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Feeling lost when it comes to understanding navigation and orienteering? They are essential skills not only for outdoor enthusiasts but also for survivalists who anticipate unexpected emergencies.

On this page, we’ll demystify the basics of land navigation, introduce critical tools like compasses, GPS devices, and the crucial role of paper maps. Ready? Let’s embark on this journey to never getting lost again!

Understanding Navigation and Orienteering

Understanding Navigation and Orienteering

Navigation and orienteering are key skills for survival. Navigation is knowing how to get from one place to another. You can use tools like GPS devices and maps to help you find your way.

But sometimes the grid may go down or cell networks could be compromised. This makes knowing how to navigate using a compass very important.

Orienteering is a sport that tests navigation skills. It uses a detailed map and a compass to move point-to-point in diverse, unfamiliar terrain. Participants aim at finding their way quickly between points on the map, often racing against time.

This activity has roots as military training exercise for land navigation skills but now it’s also enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. Learning orienteering not only helps you improve your navigation abilities with factors like magnetic north versus true north; it’s also fun!

Essential Navigation Tools

Essential Navigation Tools

GPS devices, paper maps, orienteering compasses, and binoculars are essential tools for navigation and orienteering.

GPS Devices

GPS devices are smart tools. They give you more details to help you during hard times. You can put in routes, ways, and land information into your GPS for trips like hiking or backpacking.

Road GPS have great skills! They quickly find new roads if you take a wrong turn.

Did you know that your phone could do the same thing? There are apps to download on your smartphone! With these apps, you can store maps and important stuff about navigation as PDF files.

Even with all of our tech, we still need basics like compasses and maps for tough times or emergencies.

Paper Maps

Paper Maps are key tools for land navigation. They show a big picture of the world around us. You can use them to find your way in wild or far-off places where there is no cell service or Wi-Fi.

Paper maps don’t need power or internet to work, so they are always ready. They also help you learn new skills like map reading and basic navigation. For those who love old things, paper maps hold a special value too.

No matter how much we move into the digital age with GPS devices, paper maps remain important.

Orienteering Compass

An orienteering compass is a must-have tool for any survivalist. It helps you find your way in the woods, mountains, or any place where you could get lost. You use it with a map to set and follow a path.

It also lets you work out how far you have to go and what direction to move in. This type of compass has features like a ruler edge for measuring distance on a map and an arrow that always points north.

It’s very handy when GPS devices fail or run out of power.


Binoculars are an essential tool for navigation and orienteering. They allow you to see distant objects and landmarks more clearly, helping you identify important features on a map.

With binoculars, you can spot hard-to-see landmarks or objects that may be crucial for finding your way. It is recommended to use binoculars with a magnification of 8 or 10 for navigation activities.

Compact and lightweight binoculars are particularly useful as they can be easily carried during your outdoor adventures. So, don’t forget to pack a pair of binoculars in your survival kit!

The Importance of Paper Maps

The Importance of Paper Maps

Paper maps are still incredibly important, especially in emergency situations. In today’s digital age, we rely on GPS and digital mapping technologies for navigation, but what happens when the grid goes down or cell networks are compromised? That’s where paper maps come in handy.

Unlike digital maps that require batteries or an internet connection, paper maps don’t have any dependence on technology. They provide a reliable source of information even in remote or wilderness areas without cell service or Wi-Fi.

With a paper map, you can navigate from point to point without worrying about losing signal or running out of battery.

Another benefit of using paper maps is that they offer a bigger picture view of the world. You can see an entire area at once and get an overview of your surroundings. This can be particularly helpful in orienteering and finding alternative routes if needed.

Lastly, there is something special about holding a physical map in your hands. Paper maps have sentimental value and can hold historical or cultural significance depending on where you are exploring.

So while digital maps may provide real-time directions, using a paper map adds a different level of engagement and connection to your journey.

In conclusion, don’t underestimate the importance of having paper maps as part of your survival gear. They offer reliability, independence from technology, and a unique experience that cannot be replicated by digital mapping tools alone.

Key Concepts in Orienteering

A couple exploring in the rainforest

In orienteering, understanding the difference between magnetic north and true north is crucial in accurate navigation. Additionally, knowing how to interpret declination and use bearing and triangulation techniques are key skills for successful orienteering.

Magnetic North vs True North

Magnetic north and true north are two important concepts in navigation. Magnetic north is the direction that a compass needle points towards on the Earth’s surface. It can differ from true north, which refers to the geographic North Pole aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation.

The variation between these two is known as magnetic declination, which changes over time and location. Neglecting to account for magnetic declination can lead to inaccurate navigation and confusion on maps.

So, it’s crucial for survivalists to understand these differences and make necessary adjustments when using a compass for orientation in unfamiliar terrain or during emergencies where technology may be compromised.

