How to Navigate in the Wilderness Without a Map and Compass

lost in woods

Most survival experts agree that a GPS, map, and compass should all be included in your survival kit.  The reason for this is because navigation is one of the top priorities in a survival situation.  If you don’t have a means to figure out your sense of direction and know where to walk to, you will waste valuable time and energy either walking around in circles or heading in the wrong direction. 

You may think that you’ll be able to navigate so long as you have your GPS or compass with you, but what if disaster strikes when you least expect it and you don’t have your navigational equipment?  Would you know how to navigate then?  

The good news is that there are numerous techniques to navigate in the wild without the aid of a GPS, map, or compass.  If you learn about these navigational techniques, you’ll be able to figure out the direction you need to go to walk out alive.  We’re going to learn about three of these navigational techniques here:

 

TREES

The first natural navigational aid you will have out in the wilderness are the trees, or to be more specific, the moss that grows on the trees.  Yes, moss grows on all sides of trees and stumps.  Nonetheless, it will be far more prevalent on the side of the tree pointing in the direction of the equator.  If you live in the northern hemisphere, this means the moss will be far more prevalent on the side of the tree that is pointing south. 

Another trick you can use, assuming that little to no moss is present, is to observe the inside of a stump and take a look at the tree rings.  The rings will always be more widely spaced in a west to east direction and not in a north to south direction.  Using this information, you will then be able to roughly construct your approximate north to south and east to west lines and then figure out which way you need to be heading. 

 

THE SUN

The sun is another classic way to navigate in the wilderness.  After all, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, right?  But the neat thing about using the sun for navigation is that you can not only figure out your west to east (and thus north to south lines), but you’ll also be able to figure out the approximate time of day that it is.  All that you need is a bright day and an open spot free of shades where you can use a shadow. 

Find a flat stick that’s between three to four feet long and set it into the ground in an area where there is no shade.  Then, mark the end of the shadow from the stick either with a rock, a smaller stick, or a mark in the dirt.  This tip will always be west regardless of where you are. 

Wait for at least fifteen minutes, and you will notice that the shadow will have moved and thus the tip of it as well.  Now mark this new tip just like you did the first one.  The imaginary line between the two will be your East to West line, from which you can then figure out your North to South line as well. 

 

MOON

The moon will be your most viable navigational tool at night when the sun is not available or when you can’t see the moss on the trees and stumps.  However, using the moon as a navigational tool will differ by the time of year.  For example, at the time of year where the moon rises before the sun sets, the bright side of the moon will always be facing in the western direction.  But if the moon does not rise until midnight or after, then the bright side of the moon will always be facing east.  From this, you can then construct your east to west line.

Any one of these navigational methods will give you the sense of direction that you need in a survival situation, but only if you know how to actually use them.  That’s why it’s important for you to practice using each of these navigational methods in your backyard as soon as possible so that when you are in a real survival situation where knowing your directions are key, they will be second nature to you and you can avoid becoming lost. 

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