Getting Lost and Getting Found

For all outdoorsman one of the most humbling experiences and potentially frightening is getting lost. If one is prepared, the anxiety is reduced and success in getting found is increased substantially. We also strongly advise to teach your children when they are young as it will empower them and decrease their own anxiety.

Subscribe on YouTube

Protect your children and yourself in the outdoors.

No one plans on getting lost in the outdoors and all too often many are not prepared for that unfortunate incident to occur. All too often hubris gets in the way and that little personality trait causes more harm than good in being found and teaching others in your group. Many adults will minimize and state “I just got turned around.” Or “ I knew where I was the whole time.”

  1. Hug a Tree. This originated from The Hug a Tree Foundation in California. It has worked very well over the years and has saved children from injury and probably even death. All too often children and even adults will run or walk fast and even in the opposite direction from where their camp is or entrance to their hike. This increases injury and then getting deeper in the woods or mountains. Also and most importantly if a search and rescue is going to be done by air ( more common out West ) they will grid off the area. If you are in gris 1 and run to grid 4 then if they passed grid 4 they may not come back to that area for two to three days.
  2. Importance of a whistle. Having a whistle is very important and even though it may never have to be used it takes up so little space and is light weight it should always be in every pack or purse. You can only yell for so long and a whistle clearly travels farther.
  3. Some type of flashlight. Flashlights have advanced at such a fast pace over the last few years it is remarkable. When Survive Outdoors first launched in the late nineties LED flashlights started hitting the market. Now they have become so compact and bright it is truly amazing. So may manufactures and high quality. O-Light, streamlight are just two companies with high quality lights.
  4. An orange bag or bright colored tarp. In the late nineties one could obtain these 4-6 mm thick orange garbage bags, however over time they have been greatly improved upon. These bags, or bivvy bags come in a variety of thicknesses. One of the most popular ones is by ( not affiliated with us here at Their bag is durable, inexpensive and lined with mylar. Takes up little room and works very well as a quick shelter.
  5. Fire starter. There are many ways to start a fire and you should know a few of these. A fire will not only keep you warm but sooth you psychologically and give you hope. Storm proof matches are at the top of my list, as well as a Ferro rod which is made up of a variety of metas that when struck by steel or a striker causes sparks to ignite a fire. A magnesium rod is different as you scrape off savings of magnesium as a tinder to start a fire. Then you also have you good Loe lighter method. Please see our video and starting fires.

There are many other accessories you can carry however practically speaking I am gong to keep this small at this point. A signal mirror is nice and also doubles as something to look in your eye for eye injuries however the practicality of a signal mirror in many locations is just not practical. It sounds good and looks exciting however it would be more practical out west in the Tetons or Yellowstone, and it is dependent on sunny days. An orange tarp with a black duct tape “X” on it works very well.

Let’s talk about the triple “X” signal on a tarp and again let’s talk practicality. It is generally taught that three X’s on a tarp on the ground is the universal signal for help. I have given many presentations on survival to county officers, conservation officers and state troopers and I was surprised how many did not know the three X’s. Many knew of the X but not the three. In reality if you are lost and have one “X” taped on an orange tarp how many rescuers will state, “ Nope, they do not need help they do not have three X’s on the tarp.” Forget the three X’s. Make an “X” and you are good to go.

Miscellaneous equipment

Other equipment I carry that is not mentioned above would be knives, small gauge wire for snares, compass, some water filtration system or purifier, fish hooks and cordage as well as a tarp for shelter. Again for further details on medical kits and water purification please see those topics.

Note teach your children that when lost you will be found and if you are thirsty drink the water. If they become ill we will treat them after they are found. Much better than dying of dehydration.