• Ranger Ran


Updated: May 30, 2019

Learning to navigate on land with a compass is knowledge any wilderness hiker or backpacker needs for survival. Although a GPS might be easier to navigate with, a compass will never run out of battery power or lose its signal due to clouds or tree cover. A compass alone will not prevent you from becoming lost---you will also need a decent map and know how to read it. It's a good idea to practice using a compass in a park you are familiar with first, before testing your skills in the wilderness.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You'll Need:




Determine Your Location on the Map

Step 1 Use the compass and map to find your present location by triangulation. Find a recognizable landmark on the map and draw a line connecting it and where you think you are located on the map.

Step 2 Find another landmark at least 45 degrees from the first landmark. Draw a line on the map that connects the second landmark to where you think you are located on the map.

Step 3 Look at where the lines meet, forming an X. This is where you are actually located on the map.

Navigate With the Compass

Step 1 Hold the map level to the ground and place the compass on the map. Place the compass heading arrow---located on the base---so that it points in the direction you wish to travel.

Step 2 Turn the compass dial until both the needle and the north line of the compass line up with north as indicated by the map.

Step 3 Look at the compass heading line. It should now be oriented to the map and ready to help you navigate in the direction you wish to travel.

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