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It doesn't take too much imagination to quickly realize that being lost in difficult or unfamiliar surroundings is no joke. Whether it's a camping trip gone wrong, a hike that took a wrong turn, or even disorientation in a foreign country: it's crucial to know how to make it out in one piece if you're lost in a hostile environment. With these 11 items, you can give yourself the best chance at a relatively painless and quick experience, instead of a drawn-out -- or potentially deadly -- one.
When was the last time you were caught outside in an outdoor area with zero lighting and potentially even no moonlight? The darkness makes furthering your survival infinitely more difficult, including for simple tasks like trying to put on a sweater or open a can of supplies. With access to illumination thanks to a compact, tactical-grade flashlight, you make your life a whole lot easier overnight and increase your odds of making it out of your circumstances.
The knife is the original, quintessential survival tool. In a pinch, it does quite a few jobs -- and does them well. Self-defense, cooking, first aid, hunting, tool shaping, carving, trail marking -- the amount of situations that call for a knife when you're lost and disoriented are too numerous to count. There's a reason why many survival-minded people never leave home without a blade in their pocket.
So, you're lost and making your way back to civilization, but daylight is rapidly waning. Do you have a plan for the night time? Your plan had better begin with building a fire, because a night spent outdoors and fire-less is a pretty lonely one. For warmth, morale, cooking, and signaling help, fire is a critical aspect of survival. Good luck trying to get a fire going, though, if you don't have a firestarter on hand.
Gathering brush to build your fire can be shockingly painful if you're not prepared -- tiny thorns will pierce your skin, and when you go to create the fire itself you'll need to move logs around and adjust the fire manually if you have any desire for it to stay lit. For that, you'll need heat-resistant gloves that protect your skin from abrasion as well as high heat.
Sure, if you happen to get lost on a balmy summer evening, a night under the stars isn't the end of the world. But anything more than that -- and yes, that includes even light wind or drizzle -- and your night's sleep just got a whole less pleasant. And that's not even to mention what happens if you're caught in the cold, where you'll need shelter literally to survive the night. Best to have an emergency tent/shelter on hand, lest you spend a shivering, frightened night with no protection from the elements.
Getting a rescuer's attention from a far distance outside makes shouting for help useless. The human voice doesn't carry very well across wide open spaces with nothing to echo off of. Carrying a high-quality whistle can help you signal for help right at the moment you need it the most, no matter how far away the person is.
If you're lost in a sprawling, rural area, knowledge of where you're at can keep you from wandering in circles and tiring yourself out, effectively ending your self-rescue mission before it even began. Even a simple compass can give you some basic bearings and ensure that you're going in the direction you think you are. Better yet, a map of the area can help you plot your escape even more efficiently.
It sure would be nice to have access to your smartphone to help you out of your predicament -- but chances are, if you got into this situation in the first place, your phone battery is already dead. There is one big game-changer as far as that goes, though: a power bank! Yup, it's possible to keep a few charges in reserve so that you can re-fuel your phone right when it's most crucial to have access to the outside world.
Being able to treat minor to moderate injuries when you're in the wilderness is an absolute must, especially if you're caught outside on your own. By having access to basic first-aid supplies like alcohol pads, bandages, and gauze, you protect your body enough to hold together until you reach safety.
Tactical pens are an amazing addition to anyone's "grab and go" list when they're heading out the door, for just such a situation as becoming lost. In addition to being able to create landmarks and update notes or a map, a tactical pen also has the advantage of packing some extra survival functions like glass breaking and wire fraying.
A quality, 2-stage water filtration system might actually be the most important item of all if you’re stuck in the wilderness for any significant length of time. The human body can go about 3 weeks without eating, but only a few days without drinking… and the last few days without water are agonizing. Drinking unfiltered water will almost assuredly expose you to gut-destroying bacteria that will leave you curled in a ball and arguably worse off than if you hadn’t drank anything at all. Our bodies are 60% water, and access to that hydrating replenishment is nothing less than a requirement to stay alive.