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Questions tagged [navigation]

This tag is for all questions about outdoor navigation with maps, compasses or mobile devices equipped with sensors for satellite based positioning systems.

11
votes
3answers
135 views

How is elevation gain and change measured for hiking trails?

If a trail is listed as 1500m of elevation change, what exactly does that mean? For example, if the trail goes up 500m, then down 200m, then up 100m, then down 300m, then up 400m, is that considered ...
8
votes
2answers
108 views

What does contouring mean in the context of navigation/orienteering?

One of the techniques while navigating in the outdoors is known as contouring, what does this mean and when would it be useful?
3
votes
0answers
61 views

How to find good hiking maps for the Laugavegur trail in Iceland? [duplicate]

I will be hiking the Laugavegur trail alone and have been looking for good hiking maps (1:50 000) online. My google searches yield no good results. Where do you even begin to look?
3
votes
2answers
142 views

How accurate is the method of finding north with a watch?

There is a method of finding north with a watch described here So you point the hour hand of your watch at the sun. Halfway between your hour hand and the noon mark is south. How accurate is this ...
7
votes
1answer
848 views

Getting lost and circling a trail in a loop?

What is the term for that phenomenon when someone in wilderness start experiencing a strange situation? When, They aren't certain that they have lost the route They may or may not be walking on a ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Are there any reliable plants to use for navigation?

I've always heard that moss grows on the north side of a tree. Presumably, this is because conditions on the north side, at least in the northern hemisphere, tend to get less sunlight and are damper. ...
3
votes
1answer
538 views

What is a back bearing when navigating with map and compass?

Sometimes when navigating with map and compass one will take a back bearing, i.e. a bearing taken directly opposite to the direction one is travelling? When and why would one want to do this?
6
votes
2answers
460 views

What is the risk of getting lost while canoeing in a cypress swamp?

Based on the answer here I would be exploring a cypress swamp in the Mississippi valey north of the 35th Parrell. If I canoe in a lake or on a river, I always have a pretty good idea where I am, and ...
3
votes
1answer
125 views

Does the two sticks and a star method of finding north work the same way in both hemispheres?

There is a method of finding north by aiming two sticks at a star and then tracking the star's movement to find which way is north. You can read the full description here. However, there is the a ...
3
votes
1answer
80 views

In orienteering/navigation, what is an attack point?

Some features in orienteering or navigation are called attack points. What exactly does this refer to?
8
votes
1answer
186 views

What is a catch feature in orienteering?

On of the terms used in orienteering is "catch feature". What exactly is a catch feature and how would a catch feature help one with navigating in the outdoors?
8
votes
1answer
109 views

In orienteering/navigation, what is a handrail feature?

One of the terms in orienteering/navigation is "handrail feature". What exactly does this term mean?
7
votes
1answer
136 views

What is the col between Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro?

When browsing Wikipedia's List of peaks by prominence, I was surprised to see that the parent peak of Mt Meru (in Tanzania) is Mount Kenya (350 km away) and not Kilimanjaro (50 km away). The col ...
7
votes
5answers
475 views

Would there be any practical uses of a geological map for a hiker/backpacker?

I just found that I can get free geological map overlays for Google Earth for all of the individual states in the United States from here. For instance, this is what a good deal of Yosemite National ...
6
votes
2answers
524 views

What is dead reckoning when navigating with a map and compass?

There is a technique for navigation known as dead reckoning, what is this technique exactly and when would it be useful?
6
votes
4answers
273 views

How would navigation be different while hiking at night?

If one were to hike during the night and sleep during the day, what differences in navigation would one have to take into account? In my experience you are more on instruments (such as a compass or ...
17
votes
6answers
641 views

Are there any general rules of thumb for route finding up a mountain without any trails?

Sometimes mountains won't have trails or recorded routes simply because they don't get enough traffic that a trail will be created. Not every mountain has a recorded routes simply because people haven'...
5
votes
2answers
138 views

Can you find your location using the angle between compass bearings?

Sometimes compasses are less accurate than we would like them to be. They can be thrown off by their surroundings, have their polarity reversed, become demagnetized, develop air bubbles or be taken ...
1
vote
2answers
261 views

What is the minimum knowledge to navigate with only a compass?

Assuming I have memorized the major Latitude and Longitudes as they relate to the world, as shown in the image below and that I know how to identify latitude & longitude with a compass. What else ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

How to identify latitude & longitude with a compass?

I am not exactly sure where I am in the world. It could be that I am in a boat on the ocean, been in a plane crash, or suffered some other calamity. In any case I either have a compass with me or ...
8
votes
1answer
516 views

I have a compass but no watch, how can I tell when it will get dark?

I was reading all of the answers to Are there any situations while backpacking that would require a watch? and surprised at the number of answers that said you need a watch so you would know how long ...
26
votes
10answers
4k views

How to temporarily mark a trail?

If one needed to hike out and then come back to a certain spot, how could one temporarily mark their trail so that it is easy to follow back to that exact spot when the route back is not obvious? ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Are there types of compass other than the regular magnetic one and the gyrocompass?

Today I learned about the existence of the "gyrocompass". A gyrocompass is a type of non-magnetic compass which is based on a fast-spinning disc and rotation of the Earth (or another planetary body ...
38
votes
4answers
2k views

Compass compatibility: Can I use my US compass in Australia? [duplicate]

Background I bought my compass in the US last year. Next week I'm going to travel to Australia. Question Is my US-compass compatible with Australia? or do I need a special compass? Do I need an ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Can a compass be thrown off by its surroundings?

