A compass or GPS is probably one of the first things anyone would pack or have on their person when going camping, trekking, hunting and sometimes fishing. At the same time, when it comes to the outdoors, you best be prepared for anything.
This begs the question, what would you do if for some reason you don’t have a compass or GPS to guide you? What would you do if you dropped it, lost it, can’t get reception or just forgot to bring it with you altogether?
What You Could Do
If you do find yourself lost and without a compass out in sticks for instance, there are ways to find your way around or at least back to a safe base. It is important to remember that these methods might require a little practice so it helps to try them out even when you have a compass on you just to see how well they really work.
Using the Sun to Find East and West
The first method to find your way around involves using the sun. We all know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The path the sun follows over the course of the day bearing this in mind is east to west. Of course if you’re trying to say make camp by a certain time you might not want to wait till the sun goes down to determine where west is.
For this reason, the way you go about it is by tracking the movement of the sun. If the day isn’t overcast this is not that difficult. What you need to do is:
- Find a flat or leveled surface
- Jab a straight stick or nail into the ground
- Mark the point where the shadow of the sun falls
- Wait about thirty minutes or so and mark the point that the shadow has traveled to
- Draw a straight line between the two points. The initial point represents the direction of east. The second one that of west.
Finding north is a little trickier. There are two or three ways to do this. One is by using a watch, the other involves following the stars. The star mapping method however differs depending on which hemisphere you’re in so just to keep things simple, the instructions here cater to the northern hemisphere only.
Using the Stars
The North Star is not always the brightest in the sky so finding it means knowing a little bit about constellations. A good way to locate the North Star is as follows:
- Start by finding the big dipper
- Follow the big dipper down the handle
- This should help you find the little dipper
- The North Star is the last one on the little dipper’s handle.
Using the Sun
Using the sun to find North and South will require an analog watch. This works as follows:
- Start by pointing the hour hand of the watch towards the sun.
- Make sure it is aligned correctly
- Imagine a bisecting line that runs between where your hour hand is and the 12:00 mark
- The bisecting line will be where South is.
- If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, as you would imagine, the bisecting line becomes north.
Having established your basic North, South, East and West, you should be able to find your way to civilization or at least safety in no time! The smartest thing to do however would be to equip yourself well before you head out camping!