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.

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8
votes
5answers
297 views

Did any lighthouses provide directional navigation signals?

Rather than shining in all directions, lighthouses usually produce a directed beam of light that continuously sweeps in a circle. This allows: the light to be more concentrated and so appear brighter....
28
votes
5answers
6k views

What advantage does the what3words coordinate system have over other, traditional systems?

I recently came across the what3words coordinate system in an outdoor magazine. The system divides the world into squares of 3 m x 3 m. Each square is then named with a combination of three (as far as ...
7
votes
7answers
574 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
1k 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 recorded routes simply because people haven't ...
4
votes
2answers
176 views

How to explain unexpected success following a bearing taken from an iPad

I live in northern British Columbia where the relevant declination values are currently Magnetic declination: 17° 45.30' East Grid declination (for Natural Resource Canada's NTS maps): 16° 17.04' ...
24
votes
21answers
16k views

As of 2019, why do mountaineering courses still teach how to use a paper map?

I've been looking into learning how to mountaineer and noticed that the local mountaineering society still requires a training in navigation as part of the prerequisites for most of their basic ...
48
votes
10answers
5k views

How can you navigate without a compass or GPS

What are the ways you can navigate when you don't have a compass or a GPS? For example how can you tell which way is north.
27
votes
12answers
6k 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? ...
3
votes
2answers
253 views

What signs can I use to navigate a cave if lost?

I'm working on a story where a character gets trapped in a cave but use his knowledge as a weatherman to navigate and escape! Are the any weather-related clues you could use to escape a cave ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

Group protocol should the group become separated

A small group (2-10 people total) is travelling in a wilderness area. For whatever reason a person or a couple get separated. What is the best strategy for the lost ones? What is the best strategy to ...
6
votes
1answer
336 views

What are the differences between prismatic, lensatic, mirrored, and optical sighting compasses?

Background I am looking at compasses for backpacking and camping, and have come across more compass varieties than I had ever thought possible. Three terms that often come up together are "prismatic",...
8
votes
2answers
188 views

Garmin inReach vs. overcast sky

Garmin says about inReach that to have a two-way satellite communication "you need to have a clear view of the sky". And what about cloud cover?.. Say it's winter and 100% overcast with angry ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

Navigation device with offline maps and GPX support

I have a subscription service from komoot for maps. Is there any GPS device that supports offline maps and GPX, preferably with android OS integration. Example scenario would be: Use an android based ...
5
votes
1answer
101 views

Is there an app: remind me when I get back here

The basics of what I'm after is very, very simple: Push a button, it notes your location. When you reach that point again it tells you. I've looked around and I don't find anything that seems to ...
5
votes
1answer
137 views

How do simple compass needles remain level instead of see-sawing with magnetic dip? Are they flat even near the poles?

This instagram post by Colin O'Brady (just hiked across Antarctica) shows his compass needle looking fairly level, but I can't see enough else to know if he's holding it level. A significant fraction ...
9
votes
2answers
179 views

How to follow bearings while running?

I'm am amateur orienteer that does a fair chunk of races. I'm reasonably decent at navigating - using attack points, bearings, contours, catching features etc. But I cannot follow a bearing ...
8
votes
1answer
186 views

What is a glass artificial horizon?

On Amundsen's polar expedition they had, Of instruments and apparatus for the sledge journeys we carried two sextants, three artificial horizons, of which two were glass horizons with dark glasses, ...
57
votes
3answers
12k views

How do you know you have reached North or South Pole without GPS?

Having read about the recent foot traverse of Antarctica by Colin O'Brady I was wondering which means the polar explorers of former, pre-GPS times used to determine that they had reached the North or ...
50
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 ...
13
votes
1answer
194 views

Magnetic deviation at either pole

I know that the magnetic north is not exactly at the polar north, so when hiking very close to the Northern Pole, you have to take the difference into account. This got me thinking: Is this also a ...
12
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
7k views

What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?

Suppose I am out in the wilderness and an emergency arises. I have an accurate fix on my location (from GPS, map and compass, astronomical observation, etc...). I manage to get in touch with ...
8
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
383 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?
7
votes
3answers
256 views

What do unusual waymarks in France mean?

I recognize the official system for French waymarks of Grand Randonees and local paths like shown here: but I've also seen large white rectangles with a horizontal red line in the middle. They are ...
3
votes
0answers
199 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
342 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
883 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. ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

How to estimate current speed and direction while swimming at sea?

In an episode in the tv series "I shouldn't be alive", crew members of a yacht racing team got caught in a violent storm and found themselves stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after their boat capsized. ...
7
votes
2answers
548 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
2k 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?
11
votes
1answer
678 views

Can I use satellite images as hiking maps, how?

I tried to find topographic maps of my area in Brazil, but the best I could find is some 1:50000 map from 1983. My biggest need for a map (besides not getting lost) is avoiding private properties and ...
13
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
209 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
2k 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?
8
votes
2answers
254 views

Are the orienteering marches popular in Germany?

I'm engaged in orienteering marches, which differ from sport orienteering: there is the time limit, where finishing before time gives no advantage to the participant, and the center is put on the ...
13
votes
3answers
654 views

Navigational gear worldwide

Is there any difference in navigational equipment between the northern and southern hemisphere? We live in the northern hemisphere but will be emigrating to the southern in the next few weeks. We'll ...
15
votes
2answers
3k 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
96 views

Orienteering skill organized trainings in Germany?

Are there any schoolings/trainings for orienteering skills in Germany? I hike during weekends, but mostly using GPS (geocaching) or using trails, so there's not much opportunity to fully train ...
4
votes
1answer
265 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?
6
votes
1answer
511 views

If I lose my compass, what is the easiest way to identify and follow a heading? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How can you navigate without a compass or GPS Obviously we all carry a compass and a map when we go trekking, but if I lose them but know I need to get back to my car two days ...
9
votes
2answers
166 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
156 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?
11
votes
1answer
771 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?
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Thinking about a road trip out West

My wife and I are thinking of taking a road trip from northwest Ohio to "out west" - Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, etc. I've never been farther west than Indiana, so it's a whole new ...
7
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
305 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 ...
98
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
174 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 ...