Best Book For Using A Compass, Maps, Altimeter & GPS For Hiking & Survival

This Book Is Used To Teach Wilderness Navigation Classes & Workshops

Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS is the best book for using a compass, maps, altimeter & GPS for hiking & survival.

Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS

This book shows you how to use the two most important tools for navigating which are good compass (with adjustable declination and mirror) and a proper map.

Perfect for back country hiking, wilderness adventures, outdoor survival, orienteering basics & Doomsday preppers. This book is a must have for finding your way and not getting lost. is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

This is an outstanding book for learning how to use Maps, Compasses, Altimeters, and GPS devices to find your way in the wilderness.

Why you might need it

This book is well written and easy to understand and is the classic, comprehensive and essential reference book used to teach wilderness navigation classes and workshops. This is a very good, concise, complete book for hikers in general, and is especially useful for anyone who goes off trail. It includes the basics for a beginner, and it is small and light enough to put in your backpack for an easy and quick reference.

This book concentrates on using the two most important tools for navigating which are good compass (with adjustable declination and mirror), along with a proper map.

Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & Gps (Mountaineers Outdoor Basics) was updated in 2015 and also discusses using the altimeter, and GPS, but warns you not to become too dependent on these two tools.

Even if you use a GPS, since it relies on batteries, they could go bad or the electronic circuitry of the GPS could fail at the the time you need it most. The dependability of a compass that relies only on earth's magnetic fields, and the knowledge of how to use it is the most reliable navigation tool for off the trail hiking.

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Added Tips, Training Videos, & Super Advanced Prepping (click to expand)

Tip On Getting Started With Compasses

You may want to purchase and read this book (or an equivalent instructional book) before you purchase your compass if you think you might want a more costly compass to make sure you are buying the compass with the features that you really wanted.

The next (optional) recommendation is to take a class on navigating with a compass and map or at least look at some "how to use a compass" videos on YouTube. Then either go to the USGS website (or a commercial website) and get a downloadable topo map for your area. Take this book, your compass, and map out in your area and practice in your own area (where you cannot get lost) before going off trail. Definitely practice finding your way in your own neighborhood, area, or backyard using your compass and map instead of taking a risk that perhaps you do not really know how to use them.

A Really Good Basic Compass

If you just really want a good compass for use with maps but without all of the bells and whistles of a more expensive compass, the Suunto A-10 is a handy and well designed basically indestructible compass that will help get you where you want to go. For a lot of people, the Suunto A-10 or equivalent featured compass is adequate. However, if you want a higher end compass with more features, then you'll need to make some decisions on the features for your compass (metric or standard, global needle or northern hemisphere only, do you desire a map magnifier, a sighting mirror, geared declination adjustment, luminous points for night use, a clinometer, etc.).

Really Good Free Training Videos

Scroll down in the article. There are six really good free YouTube training videos that include land based navigation, reading maps, and using compasses.

A Really Good Training Video (Not Free, But Check This Out If You Want To Be An Advanced Survivalist/Prepper)

If you are a beginner to using a compass and maps, although it is not free, here is a link to the best navigation related training video called Survival Land Navigation | Runtime: 90 Minutes (Video Trailer - 1 minute, 7 seconds). One really good tip is that if you only infrequently use a compass, you can get this particular training video on a USB drive so that you could watch it on your Smartphone (in offline mode) at anytime, even in a Doomsday scenario where AC power and cell service are basically gone forever. Basically Doomsday has arrived and you forgot how to use your compass. Not a problem with this solution. We have several articles that can help with that type of advanced preparation (see below).

  1. Your smartphone can be used as a survival library full of survival books, guides, apps, and videos. We personally have lots of survival videos and other helpful files that are stored directly on our Smartphones and on also on USB drives . We also have plenty of Smartphone Survival apps (most are free and others are really inexpensive) that can be used in offline mode during Doomsday (i.e., no cell service needed, no AC Power needed to recharge our phones).

    • You Will Need To Start Building Your Smartphone (iPhone and/or Android) Survival Library & Survival Apps.

      1. Free Smartphone offline Survival apps. See our article called "Best 25 Android & iPhone Apps For Survival" for a bunch of free useful survival apps you can use right now. Also, in that article, notice the picture where three smartphones are being charged from a Power Station. We can keep those phones and a lot more devices and tools charged from Power Stations and Foldable Solar Panels indefinitely during Doomsday. More on that in item #4 (Solution #2) and item #5 (Bonus) below.

      2. Survival Videos on USB drives. You need a source of the best survival videos loaded on USB drives such as the recommended Survival Land Navigation video. See our article called "Top 10 Survival Videos For Preppers In 2021" These are the best 10 expert survival videos on the planet and you can get them all or just the ones you want on USB. They are really exceptional videos. Read our article for more details on why they are better than any other survival videos available.

  1. Having survival videos on USB drives and really great Smartphone Survival apps that work in offline mode, still will not do you a bit of good unless you solve two problems.

    • (Problem #1) To watch videos from USB drives on your smartphone, you will need the correct OTG "On The Go" adapter for your phone. An OTG cable looks like a USB cable, however it has an extra "powered" wire inside that allows your phone to power the USB drive. A normal USB cable will not work. It looks the same as an OTG cable, but a normal USB cable cannot power the USB drive. The cable attached to your smartphone must be an OTG cable.

