Flag Trees

Today’s Tip:  Survival Skills – Finding Direction without a Compass

Observing the effects of wind to determine direction-  If you find yourself lost and without a compass in your survival gear, here is another skill to file away in your survival library.  Every place on earth has a prevailing wind, and sometimes that may vary by seasons.  Before you take a trip somewhere, find out what the prevailing wind is in that area, and remember that.  This can be done with a little research.

But this doesn’t mean that if you are travelling somewhere where perhaps the prevailing wind is from the northwest in the winter time, that the wind is always blowing from the northwest.  Weather disturbances can cause the wind to come from different directions, the effects of the  sun’s heat on land near large bodies of water can change wind direction, and in mountainous areas the wind may follow the terrain, blowing down valleys and drainages in different directions within an area of a few square miles.

The key is to look for permanent effects of the prevailing wind, and this is most easily done with what are called “Flag trees.”  Flag trees will have more branches on the opposite side of the tree than the direction of the prevailing wind, or lean in the direction away from the prevailing wind.


Leaning Tree

For example, in this first picture, if the prevailing wind in this area is from the northwest, then the branches on this tree point roughly southeast, but you can definitely make a good guess that east is generally to your right in this picture.

While not every tree or piece of vegetation will show this effect of the prevailing wind, if you can find one or two when you are lost, it can help you find your way out.