Written by 10:24 am Wilderness Navigation Masters

20) How to orient your map while hiking

Hello and welcome to this easy to digest but an important lesson of the online course Wilderness Navigation Masters, where you will learn how to orient your map to the compass or to the geographic north, it’s the same thing.

Why you should orient your map in the first place?

Getting your map oriented, should always be your first step when you are using your compass and the map at the same time.

Because, when you do that, you match your map to the real world, and what you see on your left in your map should be on your left in the real world, and what you see on your right in the real world should be on your right in your map.

This is important because doing that makes the relation between the map and terrain that we will see next easier.

How to orient your map:

Let’s say that I have a magnetic declination of 20°W.

My compass duct tape trick will be like that.

Now that you have marked your magnetic declination on the back of your compass, this is how you orient your map:

[Skip video to 1:04]

Show video transcript
  • The first step, turn the housing till the North or the zero graduation intersect with the direction of the travel arrow.
  • Step two, place your compass on the map, with the edge of your compass baseplate aligned with the margin edge of the map.
  • Step three, make sure that the direction of the travel arrow point to the north and not the south.
  • Now, turn the map and compass together until the red Fred are in the shed.
  • But because I have a declination of 20°W, marked with this black duct tape, to adjust my compass for declination, I should turn my map till the red or the magnetic needle sits inside this black mark and not the orienting arrow.
  • Now, my map is oriented to the compass or to the geographic north with a declination of 20°W.
  • If your map magnetic declination can be neglected because it’s between 0° and 3°. To orient my map to the compass or to the geographic north, all I have to do is to repeat the same thing, and instead of having the magnetic needle in the black duct tape mark, you turn your map till the magnetic needle sits inside the orienting arrow (or the red Fred are in the shed).

That’s all for how to orient your map in both situations, with declination, and without a declination. Now let’s see this lesson’s exercise.

Exercise #

In this exercise, I want you to :

  • orient whatever topographic map you have between your hands to the geographic north, with a magnetic declination of 15° East.
  • If you want, share with us a photo of your work in the comments below.

That’s all for this lesson, do not forget to let me know how you did found this lesson in the comments section below.

Thank you and see you in the next lesson.

Updated on June 7, 2021 by Ben

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