Understanding Declination

When navigating using a compass, it’s important to understand declination. Declination is the difference between true north (the North Pole) and magnetic north (where your compass points).

This difference can vary depending on where you are in the world, and it also changes over time due to the movement of Earth’s magnetic field. Accurate navigation in orienteering requires adjusting compass bearings to account for declination.

You can determine the declination for your location by referring to maps, charts, or online resources. Failing to account for declination can lead to significant errors in navigation and misjudgment of distances.

The Concept of Bearing and Triangulation

Bearing and triangulation are important concepts in orienteering. Bearing refers to the angle measured from the north line, helping you determine your direction on a map. Triangulation involves taking three or more distinct bearings using landmarks to pinpoint your current location on a map.

It’s like connecting the dots to find where you are. These techniques are crucial for navigation and can be used with a compass or by observing natural elements like the sun, stars, or terrain.

By understanding bearing and triangulation, you can confidently navigate through unfamiliar terrain and find your way back home.

Basic Land Navigation Techniques

Learn how to plan your route and set directions effectively, as well as avoid common navigation mistakes. Master the skills needed to navigate through unfamiliar terrain with confidence.

Planning and Direction Setting

To navigate successfully in unfamiliar terrain, planning and direction setting are essential. Before setting out, it’s crucial to have a clear idea of where you want to go and the best route to get there.

Start by studying your map and identifying key landmarks or features along the way that will help guide you. Take note of any natural barriers or hazards that might require detours.

Plan your route carefully, considering factors like distance, elevation changes, and potential water sources. Once you’ve planned your route, use a compass or GPS device to determine your starting direction and keep track of your progress as you move towards your destination.

Avoiding Common Navigation Mistakes

To avoid common navigation mistakes, it’s important to understand the key components of a map like grid coordinates and terrain features. This knowledge will help prevent getting lost or going off course.

If you have no experience in land navigation, consider seeking additional training or joining orienteering clubs for practical guidance. Staying informed about events, law changes, and threats is crucial to avoiding navigational errors.

Finally, always keep constant contact with your map and compass when navigating to prevent making common mistakes along the way.

Orienteering In A Survival Situation

In a survival situationorienteering is extremely important for finding your way and staying safe. Carrying a compass and knowing how to use it is crucial. It helps you determine the direction you need to go and find your bearings.

Paper maps are also essential because they don’t rely on technology that can fail or be compromised. Topographical maps provide valuable information about the terrain, helping you navigate difficult areas on foot.

While GPS devices and electronic gadgets can provide additional navigation assistance, it’s important to remember that they may not always be reliable in emergency situations. That’s why learning basic navigational skills without modern technology is vital.

Knowing how to read celestial bodies like the sun and stars can help guide you when other methods fail.

When in a survival situation, being able to orient yourself using basic tools like a compass and paper map will give you more control over your movements and increase your chances of reaching safety.

So take the time to learn these skills, as they could potentially save your life one day.


In conclusion, navigation and orienteering are vital skills for survivalists to master. Whether in an emergency situation or exploring the great outdoors, knowing how to use a compass and read paper maps can be a lifesaver.

While technology has its place, paper maps offer reliability and independence from batteries and internet connections. So, remember to pack your compass and embrace the power of old-fashioned navigation tools when venturing into remote areas or preparing for emergencies.

Stay prepared, stay safe!


Find additional information on ‘Navigation and Orienteering‘ below or click the following link to read more on ‘WILDERNESS SURVIVAL‘.

Can beginners learn how to do orienteering?

Yes! A beginner can learn basic navigation and orienteering skills, such as map reading and using a compass at an orienteering club or event.

How does one win in an orienteering event?

In an orienteering race, the person who moves through the course from point to point in the shortest time wins.

What tools do I need for Orienteering?

You will need navigational tools like a topographic map and a compass to find control points in an Orienteering meet.

What is basic navigation?

Basic navigation involves understanding how to read a map, use a compass, and navigate from one point to another.

What is the significance of 2023 in orienteering?

The mention of 2023 signifies a specific event or milestone related to orienteering. Please specify what you are referring to.

How do I use a compass in orienteering?

In orienteering, you use a compass to take bearings and navigate from one point to another. By aligning the compass with the desired direction on the map, you can determine the direction to travel.

What is an attack point in orienteering?

An attack point is a distinct feature on the map that you aim to reach before navigating to your final destination. It is often easier to locate than the final destination and helps you navigate more accurately.

How do I determine the map scale in orienteering?

The map scale is typically indicated on the map. It represents the ratio of distance on the map to the actual distance on the ground. By knowing the scale, you can accurately measure distances on the map.