Land Navigation Techniques for Survival
Ryan Dotson on April 29, 2017
So you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. Either you are stranded or you lost your way on a hiking trip. Now you have to find your way to safety. There are several ways to make this happen, but not without the right skills. In this article, we will cover several basic land navigation techniques to navigate your way to safety in this type of situation.
We all know that these days we have GPS on our phones and can always call for help, right? Wrong. There are plenty of situations where your phone loses reception, the battery dies, or the phone is destroyed. If the phone is still working, there are several ways to get to help. Pulling up GPS can help guide you to civilization even in the middle of the wild. You can call for help if you have a signal. A good idea is to bring along a spare battery, solar charger or power bank, so you have juice even if the phone runs out.
Old School: Map and Compass
One of the most reliable land navigation techniques is to navigate with a map and compass. These days this is uncommon, but it has not decreased in importance. If you have a good map of the area and a compass to orient the map, you can find your way home from almost anywhere. You can also use a map with only landmarks or use a compass for general direction, so you do not have to necessarily have both together.
Primitive: Using the Sun
When you have nothing and need to navigate, you have a few options. One of the best land navigation techniques is to use the sun. You can drive a stake into the ground and mark the point of the shadow it creates. Then wait 15 minutes and mark the next point. The line between these two points is a North/South line. From there you should be able to find your way.
Another option is using your watch. You need to hold your watch parallel to the ground. Point the hour hand at the sun. Then locate the 12 o’clock mark. The middle point between the two is true north. This should help you on your way.
At Night: Use the Stars
The Underground Railroad is most famous for using the stars for navigation. In all reality, stars have been used for thousands of years for navigation. If you look up and find the big dipper, follow the two stars that form the outside edge of the cup away from the mouth. You will then find the North Star. If you live in the southern hemisphere, you can use the southern cross to orientate yourself.
If you have no other options, you can always count on water. Small water sources flow into large water sources. If you follow the terrain downhill, you will eventually find a stream. Follow that to larger sources of water and you will find people or at least resources. It is a great last option for finding your way to safety.
Land Navigation Techniques
There are plenty of ways to find your way home. However, the key is knowing the land navigation techniques that can make that happen. Help is often not more than a few miles away, but most people do not know how to find their way to that help. If you become familiar with these skills, you can likely navigate your way out of any situation.