Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter, & GPS by Bob Burns* GPS chapter completely updated to reflect newer models and features of GPS receivers now available
* Expanded to include a section on routefinding on glaciers, along with additional information on changing declination
* Extensive illustrated examples of orientation and wilderness navigation
Proceed with confidence when heading off-road or off-trail with the second edition of Wilderness Navigation. Whether you are climbing a glacier, orienteering in the backcountry, or on an easy day hike, Mike and Bob Burns cover all the latest technology and time-tested methods to help you learn to navigate-from how to read a map to compasses and geomagnetism.
Bob Burns is a long-time member of The Mountaineers. He has taught classes in the use of map and compass since the late 1970s. Mike Burns is an avid climber. He has instructed climbing and navigation classes, and written articles for Climbing magazine.
Part of the The Mountaineers Outdoor Basics series! Created for beginning-to-intermediate enthusiasts, this series includes everything anyone would need to know about staying safe and having fun in the backcountry.
How to Use a Compass
Sun Ladder. Sure, not all who wander are lost. The solution? Even experienced backpackers sometimes neglect their navigation skills, but when the trail peters out or is covered by snow, knowing how to blaze your own path is absolutely essential. And even in the age of GPS and smartphones, the most reliable way to make sure that you stay on track is by using a map and compass. With the advent of GPS, navigating by compass has become something of a lost art.
A compass is an essential tool in wilderness survival. Along with a good quality topographical map of the area you're navigating, knowing how to use a compass will ensure that you're never lost. You can learn to identify the basic components of the compass, take an accurate reading of your bearings, and start developing the necessary skills of navigation with a few simple steps. See Step 1 to start learning to use your compass. To use a compass, hold the compass flat on your outspread hand in front of your chest.
your compass? Learn the basics of declination, bearings and how to use them. Also read our companion article, How to Use a Topo Map. Then take a class.
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Step 1: Choosing a Good Map
Alright, so everyone knows a few fundamentals of navigation- north is always up, the sun rises in the east, and compasses usually point towards magnetic north. But at some point in time, outdoor enthusiast or not, you'll want to be able to find out where you are, and where you need to go. - When it comes to hill walking, most of us will have an idea of the most important things to consider when setting out: adequate clothing, food and water, a map, and a mobile phone for emergencies. However, very few avid hikers actually know how to use a compass which is an extremely useful, and sometimes lifesaving, skill when out climbing mountains.
Long ago, before a host of satellites and space junk orbited the earth, before Uber and Google Maps, people got lost. Through city and forest, they wandered about, flailing here and there, growing more and more desperate. They would have asked someone for directions, but back then, there were fewer people around. If they ever made it out of their quagmire, they made certain that they either stayed within a five-mile radius of their homes for the rest of their lives, or they learned to read a map. Today, that problem only afflicts those peasants who forget to charge their devices.