May 1, 2011 at 2:53 am #1273119
@mikehenryLocale: Pacific Northwest
So i am beginning to delve into backpacking, and wanted to know if there are any guides avaliable on how to understand and properly read topographic maps? I am basically clueless on the entire subject, and dont understand how one goes from knowing of a trail to mapping it on a topographic map to give oneself an understanding of the area they will be in. I haven't figured out how people map out routes and trials without there being any kinds of markings on the maps. Does anyone have an tips or guides to help this dumbfounded individual on understanding how to use topographic maps?
MikeMay 1, 2011 at 3:23 am #1731517
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
You can download one from the Australian bushwalking FAQ web site I maintain, at
PDF, about 5 Mbyte.
CheersMay 1, 2011 at 6:57 am #1731536
If you are near a city see if there is a chapter of http://orienteeringusa.org/May 1, 2011 at 7:36 am #1731551
@tkkncLocale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Here are some links on orienteering for you to try. If you enable your PM , I can send you some PDF manuals.
Army Study Guide for topographical maps
Boy Scout Links
Orienteering merit badge requirements with some ideas
Go to the orienteering section half way down the page
Kifaru Back Country Navigation
http://kifaru.net/plot_blust.htmMay 1, 2011 at 11:41 am #1731614
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I will second the suggestion about orienteering. Some orienteering organizations have regular "meets" open to the public. They have at least one course laid out for the experts, but then they have easier and easier courses as well. At one meet, I saw a course laid out for kids and complete beginners. Basically, you could not get lost, and it simply allowed you to practice with a topo map. A beginner can "learn their way around" as they practice on harder and harder navigation courses.
Another line of outdoorspeople to check out is the local cave explorer "grotto." They have to read topo maps to be able to find their way to cave entrances, so that is just another place to practice.
Different scouting organizations have map reading programs, especially for kids.
Military training always has a land navigation class. Some branches, like the Army and the Marines, have excellent training. Of course, you may not want to sign up for three years just to get land nav training.
FM 3-25.26 is the (correct) textbook on map reading and land nav.
–B.G.–May 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm #1731637
Bob, that FM is the combat field manual.
MAP READING AND LAND NAVIGATION
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/3-25-26/index.htmlMay 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm #1731646
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
You are absolutely right. I'll go change that now.
That's what happens when you have too many books crowded together on the shelf.
The correct land nav FM is 3-25.26.
–B.G.–May 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm #1732629
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Bjorn Kjellstrom's "Be Expert With Map & Compass" is still about the best book on the subject. It has gone through many revisions.
Be sure to get a decent Silva-type protractor compass to use with the book and in the backcountry with your topo maps.
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