Thursday, August 14, 2008

How To Use A Map And Compass Part II

Ok folks time for part two of the map and compass post.

I like to find north using my compass and face in that direction.

1.) Lay the compass on the map and line up the north-south lines on the map with those on the compass. (like below)

When you have done this you should have your map oriented to north and the needle on the compass should be pointing directly in front of you. You are now north on the map and in reality as well :)

2.) Pick out where you are on the map and then find out where you want to go. I usually pick something not that far away but in the direction I want to go; I would then repeat all this at a later time as I got closer to my goal.

Use the straight edge of the compass to connect the two points - where you are and where you want to go. (like below)

3.) You will then need to adjust the dial to line up with your north facing needle once again. (like below)

You can then read your bearing and your direction of travel is set. (like below)

Here is a shot of the map from further away.

4.) You can now remove the compass from the map and hold it in your hand. Line up the north needle with the north marking on the baseplate by moving your body (DO NOT AT ANYTIME ROTATE THE DIAL ON THE COMPASS). Pick out an object in the distance that is lined up with the direction of travel arrow and proceed to travel to it. You can put the compass away while you travel to the object you selected but be careful not to accidentally move the compass housing. When you reach that object take out your compass and repeat the process picking out a new landmark to travel to that is lined up with your direction of travel arrow. Keep doing this until you reach your destination...yes it is that easy.

Like I said this is the basics. This does not take into account magnetic declination or anything like that (declination is the difference between true north and magnetic north and the further north you are the bigger the difference between the two is).

As many people commented on my last post you can rely on your GPS until the batteries run out and then you are screwed. My compass doesn't use batteries ;)

BTW the map you see in this post is one I had made up by of Little Pee Dee State Park here in SC. The paper is water resistant and the map is high quality so I do recommend them as a source for topo maps.

Get out there and practice with your map and compass and you will have a leg up when the SHTF or if you ever find yourself in a pickle.

...that is all.

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  1. Good post, I think knowing how to use a map and compass is so vastly underrated. Especially in some kind of bug out scenario its vital to understand how to navigate.

  2. Great post. Much thanks.

    This might be fodder for another more advanced post, but how do you adjust when you come to an obstruction? What if you want to go from A to B, but there's a mountain or impassable river in the way?

    Do you make a number of intermediate calculations?

    Thanks again for the great post.

  3. Mike there are actually a few ways to handle that.

    The first is as you suggest, plotting intermediate destinations that get you to your final destination and avoiding the object (which you should not be surprised by because you have the map!).

    I have seen and heard of people describe using right angles to make your way around an object.

    Turn either left or right in a right angle from your direction of travel, traveling parallel to the obstacle until you are past it (count your steps).

    At this point you would proceed in your direction of travel.

    Once you have cleared the obstacle (for example you have made it to the other side of the river), make a right angle in the opposite direction of your first one (if you made a right, now make a left). Count your steps until they match the amount your traveled out of your way.

    You should now be directly on the other side of the obstacle you faced and can once again proceed to your destination in your direction of travel.

    Ultimately you did something like this:
    ^ encountered obstacle
    --> 2000 steps
    ^ until you pass the obstacle
    <-- 2000 steps
    ^ proceed to your destination

    Hope that helps...