Map, Compass & GPS

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

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Taking a Bearing with a Magnetic Compass

Taking a bearing or sighting with a compass is an important skill that can determine direction to an object or help the hiker locate and identify his position in the backcountry.   

A compass is an important part of the backcountry navigator’s kit.  The knowledge of how to use a compass is still important; do not underestimate this skill. 

Sighting with a compass allows the hiker to determine the direction to an object such as a mountain peak or lake.  The compass direction to an object is known as the “bearing” or azimuth.   Bearing is the more common term in outdoor recreation and is a term used heavily in GPS navigation.  For example, if a mountain peak is due north of you, the bearing to the peak is 000° (spoken as zero zero zero degrees.)

Taking a bearing with a compass allows the hiker to do several things.

First, sighting on a distant object can provide direction to that object and repeated sightings can provide course corrections along the way.  Secondly, with several sightings on different objects a person’s position can be triangulated.  (Triangulation will be the topic of a later post.)

This post will focus on using a standard baseplate compass such as the two examples pictured below.  (The lensatic and military compass will not be discussed.)

To read the rest of the post go here.

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