DIY Compass - Just Add Water

A compass is listed as one of the 10 essentials for survival and for good reason. If you have no other options for navigation and visibility is poor, a magnetic compass can be the key to pointing you home. However, even reliable tools can break sometimes. If you're out on a trip with a broken compass, simply look in your repair kit; you may be able to repurpose some items you already have and create a DIY compass to guide you home.

To make a do-it-yourself emergency compass, you'll need a magnet, needle, cookware, water, and something for the needle to float on.

make a compass

Begin by rubbing the needle with a magnet several times in one direction. Sliding the magnet along the needle in the same direction will magnetize it properly. *Note: If you slide the magnet from the eye of the needle to the tip, then the tip will be the end that points north.

DIY Compass

Next, you'll want to get the needle ready to float on water. You can accomplish this by placing the needle on a leaf or using the top part of this drinking straw spice rack.

backpacking straws

Fill your backpacking cookware with water, and carefully place your homemade compass on the water.

emergency compass

To ensure an accurate reading, shield the cookware from the wind. The tip of the needle will point north after about a minute.

While you may always have a functioning map and compass with you, it's still good to know other uses for items in your pack to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
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