    • (Problem #2) You have to be able to keep your smartphone charged indefinitely for months or even years with no access to AC Commercial Power. Remember we are planning for Doomsday! You can be a cave man or cave woman after Doomsday starts, or you can live with a lot of the electronic devices you use today. Your choice.

  1. (Solution #1)In our article Top 10 Survival Videos For Preppers In 2021, there is a section closer to the bottom of the article called "Survival Summit USB Videos Compatibility With Your Device (click to expand)". You click there to expand the text which shows you how to obtain and use an inexpensive OTG (On The Go) adapter that will allow your iPhone or Android smartphone to view any files, pictures, or videos from a USB drive. The OTG cable takes 5V power from your smartphone to power your USB drive so that it will work the same as if you plugged into your computer.

  1. (Solution #2) Now that you can watch survival videos (or view other videos and files) from your Smartphone via an OTG cable and USB drive (that contains your videos and other handy files), it will not be helpful at all if your phone battery drains to 0% charge during day 1 of Doomsday, and you have no way to recharge it. All that you need is a minimum of one good foldable solar panel to keep a minimum of one awesome power station charged and recharged over and over again for years. That power station will in turn keep all of your smartphones and more charged over and over again for years. See our article called "Best Portable Solar Panels & Power Stations In 2021". It will teach you what you need to know so that you purchase the right kind of solar panel and power station.

  1. (Bonus) See our article called "Top 10 Best Uses Of Foldable Solar Panels & Power Stations In 2021". It will inform you of numerous other devices and tools that you can maintain indefinitely during Doomsday to make your life better and safer. Because there is no reason to live like a cave person during Doomsday!

Recommended accessories

  • Suunto A-10 Compass (NOTE: This lower cost compass will be perfect for a lot of people. It does have fixed declination and is not luminous)

  • Suunto MC-2 360 D-L-IN-NH SS004239001 Compass (NOTE: This is a nicer more expensive compass and works anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere). If you are going to pay this much for a compass, be sure you are knowledgeable of compass features before making your decision)

  • SealLine Map Case

Sample Amazon Feedback (click to expand)

"This book is fantastic, I have used it to teach wilderness navigation workshops. It is required reading for the course. I think that says it all."

"This was a suggested text for a Wilderness Navigation class I took. After reading it I felt like I had learned a lot. If you are interested in learning more about navigation and how to use a compass or GPS this is a great book to start with. It is easy to understand and explains things very well. Great book to have for anyone that spends time in the woods."

"Clear, concise and complete guide to wilderness travel. Well written with appropriate practice problems. Excellent book which is small and light enough to be in ones pack. But you really should study the book before you go into the wilderness...."

"This is a fantastic book, It clearly explains what seems complicated at first but can someday save your life. A must for every serious hiker."

"I have been teaching orienteering for seven years, and this book is everything I could ask for in an introductory text. There are more advanced books, it is true, but this book is reasonably priced, highly readable, and complete enough for the beginning through intermediate adventurer."

"Concise, Useful, and Comprehensive for Land Navigation. I think this is the best book for backpackers and hikers in general, particularly those who will venture off trail. It extensively covers use of map and compass; and goes on to briefly but cogently discuss the more expensive gadgets- altimeter, and GPS. And it warns you not to become too dependent on these more expensive gadgets. Your most important tools for wilderness navigation will be a good compass, along with a proper map. Buy a good compass with adjustable declination and mirror, as the authors suggest. Read their recommendations for this essential tool before you shop, and then go to the USGS website and get a downloadable topo map for your residence. Take book, compass, and map out into your neighborhood and practice in your own backyard before heading off into the boonies. Only a fool would go into the wilderness without a map. For most, a good map and compass are all you really need. I would add one thing that is only mentioned briefly in this fine text: If you go hiking abroad or in the Southern Hemisphere, you need to buy a Global compass. Mine is the Suunto MC-2 Global, but it has a drawback: inches on the rulers and not centimeters. Most foreign topos are in meters. Buy a good global compass with both inches and centimeters, study this book, and you are prepared for navigating just about anywhere."

"Very good guide book to have for finding your way in the forest under difficult times. Good suggestions on how to avoid getting lost. The compass on the book cover is also the best model to use on a trail or map. I have six different compasses and Brunton 15TDCL is a great compass. Be sure to also have a GPS and cell phone; be prepared for some unexpected event. Don't expect on having the cell phone work at all times. Get good boots and break them in before you leave for the trip. Get a good tent that is easy to set-up and one person larger than you will have on the trip. A good pack is important. Take insect repellant and make sure you can start a fire. Be sure the fire is completely out. Take water purifier tablets. Before you leave on your forest trip, take a 'shake down trip' to use all of your gear. Don't take so much weight in your pack that you can't easily carry it all. Take dried food and try it before you leave. Mountain Home or Wise make good trail food. Take snack food. Tell a friend when you will return and exactly where you started and where you will finish."

Instructional Navigation Videos

The following YouTube Video is a class that will show you how to use your compass and map to navigate safely and the Silva 1-2-3 System.

SILVA Navigation School

The following five videos provide instruction on Map & Compass Skills. This is a lengthy set of videos, but the instruction are very good.

Video 1 - How To Get Free Topo Maps

Video 2 - Map Basics

Video 3 - Compass Basics

Video 4 - Using A Map And Compass On A Hike

Video 5 - Pace Count And Ranger Beads

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