Navigation with a compass is not something that is difficult to grasp. In reality, it is as simple as 1,2,3.
If you are heading to any trails, mountains or if you are in a new area looking to explore, a detailed map of the area (1:50,000) and a compass should be part of your all important mandatory kit. More importantly, the knowledge of how to use a map with a compass is essential.
A compass is a magnetic needle floating in liquid that responds to the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s amazingly simple but equally amazing. Several options are available when purchasing a compass, for running (or hiking), an orienteering compass is ideal.
I personally recommend a compass with a magnifying glass; it’s not essential but can certainly help when fine detail is required.
Your compass will have:
Taking these four key navigation points one step farther, these degrees are also split into finer tuning such:
North East (NE) – 45 degrees
South East (SE) – 135 degrees
South West (SW) – 225 degrees
And North West (NW) – 315 degrees
These principal points add to the 4-main directional points and thus provide 8-pricipal points that we are able to use in basic navigation.
Making oneself familiar with the compass and these 8-key directions points is a great way to start.
Taking a Bearing
First and foremost, ensure you have the appropriate map for your area in a suitable scale: usually 1:50,000 is ideal.
Remember, North is the top of the map. It’s imperative you orientate the map correctly.
To take a bearing you need to know where you currently are, point A and where you would like to go, point B.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Easy isn’t it?
*Map bearings and field bearings can differ. In Whakatane this is approximately 21 degrees. This is called ‘DECLINATION’.
- Understand maps and spend time in the comfort of your home looking at and analysing maps of areas that you know well. It will make things easier to understand.
- Know and understand scale. For example, 1:25,000 means 1 unit in the map is the equivalent to 25,000 units.
- Maps have LATITUDE (East to West) and LONGITUDE (North to South).
- An Altimeter (many modern GPS sports watched contain this but you must calibrate it) is extremely useful in conjunction with your map and compass, particularly in any orienteering event. However, this is beyond basic navigation.
- A GPS (Garmin or similar) and/or an IPhone with ‘apps’ such as Map APP NI and Map APP SI are great back ups that can offer security to a basic navigator. However, never rely on such tools as batteries can die, gps signals fade and of course, you may just possibly break or loose such a device. In the early days of navigation, these tools may just help provide you with a much-needed security blanket.
Read the follow on article here. If you enjoyed these tips, you will definitely enjoy the upcoming workshops geared towards getting you ready for Spirited Women.