How to Navigate Without a Compass




Nature has given us many resources to survive, and this includes ways to find our bearings when we don’t have a compass or GPS handy.   All you need is some sunlight, maybe a shadow or two, some sticks and perhaps a watch, and you can always find out what direction you are headed. Learn these simple tricks and give yourself a distinct advantage the next time that you are lost in the woods.




Using a Wrist Watch

A wrist watch can give you much more than the time when you are lost. It can also point you north and help you to get oriented. While this method is very straightforward, it also requires a watch that has an hour and minute hand along with the correct time. Digital watches or ones that are not working will not do the trick.


If you live in the northern hemisphere, all you need to do is point the hour, or smaller hand, directly towards the direction of the sun. Place the watch horizontally in front of you and look at its face. Once you have pointed towards the sun, draw an imaginary line in the middle of the hour hand and the 12 o’clock point. That line points south. Look at the number that the line goes through and find the other matching number on the opposite side of the watch. That’s north. So turn around, and start walking in that direction. Or, find east and west after noting where north is and walk in that direction as well. Nothing could be easier, and you can be well on your way back to civilization before you know it.





Using Sticks and a Shadow

Another trick is to use the shadow of the sun to tell you where east and west is located. Place a stick into the ground and notice its shadow. Put another stick or object at the end of the shadow. Wait about 30 minutes. You will notice that the shadow has moved a little bit either to the left or to the right. Place another object at the end of that shadow as well. Wait another 30 minutes and repeat the process. After you have three markers, place a stick along the line that they make. The stick will point to east and west.


Look at the direction the shadow has moved, and you can figure out what way the sun is traveling, helping you to deduce east from west. Therefore, north and south would be at the nine o’clock and three o’clock positions respectively. While this method is not the fastest way to get your bearings, it is helpful to know if you don’t have any other options.


The only real drawbacks to these methods is that they require sunlight to work. You will be able to use them when there are clouds, as long as some of the sunlight can pierce through and give you an indication of its position. Keep in mind that these tricks are far from exact, but they will give you a general idea of where you are and what direction you need to be headed in order to get to your destination.



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