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Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

Navigate: Whiteout, Darkness, and Fog

Just because you can't see in front of you doesn't mean you can't navigate.

by: Kristin Bjornsen, Dougald Macdonald, & Kristin Hostetter



Key Gear
1. Lowrance Endura Sierra. This user-friendly, versatile GPS unit comes preloaded with topos for all of the continental states (and thousands of key trail waypoints). Compass and altimeter? Check. Bonus: Its 4GB internal memory lets you upload photos or video of your route. $550; 6.2 oz.; lowrance.com

2. Mammut’s X-Zoom can blast a beam 100 yards into the night (on the max brightness setting) or cast a soft glow over your map (in diffuse mode). Plus, battery life is mega; our test model burned 36 hours straight on high. $100; 7.3 oz. (with 3 AAAs); mammut.ch

3. Brooks-Range’s All-in-One UTM Grid Reader lets you measure distances and plot precise waypoints on the map, so you can transfer them from your map to the GPS or vice versa. With eight scales, the reader works with almost all map types. $6; brooks-range.com
Photos by Courtesy

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READERS COMMENTS

Star
Seriously
Nov 23, 2013

I opened this article because I thought it would be interesting, but the sum of it was: use the GPS.
I call that cheating. Do it WITHOUT THE GPS!!

jesubmar
May 13, 2011

My two cents worth.
I appreciate Backpacker's effort to educate people on the use of new(GPS) tools in way finding. The title implies that anyone can do this; with repeated practice, maybe. But who is the reader really? Probably not arctic explorers but most likely everyday hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who under stressful conditions may end up walking in circles. I wish that Backpacker would emphasize in the article that reliance on high tech navigational tools is not a replacement for knowledge and practice of basic navigation skills. I do appreciate the article making reference to the use of the compass (basic navigational tool).
Cultures across time have learned to navigate the landscapes by the simplest of methods: "reading" the land (or sea or snow surface) and weather from repeated experience. I think it is important to know and practice basic navigational skills before one starts to use high tech tools(GPS). "You" may be out there in the middle of wilderness with a GPS when that solar storm hits earth or the batteries go dead or your GPS falls hard on rock/ice. Reliance on GPS is not a replacement for the repeated practice of basic navigational skills.

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