Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Friday, February 5, 2016

Navigation Video's

While searching the web on land navigation I came across the Columbia River Orienteering Club's Youtube Channel.

Still going through the video's  but my first impression is that this club has done a very nice job.

Link to the club channel: Columbia River Orienteering Club.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fitting A Back Pack Correctly

Section Hiker has a post that I recommend backcountry hikers consider.  Hikers know that a waist belt is vital to comfortable travel with a pack.  But rarely do you find information on how it should fit your waist and hips.

"When buying a backpack you want to make sure that the hip belt is long enough so that it transfers most of your pack weight off your shoulders and onto your hips so that you can use the biggest muscles in your body, your legs, to carry most of the weight."  Visit Section Hiker's site for the details.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bubble in My Compass

Occasionally a bubble will become present inside the compass dial assembly.  Small bubbles the size of an air rifles’ “bb” will general not be a problem in the field.

Small bubbles generally develop into bigger bubbles. 

I visited the Silva website and found the following:

“We intend that our compasses are free of bubbles; however, if a small bubble forms in the liquid-filled capsule, it has no influence on the accuracy of the compass. Its appearance and disappearance are due to changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure. If a bubble larger than 1/4" in diameter appears, it is probably the result of a leaking capsule, usually caused by some form of shock damage, and the capsule will have to be replaced. In that case, just call our customer satisfaction department for a return authorization number and shipping address. From the U.S.A, call 1-800-572-8822 between 8 am-6 pm, eastern time. From Canada, call 1-800-263-6390.”

It is nice that a manufacturer of outdoor gear takes some responsibility.  Expect similar support from Brunton and Suunto.

If you have a cheap compass purchased at WalMart…just buy a new compass such as the

Silva Ranger on the Suunto M2.

If a liquid filled compass housing develops a leak table the compass in a plastic sandwich bag.  Don't take it back to the field, it will become a mess.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Maps For Your GPS

Are you looking for maps to install on your GPS?

Don't want to spend a lot of money?

Then take a look at the GPS File Depot.  File depot has a lot of maps that are free.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Buying a New Compass

Silva Ranger  - Outdoor Quest Image
There are several things to keep in mind when buying a compass.

My preferred compass is a declination adjustable sighting compass (with mirror) like the trail proven “Silva Ranger.” (Silva, Brunton and Suunto all make good compasses.) The key is that this type of compass can be adjusted for magnetic declination and that keeps your wilderness navigation simple. You can expect to pay roughly $35.00 - $60.00; a cheap compass will not serve the hiker well.

My experience is that most sales clerks are compass illiterate and have little navigation experience.  While looking at a compass ask the clerk to remove it from the plastic container/packaging.  Check the compass to ensure:
  1. The dial moves freely and does not stick.  
  2. There are no bubbles internal to the liquid filled compass housing.
  3.  Information engraved on the base plate must be legible.  If there is a magnifying glass verify that it is clear and not scratched. 
  4. The tick marks on the dial are in two degree increments.  The tick marks should be readable.
  5. The base plate, rotating dial assembly, and mirror are not chipped or broken.  
  6. The sighting assembly hinge allows freedom of movement without excess side to side movement at the hinge .
 Packaging should clearly state that the compass is declination adjustable.  Adjustable compasses may have a small metal tool that allows for setting the declination.  If the packaging states that the compass has declination marking but does not use the word adjustable move to another model.

After purchase visit the website to determine the declination of the area the hiker will be traveling through.

Remember that the red magnetic needle will always point to magnetic north.  With a declination adjustable compass the rotating dial has been adjusted so that the information provided by the compass is now in degrees true.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Wolf management is a hot button topic in the North West.

I never thought about wolves in Europe.

Interesting post attached.  Wolf hunt cancelled in Sweden.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Navigation Term of the Month: Map Scale.

Topographic Map - Scale

By Blake Miller defines map scale as:

“A ratio which compares a measurement on a map to the actual distance between locations identified on the map.”

A topographic (topo) map’s scale information is located at the bottom center of the map.  Other maps will generally have scale information in the large map key that outlines many of the features and data printed on the map.

The map scale for a United States Geologic Survey (USGS) 7.5 topo minute map is highlighted below.

Think of scale as your “zoom setting” as you would on a camera.  The smaller and tighter the scale the more detail you will find.  The topo above has a scale of 1:24,000.  A map of a national forest may have a scale of 1:126,000.  The forest map will not have the detail but will cover considerably more area.