Camping & Hiking Disasters - What to do when it all goes wrong

Broken tent

As a wise man once said: Even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Sometimes, no matter how much planning or preparation you do, things go wrong. It’s just the way it is. However, that doesn’t have to spell complete and utter disaster. Not when Winfields are here to help navigate you through.

Read more: Top 24 Camping Hacks

We’ve put together some advice on what to do when it all goes up the creek and your paddle is nowhere to be found.

Getting lost on a hike

With technology, it probably happens a lot less than it used to, but it’s still very easy to get lost on a hike, particularly if you’re trekking through a dense forest.

Obviously you should properly prepare before you go by planning your route, taking extra supplies and informing someone of where you’re going. However, if you still manage to lose your way, then stop where you are and try not to panic. Think logically about where you’ve been and whether you might be able to retrace your steps.

If it’s dark, you might be better off finding shelter until morning when light will be better.

We’ve written in more detail about what to do when lost on a hike.

Person lost on a hike

Getting injured in the outdoors

The wilderness can be a dangerous place and it can be all too easy to hurt yourself. The first thing to do is always take a fully stocked first aid kit with you and other survival products, just in case.

If you or one of your party get injured, then don’t panic as this will just make the whole situation worse. Assess the injury and then apply the necessary first aid. If necessary, head to a local doctor or hospital to get checked out. This also applies for animal bites, insect stings and any kind of allergic reaction you may have.

We spoke with St John Ambulance about wilderness first aid and staying safe outdoors.

You have a broken tent

Hopefully your tent is in full working order before you head off on your camping trip (if not, you’re setting yourself up for a fall). However, it can become damaged in many ways - maybe you’ve pitched on something sharp, someone or something falls onto it, it’s getting old and finally gives way, etc.

Hopefully you’ve packed a few supplies to repair your tent, in which case you can perform a spot of light maintenance. If you don’t have any supplies, then you may have to turn to nature as a quick fix. Are there any branches you can use as makeshift poles or leaves you can patch over a hole to stop water coming in?

Check out our ultimate guide to tent repair and maintenance for more tips.

Raining on a hike

Torrential Rain

If you’re camping in the UK, then there’s a reasonable chance it’s going to rain at some point. But that’s not necessarily an issue if you’ve got waterproofs; just get out there and enjoy it.

However, if the heavens really do open and the rain is torrential then you might have a bit of an issue. If you’re worried about your pitch flooding, then you may need to move your tent to higher ground if possible, although you may be better of building some kind of barrier around your tent using rocks, branches and whatever else you can find. You may also need to shovel away some of the water if it’s really that bad.

Move all of your belongings towards the middle of your tent and, if you can, cover with something waterproof. This will help prevent them getting wet and water seeping in.

High Winds

Hand in hand with torrential rain comes high winds, which are potentially a lot more problematic. First of all, you need to make sure everything is properly pegged down. You might even have to put in extra pegs to really anchor the tent if the winds are particularly strong.

Spread your belongings out evenly over the floor of your tent to keep all sections evenly weighted. If you’re pitched under a tree, be careful about being inside your tent. You don’t want branches to fall on top of you. In worst case scenarios, moving your car in front of your tent can also really help - taking some of the immediate winds away from the tent.

Man drinking water off plants

Running out of food or water

You must have done something pretty serious if you’ve run out of food and water and are too far away from civilisation to go and get some.

Running out of water - use any kind of receptacle to catch rain water. It might not taste the best but it’ll do a job. You can also try heading downhill to potentially find a stream or river, whilst you may be able to find dew on grass, plants or the outside of your tent early in the morning. If you’re on a campsite, just go to the shop.

Running out of food - You can survive quite a while without food, so if you’re in the UK, you really shouldn’t be starving. You could probably even call for a takeaway. Or you could try your hand at a bit of foraging. Check out our beginner’s guide to foraging.

Complaining kids

No matter how good your intentions are, there’s bound to be a point when, if you take your children camping or hiking, they’re going to moan a bucketful and probably hate you.

Read more: 5 Moan-Free Hikes For Kids In The UK

If they seem really unhappy then get to the root of the problem. For example, if they’re soaked through, get them changed as soon as possible. Compromise is also important, so if they’re not having fun, find out what they’d like to do next.

Alternatively, tell them it’s character building, that you had it much worse in your day, and that they should be grateful to have all this on their doorstep.

Preparation is key to ensuring a successful camping or hiking trip. Check out our full range of camping supplies to ensure you have everything you need.

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