Moon Navigation 1

Moon Navigation
How can you find your way if you are lost at night and do not have a compass or GPS? It’s common to navigate in the wilderness by using the sun or the stars, however if it is a cloudy night and you can’t clearly see the constellations, using the moon is also a good ...

Estimating Distance with your Thumb 4

Estimating Distance with your Thumb
Estimating distance is important in daily life, hiking, and survival situations. It helps you to maintain your sense of direction, calculate distance and height, and estimate travel time while hiking relative to your pace. Estimating distance by using only your finger is based on this known fact about human anatomy: Your arm is about ten times ...

Map Skills Primer

Map Skills Primer
Knowing how to read a topographic map is an important skill for navigating the backcountry. Make sure you understand how to follow a topographic map before your hike — especially if you plan to be in a remote area. Here we’ll cover the basics and provide some online sources for finding topographic hiking maps. We will also feature some external ...

Walking in Circles 1

Walking in Circles
“The belief that people walk in circles when lost is mainly based on anecdotal evidence and has never been studied systematically in a real desert or forest.” (Current Biology, August 20th 2009) It is a common scenario: when we get lost in the wilderness, we wind up walking in circles.  Much to our dismay, at ...

Will This Map Get Me Lost?

Will This Map Get Me Lost?
You should always carry a foldable paper map when you hike in the remote wilderness. Even if you carry a GPS, it is always a good idea to have a paper map as a reliable backup. Personally, we prefer to rely only on paper maps when backpacking because electronic devices don’t have a good track record with us. Our experience is that ...

Directional Navigation Using the Moon 2

Directional Navigation Using the Moon
The moon has no light of its own. The light seen from the moon is a reflection of the sun.  The shape of the reflected light varies as the Earth orbits around the sun. This can be useful for finding direction at night once you understand how this works. When it is a crescent moon ...