Map, Compass & GPS

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tracking Barometric Pressure With A GPS

Extend the usefulness of your GPS by tracking and monitoring the local weather.

Resetting your GPS to monitor and plot barometric pressure is a great tool for the backcountry hiker.

The following is the lead-in to an article that I recently wrote for the web site:

Barometric pressure data is important because it gives the hiker an idea of how the weather is developing and changing. I use my Garmin GPSMap60CS receiver to provide barometric pressure information while hiking in the back country. 

To read the rest of the post go here.

Note: is a wonderful resource for those living or planning to hike in the Pacific Northwest.  The site's posts are writen by experienced hikers.  The editors provide a crip, clean and fact based product.   Bookmark this site; it is simply the best.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Navigation Classes

Navigation & wilderness survival classes scheduled for Central Oregon.

I have just completed scheduling classes for Spring and Summer through Central Oregon Community College's Continuing Education Program.

Please visit the Outdoor Quest web site for the complete listing.

Call 541 383 7270 to schedule and sign up for a class.

New for 2013 is a four evening series of classes dedicated to land navigation for hunters.  This will be an in depth map, compass and GPS class for the dedicated backcountry hunter.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Survival

My friend Leon is a writer about all topics relating to survival.

His latest work is in the Bend Bulletin.  The topic for this week is preparing a survival kit.

To read Leon's post go here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ranger Bands

A friend of mine made up some Ranger Bands as a Christmas present this year.  They are very handy.

Wikipedia describes them as:

"This type of rubber band was popularized by use in the military. They are essentially sections of tire inner tubing cut into various sizes. They have the advantage of being versatile, durable, and resistant to weather and abrasion. They are commonly used for lashings, and can also be used for makeshift handle grips, providing a strong high-friction surface with excellent shock absorption."
The inner tubes I am using are from a bicycle.

Here is a simple video that gets the concept across quite nicely.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Emergency Shelter

The following is Peter Kumerfeldt's post on emergency shelter options.

There may come a time when you have to spend a night out that you hadn’t planned on. It may be because of weather, darkness, injury or more commonly, getting lost! Regardless of the cause you are now faced with nine or ten hours of discomfort at best and, at worst, the loss of your life because of your lack of preparedness for the event.

No one wants to spend a cold, wet, hungry, lonely night out away from family and friends but it happens! And it happens all to frequently. It happens to both to the experienced and the novice – none are immune from the possibility of having to survive cold temperatures, high winds and precipitation sitting under a tree waiting for the sun come up the next morning. It is more likely that the experienced person will be better equipped and ready for a night out. It is also true that more experienced people, based on their know-how and past successes are prone to over-estimating their skills and abilities to spend a night out and underestimate the impact of the environment and the weather on their ability to survive.

To read the rest of Peter's post visit his blog here.

Winter Hiking - Layering Your Clothing has a fine article about layering your winter clothing.  This is post is a follow-up to "Base Layer Clothing Selections."

Many winter hikers use a four layer clothing system:
  1. A base layer, consisting of a synthetic wicking long sleeved shirt and long underwear.
  2. A fleece sweater as an insulating midlayer.
  3. A hard shell jacket and pants as a wind-proof/waterproof layer.
  4. A puffy down or synthetic jacket and pants for even more warmth.

During the day when you are active, you’ll most likely be wearing layers 1-3, in addition to gloves and one or more hats, although during periods of high exertion you may take off layers 3 and 2 to vent as much extra heat as possible in order to avoid sweating.

To read the rest of Section Hiker's post go here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding Direction Without a Compass

Preparation and carrying the ten essentials is vital to any outdoor trip.  Map, compass and GPS make up my navigation kit.  Still, the unplanned happens and the magnetic compass may be broken or left at home.  Knowing a few common practices can make a difference.

How can you determine direction without a compass or when the compass is broken?

There are a few viable techniques that can be used to determine direction.  But first, let’s eliminate two methods that are not practical.

Let’s eliminate the old axiom of moss growing on the north side of a tree.  It is just not reliable.
To read the rest of the post go here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Product Review: The Leatherman "Rebar"

The owner of the blog The Florida Steampunker has written a review of the new Leatherman multi-tool.

I'll go right out and say it. I'm concerned about the future of Leatherman. Why do I say that? Well, I've had a series of bad experiences with them. But in all honesty for every one bad experience I can call upon at least two good experiences. But I worry. In a nutshell I've had reasons to question their quality control and warranty services. But I say again for every 1 incident I have had 2 good experiences. But that plays heavily into my review.

