How To: Find Your Position When Lost In The Wilderness


Sometimes the call of the wild is too intriguing. While everyone may have the adventurer within, not all have the survivalist. Stunning scenery on a hike, stalking an elk or the evermore popular dead battery in the GPS can lead you far off path. Ideally, always carry a map and compass - even alongside fancy technology. A map will allow you to triangulate your position using two distinct geographical features in your surrounding landscape that can be identified on the map and used to pin-point your location. To triangulate your location on a map follow these steps:

  • Adjust the compass for declination specific to the area.
  • Orient the map so north on the map faces true north.
  • Take a bearing to the first landmark. Point the direction of travel arrow at the landmark it and turn the compass dial until the compass needle is centred in the orienting arrow.
  • Place your compass on the map so that the orienting lines are parallel to the map's north-south meridian lines.
  • Move your compass so the top end of one edge of its baseplate ends at the landmark, keeping it aligned with the map's meridians.
  • Draw a line along the edge of your compass from the landmark along the bearing you took. You are somewhere on this line.
  • Repeat taking a bearing and drawing a line for a second landmark.
  • Where these two lines intersect is your approximate location.