Written by 5:15 pm Wilderness Navigation Masters

28) How to navigate with estimates

Hello and welcome to this lesson of the online course Wilderness Navigation Masters, where you will learn how to navigate with estimates.

When it’s useful?

Knowing how to do that is useful :

  • When you are in a dense forest, where all of what you see are similar
  • When you navigate by night and you can’t see anything
  • When you hike in a desert and there are no landmarks to use.
  • Other than that, you can also use it when you are walking to a far-away landmark and there are no landmarks to use before you arrive.



This is cool, but like with every navigation technique, there is always inconvenience with the advantages.

The first inconvenience of this technique is that it’s risky when you want to try it for long distances. But, if you can correct your walking deviation from time to time, it’s not a big problem.


What is this exactly?

I know that some of you don’t have an idea of what is navigation with estimations …. it’s not that crazy, it’s just using bearings and distances, to estimate where you are and what is your walking path.


How to navigate with estimates?

Step 1: Mark your starting point on your map or on a piece of paper.

Step 2: Before you start walking, draw the bearing that you will walk following.

Step 3: Start walking and counting paces (for short distances) or use walking speed (for long distances), and when you want to make a turn, stop. Write how much distance you’ve traveled following this bearing.

Step 4: repeat that with every bearing you’ve walked following. You will have something like that. And your approximate location is here.

One of the cases when this technique is also useful, that I forgot to mention at the beginning of this lesson, is that this technique can help you also to know how to return to your starting point.

Because if you’ve walked and you are here, you can measure the foreward bearing to your starting point and walk directly to it, you will know when you will arrive at it or when to stop just from the distance between your actual position and your arrival point.

Your arrival point should be easy to distinguish, because with this technique, you will not arrive at it exactly, but you will arrive near it, and you have to distinguish it.

If you want to get to your starting point by walking back your route, all you have to do is to convert these foreward bearings to back-bearings and follow them.


If you are in a terrain that has hills like that, please don’t use this technique, because it will not be accurate enough, and can get you lost.


  • In this exercise, I want you to go outdoor with a map of this area.
  • From a big-enough easy-to-distinguish landmark, walk in straight lines and write down the bearing and distance for each section of your trip.
  • Then, measure the foreward bearing and distance to reach your starting point, and walk toward it.
  • Share with us in the comments below, how far away you arrived next to your starting point.


That’s all for this short lesson, and see you in the next lesson.

Updated on June 7, 2021 by Ben

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