Hiking Safety 101: How to Avoid Getting Lost in the Woods

A woman with a backpack hiking alone in the woods

No matter how well you research a trail, it can still be easy to get lost while hiking it.

Some sources suggest that over 600,000 Americans go missing every year. At least 2000 of these are hikers who disappear while navigating a trail. While some hikers find their way back themselves or are found by others, many are never heard from again. This fact should not scare you into giving up hiking. Instead, take it as caution and prepare better for your next hike.

You can stay on track during your hike by following the simple tips below. As long as you prepare, stay alert, and carry safety gear for hiking, you should be okay!

Tip #1: Stick to the Trail

It might seem obvious, but it is crucial to stick to the trail you are supposed to follow. Most, in not all, hikers who go missing do so because they diverge from the hiking trail. It is easy to get distracted by the elements of nature all around you when you are hiking. You might see a stream in the distance or come across an abandoned camping tent and want to go check it out. This small diversion alone can be enough to make you lose track!

Avoid getting lost in the woods by simply sticking to the trail. You can research the trail before going hiking and print out a map to track your location. You can also keep track of where you are going by leaving signs behind as you go. Many hikers leave stickers or post-it notes on trees to mark their way.

A group of hikers with backpacks

Tip #2: Go with a Group

Let’s admit it, hiking alone is fun. But unfortunately, it is not very safe. Unless you are a seasoned hiker who knows their way around the wilderness, you can easily get lost by yourself. That is why you should try to go with a group of other more experienced hikers if you are a beginner. It is also important for you to stick with your group because separating from it can be dangerous. There are hundreds of news stories about hikers going missing after separating from their group every year. Don’t become one of them!  

Tip #3: Invest in Hiking Safety Gear

Safety gear for hiking can protect you from more than just the rough terrains you’ll be hiking on. It can also prevent you from sustaining injuries and being left behind because of them. It is common for hikers to slip and fall during hikes. Slips and falls are also the biggest reason hikers get injured during trekking. You can invest in high-quality safety gear for hiking to keep up with the rest of your group.

Try to find the best hiking gear for men and women online. You can look for the best hiking boot reviews to find a pair that will keep you mobile during the hike. The Ultra Raptor II and the Moab Ventilator are great options. Remember that the wrong type or size of hiking boots can also make you trip and fall when trekking. The same rule applies to trekking poles. Make sure to only carry the best trekking poles on Amazon with you so you can navigate the trail efficiently. You should also invest in safety gear like a medical kit, navigation tools, emergency whistles, and signaling devices.

 A person reading a topographic map

Tip #4: Learn to Read a Map

Since this is now the age of the internet, physical maps are no longer deemed a necessity. Most young people nowadays don’t know how to read a topographic map. Learning how to do so can be a huge advantage when you are out in the woods. You can watch online videos to learn how a topo map works and how you can use it when you’re hiking. It can also help to carry a small compass and/or GPS device with you. This way, you will be able to navigate the directions more accurately.

Tip #5: Pack for Emergencies

Nobody ever plans to get lost in the woods but it won’t hurt to be prepared for it just in case. You can look for hiking reviews online and try to find the best hiking backpacks to carry on your hike. A well-designed hiking backpack can enable you to pack extra clothes, water, nutrition, and emergency kits. These items will come in handy in case you get lost or stuck in the woods. Hikes can be exhausting, so make sure to carry some snacks with you. In the very unfortunate case where you need to stay in the woods overnight, try to pack a compact sleeping bag as well. You can look for the best backpacking budget sleeping bagslike the Western Mountaineering MegaLiteonline.

Tip #6: Calm Down and Strategize Escape Plans

Lastly, try not to panic if you do end up getting lost while hiking. Panicking induces stress which will make it harder for you to think proactively. Try to find a sitting spot and take deep breaths to calm yourself down first. Then, think of ways to make your way out of the woods. Look for any trail markers left by other hikers and follow them. If you can’t find any, try to make as much noise as you can. The woods are notorious for having bad visibility, but the sound can still travel through the big trees. So, try to hit a stick against a tree, blow your whistle if you have one, or just scream for help.

Let’s just hope you never have to do any of these things. Good luck hiking!

A person wearing brown hiking boots for men

Get All the Hiking Info You Need at Back Country Gear

If you need more information about hiking, head over to our review site Back Country Gear!

Our website is designed to help new and seasoned outdoor adventurers find the updated information they need. Whether you are looking for the Best Hiking Gear of 2023 or the best Amazon tents for campers, our website is where you will find it all. We even have Best Climbing Helmets reviews and Best Amazon Tents For Campers 2023 on our blog!

Feel free to contact us in case you have any questions.

A person hiking with a backpack in the mountains.
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