To read the complete post go here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Common Injuries: The Ankle Sprain

The following is a guest post by Dr. Alex Estrada.

Common Injuries: The Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are a common occurrence not just during any type of heavy physical activity, but also during common day-to-day activities. Walking and accidentally tripping on something is a common cause for ankle sprains. Some people have a history of lax ligaments making them more predisposed to ankle sprains. Other factors would be ill- fitting shoes, and physical activity that requires plenty of walking and running on rough terrain or activities requiring sudden stops and twisting movements. Prevention as well as protection is the best way to manage any form of potential injury such as ankle sprains. An ankle sprain during a hike is a sure fire way to ruin the moment. Key to preventing ankle sprains is to make sure that you have the proper fitting shoes and the right type of shoes for your activity. For hiking, high top boots is highly recommended. You should also make sure to break in any new shoes for at least a week, prior to using it for hiking or sports. Physical fitness is also an important factor to preventing injury.

Statistically speaking, around 23,000 Americans experience ankle sprains every day for a variety of reasons, making it a commonly sustained injury. Now the foot and ankle is made up of several ligaments, tendons, and bones. Ligaments are tissue connecting bone to bone. Because they bear a lot of weight and experience a lot of movement, these parts are often prone to injury. A sprain happens when your ligaments get over stretched. This is followed by inflammation, swelling, redness, and warmth on the affected area. One of the most common ways that cause a sprain is inversion or when your foot suddenly and accidentally turns inward, and there are many ways that this may happen. However, simple sprains can be managed in the field to prevent it from becoming worse. Do seek medical treatment as soon as possible though.

The word to remember when it comes to first aid for any muscular and skeletal injury is RICE. This means R – Rest, I – Ice, C – Compress, E – Elevate. Following this advice is very helpful in relieving pain and preventing the injury from getting worse.

R – Rest the affected area (for the purposes of our topic, this would be the ankle) to prevent any further or aggravating the injury. Remember to keep weight off on the injured part.

I – Apply cold or ice compress (do not apply ice directly, wrap it in a clean towel or shirt first before applying to the affected area) on the affected area. Apply for 20 minutes with a 30 minute rest interval before applying again. This helps to lessen the pain and swelling.

C – Compress the site of injury with bandages. You can also immobilize and support the affected ankle with these bandages. Take note not to wrap the area too tightly as this may cut off the blood supply.

E – Elevate the affected area or ankle to reduce the swelling or prevent the swelling from becoming worse.

Now I want you to remember that these are only first aid techniques to prevent any further injury and also to minimize pain. A lot of people mistakenly believe that if you can walk on or use the affected part, then it is not broken. This is dangerous as continuously using the affected part may aggravate the injury leading to further complications. Aggravation and improper medical management may further weaken the ligaments increasing the risk of recurrent injuries in the future. Once first aid has been applied, it is best to see your healthcare provider at once.

Dr. Alex Estrada obtained his medical degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. He advanced his medical training at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, New York and New York Hospital of Queens.

Dan's Depot ( is a instructional resource for training in all types of outdoor survival situations. Filled with articles, videos and forums to help you increase your survival skills under any circumstances.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Moss on the North Side of a Tree

Can you really find north or south by looking at a tree?

I bring this up today because this topic has started to pop up in my land navigation classes.

Recently, one of my students told me about a Ray Mears' video on It's called the "Path Finder." To watch the video go here. The student asked my my opinion of Mears' methods.

He brings up some interesting topics and demonstrates determining direction;

  1. By looking at the growth of tree limbs (larger limbs on the south side)
  2. Finding a cut tree stump and determining directions based on the growth rings
  3. Using the hour hand of a watch to determine direction, and;
  4. Using the sun, stick and shadow method to determine direction.
I'd comment that numbers 1 & 2 above depends upon your location and latitude. There are a lot of variables with this method that may or may not work in the Pacific Northwest.

My survival class tested the tree limb theory on the campus of a college in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Though there were several deciduous trees, most were fairly young and none convincingly pointed south.

Number 2, I've got to find a tree stump to check that out. Still, if you are on a north facing slope will you get that clear direction determination?

So, in my region of the Northwest, method 1 & 2 are not working for me.

Methods 3 & 4 have been illustrated in books for years. Do they work, sure. But I'd ask you to consider just how accurate these methods are. Rather than a specific heading such as 180 degrees (that is south) you will get a trend of direction; as in you are heading in a southerly direction. That may be all you need.

