Most hikers don’t start their hiking treks expecting to get lost. Unfortunately, many hikers that do get lost find themselves unprepared for long-term survival. According to National Geographic, day hikers are the most vulnerable in survival situations because they are only expecting to be outside for a few hours – not for a few days (or more). Getting stranded outdoors for days puts you at risk of dying from things like hypothermia or lack of potable water. Whenever you go hiking, make sure to carry these five tools to increase your chances of survival should you get lost.
You should carry a compass with you on every hiking trek because it’s easy to lose your sense of direction, especially in unfamiliar places. This is very easy to do in heavily forested areas with a thick canopy that blocks the sun. In addition to carrying a compass, make sure that you research the area you will be hiking so that you can (try to) recognize major landmarks.
2. First Aid Kit
Anytime you venture out into the wilderness, you have a chance of getting injured. Often times, a minor injury can become serious if left untreated. For example, a minor cut could get dirty and become infected. Therefore, if you cut yourself, you need to stop the bleeding and disinfect the wound. You can buy outdoor first aid kits that include items to treat wound care, as well as most of the common (minor) injuries that you can sustain outside. If an injury prevents you from being able to walk, your chances of survival dramatically decline. The goal of your first aid kit should be to treat an injury, so it doesn’t prevent you from walking to safety.
3. Fire Starter Kit
Even if you are hiking during the summer in the desert, it can still get cold at night. You can succumb to hypothermia if the temperature drops below 50 degrees. However, you can be at risk of hypothermia at any temperature if the weather conditions are wet and windy. Your best defence against hypothermia is a reliable fire starter. A small book of matches is an easy way to start a fire as long as you can keep the matches dry. You could also carry a magnesium fire starter kit. If you opt for a magnesium stick make sure that you know how to use it to start a fire. You can find videos online that show you how to use it.
4. Water Filtration or Purification System
You can survive up to three weeks without food. However, you can’t go more than three days without water. Unfortunately, drinking unprocessed water from a stream can make you sick – even if it looks clean. Getting sick from drinking bad water will make you get dehydrated more quickly. Therefore, you need a way to make water safe for drinking. You can buy a water filtration device that’s often sold as a camping accessory – my personal favourite is the Life Straw which you can buy on Amazon. Another option is to use iodine tablets to kill most of the harmful bacteria in water.
5) Camping Knife
Finally, you need to carry a good camping knife on your hiking treks. (Not a small pocket knife). The blade should be at least eight inches long. A camping knife has several important uses in a survival situation. For example, you can use it cut down small trees, branches, and vines to build a shelter. You can also use it to prepare small game or fish for cooking. As a last resort, a good knife can be used to defend yourself against a wild animal attack.
In short, most hikers that get lost do so by losing their hiking trail. Therefore, you should always carry a compass with you. Don’t forget a first aid kit to prevent your minor injuries from turning into major injuries. A fire can mean the difference between life or death in cold weather. Make sure you have a reliable way to start one. Remember, you can’t go more than a few days without drinkable water – that means you need a way to filter or purify your drinking water. Lastly, a camping knife will come in handy if you are faced with a dire survival situation.