If you’re going on a hiking trip without a map or a GPS gadget, you can still keep track of your movements with just a survival compass and a notebook. This navigation method requires a great deal of concentration and a bit of preexisting understanding, though.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to utilize a compass without a map on your hiking and camping journeys, getting you home safely.
Track Your Movements with the Pacing Technique
Pacing is a quite easy method of tracking your movements, but it needs a great deal of focus, so you need to be cautious when you do it.
It works by counting the variety of steps you make and monitoring the bearing at which you’re strolling.
Speaking from personal experience, counting actions is an insanely dull activity.
Military reconnaissance groups, which generally include 3 to 4 members, constantly have someone counting steps and keeping track of the bearing. In this manner, they can ensure they do not get lost.
Keeping track of your actions requires both a notebook and a compass.
For example, let’s say you have actually parked your vehicle at the edge of a forest, and you wish to do a little treking journey. Follow these actions to use the pacing method to track your movements and make your way back:
Step 1: Identify Your Heading
Pull out your compass and identify your heading before you begin strolling. If the instructions you’ll take is due north (0 ° on the compass), compose that down in your notebook and start strolling.
Action 2: Count Your Steps
Begin counting your actions as quickly as you start strolling and do not stop up until you stop strolling. If you require to speak with somebody on the phone or do anything that will draw focus far from counting steps, I recommend you stop walking.
Step 3: Determine Your New Heading and Document the Steps
When you reach a turning point (i.e., you’re going to alter your bearing), stop, and write down the number of actions you’ve taken up until now.
The note must appear like this:
0 °(N )– 2550 actions
Let’s say you’re turning right, for example.
Pull out your compass and point it due north, even if your heading so far wasn’t north– this process is identical for all instructions modifications. Lock your arms in when you get it and turn your entire body in the instructions you will take.
You’ll see that your needle is still pointing north, but the dial isn’t revealing that. Rotate the dial up until the N (north) mark lines up with the needle.
Without moving, take a look at the front of your compass. There’s probably going to be a line there (you can do it without a line, but it’ll be less precise). The number on the top of the dial beneath the line is your bearing!
Write that down.
In this example, because I stated you’re turning right, let’s state the bearing is 52 °, which is northeast.
Step 4: Continue Walking and Count Your Steps
Much like last time, start walking and count each action you take. Keep following these steps whenever you change direction. Write down the number of actions you make every time you alter direction.
Step 5: Going Back
Let’s state you walked 52 ° for 4225 steps, and you decide to reverse.
Your note pad should now appear like this.
0 °(N )– 2550 actions
52 °– 4225 steps
The concern is, how do you return?
You return by strolling in the opposite direction. The opposite direction of north is south, which’s simple to discover, however what about the reverse of 52 °
? Azimuth is the instructions you’re dealing with. On a compass, it’s revealed in degrees. To discover your return azimuth, the formula is simple:
- If the azimuth is higher than 180 °, then deduct 180– that’s your back azimuth.
- If the azimuth is smaller sized than 180 °, include 180– that’s your back azimuth.
In this case, the formula would be 52 ° + 180 °, which is 232 °. Now, determine the heading of 232 ° utilizing the approach explained in step 3 and walk in that direction for 4225 actions. You can make a note of this too!
Once you finish that portion of the journey, walk in the opposite direction of 0 °( which is 180 °, or merely south )for 2550 actions.
You have actually done it! You’re home!
An essential thing to note is that this approach is never ever 100% accurate. There are subtle curves and turns we take when we walk in the wild, and they’re invisible to our eyes and our natural navigation senses.
Nevertheless, you’ll remember enough of the track to acknowledge your surroundings as you walk. Even if you miss out on by a few hundred steps or by a couple of degrees when you’re browsing back, you’ll still be heading in the general instructions of your desired location.
Using a Compass Without a Map If You’re Lost
Let’s state you’re lost in the wild. Your GPS malfunctioned and you can’t count on it any longer. You didn’t believe that would occur, so you didn’t bring a map with you. You didn’t count your actions and make a note of instructions either.
The only piece of navigation gear you have is a compass. Worst-case situation, right?
That can be scary, for sure, however it’s not completion of the world. You can still use a compass without a map to get yourself to a safe place, and I’m going to teach you how.
Technique 1: Memorize the Map Prior To the Trip
Experienced hikers and campers are aware of this rule. Even if you’re bringing a map and a GPS device with you, remember the surrounding locations before you begin your trip.
For example, if you’re planning a treking trip in a forest, you need to memorize these 3 things before you triggered:
- Where you will park your automobile and begin your trip
- Where the closest towns and towns are
- Where the closest roads are
You’re probably questioning why this matters.
Describing the scenario explained in the intro (completely lost with no navigation tools other than your compass), the first thing you’re going to perform in that circumstance is remember where among those safe points is and walk in that direction.
How does that work?
Get a map (virtual or physical and draw a line from the center of the area you’re visiting (in our example, that location is a forest) to those safe points.
Step the specific angle of the line and the range in between the center of the location to the safe point. Do this for all safe points. You can document that details in your phone or in a treking journal, and I highly recommend you do both.
If you get lost, all you need to do is take a look at your information, discover the closest safe point, utilize the compass to find that bearing and begin walking because direction.
Let’s say you park your car in a town on the edge of the forest you’re hiking or camping in, which the town is on the east side of the forest.
All you have to do is take out your compass, point it due east, and start strolling because direction. Pull it out every few minutes to make certain you’re on the best track, and keep strolling because instructions up until you run out the woods (both literally and metaphorically).
You probably will not get to the specific area you were planning to (it would take laser accuracy to do that), but you’ll get to the eastern edge of the forest, and from there, you’ll have the ability to see the town.
But what happens if you didn’t remember the closest safe points and you have no idea where anything is?
Method 2: Find the Closest Town or Road Without Remembering the Map
So, you have a compass on you, but you have no idea where you are or where the closest safe point is. This scenario can be very hazardous.
If that holds true, the first thing you need to do is discover a viewpoint. Ideally a hill from which you can see what’s around you.
When you find a perspective, try to find buildings, cars, or farming fields. If you’re fortunate, you’ll see a town or a town.
Pull your compass out, learn the instructions of the safe point you identified, and start heading because direction.
A question a lot of people have is, “What do I do if there are no safe points?”
This is basically the worst possible scenario to find yourself in– no goal to reach.
In such a scenario, you should locate the nearby forest edge and make your way there. I understand that isn’t much to go on, but the smartest thing you can do is leave the woods.
If you’re lucky, you’ll discover an indication of human life out of the woods, like a road or a cabin. If you don’t, follow the forest edge and walk the forest up until you discover something.
A Disclaimer About Compass Navigation
As I described in the past, navigating in the wilderness without a compass isn’t a specific science. You would require amazing precision to remain on the bearing you initially picked, and that won’t happen.
The path you take will include subtle turns, taking you off the desired course, and this is why it’s important to pull out your compass every once in a while and reassess your instructions.
However, if you’re going for a town or a forest edge, it’s challenging to miss. You do not need to strike an extremely precise azimuth. For instance, if you require to travel at 143 ° for three miles, you’re going to reach your destination effectively even if you constantly alter instructions between 135 ° and 150 °.
What is very important is to try to stay on course as much as possible.