Finding yourself lost and in the middle of nowhere is never a good feeling but realising that you forgot your compass is even worse. Thankfully, you still have a few options when it comes to finding true north and getting back to safety. There are actually three “norths”; true north, magnetic north, and grid north. Today we are going to look at how you can find “true north”.
Use Your Watch
Providing that your watch is not digital, you can use it like a compass to find true north. Just follow the steps below:
- Point the hour hand towards the sun.
- Imagine a line halfway between the hour hand and the 12 on the watch. (During daylight savings time, the halfway line is between the hour hand and the 1.) This imaginary line points south.
- North is 180 degrees in the other direction.
In the Southern Hemisphere, point the 12 at the sun instead. Then, form an imaginary angle between the hour hand and a line from the 12 to the center of the watch. The line bisecting that angle represents north.
Use a Needle and Leaf
If you have a needle in your first aid kit or a small wire, you can magnetize it by rubbing it on your sleeping bag liner or other material to find true north.
- Once magnetized, lay the needle on a leaf and float it on water such as a puddle.
- The magnetized end will point you in the right direction.
Sticks and Stones
Find yourself a stick that is about 3 feet long and a couple of small rocks then do the following:
- Stab your stick in to the ground so that it stands up straight.
- Place one rock at the tip of the sticks shadow.
- Wait around for about 15 minutes and place another rock at the tip of the new shadow.
- Stand with your back to the stick with your left toe touching the first placed rock and your right toe touching the second rock.
- You are facing north.
There are more ways of determining true north when you’re lost but I consider the above three methods to be the easiest when you get caught out without your compass.