Stick + Sun + Shadow = A Compass!

Posted by El DiPablo | 6:00 AM |

If you find yourself lost in the wild without a compass fret not, because there is a very easy and accurate way to figure out direction using nothing more than a stick and the sun!

I first read about this method in Lofty Wiseman's SAS Survival Manual, but I also saw Bear Grylls demonstrate it once on Man vs Wild. To me, it is the easiest method to accurately give you direction when you are lost and it works anywhere you have sunlight on planet Earth!

First, take a relatively straight stick and stick it in the ground straight up and down, then mark the end of the shadow with a rock or a twig:


Next wait at least 15 minutes, but you can actually wait longer if you want, then mark the shadow again.

If you line up the two markers, in this case rocks, it will give you your West/East line. The first rock you put down will be West, and the second rock will be East.


Obviously, once you know your West/East line you can figure out which direction is North and South. If you don't know how to do that first of all, below is a compass rose, second of all you should have paid better attention in elementary school...


I always remember that the W in West and the E in East spells WE! On top of that North is always up right?

So why is this useful? Well, if you are lost in the wilderness, but you have a general idea of what direction civilization is relative to where you are at you can head in that general direction if you needed to self rescue.

For instance, the nearest National Forest to me is the Grand Mesa National Forest in Colorado. If I am smack dab in the the middle, I know that in general Grand Junction is to the West of the forest, and Delta is to the South. If I know which direction is which, I can pick which town I want to head to and start hoofing it!

There are many other ways to determine direction in the wild, but this one by far is my favorite and is the most accurate in my opinion. Still though, I'm curious to know what your favorite method is for determining direction in the wild without a compass? Let us know in the comments!