You Are Hiking Into Unfamiliar Terrain | What Is The Best Way To Keep Your Bearings?

In unfamiliar terrain, a map and compass are the best tools for keeping your bearings.

Before starting a hike, if you are unfamiliar with how to use these tools, it is important to learn how to use them.

If you become lost, you will be better equipped to find your way by understanding a map and interpreting your surroundings.

However, it is also helpful to carry a whistle or other form of emergency signal that can help rescuers locate you.

What is the Best Way to Keep Your Bearings If You are Hiking into Unfamiliar Terrain

One of the most consequential things to do when hiking into unfamiliar terrain is to keep your bearings.

Moreover, this means knowing where you are in relation to your starting point and being able to orient yourself if you get lost.

Keeping your bearings on a hike can be accomplished in 2-different ways.

#1. To use a map and compass

Before you start your hike, please take a look at the map of the area and orient yourself to it.

Pay attention to landmarks that you will be able to see along the way so that you can check your progress on the map.

If you do get lost, stop and take out your compass.

Use it to determine which direction you need to go in order to get back on track.

#2. By paying attention to your surroundings

As you hike, pay attention to any landmarks that stand out, such as large rocks or trees.

You can also mark these landmarks on a map so that you can find them again if necessary.

In addition, always be aware of which direction you are walking in so that you can retrace your steps if needed.

If you follow these tips, keeping your bearings should not be a problem even when hiking into unfamiliar territory!

You Get Lost And Need Shelter. What Should You Do First?

If you find yourself lost during hiking and in need of shelter, there are some things you should do to ensure your safety.

First, stop moving, this will help you assess the situation and figure out where you are.

Then, look for a safe place to stay. If it’s cold outside, find a warm spot; if it’s hot, find shade.

Once you’ve found a safe place, stay put and wait for help to arrive.

If you have any supplies with you, use them to make yourself more comfortable.

For example, if you have a blanket, use it to keep yourself warm.

And if you have food and water, ration them so they last until help arrives.

Most importantly, don’t panic. Stay calm and think clearly so you can take care of yourself until help arrives.

What is the Proper Way to Start a Fire?

During hiking for a long trail, the proper way to start a fire is by using a match or lighter.

Remember, you should never use gasoline, kerosene, or any other type of accelerant.

These accelerants can cause an explosion and will only make the fire worse.

By using a Match 

So, if you’re using a match, strike it on the side of the box, this will support keep the head of the match from breaking off.

Once the match is lit, hold it at an angle and touch the tip of your tinder.

Gently blow on the tinder until it’s glowing red, then place your kindling on top.

Slowly add more wood to the fire, making sure not to smother it.

By Using a Lighter

Contrary, if you’re using a lighter, hold down the button while you touch the flame to your tinder.

Gently blow on your tinder until it’s glowing red, then place your kindling on top.

Slowly add more wood to your fire, making sure not to smother it.

Once your fire is going strong, you can enjoy its warmth and light!

What is the International Emergency Signal for Distress?

The International Emergency Signal for Distress is a three-signal sequence that is used to alert search and rescue authorities to an impending or ongoing emergency during hiking a long trail or hiking alone.

The signal consists of three signs, each of which is repeated three times.

  • The first is a visual signal, typically a flare or a light.
  • The second signal is an auditory signal, typically a whistle or siren.
  • The Third signal flashes fire with a mirror.

When Can You Hike in Unfamiliar Terrain?

Honestly speaking, it is safest to hike in familiar territory. This way, you know the lay of the land and can more easily avoid any potential hazards.

Regardless, there may be times when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.

In these cases, take extra care to assess the situation before setting out. If possible, try to get a map of the area or talk to someone who is familiar with it.

Pay attention to your surroundings and look for any potential dangers such as steep drop-offs or loose rocks.

If possible, stick to well-worn trails and avoid going off-track. And always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

By taking these precautions, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable hike no matter where your travels take you.


To ensure you do not get lost hiking in unfamiliar terrain, it is important to take precautions. One way to do this is to use a GPS device or phone app that can track your location.

A paper map and compass are also a good idea to bring and know how to use, as well as telling someone else where you are going and when you expect to return, so if you do not arrive on time, they will be able to get help.

By taking these steps, you can increase your chances of staying safe and avoiding getting lost when exploring new areas.



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