How to navigate without your phone or compass in the outdoors

Powerful Outdoors

How to navigate without your phone or compass in the outdoors

When I first started loving nature and the outdoors, one of my goals was to navigate without any man-made tools like a compass or GPS. Most explorers become way too dependent on modern navigation tools, and while a compass can always be helpful, It’s just no replacement for good old-fashioned brainpower.

So I did some research and learned some extremely effective traditional navigation techniques that can be readily mastered with just a bit of practice. These methods are 100% useful and real. They could save you from getting lost in a dangerous situation. In addition, they will make your outdoor adventures a whole lot more fun.

1) Use the Sun to find North

The most important navigation skill is knowing how to find North without using a compass. This technique is really easy to perform. The first step you have to do is look at the position of the sun. This technique works differently depending on what hemisphere you’re in, and how close you are to the equator.

Finding North in the Northen Hemisphere

In the Northern hemisphere, the highest point of the sun every day is directly south. All you have to do is practice watching the sun’s daily journey for a couple of days and try to understand the point at which the sun is highest in the sky. After a short while, you’ll start getting more accurate as long as you practice. Once you have south, you also have north, east, and west. The only time when you can’t use this technique is if you’re at the north pole during summer. when the sun circles high in the sky all day long.

Finding North in the Southern Hemisphere

The process of finding North is basically the same in the southern hemisphere. The only difference is the opposite direction. The highest point of the sun will be directly North in this case. This technique works for every season. Therefore, it makes it a very reliable way to identify North.

Finding North at the Equator

The highest point of the sun is directly overhead at the equator, meaning that we have to use a different method to find the directions. Under those circumstances, you’ll have to use sunrise and sunset to identify east and west. Remember how close you are to the equator, and use whatever method is most appropriate due to your latitude.

2) Finding North with the Stars

Finding North is also possible at night by observing the stars and constellations. The first thing to do is to locate the big dipper. (one of the most common constellations out there.) It’s a constellation everyone can find. The reason why it has that name is that it looks like a big scoop in the sky.

Big Dipper constellation

It’s a specific big and bright constellation that shouldn’t be hard to find. The next step is to find the front of the scoop of the big dipper and imagine a line connecting the two leading stars that stick out into the dark sky. The imaginary line has already been drawn for you in the picture above.

The North Star( also known as Polaris) is a big, bright star lined up with a big dipper. Keep following that imaginary line until you hit a bright star in the northern sky that lines up with the front of the big dipper.

North Star (Polaris) used to find North direction

The North star only moves slightly in the sky, with every other constellation circling around it. This makes it a great way to know for sure when you’re facing north. This star also forms the handle tip of a smaller constellation called the little dipper.

Following the Edges of Water

If you are lost in the wild and you have encountered a river, you may consider the fact that most villages connect with rivers. Staying along the riverside may be a good way to find the closest village or even city.

You must be careful while walking alongside any water body, especially for soft terrain that can get you stuck or wild animals, according to the area where you are. Snakes tend to live close to the riverbank, but also other dangerous animals may approach the river if thirsty or want to catch some fish.

As a matter of survival, stay alert, even more, when next to a water body, because there is a constant noise that will protect the approaching wild animals. If you decide to camp close by the river, make sure you are ensuring the perimeter is safe around the tent, otherwise, you will not hear anyone coming close.

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