Land navigation and orienteering are essential skills for any survivalist. Even in areas you’re already familiar with, it’s far too easy to get turned around and hopelessly lost, especially when you’re panicked or frustrated. Obviously, a reliable compass and map are extremely helpful for getting your bearings, but like all survival tools, there are situations when you’ll have to do without them.

stay-or-go-map-reading

Knowing how to use a compass and a topo map properly could save your life.

We’ve discussed alternative methods for finding true north in the past, such as celestial navigation and the shadow compass method. However, today we’re going to discuss how you can simply make your own DIY compass, instead of trying one of these alternate techniques.

DIY Compass 2

By simply magnetizing a needle and floating it on water, you’ve got a compass.

The basic principle of a compass uses a needle or indicator that has been magnetically charged, and floats it on water to move smoothly. The magnetized needle will generally point in a northerly direction (although there are other complex factors like declination that can throw it off a few degrees).

This video from the guys at Black Scout Survival shows one method for magnetizing an ordinary sewing needle using a AA battery and some snare wire:

If you don’t have a battery and wire, you can magnetize a needle using—get this—a magnet. Makes sense, right? However, you’ll need a fairly strong magnet to do it correctly.

In a survival situation, the more methods you know to get your bearings, the better. Even if you can’t make one DIY compass method work, you can fall back on another, and navigate your way to safety.


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