Smartphone Navigation: Why it’s not crazy!

If you follow us on facebook or twitter you know that last Saturday we taught a class on Smartphone Navigation at the Fort Collins Sierra Trading Post. It was a risky move, we knew we'd encounter resistance. A lot of outdoor purists scoff at the notion that a smartphone could even be remotely useful in the wilderness. The manager of the Fort Collins Sierra Trading Post confirmed that with us when he mentioned that his customers were skeptical about the class. But here's the deal. Your smartphone is just another tool in your daypack. It's nestled between other tools: a…

How to Find Yourself

We've put together a video on how to use a map and compass to find yourself and as usual there is a text version below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpCByOg0LnQ Understanding how to use a compass along with reading the terrain around you and comparing it to a topo map will provide all the information you need to confirm where you are or find where you are. The first step is to orient your compass, your map, and yourself to magnetic north so you and your tools have the same frame of reference. Next, look around at the terrain for things that will give…

How to Use a Compass

We've put together a video on basic compass skills. As usual, we've added a text version below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbZNu-BPWbo Suppose you are located at the East Trailhead for Headquarters Trail. You want to go straight to Point Crawford. There are two ways you can determine the direction you have to walk. The first is to measure the direction using a map square or protractor on the UTM grid and convert that to a magnetic direction. Make sure you have the UTM grid lines drawn on your map. Then draw a straight line from your location to your destination. Extend this line…

The Compass and Declination

There are many different types of compasses and I'm not going to pretend to show you all of them. My goal is to show you the basic compass types and how to best use them. [caption id="attachment_2370" align="aligncenter" width="150"] Lensatic Compass[/caption] The two most common types are the lensatic compass and the map compass. The lensatic compass will usually open and close and is designed with aiming lines and mirrors or magnifying lenses so you can get a very accurate direction measurement, even over long distances. [caption id="attachment_2372" align="aligncenter" width="150"] Map Compass[/caption] The Map compass is usually mounted on a…

How to Fold a Map

It's an dilemma as old as maps themselves. You need the information on a map but they are a pain to store and carry around. Our video shows the best way to fold the map for carrying and storage: As usual if you aren't a fan of the moving pictures there is a text version below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8UHW_V6dOc We really like the 1/24,000 scale USGS maps but carrying it as a sheet is pretty awkward and will guarantee a short lifespan for the map. Carrying it rolled up protects the map better but is still hassle to carry. Some people like…

Plotting UTM Coordinates

Are you curious about how to plot UTM coordinates? Check out this short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg8znvd7nMw And as usual, if the video isn't your thing a text version is below. To help clarify how to use the UTM System I'm going to demonstrate how to plot points on a map. First make sure you've drawn the 1,000 meter grid lines on the map. Without them it is so difficult to be accurate that your plotting could be useless. Take a look at your grid coordinates. We are going to use 13T 0461138mE 4565191mN. For plotting purposes some of this information just…

The UTM Coordinate System

What is the UTM coordinate system and why should you care? We've made a video about it or you can read below if moving pictures aren't your thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfgwC8f4wwY When you are exploring, whether on a trail or in the middle of nowhere it's important to be able to figure out exactly where you are. This is where the UTM coordinate system can help. What is UTM? UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator. I'm going to cut out a lot of detail and just say the UTM system divides the world into a series of squares. This makes a lot of navigation…

Introduction to Maps

Are you curious about how to read a map? Let's take the first step with this short video all about reading a map. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyLznJahzNQ Or if moving pictures aren't your thing..... Have you ever wished you were better at reading a map? Being confident in your ability to read maps can help you explore further and enjoy more of all your outdoor adventures. Its a great skill to have and a good thing to review once in a while. The first thing you want to do when you get your hands on a map is take a minute to review…