Before a wilderness trip, be sure you understand how to read a map and use a compass. Your map should be the appropriate scale, and display the region’s major features and landmarks. A GPS receiver (global positioning satellite system) can determine your location anywhere on the planet. GPS devices are particularly useful in the far north where magnetic declination increases.

If you don’t have a map or compass, see “Navigation without a compass”.

compass a

The Compass

Navigation – Compass Only

Step 1 – To go in a certain direction, turn the “compass case” to set the desired degree or direction. Align with the “direction of travel” line. Disregard the needle.  

compass b

Step 2 – To travel in the desired direction, level the compass and point the “direction of travel” arrow straight ahead of you. Now turn yourself until the north end of the needle fits over the north arrow on the bottom of the compass case. Identify a landmark and travel in that direction.

compass c
Navigation – Compass and Map

Step 1 – Because the compass points to magnetic north, and most maps align with true north, it is recommended that you create magnetic north lines on your map. To do this, draw lines parallel to the magnetic north pointer in the bottom margin. This compensation is referred to as the declination.

Step 2 – To set your compass to take you where you want to go, place the compass on the map. By using its edge, align the compass so that it touches both the “start” and the “destination”. Then turn the “compass case” until the arrow on the bottom is parallel to the magnetic north on the map.

compass d

Step 3 – Hold compass level in hand, “direction of travel” arrowhead pointing ahead. Turn your body until the needle fits over the arrow on the bottom of the case. Look straight ahead toward distant landmark. That’s the direction you will go to reach your destination.

compass e


No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Many of our adventures and random thoughts are captured with video and available on our YouTube channel


Don’t miss anything, 
Subscribe to our newsletter today.