Have you planned a hike in the mountains this Easter? Maybe go from cabin to cabin on the mountain? Or just a day trip on foot or ski in a familiar area?
Then it is interesting and useful to know how to use the map and compass, it can also be very important knowledge if the weather suddenly becomes bad.
See the recipe for how to use the map and compass down in the box.
Record number of search and rescue missions
No more search and rescue operations have been recorded in Norway than in 2021. Shows the accident report from the Red Cross.
Perhaps many tasks could have been avoided, if people had enough knowledge of maps and compasses, says Kjersti Løvik, relief corps leader at the Red Cross.
– We see that unfortunately not everyone has what they need, such as a map, compass and GPS. We also see that many have it with them, but don’t know how to use it, says Lovik.
Last year’s record follows the trend they have seen over several years. This is because there are more people on trips. As the number of people traveling abroad increases, there will also be an increase in volunteer assignments.
My obvious encouragement to everyone who takes a trip, is to make sure you can steer, even if you know where you’re going. Learn to read a map, take it with you, and use it, says Løvik.
Avoid these traps
One Survey from the year 2020shows that only one in every Norwegian can use a map and compass.
The number one mistake a lot of people make is leaving their map and compass in their backpack, says Caspar Owens Skjolog.
He is a project manager at DNT and is responsible for freshman courses and outdoor life at the school.
He says it’s important to actively use the equipment, both in trip planning and along the way.
– If you only bring a map and compass when you get lost, that means it’s really too late.
It’s important to spend some time learning how a compass actually works and how to read maps before setting out on a trip.
My best tip and trick is to sit down ahead and plan the trip. Look for more points than just starting and finishing. Identify intermediate points along the way, and actively use them, says Skjulhaug.
To learn this, one thing is important – practice.
– Bring a map and compass to an area where you are a little familiar, be awkwardly accurate and learn how to move with respect to the terrain.
How to use the map and compass correctly
Here is the recipe you’ve been waiting for:
If you don’t already have one, you should purchase a compass and a map of the area you want to hike.
It is important to have maps of the correct size, the most common being 1:50,000 or 1:25,000.
There are hiking maps all over Norway, but make sure it doesn’t have a 1:100,000 scale, it will be too small when you orient yourself on a trip. The smaller the scale, the easier it is to steer.
A map at a scale of 1:25,000 shows more detail and is more accurate than a map at a scale of 1:50,000, which is common. There are also directional maps of 1:10,000 and sometimes larger. These are very fun and easy to instruct and practice with.
When we talk about the compass in this context, we are talking about the magnetic compass. There are also other types of compasses, such as ship compasses, but we forget that for now.
If you are going to buy a new compass, it is a good idea to buy a compass that looks a little big, with a big plate, otherwise you will buy what you find.
This is what you do
Take out the map and fold it several times to a suitable size that is easy to hold in your hand. Rotate so that the map faces the right way in relation to the surroundings and terrain When you hold it in front of you, it is easier to understand what you see on the map.
Look at the map if you find the name of a mountaintop or something else you can recognize in the terrain. The top of the map is always north.
Thus, the lines that rise longitudinally across the entire map run north-south, but north is always at the top of the map. Remember that! This means that the south is at the bottom on the map, the east is to the right and the west is to the left. This is always the case.
The symbols on the compass
Find your compass.
The different parts of a compass have a name, learn these first of all: compass housing, ruler, scale, compass needle, magnetic north, compass housing arrow, path arrow (direction arrow), auxiliary lines, longitudes, degrees and directions.
On the board of the compass itself, there is always an arrow along the board, which is the “track arrow” or “walk arrow”.
There are also some lines and numbers on one side or both sides which is the ‘scale’, it can be 1:25,000 on one side and 50,000 along the ‘ruler’, mileage indicator can also be mentioned there.
On top of the compass panel there is a round “compass housing”, you can turn it right and left. There are also letters and numbers, the letters mean the same “directions of the sky”, that is, north, east, south and west. The numbers are “degrees” and go from 0 to 360. If you turn exactly once where you’re standing, you’ve turned 360.
Inside the compass housing is the red and white multiple arrow that moves when the compass is rotated. The red part always indicates magnetic north.
Where do you want to go?
When you go from your place to a new place, you must go in a certain direction in the sky, or in the direction of the compass.
The numbers given on the round compass rose are degrees. If you go north it will be zero degrees, south 180 degrees, east 90 degrees and west 270 degrees, regardless of whether you look at a compass or not. The scores are “in the cloud” anyway.
Now find where you are on the map, whether it is at the bus station, at the train station, or at a popular cottage in the mountains. Pick a place you want to go, but not too far away, with a maximum of a mile or two to start with. Maybe you want to go to a room you know? Find this on the map, and be sure to find the right cabin!
Map and compass together
Put your compass on the map in your hand, on a table, on a rock, or something else. If you position the compass so that the march arrow is pointing up on the map, the arrow is pointing north on the map. If you rotate the compass completely so that the walking arrow is pointing to the right on the map, it is pointing east on the map.
Then place the ruler on the compass, that is, the edge of the compass, from the point where you are to the point where you are heading, so that the direction arrow points in the direction you are going. It doesn’t matter if the governor passes the two places on the map. The course arrow should always show the direction you are going.
Now hold the map flat in your hand and you still have the compass on the map, it should be flat as well. Now look at the red compass needle inside the compass shell, it always points to magnetic north no matter how far you turn.
Rotate the compass housing to the north arrow at the bottom of the housing that points north on the map.
Now, take the compass away from the map and hold the compass in your hand, then rotate so that the red compass needle in the compass housing is above the red arrow under the compass, or equal to the black N on the edge of the compass. Now hold the compass straight and you can now start in the direction the walking arrow is pointing, that is the direction of your walk.
What speed do you go to?
If you were to now walk in mountainous terrain one kilometer to the next point, how long would it take? You can count on walking 2-3 km with a backpack in the terrain, skiing can be a little faster. This means that you will probably spend half an hour walking a mile. On steep terrain uphill, you go slower, but not much faster on the slopes.
See the map
Even if you now set the compass correctly, it is a good idea to look at the map from time to time while walking. Look for landmarks that you can identify, preferably the water you find in the same shape on the map as in the terrain.
Try to find such clues that you recognize as you progress. This will make it easier over time and you can go on longer trips after the compass because then you can constantly check on the map that you are on the right track.
If you make a mistake first, the best advice is to go back to the previous place where you were absolutely sure where you were.
With training comes mastery
The best way to learn is to practice.
Find your map and take it out to the terrain. You can be near a city or town under conditions that you know and are easy to see and recognize.
Buildings, rivers or power lines are good characteristics and are also good aids when orienting yourself. If you are walking in terrain without buildings, it is good to see a mountain peak, valley, lake, river, or other easily identifiable natural formation.
Feel free to familiarize yourself with the icons you find under the map, then you can also learn about other things that you can look for on the map as you go.
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