Bushcraft: Land Navigation Basics

20 10 2010

Over at ITS Tactical Blog there are a number of great Land Navigation Articles

LandNav 101

1. Introduction to map terminology
In the most ideal situation, you might have access to a GPS with fresh batteries—but even then successful wilderness navigation isn’t a guarantee. Remember back to elementary school math; they always taught the long, hard way before introducing the shortcuts that are used in the real world. It is in this spirit that we are launching a new series on land navigation. We’ll start with the basics, progressing to more advanced land navigation topics.

2. Introduction to map margins
Today we’ll be addressing what all those things in the margins of your map mean and how to best use them to your advantage when navigating. The margins of a topographic map are rich with information. For the LandNav 101 series, we are going to be operating strictly against USGS maps. While other cartographic entities may vary their margin layout, most will contain all of the details covered herein.

3. Reading and associating terrain
Today we’re going to discuss how to read terrain off of a map. Reading terrain is more about artistic visualization than it is science. There are three major factors that aid in the visualization of terrain from a 2d map: Contour Lines , Colors, Shading

4. Compass selection and recommendations
Compass selection is often driven by personal preference, much like some prefer one vehicle make and model to another. Our goal with this article is not to suggest which compass to buy before you know how to use it, but rather to show you the different options out there. We feel it’s important and necessary to have a compass at your disposal during this series.

5. Understanding the Universal Transverse Mercator System
In its essence, the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system divides up the globe into small, manageable segments. Rarely is someone going to set out and hike from Oregon to Maine and most planned adventures, even when spending a week in the backcountry, won’t require more than a handful of quads. Latitude and longitude is obviously a very valid way of referencing your position on the globe, but most recreational outdoorsmen have moved on to UTM. Likewise, the military uses MGRS, another type of globe grid system, in lieu of latitude and longitude. MGRS is a topic which will be covered in-depth in the future.

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