Learning to navigate in the wild, without the aid of signs, landmarks, and roadways, is a challenge that many survivalists have to overcome before they feel comfortable heading out to practice their survival skills. It’s important to understand how to use some basic tools when it comes to outdoor navigation. Even if you have a GPS that never fails, you should always be prepared with a low-tech backup, just in case.
A map and a compass are probably the two most basic tools for outdoor navigation that survivalists can rely on. While using these tools isn’t as simple as television would make it seem, it’s not hard to learn. Learn what the different colors and shapes your map mean, and learn how to calculate distance based on scale, and you’ll have a great start on using these tools properly.
Being able to find direction with the stars or the sun is another good navigational skill to have. The Northern Star is the large, bright star that is directly above the upper right star making up the ladle of the Big Dipper constellation. Or, if you witness the sunrise or sunset, you can easily find direction—the sun rises in the East, and sets in the West.
Some old wives’ tales will have you believing that you can navigate with the placement of moss on trees. Moss grows where there is moisture and shade. If there are no other reasons for that area of the tree to be moist, such as dripping branches overhead, then it’s probable that the moss is growing on the north side, since that tends to be the side that gets the least amount of sun. Moss can be used to double check your navigation, but shouldn’t be relied on.
Mastering one or more of these navigational techniques could save your life in a situation where your GPS is not functioning.