Trip Reports

Map and Compass Seminar Report

May 22 Map Compass photo Edit EditMap and Compass Seminar Report

Don’t Leave Home without ‘Em!: Map & Compass

Imagine that your fellow paddler broke his leg AND your tech aids failed you! What to do? This is when and where the tried and true map and compass can save a life. 



That is, if you took Jay Morrison's seminar on how to use them. Several RACCCers learned about and practiced:

  • the features of an orienting compass, as well as key information on a topographical map;
  • factoring in magnetic declination (the difference between magnetic north and true north at a particular location on the Earth's surface);
  • how to take a map bearing and follow it using a compass:
    • 1) Lay the edge of the baseplate from point A to B with direction arrows (mirror) toward B on your map
    • 2) Rotate the bezel to align the orienting arrow (usually red) and lines to be parallel to map north-south grid lines: the arrow must point to grid north
    • 3) Read and retain the bearing in degrees on the bezel at the line (usually white) on the baseplate toward B; this is the map bearing
    • 4) Add or subtract the declination in degrees (map info), west add, east subtract, “west is best, east is least”, and rotate the bezel to align the new bearing with the white line toward B; this is the magnetic bearing
    • 5) orient the baseplate of the compass square to your body and turn your body until the magnetic needle (usually red) is inside the orienting arrow or “house”. Keep the needle in the house as you proceed to B

Don’t just trust your instinct, know where you are and never get lost!

Written by Adam

 May 22 Map Compass photo Edit Edit

Jays compass diagramIMG 3119