in dealing with those injuries. In giving the initial assessment, don’t forget the ABCDE of survival. This is generally a big help in determining the extent of the condition of the injured.

  • A-Airway – assess if the person’s airway is clear or are they experiencing difficulty in breathing.
  • B-Breathing – check if the person with an injury is still breathing normally. Carefully observe the chest and air movement.
  • C-Circulation – identify if the injured person has severe bleeding.
  • D-Disability – find out for disabilities that come from the injury to the spine. It is actually better to maintain the immobility of the person if you found out that he has an injury to the spine. Moreover, support their head as much as possible. Another way to check for injury is to identify the size of the pupils and their reaction to light. That is a good way of determining bran injury.
  • E-Environment – determine the environment if there are factors that can worsen the injury. For instance, if hypothermia is affecting the person injured, it is advisable to warm up the surrounding. Or, if it is hot, look for shady areas and place the injured person there. Give them water to help in cooling them down.

Moreover, you can also make use of SAMPLE, the other helpful tool in assessing injury while giving of the first-aid:

            S – Signs and symptoms

            A – Allergies

            M – Medications

            P – Past medical records

            L – Last consumption of food, water, or medicine

            E – Events that may be accountable to injury

3-Find signs of other people

Observation skill is highly crucial once you opt to travel within the wilderness. But, the moment you get lost in the middle of the woods, that skill is far more important. Search on the areas for any indications of human activities. You may consider looking for old campsites, food wrappers, water bottles, tree stumps, and any other signs of human presence.

In case you find that kind of litter, analyze the environment and look for ways in which they went. That may basically lead you towards a trail or road going out of the wood. Moreover, it could possibly show you to a hunting camp that may offer emergency shelter.

4-Look for shelter

Since you are out and lost in the wild, having a shelter is actually necessary to protect yourself from the harsh elements in the woods. Yet, a shelter during this time may generally come in many forms. During this kind of situation, survival shelter is basically too good to be true. These are those lean-to structures with leaves above.

However, when you are lost in the wilderness, the shelter that you can make should highly depend on the resources that you have on hand. Well, with this, an emergency blanket, a poncho, tent, or a tarp would be enough.

5-Create a fire

what to do if you are lost in the wilderness

What to do if you are lost in the wilderness? Well, one of the best things to do is to build a fire. Keep in mind that a fire is an essential thing for survival especially when you are lost in the wild. The fire generally provides numbers of help to humans when out there in the middle of the woods.

First, it offers warmth during cold environmental conditions. Second, the fire has the ability to dry clothes, boil water, and cook food. Aside from that, it can also help in boosting your morale. Lastly, a fire can also be your main source in making a signal for help.

In case you are building a fire, make one that has a little impact on the environment. But, at the same time, it must also cater to your needs. Being out in the wild means striving to use the “Leave No Trace Principles”. Yet, since you are already in a survival situation here, make everything that can in order to survive.

What to do if You are Lost in the Wilderness at Night?

Well, getting lost in the middle of the wild especially during the dark, staying where you are is not generally ideal. This means that you do not have to wait there until sunrise. Yet, starting to look for shelter when it is already dark is not also a good thing.

what to do if you are lost in the wilderness

So, the best thing to do if you are lost in the wilderness at night is to establish plans to stop ahead of that nightfall. It could be extremely dangerous to try to walk and find your way out from the dark forest.

Moreover, if you are stranded in a place near a river or stream, it is advisable to keep away from it for about 200 feet. Better to do that before settling down at night. Keep in mind that there are nocturnal animals that are active around the river. At that moment, you’ll be the trespasser trying to invade their territory. So, it is better to move away for your own safety.

Frequently Asked Questions


A: While packing your wilderness survival kit, do not forget to include these 5 survival items that are actually necessary for an outdoor activity:

  1. Map and compass
  2. First aid kit
  3. Signal mirror
  4. Firestarter
  5. Knife


A: Below are some of the basic survival skills that you must have to learn:

  • Creating up a fire
  • Sourcing out a potable water
  • Building up a shelter
  • Employing the basic first aid
  • Tying knots


A: Generally, most all survival situations require the 4 basic needs such are shelter, water, fire, and food. Perhaps, there are things or equipment that basically assist in meeting the needs of these 4 basic priorities. Moreover, the order of prioritization for all of these essentials may be highly determined by their requirements in a given situation.

Final Thoughts

Finding yourself lost in the middle of the woods is actually an anxious encounter. The good thing is that there are ways that you can do to avoid it from happening. So, it is highly important to get prepared ahead of time the moment you go out camping or hiking. Moreover, packing necessary items inside your bag is always a must regardless of the length of time that you will be out for a trip. To a lesser extent, don’t forget to carry plenty of food and water, a space blanket, and a GPS unit. Most importantly, bring with you a map, compass, and a first aid kit.