Home » Outdoors » Taking Compass Bearing


Align your map to your surroundings.
Spread the map out flat.
  1. Set the compass dial to North (0 degrees).
  2. Lay the compass on top of the map and align one long side of the baseplate along one of the magnetic north lines you added.
  3. Turn both map and compass together until the red end of the needle is on the “N.” The top of the map now points to true north.
Align your map to a landmark.
  1. Pick up the compass.
  2. Point the direction of travel arrow at the first landmark you chose in the field, in this case the north end of the lake down in the valley in front of you.
  3. Rotate only the dial until the red end of the needle points again to North. Hold the baseplate still at this time, keeping it pointed at the landmark.
  4. Put the compass back on the map with one long baseplate edge touching the landmark.
  5. Carefully pivot the entire compass until the orienting lines inside the compass housing are parallel with the magnetic north reference lines you drew before you left home.
  6. Draw a five or six-inch line from the landmark along the edge of the baseplate.
Measure distance accurately on a map
  1. Find a thin strip of paper about a foot long.
  2. Align the edge of one end of the paper with your starting point. Make a tick mark there.
  3. Now rotate the paper gently to follow the bends in the trail, making tick marks at significant turns until you reach the end point.
  4. Lay the paper along the bar scale and read the distance.




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