Figuring your way around the wilderness can be a tough nut to crack if you don’t have a compass to assist you with navigation. Though a map can lend you a helping hand, then again it probably won’t make much of a difference when you don’t have any idea what direction you are facing.
In this post, we will show you some different methods on how to find North without a compass.
How to Find North Without a Compass
Learning how to navigate with a compass is imperative in any survival situation. You could go in circles on a trail many times before you realize that you are lost. It’s a realistic scenario, you are not only wasting your energy, but you’re also wasting precious time.
Take a stick at least two to three feet long and jab it standing straight in the ground so that the shadow is easily visible. You can either mark the end of the shadow with a rock or place the rock on the end instead—whatever works for you. Wait about 15 to 20 minutes and then mark the end of the second shadow that will be casted. Draw a line between the first and second marks. Now, position standing with your back on the stick and with the two marks in front of you. The left mark is west, the right mark is east and an imaginary line drawn between is the north.
Sticks at Night
You will need a stick at least two to three feet long. Jab it standing straight in the ground. Do the same procedure with a second stick near the first one, except make the second one slightly higher. Get down and look into the tips of both sticks at equal level. While you’re on the ground, observe which star they point out to and follow the star’s motion over several minutes relative to the position of the sticks. Respectively, if the star moves up, you are facing east; if it moves down, you are facing west; if it moves right, you are facing south; if it moves left, you are facing north.
Begin by rubbing your needle on a piece of silk fabric. Upon rubbing, this action will produce static electricity on the needle, gravitating with the magnetic fields present beneath the ground. Now, place the needle on top of a small leaf, and float that in a bucket, puddle, or cup of water. You will notice that it will move itself in position on the north-south axis. The only thing that’s left for you to do is to guess which direction is north and south from both ends of the needle.
Analog Wrist Watch
First, find where the sun is and point the hour hand towards it. Locate the halfway point between the hour hand and the 12 on the face of your watch. Draw an imaginary straight line starting from the halfway point all the way to the other side. It indicates that it is pointing south and on the other side is north. Now that you know the direction of north and south, it will be easier for you to determine where west and east are. But if you are located in the Southern Hemisphere, then you just have to keep in mind that it is the other way around.
NOTE: If you had your watch set to daylight saving time, you just wind this method back an hour.
The North Star, Polaris
If you are located somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, you should locate the Big Dipper constellation, also known as ‘Ursa Major’. It is the key to finding the North Star (Polaris) in the night sky. Observe that the Big Dipper looks like a spoon wherein the North Star is the last star in its handle. Trace the outer edge of the spoon that’s made up of two stars. Draw an imaginary straight line outward from these two stars and the star that sits at the end of this line is the North Star. You will be able to confirm the North Star since it’s the brightest star among the constellations—as well as being a part of a spoon-shaped constellation. Now that you’re facing north with the North Star in front of you, it’s easier for you to determine which direction is south, east or west.
The Southern Cross
In contrast, if you are located somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross is the viable method for you. The Southern Cross looks exactly like a cross that’s made up of four stars, but if you draw an outline on the constellation’s border, it would appear to be a diamond or a kite. In any case, outside the Southern Cross, you will notice two brighter stars in parallel with the two closest stars in the constellation. Draw an imaginary straight line between the two furthest stars in the Southern Cross and the other two stars outside separately. Find the midpoint of the two stars outside and that as a starting point, draw another imaginary straight line while extending the line in the Southern Cross until both these lines intersect with each other. In locating the north, you should turn at exactly 180° with your back facing the Southern Cross. As a result, you will be facing roughly north and it’s going to be easier for you to determine which is south, east or west.
It is deemed to be the easiest constellation to locate in the night sky. Its belt is made up of three bright stars aligned with one another. In any case, you will notice a single bright star below the belt, marking its sword. You will be able to determine where north is by drawing an imaginary straight line in the direction of the sword down the horizon.
Try Estimating Noon
You can find north if you’ve got no compass but you’ve got a way of keeping time. You should first learn which hemisphere you are located to determine which directions are the south and the north. Ideally, you will be observing where the sun is due during the noontime. Thereby you will be able to tell what direction you are currently facing, depending on your location’s hemisphere.
If you are located somewhere in the northern hemisphere, moss can be your guide in determining the direction. Moss usually grows more on the north side of trees. If you come across patches of moss on the same side in a group of trees, it could be an indication that the moss is facing north. However, you should think twice before making this method as a primary basis since there is also a chance that it might be wrong.There are many types of moss out there and not all grow on the north side of trees.
Again, if you are located somewhere in the northern hemisphere, trees can be your guide in determining the direction as well. Trees usually grow more on the south side of the hills, whereas evergreens grow on the north side. If you ever come across a grove of either trees or evergreens in a certain location, it could be an indication which direction is the south or the north. However, just like with moss, you should think twice before making this method as a primary basis since there is also a chance that it might be wrong.
The Importance of Finding North
Knowing the right direction is extremely crucial in any survival situation. In a pinch, these methods might even save your life, or at least lead you back to safety and civilization.
hese methods will not only prevent you from getting lost but will also save you energy and time. You should know your location’s hemisphere first and upon learning it, go for the methods that are most fitting in the area you will be traveling to. Even better, have a backup compass! Make sure to pack a compass in your INCH Bag, Bug Out Bag, and Get Home Bag.