It might be hard to test out method 3 with a digital watch.

For more information about methods 3 & 4 take a look at the following references:

  1. Staying Found by June Fleming, Chapter 7

  2. Camping & Wilderness Survival by Paul Tawrell, start on page 175
Remember, no matter what you read or watch on TV - a new method - has to work for you. Test it out at home.

As an aside, I have enjoyed the few Ray Mears' videos that I have seen. If you are looking for a good video on backcountry survival in winter watch his BBC documentary, the Real Hero's of Telemark; here. It's is outstanding.

Update: June 20. I was able to link up with a friend (who has a doctorate in Forestry.) His sense was that trying to depend on the growth rings of a tree was risky and depended on too many variables to be of use.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: The Alaska Homesteader’s Handbook

Ever wonder how homesteaders in the Alaskan bush manage to get by in the extreme conditions? This book can give some insight.

by Leon Pantenburg

The Alaska Homesteader’s Handbook: Independent Living on the Last Frontier by Tricia Brown and Nancy Gates

My typical reaction to getting a new book in the mail is to leaf through the pages, and decide when (and if) I want to read it completely and do a review.

But The Alaska Homesteader’s Handbook grabbed me from page one and held on for about 40 stories and a couple hours. My first impression, re-enforced through the writing, was that this book is a well-written, informative collection of useful knowledge. In addition, most of information would be valuable to homesteaders anywhere or to anyone interested in emergency preparedness.

To read the rest of Leon's article go here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Have Fun in The Snow

The following article is an editorial from the Vancouver Sun (28 December) regarding recent backcountry rescues.

In the space of a week — Christmas week, to be exact — rescuers were called on to help lost snowboarders who had ventured out of bounds from the Cypress Mountain ski resort. One went missing for three days before miraculously being found alive, while the other was rescued within hours. In the same week, rescuers responded to a distress call from the Grouse Grind, the popular hiking trail that rises 900 metres from the base to the chalet, a call that turned out to be unfounded as the hiker, reported to have been injured, made it to the top on his own.

In all these cases, people ignored warnings from authorities to stay in bounds and off the treacherous, icy Grouse Grind, which is clearly marked closed for the season. And, in each case, rescuers on the ground and in the air were dispatched at considerable cost and risk to the brave volunteers who donate their time and expertise to help people in trouble on the North Shore mountains.

To read the rest of the article go here.

To read a response/guest opinion go here.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Walking a Line of Bearing

Walking a line of bearing is one of the corner stones of using a magnetic compass.
This post's focus is on the basics of how to use a compass and how to get from point A to point B.

Before technology entered the backcountry world of the outdoors, the primary and proven tools of navigation were a map and compass. Compass navigation remains an important component of the “Ten Essentials” for wilderness travel. Knowledge of how to use map and compass takes education and practice. Further, such knowledge will enhance GPS navigation as many concepts are interchangeable.

This article will discuss one of the basic uses of a compass, how to adjust the compass to walk a specific direction to get to a destination; to get from point A to point B.

Let’s start with a review of the key features and parts of a compass; see Figure 1 below. This figure is an example of a standard baseplate compass found in most outdoor stores. I recommend the backcountry navigator use a declination adjustable compass such as the Brunton 8010G or the Silva Ranger 515CL.
To read the rest of the post go here.

Figure 1

Friday, January 4, 2013

Symptoms of A Heart Attack

Every outdoorsman needs to know the symptoms of a heart attack. Here’s the story of my wake-up call.

by Leon Pantenburg

I felt fine on the morning of Dec. 13, 2012. But the night before, during my daily 1.4-mile powerwalk with the dog, I felt an unusual shortness of breath, and a tightness in the middle of my chest. That tightness vanished as soon as I stopped for a moment.
That was it, as far as any symptoms went. Typically, I powerwalk uphill every night, with the intent getting my cardiovascular system going, and elevating my heart rate. But this night, I only made about 100 yards up the usual hill before getting winded.

Me, attempting to fill my high desert elk tag and bring home some meat. Big game hunting was part of the active lifestyle I tired to live.
Me, attempting to fill my high desert elk tag and bring home some meat. Big game hunting is part of my lifestyle.

Luckily, I had taken an extensive Wilderness First Aid class required for Boy Scout leaders in June, and knew that many heart attacks don’t have real dramatic signs.

To read the rest of Leon's story, visit his blog.