Navigation Basics

A compass and a paper map are vital pieces of equipment in the backcountry, and that is why they are part of The Ten Essentials.

If you learn how to use these important tools, you will be able to find your campsite, navigate to a spectacular view, learn your location on the map, and find your way out of the wilderness.

Hands-on training with a guide or a group is the ideal way to learn navigation basics. REI puts on good wilderness navigation classes, and they have put together some useful instructional videos (see links below).

How to use a compass (more here)

How to read a topo map (more here)

We use and highly recommend the CalTopo topographical maps and mobile app.