Orienting Compass and Map for Navigation

You might wonder, why would I ever need a compass when I got the smartphone, GPS handheld with me. Well, your phone or GPS could run of out juice, and the clouds and weather conditions may stop your devices using satellite services. 

I agree that it’s a lot of fun having navigational devices and smartphone but knowing how to use a map and compass keeps you stay in the path without getting lost. Even if you are interested in using digital services, check out article on best smartphone GPS apps for Hiking. 


learning how to use a compass

Before we even see how to use a compass, it is crucial to plan your route, your choice of terrain, hiking skills, and athletic conditions will all affect your plan. Plan your trip ahead to avoid any unnecessary risk, and let us start learning how to use a compass.

I'm going to talk about most commonly used Base Plate Compass in this article. Basics Compass consist of the direction of travel arrow on the top of the scale, and you always need to follow that direction of travel arrow on hiking.

copmas parts

Compass comes with a freely rotating bezel

Compass comes with a freely rotating bezel, and on the outer rim of the bezel, you can see N (North) and cardinal points (E, S, W) and the degrees ranging from 0-360.

Inside the compass, you can see a bit of shed shaped object called the Shed. And Lastly, you can see a floating needle that will always point to the magnetic north. and underneath that, there will be a base plate. So that's all the essential parts your need to know.

topographic maps

Topographic Maps With North Pointing up

Related article: How to Read Topographical Maps

Topographical maps give you the power to visualize the three-dimensional view of terrain. On most of the topographic maps, North is always up, if not check underneath the map for the direction. The orientation of the map is one of the necessary skill, so let's talk about that. 

North is always up

Orientating Map a to North

As I said, North is always up on most of the maps, and there will be lines going up and down, and they represent North and South, and the lines crossing left and right represent the east and west directions.

Orient Compass with a Map

  • Take the compass keep the arrow on the bezel in line with the compass scale arrow.
  • Place the edge of Compass in line with the lines (called meridian lines) on the map pointing to North and South directions.
  • Rotate the map until the North need (red), bezel arrow and compass scale arrow are equally aligned.

Once you orient your map correctly, then you should be able to identify the terrain with the help of peaks, cliffs, and other key objects. You got to be ready to change the directions so placing your thumb on current position will help you identify the last position.

Very Simple and Clear Video from MRCA 

You need to take a bearing before going into the woods so that you can always come back If you couldn't determine location by using terrain objects.

I hope understood how to orient compass with map for navigation, foryour reference here are some great explanation videos that explains How to Navigate with Compass.

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