How to Survive Getting Lost in the Woods

Les Stroud of Survivorman talks about how to survive when you’re lost in the woods.

You know the trail was right there. But its gone now, and what started as a relaxing day hike now looks like a potentially serious situation. Do you know what to do? Les Stroud of Survivorman, the Discovery Channel hit show, helps us prepare for the worst.

Q: Whats the first piece of advice you would give someone in this situation?
A: I always tell women that they need to have their own pack with their own supplies. When Im doing trainings and a couple is there, Ill pull the woman away from the man and ask, “Can you get to whatever hes carrying right now?” Too often women rely on the men to carry items they could both need.

Q: So what does she need in that pack shes carrying?
A: Something that could provide shelter like a garbage bag, matches, a multitool—and make sure it has a knife with a sawblade on it—a small tin pot for collecting or boiling water, a compass, a watch, rope or cord, and a LUNA bar or something else to eat. And depending on how much you weight you want to carry, a lightweight jacket can be a great thing to have.

Q: Besides having those supplies, what else should she do before heading out on her hike?
A: The best thing you can do is talk with locals if its not an area that shes familiar with. From that, she can ascertain the potential dangers. In some areas storms can come on really quickly or the temperature can drop drastically at night. Wildlife or terrain can be an issue, too. Just make sure you know what the dangers are before you leave.

Also, always, always notify at least three people about where youre going and when you should be back and set up an emergency plan if you havent made it by then. Tell them, “If I dont call by this time, worry and find out where I am.”

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Allison Avery
Last Updated: August 20, 2009

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