Successful Hiking Navigation

Most backpackers plan their expeditions on well-established trails where navigating is usually just as simple as following one path to the next. But, even well-traveled trails can sometimes be hard to follow up, they can overgrow by trees, trail junctions can be unmarked or sometimes signs can be tough to follow. In your backpacking tours, the navigation is critical and crucial; it is essential to stay found, and important question is what to do if you do get lost?
1. Know Your Limits
Do not plan a trip involving challenging navigation without suitable experience and skills. The first and foremost – always know your limits! Knowing how to read a topographical map and use a compass is very important. If you don’t know how to use compass and map you really shouldn’t be on the path. If you are uncertain about your capabilities, take an exercise tour before you head out, or take a simple navigation course. 4323-1170-487-620x264The most important thing is to never put yourself in danger because you are not well prepared. Do not forget to let someone know the detailed trip plans before your departure. Give a detailed itinerary to your relatives or a friend and let them know when they should contact local authorities.
2. Always Pay Attention!
The number one rule for trail navigation is to pay attention! It is very easy to get confused and make simple mistakes that may put you off the track. If you want to stay on a road, you need to know where you are and where you should be at any moment. thumb_imagePay close attention to your compass and map, track your location with all relevant details as you hike. It is very important to pay close attention to all available junction signs; they are placed with the reason. Do not assume that you know the right way, always consult a map and read the signs to make sure that you are heading in the correct direction.
3. Hiking Behind a Group
If you are hiking behind other members, do not get relaxed assuming that they are making the right choices. Pay close attention to time and speed, try to have a precise idea when you will reach next landmark. Be cautious not to get lost in conversation, it is easy to forget yourself in such situation, but be sure to stop if you feel that something is wrong. Try to focus and locate your position, search for major landmarks and try to go back on a trail. Always keep your next landmark in mind, so in a case that you are off the trail, try to reach it.

4. If You Still Get Lost
In a case that you get lost, try to find an open, wide space and make your presence well known by placing highly visible objects so they can be easily seen. You can also use signal mirrors to attract additional attention or use green branches to build smoky signal fires. In the evening, use dry wood to create signal fires. Always carry an emergency whistle on your backpacking adventures and use it every 10 minutes in a case that you get lost.

Author: Mark Eisele

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