Would it be possible for a compass be affected by its surroundings, such as a large iron deposit or other rocks to the point where it is not working correctly? I am not talking about declination but ...
8
votes
1answer
875 views

Can a compass reverse polarity?

Can a compass have its polarity reversed so that the end marked "north" points south and vice versa? If so, what could one do to prevent and fix this problem?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it normal for a compass to develop an air bubble at high altitude?

I live in Denver, Colorado. Going above 10,000 ft. (3,000 metre) always results in an air bubble large enough for me to want to tilt the compass to prevent the bubble from interfering with the needle....
3
votes
1answer
784 views

How to triangulate your position with a map and compass?

While navigating or orienteering with a map or compass one of the essential skills is the ability to find your position on the map with the aid of the compass. This can be important if you need to ...
82
votes
4answers
9k views

Why would one aim off when navigating with a map and compass?

Sometimes while navigating with map and compass, the advice is to aim off i.e. to aim either to the left or right of the intended destination, as opposed to straight for it. Why and when would one ...
8
votes
2answers
274 views

How do you correct Google Earth's incorrect slope percentage?

I often use Google earth to plan trips. One part of that is marking paths and seeing how steep they are. However Google Earth severely underestimated the steepness of slopes. For instance here is a ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I find north from the stars without recognizable constellations?

If I am trying to find out which way is north at night, and I can see stars, but not the North Star or the Southern cross or other recognizable constellations, because the terrain is limiting my view, ...
3
votes
0answers
59 views

GPS unit for road cycling and mountaineering [closed]

I am looking for a GPS device for road cycling (road navigation and gpx tracking) and mountaineering (topo maps, compass, barometric elevation / pressure). I am finding no products explicitly marketed ...
31
votes
1answer
5k views

Are corpses on Mount Everest used as way-points?

A friend of mine loves to brag about his Mount Everest experiences. He's a great climber and adventurer but sometimes I think he might exaggerate his stories a little ;). However, lately he came up ...
5
votes
1answer
67 views

Garmin Etrex 10

I just got an etrex 10, and I am using it mostly for geocaching. When you are navigating to a geocache is there a way to see your distance from the cache? I know the geocaching app has this.
8
votes
2answers
160 views

How to find route for pedestrian

I want to make long foot trip from Salzburg via Innsbruck to Milan and from there to Venice. Is there a tool that allows me create routes for pedestrian? I'm looking for things like walking on ...
15
votes
1answer
282 views

How do you stabilize a sextant for use on a boat in rough water?

Using a sextant to get accurate angle measurements is tough on moving vessel. It's even harder when the waters are rough. Is there a technique that is most useful in stabilizing the device and/or ...
28
votes
1answer
6k views

Will a compass work underground or underwater?

Because they rely on radio signals, GPS units generally do not work underground or underwater, but what about a plain ol' magnetic compass? Are the magnetic fields of earth present at all depths? ...
5
votes
1answer
573 views

IOS Map App that creates routes by tracing a path?

I've been using a topo app on the PC for years that lets you, among other things, trace a route on the map with the mouse, then it gives you the distance and height profile for that route (even turns ...
10
votes
3answers
226 views

What Navigation Aids can I make on an island with only a knife?

In a recent discussion about navigating from a deserted island, it was suggested that if I have a knife and natural resources I could create my own navigation aids. In this instance I was planning to ...
9
votes
2answers
205 views

When is the best time of year to find the North Pole?

The Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is defined as the point in the Northern Hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface. source There were several attempts to ...
25
votes
3answers
7k views

How much distance is there between True North and Magnetic North Poles?

This question is not as simple as it seems, and a few minutes of googling did not drop the answer in my lap. A comment at I never adjust for true north. Is this bad practice? suggesting that: ...
43
votes
6answers
8k views

I never adjust for true north. Is this bad practice?

This question (Calculate true north with a compass and map) got me thinking. I rarely bother adjusting compass bearings for magnetic north. Is this bad? I understand the theory but I just rarely ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Calculate true north with a compass and map

We've a map and a functional compass. A compass shows of course the magnetic north and the map provides us with the correct and current declination. The North Magnetic Pole is the point on the ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What is “Isolation” and “Prominence” in mountain terms?

When I was browsing through the wikipedia page of the Denali mountain, I came across some piece of information. Refer the screenshot below. What does the term Prominence and Isolation mean?
13
votes
8answers
6k views

Is a smartphone or dedicated gps receiver better for navigation in the desert?

For most backcountry navigation I use a topo map and compass when necessary. Generally I'm following known trails and combined with some basic awareness of cardinal direction and land features I don't ...
8
votes
1answer
212 views

What are the measurements on this slope angle tool?

I totally need one of these This helps you estimate the slope angle on a contour map by measureing the gaps between the contour lines. This is to help you avoid avoid avalanche areas. I'm sure I ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

Can a compass needle become de-magnetized over time?

My compass has become increasingly untrustworthy. Over the past couple years I had noticed that it often pointed pretty close to magnetic South, but it corrected after a light tap. In two recent ...
22
votes
3answers
9k views

How do you locate the “North Star”?

What if it's night and you want to find north? How do you locate the North Star in the night sky?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I find north using a watch?

I've heard this is possible but I'm not sure on the details. Can someone elaborate?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

GPS navigation device or app that allows entry of UTM coordinates?

I would like to start being a little more active by getting outdoors more. My state offers a "water guzzler" program that puts water in remote locations for wildlife. They also publish a large atlas ...