If you are new to the wilderness, finding the trail can be a challenge. Especially when you are exploring a new area and not sure where to go or what landmarks might be useful.
But with the right preparation and the right skills, it doesn’t have to be that difficult. With a little planning and the right skills, you can find your way – and get out of it – quickly and easily!
When venturing into the forest or any wilderness area, it is important that you are as prepared as possible to face any challenges. You may not always know exactly where you are or how to get back home, but with practice, it’s not that bad. We have put together some helpful tips for you!
If possible, research the area in advance
Try to find out as much as you can about the area you are about to explore. If you e.g, for example, visit a new forest, find out about its size, interesting facts about flora and fauna, nearby points of interest, and the like. Knowing as much as possible about the area will make it easier for you to orientate yourself if you get lost – even if you can’t remember all the details.
Some hiking areas have boards to help you find your way around.
Find out more about the animals that live there and, if necessary, read through tips on how to deal with them. Also, note that some areas have poisonous plants. Make sure you are aware of these risk factors and most importantly recognize them on the spot.
Choose your backpack carefully
It is important to choose the right bag. It should be light and easy to carry, but still big enough to carry everything you need. A large backpack is ideal as it spreads the weight across both shoulders, making it easier to carry.
Choose a bag made of synthetic material that is water-repellent. So your things stay dry even in a sudden rain shower. Make sure the bag has enough compartments so you can keep your belongings organized and easy to find. Also, make sure the bag is big enough for all the things you want to take with you, but not too big. If the bag is too big, it will be difficult to transport, especially if you are travelling a long distance.
Cover yourself with plenty of drinking water, bearing in mind that the human body needs at least two litres of water a day, depending on its size and weight. Always plan generously so you don’t get dehydrated if you can’t find your way back.
Here we have put together a small basic packing list for you:
- Spacious and waterproof backpack
- Sufficient drinking water
- Provisions: muesli bars, energy bars, fresh or dried fruit, nuts
- First aid kit
- Weatherproof clothing, e.g. a rain poncho
- compass and map
- Lighter or fire starter
Take a map with you
Always carry a map with you and keep it in a waterproof bag or case. A topographic map is ideal as it shows both land features and water. If you don’t have a map with you, you can use a compass to find out which direction you’re headed. Just remember that a compass points north – not by the map – this will help you find your way.
Never forget that your phone might be great, but on day 2 in the middle of nowhere, you are for sure out of battery on the phone, and then it will not help you. A map NEVER runs out of battery!
Use a compass to find the way
A compass can be useful in many situations. For example, if you get lost in the woods, you can use a compass to figure out which direction you’re going. A compass can be helpful when hiking, as it also gives you an indication of how far you still have to go to reach your destination.
If you are planning an expedition into the wilderness, you should invest in a compass. There are two main types of compasses – magnetic and non-magnetic (or liquid-dampened) compasses. Magnetic compasses are inexpensive and widely used in areas where there are no ferrous metals to interfere with the compass reading. However, non-magnetic compasses are more accurate and are preferred for accurate surveying.
Make sure you are comfortable with your compass before venturing into unfamiliar territory. A compass will only help you find your way if you know how to use it properly.
Be aware of your surroundings
While it’s important to know where you’re going, it’s even more important to know where you are right now. Always be aware of your surroundings and try to stay on top of things. If you are in a forest, try to remember what the trees look like and which path you took.
Some of our outdoor experts recommend that beginners in particular carry a chalk pencil with them, which they can use to mark trees they have already passed for orientation purposes. This method can help you find your way back when you want to return.
If you are travelling in a group, communicate with your fellow hikers and stay together. It can help to assign a number or colour to each group member in order not to lose track. Avoid going separate ways and regularly check the group for completeness.
Watch your pace
When exploring a new area, don’t move too quickly and frantically. If you are unfamiliar with the terrain and run too fast, you could injure yourself and be unable to find your way back. Stick to a pace you can handle and always have a plan B in case things go wrong.
Always be prepared for any challenges that may come up while exploring nature and know how to overcome them. By following these tips as you explore, you’ll always know where you are and how to get back home!
I found this youtube video, about a guy that decided to spend a week in the forest. It’s 6 years old, but it’s actually very interesting. I recommend you check it out 🙂
Part 1 of 2.
Part 2 of 2.
I hope you enjoyed the article. Stay safe!