Shadow-Tip Method: Navigation

One way to use the sun and shadows to help find your way is the shadow-tip method or methods rather since we’ll be discussing two ways of going at it. Another would be the watch method where we use a common or analog watch, to determine direction, that also has hands.

We’ll discuss that in a future post, but for now we’ll stick with this method.

Shadow-Tip Method: First way: Requirements

  • A straight stick that is a meter or 3 feet long
  • A level spot of brush where the stick can cast an absolute shadow

Shadow-Tip Method: First way: Steps

First of all, start the stick or branch into the ground at a spot that’s leveled. Also remember that it must cast an absolute shadow. Mark this shadow’s tip with perhaps a stone or some other object. This first shadow mark always points out to west – anywhere.

Wait then 10 to 15 minutes ‘til the shadow’s tip moves maybe a couple of centimeters. Mark this shadow tip’s new location same as with the first. This mark shall represent the East direction.

Draw then a straight line through both of the marks to get an approximate east and west line.

Stand with your west or first mark towards your left and the second towards your right. You’ll now then be facing north – anywhere.

Shadow-Tip Method: A bit harder way: Requirements

  • A straight stick that is a meter or 3 feet long
  • A level spot of brush where the stick can cast an absolute shadow
  • String or similar cord

Shadow-Tip Method: A bit harder way: Steps

Put into position your shadow stick and mark the first shadow you get in the morning.

Then use a piece of your string or similar cord to get a clean arc through the mark and around our shadow stick. When midday, the shadow will then shrink and disappear. When afternoon, it then will lengthen again. At the point as it touches the arc, make your second mark. Lastly just then draw a line through your two marks to get an accurate east and west line.


Too hard? Don’t have a compass? How about making an improvised compass.

1 thought on “Shadow-Tip Method: Navigation”

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This