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Cool Backwoods Living Skills

camping woods direction navigation north skills hiking outdoor primative compass

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#1 cookiecache



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Posted June 01 2015 - 04:31 PM

Here's a great way to use your watch as a compass. You will need a watch with hands and a view of the sun. Instructions are for the Northern hemisphere - reverse for Southern 


Start by pointing the small hand (hour hand) at the sun. It might be easier to take the watch off of your wrist. Now South is halfway between the hour hand and 12:00. For example, if the hour hand is pointing at 3:00, then South is at 1:30. The trick is the remember that morning hours have South between before noon. Afternoon mesurements will be on the hours after noon. Supppose it is 6:00. If 6:00 AM, then South is at 9:00 AM. But, if it is 6:00 PM then South is at 3:00 PM. Let's say it is 8:00 PM. Where is South on the watch face? South is a 4:00. Don't just use the side that is closest!


Personally, I have had days when this little bit of information would have saved me a lot of time and aggravation. 

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#2 Ashalicious


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Posted June 01 2015 - 05:40 PM

I don't wear a watch though....haven't worn one in years....

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#3 rollingalong



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Posted June 01 2015 - 05:44 PM

interesting fact op....thanks

ash....a display on your smart phone of the clockface will also work

and seriously....you don't have a clock face memorised?....all you need is the time within 15 minutesish and you can guess the rest......in other words use a pretend watch :)

#4 I'minmyunderwear


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Posted June 01 2015 - 06:57 PM

i assume it varies depending on your location and the time of year...  i don't know how much though, this would probably give at least a general idea no matter what.  interesting trick.

#5 cookiecache



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Posted October 23 2015 - 03:34 PM

This works anywhere any time. I have used this method from Mexico to Nothern Alaska. There are slight errors caused by adjustments like Daylight Savings Time, and it can be a little complicated when using near the equator at noon because the sun is simply straight up. But, really all one needs is to know is, the position of the sun, the time of day, an understanding of a clock face, and this method will work everywhere.

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#6 S&L



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Posted October 27 2015 - 06:15 PM

All nice and good!

Spend $ 60 and buy a good SiIva Ranger compas, one where you can adjus tthe declination.

The right use of it is a worth-wile backwoods skill!

#7 Varmint



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Posted December 07 2015 - 03:19 PM

S&L  said, in relevant part:

"Spend $ 60 and buy a good SiIva Ranger compass, one where you can adjus tthe declination."


My response:

I've had one of these for years which I bought new....around $30 back then, and since got another for about $5 at a flea market. There are any number of lensatic compasses that will work quite nicely, and some can be had cheap, as in the $5 one I got mroe recently. The price seems to be the only difference I've found in any of these, and that includes the heavy metalic ones used in the 80's by the USMC, the plastic copies, aluminum ones, open lensatics, etc.  I fine-tune mine to the North Star, also known as Polaris.


I still believe that a good compass, and the skill to use it, are priceless backups today in the event of natural disasters. There's no guarantee that the satellite constellation we depend on won't get burned by some cosmic mishap, nor are batteries guaranteed in the future.

#8 cookiecache



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Posted March 01 2016 - 06:18 PM

I also own a Silva Ranger compass, but it does not work if I just imagine I have it in my hand. This trick only needs the user to imagine that they have a watch.


Okay, next trick. Birch Bark is one of the greatest fire starter's ever! Take a piece of birch bark and dip it into water, go ahead, just dunk it in the creek. Now hold a match to it. Surprise, it still burns great! The pitch in the bark makes it completely waterproof (think birch bark canoe). If there are birch trees around, then fire building becomes very easy. It's fast and simple to peel a few layers off the outside of the tree, and it burns whether it is green, seasoned, wet, or dry.

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