What To Do If You Get Lost

November 4, 2022


If you’ve ever been lost, especially in the woods or wilderness, you know it’s a terrifying experience in which things can take a turn for the worse fairly quickly if you aren’t prepared.

I’ve been lost once and it was enough to make sure it never happened again. I did a lot of things wrong that day, including allowing my phone to die, which was also acting as my GPS, forgetting my backup battery at home, and not bringing a paper map because “it was a shorter trail.”

Getting lost is usually due to a lack of experience, a lack of preparation, and/or a lack of proper gear, such as a map and compass or GPS. Knowing how to navigate and keeping a map and compass with you can help keep you safe, and if you need to learn, I highly recommend taking a navigation course! If you have a map and compass or GPS, and know how to use them, then you are never lost – you are simply navigating. However, if you do ever get lost, keep reading for some tips that could help you get home safely! 


What To Do if You Get Lost: 

Remember STOP. 



Stay where you are, remain calm, and do NOT panic. Panicking often makes these situations worse, and it’s important to keep your mind clear if you are lost. This will help you return home safe. 



Take a deep breath. Assess the situation. Can you figure out where you went wrong or how you got lost? Don’t go any further until you can figure that out.


This is where your skills come in handy. Pull out your map/compass and orient yourself. Are you on a trail? Can you triangulate your location? Listen, do you hear water or cars nearby? 


If you are lost, you need. aplan to get back safely. Sometimes the easiest way is to follow the way you came if possible, or you may need to find a nearby stream to follow down to a road, or maybe even just stay put and call for help. A Garmin inReach is a fantastic tool in a scenario like this. It is important to note that if you need to call for help, you may be waiting a while before a rescuer is able to locate you. Make sure you are prepared to stay put for some time, possibly even overnight.

It is also very important to take care of yourself while you are lost. A lot of the time, we get tunnel visioned into the problem that we forget to take care of our needs such as proper hydration and food intake. Making sure you always have your 10 essentials with you is crucial to staying safe in a situation like this. Being lost is a terrifying experience that I hope you never have to face, but if you do, keep these tips in your back pocket to help you safely return home. 

*Please note that some links above are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission on any purchase you make – at no additional cost to you. If you use these links, thank you for your support in advance!


Bringing the 10 essentials with you on your hikes, camping or backpacking trips, and any other adventures is a great way to plan ahead and keep yourself safe in the case of an emergency. I’ve had some of the ten essenaials come in handy even on short hikes, and the unfortunate reality of getting outside is that Mother Nature will always make the calls, and plans can take a turn quickly. In addition, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel to overcome whatever obstacles might take place.


As always let me know if you have any questions! Happy trails 🙂 

*Please note that some links above are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission on any purchase you make – at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!


Read next: How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather

Hi there! I’m Shelby, a
Colorado hiking guide!

I’m here to inspire you to climb your mountain from the ground UP.
I’m an avid hiker and backpacker, and also love camping, fishing, and anything else I can do outdoors, even if it means going alone! I believe nature is the best teacher of all, and I find joy sharing this knowledge so you can feel empowered on your own adventures! 

Related Articles

How Hiking Elevates Your Mental and Physical Well-Being

How Hiking Elevates Your Mental and Physical Well-Being

Discover the profound mental and physical benefits of hiking. Learn how hitting the trails can boost your well-being, and get wellness tips to enhance your hiking experience. Step into the great outdoors for a healthier you.

Stay Up to Date With The Latest News & Updates

Book a Guided Hike

Explore what the Rocky Mountains have to offer and expand your outdoor education along the way with a guided hike with Ground Up Adventures.

Join the Adventure Squad!

Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly for hiking tips, adventure stories, and outdoor news. 

Follow Us

Find more free resources and educational content on my socials!

© 2023 Ground Up Adventures