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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13
votes
3answers
668 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 ...
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.
50
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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 ...
22
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, ...
27
votes
3answers
8k 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: ...
8
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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?
15
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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....
98
votes
4answers
13k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
3k views

What should I do when I'm lost?

What should I do when I get disoriented or lost? How can I find help or make myself easier to find? This is a general question to do when lost in the wilderness, whether it is a meadow or mountain.
20
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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 ...
12
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 ...
15
votes
3answers
5k views

How do I read a topographic map?

When navigating in the backcountry, you'll usually bring a topographic map that shows the terrain so you can tell if there will be steep slopes or cliffs that might make the route difficult. A ...
11
votes
2answers
281 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

Is a compass generally accurate in only one hemisphere, or both? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Navigational gear worldwide I'm not that well travelled (never been outside of Europe!) but at some point I'd love to head elsewhere to perhaps hike somewhere a bit more ...
9
votes
2answers
2k 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?
8
votes
1answer
739 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
22
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3answers
12k 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?
21
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2answers
4k 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 ...
18
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3answers
1k views

How precise is a pedometer for estimating on a backpacking trip?

In practice, how precise is a pedometer for estimating your progress on a trail? For example, if I'm to hike 10 miles, how far should I expect to be from the 10 miles marker? Is there data comparing ...
14
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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 ...
12
votes
3answers
320 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
799 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?
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?
9
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1answer
166 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?
9
votes
2answers
474 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?
4
votes
1answer
432 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?
4
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1answer
3k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
7k 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
1answer
199 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, ...
8
votes
2answers
915 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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
0answers
65 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k 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?