Compass Tips: Bearing It All

Just to be safe, keep that compass handy.

Even though most orienteers don't use high-tech compasses, that doesn't mean you should abandon yours. At times, you'll need compass-reading skills, including:

  • When hiking in dense, trail-less forests
  • When snow or fog obstruct your view of landmarks
  • While hiking on a landscape such as the prairie, which has no obvious geographic features or elevation changes
  • When in remote, seldom-visited areas (especially in Canada and Alaska), where topo maps may be inaccurate and getting lost could be fatal
  • Trail-less areas for which you can only get dated (pre-1975) topo maps, which often have irregularities that could steer you wrong if you're navigating only by landmarks