Off-Grid GPS

What’s that you might ask? It’s a Compass & Map, that’s what!

While the GPS (be it dedicated or iPhone) is the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to navigation, it has three short comings.

  1. It requires a battery powered device to use.
  2. The GPS system of satellites can be turned off for civilian use, leaving only the encrypted military system available.
  3. Sometimes a clear horizon to connect to the satellites is not available. No signal.

While reason number two is a very unlikely scenario, reasons one and three can put you in a pickle if you really need to use it and do not have power.

Besides being a reliable method of knowing where you are and where you want to go, Map & Compass or “Orienteering” is a fun skill to use in itself as well as a possible life savor in extreme cases.

Getting out and practicing off-grid radio gives me a chance to practice this skill also. Using pace beads and using “rectangular offsetting” of obstacles is the most common use, but like anything else, if you don’t use it you lose it.

Below are a few excellent series on Map & Compass Orienteering (GPS as well) and links to map resources.

Next time you go out, give it a try, you will like it I’m sure!

  1. NatGeo 7.5min PDF Maps (8.5×11)
  2. MyTopo.com (Make Your Own Custom Maps)

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