5 Map And Compass Expertise Each Outdoorsman Ought To Grasp

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Within the film Pirates of the Caribbean, as you could bear in mind, Johnny Depp’s character, Capt. Jack Sparrow, navigates with a magic compass whose needle factors towards the thing of the center’s need. Orienteering differs in topo map has contour strains rather than the galaxy imprinted on Sparrow’s compass, and the needle on a compass factors to the magnetic pole of Earth. These instruments can nonetheless lead you to the thing of your coronary heart’s need—be lake teeming with brook trout or base camp after a day of monitoring elk. However to harness the true magic of orienteering, you’ll should grasp the abilities right here.


1. Decipher a Baseplate Compass

For orienteering, you want a baseplate compass, consisting of a rotating compass housing mounted on a flat, clear base. When you don’t have a baseplate compass, purchase one earlier than studying additional. Orienteering can sound advanced, however by putting your personal compass over the map illustrations and following these directions, you’ll uncover that it’s really fairly easy—and enjoyable.


2. Learn a Topographic Map

A topo map is an eagle’s-eye illustration of the land, with variations in elevation proven through contour strains. (Usually, each fifth line is darker and marked with the elevation.) These contours allow you to interpret a flat piece of paper in three dimensions. With apply, it is possible for you to to see the nation in reduction, visualizing the rise and fall of the landforms. Map symbols, scale, and declination are keyed on the backside of the map—they could fluctuate barely amongst totally different mapping techniques.

When you can see a landmark, you may navigate towards it by taking a directional bearing. Right here’s how:

Step 1: Maintain the compass face up at chest stage and level the direction-of-travel arrow at a landmark, comparable to a peak. (The compasses above are held upright to point out the positions of the magnetic and orienting arrows extra clearly.)

Step 2: Holding the compass nonetheless, flip the housing till the magnetic arrow rests contained in the orienting arrow.

Step three: Learn the bearing in levels on the bearing information underneath the direction-of-travel arrow. Additionally notice the again bearing, which is your ahead bearing plus or minus 180 levels. (For instance, if the ahead bearing is 60 levels, the again bearing is 240 levels. If the ahead bearing is 220 levels, the again bearing is 40 levels.) Now when you get circled, you may relocate your course of journey by holding the compass and turning till the magnetic arrow is contained in the orienting arrow.

four. Plot a Course

Plotting a course with a map and compass lets you navigate to a vacation spot on the map that isn’t seen out of your place to begin.

Step 1: Orient the map together with your compass. For instance, if the course you want to journey lies north of your place to begin, place the map in order that the highest, or northern finish, is away from you with the purple finish of the magnetic needle dealing with away from you. Use the straight fringe of your compass’s baseplate to attract a line between your place on the map and the vacation spot you want to attain. Lengthen the road alongside the map far sufficient to bisect a line of longitude. This may will let you transfer the sting of the baseplate alongside the road as a way to align the orienting arrow straight over a longitudinal line, making it simpler to file an correct bearing, as described in Step 2.

Step 2: Retaining the baseplate firmly in place, flip the housing till the orienting arrow aligns parallel to one of many longitudinal strains, with the arrow pointing to the northern finish of the map in our instance. (If in case you have overlayed the map with strains that appropriate for declination, use these. If in case you have adjusted for declination by one other methodology, use the longitude strains on the map.)

Step three: Learn your course on the bearing information and jot it down. Observe the again bearing. It’s going to assist whenever you reverse your steps.

Step four: Holding your compass in your outstretched palm, flip your physique till the magnetic needle lies precisely inside the define of the orienting arrow. Comply with the direction-of-travel arrow.


When you can see two landmarks marked on a topo map, triangulation can repair your place on the map.

Step 1: Going through the landmarks, set your map on a flat floor. Place your compass on the map and switch the map till the longitude strains level north. This orients your map together with your compass. Take a direct bearing on one landmark. Subsequent, align the baseplate edge on the mapped landmark and rotate the complete compass till the magnetic arrow rests contained in the orienting arrow. Draw a line from the landmark towards your self.

Step 2: Repeat process with the second landmark. Your place is the place the strains cross.


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