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Natures Compass … for the lost overlander

Can you find your way home from the middle of nowhere? If you’re one of those people that has a natural sense of direction then you probably wouldn’t be fazed when modern electrical navigational systems society relies on today fails. Your internal compass kicks in and you simply drive and find the nearest civilisation. Most of us though have a lousy sense of direction, which can cause a fair few ‘disagreements’ when the dear old Satnav decides to have a ‘senior moment’. The sensibly among us carry a map as a back up but then the sort of places we 4×4’ers like to roam isn’t always on a map and if they are there is rarely any landmarks to gauge a direction so what are we left with.
leaf-compass-imageYou can create a compass by using nature. The planet’s North and South Pole are always there, creating a magnetic field and with a bit of knowledge this can be tapped into. You’ll need some still water preferable in a cup but a puddle will do. An intact complete leaf/ piece of stiff plastic bag or a cork plus a small strip of steel like a needle, nail or even a straight piece of wire.
You’ll need to magnetise the steel by passing it back and forth across a magnet several times, our stereo speakers all have magnets in them at the back so don’t panic if you haven’t one in your kit. Place the leaf on top of the water and put the steel on top so everything floats. The metal will align with the north and south poles and if you live in Europe the northern hemisphere shadows will be cast on the northern side of your vehicle/ equipment indicating which end of the metal strip is north.








A watch face or knowing the correct time can also be used to find north and south. Keep your watch level with the ground and point the hour hand towards the direction of the sun. Draw a line in the middle of the hour hand and the 12 on the watch. This will indicate the north and south line. You can achieve the same results by making a clock face on the floor just check you have the right time. Now you have north and south you just need to remember the sun rises in the east and sets in the west (e before w in the alphabet). The position of the sun in the morning will determine east and pm readings will denote west.




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