How to Make a Compass in the Wild

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How to Make a Compass in the Wild

Have you ever asked yourself what you would do if you found yourself stranded in the wilderness without navigational gear? This is why it will be very helpful learning how to make a compass in the wild.

On the larger scale of things, this is also why learning how to improvise is so important. Improvising to build your own DIY compass is also much easier than you may have thought. Read on to find out how you can do it:

Your DIY Compass

The good news is that once you know how to make a compass, you’ll likely remember how to for the rest of your life. 

There are two primary ways to build a DIY compass. One method does not involve using a magnet, but the other does. All you’ll need is a sewing needle or regular needle (which you can fashion out of a paper clip, wire, or safety pin if you have any on hand). A needle also should be available in a well thought-out survival kit.

We’ll start with the former because chances are good you’re not going to have a magnet with you, and it’s important to learn how to make a compass without a magnet. 

Magnetize your needle by taking your makeshift needle rubbing it against the wool or the silk from your clothing. Rub the needle back-and-forth along the clothing several dozen times. Once you magnetize your needle, set it down on a floating leaf, and wait a few seconds for it to point in a north to south line.

For the second method, bring the point of your compass needle into contact with the south pole of your magnet.  Then, bring the eye of the needle into contact with the north pole of the magnet.

Proceed to take a leaf like before, and place it in the water. Set the compass needle on the leaf, and the needle should point in a north to south direction. 

If resources are incredibly scarce, take note that there are alternative ways to figure out your direction as well. One is to place a straight stick upright in the ground and mark the end of the shadow with a small rock to represent west. 

Wait thirty minutes, and then place another small rock at the end of the new shadow to represent east. From this, you can create your north to south line.

Another technique is to use your analog watch. Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun while holding the watch horizontally in the flat of your hand. Create an imaginary line in between the hour hand and the twelve o’clock position to create your north to south line.


As you can hopefully see, knowing how to make compass in the wild is not as difficult as you may have thought. 

If you do find yourself in a true wilderness survival situation hopefully you will have a real compass and other essential survival gear. But if you don’t and you need to build your own, just know all you really need is a little improvisation. 

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