Nowadays, many hikers are apt to overlook the importance of basic backcountry navigation skills. With GPS devices, cell-phone apps, and digital maps at our disposal, the argument goes, old-school navigation methods are now all but redundant. Each of the above electronic devices, however, can be rendered useless by water damage, battery death, or signal loss. This being so, the ability to read a map and use a compass remains as vital today as it was for hikers in pre-digital times.
In addition to carrying a map and accurate compass on every hike, you should regularly brush up on your compass-reading skills by practicing in familiar environments.
And if you’re at all skittish about relying on a map and compass to find your way, you should consider bringing along a solid GPS device or a good hiking watch as backup. This is especially true when hiking in unfamiliar terrain.
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