How To Use a Compass

How To Use a Compass

When setting off on a hike, it's crucial to be prepared for any situation that may arise. And way too often, we rely on our phones, in the moment, for that preparation.

So, what happens if your phone runs out of batteries while you're on a hike? Or you drop it down a ravine while trying to get that incredible sunrise photo. Or it gets too hot, and... explodes?

All of this can leave you deep in the forest without GPS. If that happens, having a compass and basic know-how on how to use it can be a lifesaver.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a compass on a hike, ensuring you stay on the right path even when technology fails you.

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Compass

Before hitting the trails, take the time to familiarize yourself with your compass. Understand the different parts of the compass, such as the baseplate, the rotating bezel, and the direction of travel arrow. Knowing how to hold the compass correctly and how to read the markings is essential for accurate navigation.

Step 2: Orient the Map

Once you have your compass in hand, orient the map to match the terrain around you. Align the compass's edge with the direction of travel arrow pointing towards your destination on the map. This step is crucial for ensuring that you are heading in the right direction.

Step 3: Set Your Bearing

Determine the bearing to your destination by rotating the bezel until the orienting lines align with the north-south grid lines on the map. The direction of travel arrow should now point towards your destination. This bearing will guide you on your hike.

Step 4: Follow Your Bearing

Hold the compass flat in front of you and turn your body until the magnetic needle aligns with the orienting arrow. This will point you in the direction of your bearing. Keep the compass steady as you hike, periodically checking to ensure you are still on course.

Step 5: Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

While following your compass bearing, stay aware of your surroundings. Look for landmarks, trail markers, or natural features that can help confirm your direction. Adjust your path as needed to stay on track towards your destination.

Ideally, you'll never need to use a compass because your phone is a great tool. However, packing one, and having the knowledge you need to use it adds more confidence to your outdoor time.

Also: remember to practice using your compass in different settings to build your skills and ensure you are prepared for any weather, All-Season. 

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