What To Do If You Get Lost While Camping

lost while camping

What To Do If You Get Lost While Camping

10:35 13 June in Insurance

“I will never get lost.” That’s what two canoeists thought last month while adventuring through Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Seven days later, they knew the unthinkable had happened. Throwing fear aside, the two survived 6 more days in the wilderness before being rescued. As many of us plan our camping adventures this summer, it’s crucial to be fully aware of this reality. It does and can happen. That being said, let’s make Bear Grylls proud and take a look at what to do if you get lost while camping.

Before Leaving

The preparations you make before heading out on your adventure are the true key to your survival. A properly stocked survival kit should be your first plan of action. The following list showcases the 7 most essential items to include in your survival kit:

  1. Water
  2. Fire starter
  3. 72-hour food rations (per person)
  4. First aid kit
  5. Space blankets
  6. Multi-tool and Swiss Army knife
  7. Backpack


With these items being essential, we still encourage you research various other survival resources for additional item recommendations.

Once your camping gear and survival kit are packed, it’s time to make family and friends aware of your camping location and itinerary. Yearning to escape and live in a moment of complete independence, countless lives are lost solely because they failed to make someone aware of the when and where of their adventure. Make sure this person knows when you are leaving, what your exact location will be, location of any hiking trails or areas of relocation, and when you will be arriving home. Making someone aware of this information should never be given the stigma of immature. It is a sign of maturity and intelligence.

The Unthinkable

Lost. As much as you try to deny what you know is true, the reality sets in. The best thing you can do in this situation is to simply stop and think. Too many people begin to panic and immediately start taking action. You would be amazed at how many situations can be resolved by simply thinking your way out of it. The following questions are the first you should ask yourself:

  • Where do I think I am?
  • What resources do I have with me?
  • What’s resources are available around me?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • How long will it be until the person I gave my information to realizes I’m lost?
  • What condition am I in?

Shelter, Fire, and Water

The first things you will need are shelter and fire. Both will protect you from hypothermia and wild animals. Because caves are hard to find and rarely unoccupied, features such as rock outcroppings, deadfall trees, and large pine trees are excellent options or shelter. The main purpose of shelter is to protect yourself from wind and rain, so make sure your shelter does just that.

I don’t think we need to explain why water is so important. If for some reason you don’t have water with you, look for areas dense with vegetation. These areas are a great indication of an adequate water supply.

Stay Put

Once you have found shelter and water source, STAY PUT. More often than not, attempting to navigate your way to safety just puts you deeper into woods and further from where you said you would be. Additionally, if you are truly lost, you are likely to begin wander in circles, wasting much needed energy. As for rescuer teams, they rarely return to areas they have already checked. If you wander back to an area they have already been, it is very unlikely you will be found.

Staying put will also aid in energy conservation. Rationing your food properly and staying put will provide you with maximum energy.

Signaling Rescuers

The key here is to make your position obvious. As for using smoke, three smoky fires in a row is a standard distress signal. If rescuers are in sight, use your space blankets, or mirrors if available, to reflect sunlight in their direction. Additionally, because these reflections can travel up to 10 miles into the air, commercial pilots may have a chance of spotting the reflection off their windows. They can then inform rescuers of the general location.


Adventuring out on your own, or with family, is a liberating and memorable experience. It’s also a potentially dangerous one. Knowing what to do if you get lost while camping requires on to put their ego aside and common sense pants on. Inform others, adorn yourself with necessary survival tools, and don’t try to be a hero.

Find the canoeist story here: http://bit.ly/2sZ6odU