Camp Tricks

How to Take Bearings While Hiking

November 13, 2017

If you are an enthusiastic hiker you should learn how to take bearings. The compass is a useful tool that can be invaluable to hikers, especially if you prefer less popular hiking routes that can be completely deserted.

Here are a few tips that will help you to take bearings when you are hiking.

When Do You Need To Use The Compass?
A compass isn’t something that you will need to use on every single hike, especially if the hike has useful features that you can follow instead, such as a stream, a lake, a fence or even a path. This means that very popular routes rarely require a compass, but if you are going for a hike in an area that doesn’t have a useful feature a compass can be invaluable.

However it can still be useful to bring a compass with you on a hike with a path or a stream, as there is always the possibility that you will lose the path and need to get your bearings.

Most hikers take a compass with them if they are planning a hike that doesn’t have a clear set route, such as a hike through the mountain without a path. In this situation a compass can be used to get you from A to B without any problems. This is ideal for experienced hikers who prefer to hike along less popular routes, especially if they are in an area with poor visibility.

It is also worth noting that you should try your compass out for the first time on a hiking route with a path that is very easy to navigate, as this means that you won’t be in any trouble if you struggle to take bearings; you can just get back on the main route and keep trying until you feel more confident.

How To Take A Bearing
There are four steps to taking a compass bearing. The first step is to approximate; decide where you want to go and what direction you want to travel in (such as North or West). Once you have done this you will need to line up your current location with where you want to go. You can do this by using the base plate of your compass, and make sure that the direction of the arrow is pointing towards the direction that you wish to travel.

Once you have done this you can rotate the bezel. Do this by twisting the bezel until the North on the bezel matches up with the North on the map. You can use the lines at the bottom of the bezel to do this.

The final step is following your bearing. Move the compass away from the map and rotate it around until the red needle is sat in the red arrow. Now you can follow the direction of the arrow to follow your bearing. Simple!

Mistakes To Avoid Making
One of the main mistakes that people make is having a bearing that is 180 degrees out, which means that the travel arrow will be pointing in the wrong direction. You can fix this problem by completing the four steps again from start to finish.

Another issue occurs if the bezel isn’t twisted correctly during step three, but you can also fix this problem by completing the four steps again.

What Compass Should You Choose?
There are lots of compasses for you to choose from, and they are available in a wide range of sizes and colours. It is often best to choose a light-weight compass as it won’t bother you when you are walking, and it can also be useful to get a compass with a large base plate as it will be easier to find in your bag or pocket.

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