Studying Primary Navigation Abilities: Don’t get misplaced, get going

Everyone knows to hold a compass as a part of our 10 necessities, however how many people know easy methods to use it? Till just lately, I didn’t. Realizing easy methods to use a compass is among the fundamental navigation abilities and of the utmost significance to security on trails. If separated out of your group or misplaced within the woods, your compass and a path map could be your one-way ticket to security … if you understand how to make use of it, in fact.

A casual survey of our Hike it Child members discovered that many discovered fundamental navigation abilities as youngsters both via Scouting (Boy Scouts of America or Woman Scouts), faculty lessons or golf equipment, or their mother and father. Those that discovered as youngsters overwhelmingly acknowledged that the talents stayed with them into maturity.

I by no means discovered fundamental navigation abilities as a toddler. I vaguely keep in mind studying some newbie topography and map studying in elementary faculty Social Research class, however it was not a ability I used usually sufficient to remain sharp. I’m pretty sure I by no means noticed a compass in actual life till I used to be an grownup.

As getting our children exterior and climbing moved up on our precedence checklist, my have to be taught fundamental navigation abilities turned more and more necessary. My husband taught me some orienteering abilities like map and compass studying, and initially my thought was, “I’ve acquired a compass on my iPhone; I’m good.” However then my husband jogged my memory that my iPhone battery might die, and it is determined by GPS so it wouldn’t work if I used to be out of a service space (which accounts for a lot of the space the place we stay in Vermont).

Learning basic navigation skills by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby 

How you can get began

Outfitted with our new compass, my husband and I headed for the paths and grabbed a map from the trailhead. We laid out the map and spent about 5 minutes reviewing the map key, scale and elevation adjustments. Then we went over the usual options of a compass and easy methods to orient the compass with the map.

Throughout our hike, we stopped periodically to orient ourselves and mark the place we have been on the path. We drilled utilizing the compass to move in several instructions, then reorient and transfer in a distinct path once more. And we practiced finding close by landmarks on the map. In whole, we spent about two hours on the path, and I got here away from it feeling refreshed and excited to have practiced fundamental navigation abilities.

The place to search out assets

Don’t fear in the event you missed out on studying navigation abilities in your youth; it’s by no means too late to begin. There are quite a few assets throughout you. You will discover on-line programs, in-person programs, books, pamphlets, webinars, movies, articles and the checklist goes on.

1. Analysis programs supplied nationally.

REI presents a Map & Compass Navigation Fundamentals class in shops throughout the nation. Their web site describes this hands-on course by stating that “you’ll be taught the elements of a compass, easy methods to learn a topographic map, and easy methods to use them in tandem. You’ll discover ways to pinpoint your location via triangulation after which navigate to new areas by following a bearing. You’ll additionally discover ways to plan routes utilizing a topographic map.” It comes extremely really helpful by our members.

L.L.Bean presents an analogous class, as nicely, via their outside discovery colleges. Their web site presents a course description and a listing of issues to convey alongside. Right here, yow will discover the entire information on the L.L.Bean Introduction to Map- and Compass-Abilities Course.

2. Take a look at native course choices.

Relying on the place you’re positioned, there are native organizations, golf equipment or retailers that supply fundamental navigation programs. Listed below are just some that got here really helpful by our members. There are numerous extra that yow will discover via a easy Google search or by contacting your native climbing golf equipment, park programs or sporting items shops.


New Hampshire



Learning basic navigation skills by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby

three. Take a web-based course or webinar.

“Backpacker Journal” presents a totally on-line course possibility via their AIM Journey U. This Backcountry Navigation course is designed to be taken at your personal tempo. It’s good for a busy mama!

four. Learn a guide or article.

Why not get a guide? Learn it at your personal tempo and discover when prepared. The next books have obtained nice critiques:

Be Professional with Map and Compass by Björn Kjellström

The Important Wilderness Navigator: How you can Discover Your Approach within the Nice Outdoor by David Seidman

Wilderness Navigation: Discovering Your Approach Utilizing Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS by Bob Burns

One among our members talked about the Boy Scouts of America’s Orienteering benefit badge pamphlet. It’s extremely reasonably priced and you should purchase a duplicate on-line even in case you are not a BSA member.

As for articles, REI has a pair of complimentary articles on compass and topography fundamentals. Each are informative in addition to straightforward to learn and observe. And “Backpacker Journal” additionally has an excellent piece, Navigation 101: Understanding your Compass.

5. There’s a YouTube video for that!

And eventually, you possibly can go on YouTube to look at movies on the navigation! There’s a YouTube how-to for all the things nowadays!

Learn extra:

How did you be taught fundamental navigation abilities? What assets would you counsel to a newbie?

Pictures by Walter Payton Edwards and Amy Diebold.


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