Navigation: Using a Map and Compass

Jessie Krebs

Lesson time 20:27 min

Learn the basics of using a map and compass to understand where you are in relation to the land around you.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Compass: What You Need to Know • Identify Your Cardinal Directions • Reading a Topographical Map • Understanding Contour Lines • Orient Your Map


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So let's look at how to use a compass. And I don't want to confuse you. There are many different styles of compasses, at least three. And all of them take slightly different techniques to use. So what I really want you to focus on is just figuring out how to find North using one of these compasses. And the basic concept is there's going to be some kind of something that floats in there that orients towards the magnetic pole. And that's really all I need to know. Once I know where North is, I can figure out the rest. Never Eat Soggy Waffles, right? So if you're facing where that North arrow is pointing, that means when you're facing it, East is going to be on my right, South is going to be behind me, and West is going to be on my left. So as long as I understand that basic concept, then I can go now Northeast, Northwest, South, whatever direction I want to go, just by knowing where North is, and, again, using point-to-point navigation. So what I want to do here is just look at these three different types of compasses. We're not going to pay a lot of attention to the numbers and things. I just want you to look at where the arrow's going. So this one's a button compass. It's very small. It's often used as a backup compass, for a lot of people. It just gives me the basics. This one's an orienteering compass. Usually, they're clear like this. The dial can move. Like, I can take this and, shift move these numbers around, right? Versus this one over here is a lensatic compass. And so this one, when I-- I can move this dial, but the numbers don't move with it. They're actually attached to the dial, the floating dial with the North-seeking arrow. What I've done is just taken little rocks-- and you'll notice there's an arrow in all of these. So if I look at where the arrow is pointing in here, it's going this direction. This one, the arrow's over here. This one, the arrow's over here. So I'm seeing a theme of all these arrows pointing this direction. And notice, it doesn't matter which way I point the compass itself, right? As long as I keep it pretty level, that arrow is still going to point that direction. No matter which way I spin this little guy, as long as he's flat, the arrow goes right back, and North points this way. Same thing with this guy. Doesn't matter which way I point him, that arrow swings around and still goes this direction. That's all I need to know. There's a basic way to do this, as well, where I literally can take a sewing needle and magnetize it by pulling in one direction over and over and over again with something that can't be grounded, creating static electricity. So if I hold it with a piece of fabric or rubber or plastic or something that doesn't ground quite as easily, and I can take-- usually we talk about a piece of silk or some kind of natural fiber, and we simply use a fair amount of friction. And it's just like rubbing your feet against the carpet, ...

About the Instructor

As a former Air Force SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) specialist, wilderness survival expert Jessie Krebs spent 30 years preparing people for the unexpected. Now she’s teaching you the mindset and skills to safely explore the outdoors. Learn essential survival techniques—from signaling for help to reading a map, finding water, making shelter, and more—and embark on your next adventure with confidence.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jessie Krebs

Wilderness survival expert and former Air Force SERE specialist Jessie Krebs teaches you the skills to explore nature safely and confidently.

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