Article: off-road navigation with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—it’s easier to stay on top of where you are at all times than to suddenly realize you don’t know where you are, or when the last time was you did know where you were. It takes a little work to be a good off-road navigator, but it’s worth it!

from this article.  It’s worth a look over.

It got me thinking I need to brush up on my practical orienteering…


In my previous life I was an eagle scout with an orienteering merit badge :-) so at one point I did know how to use a compass and map.    I may (ahem) be a little out of practice since the advent of the GPS.

My preference is for GPS + offline maps first and compass + paper maps second.  GPS waypoints are most useful for my interests and are trivially shareable in a blog post or at a dedicated site like POI Factory.

I use and recommend free/crowdsourced OpenStreetMap offline maps for Garmin devices.  There are both street navigation and topo maps available.

gear I use

  • Silva lensatic 360 compass.  It’s marked Engineer but it is a 360-series compass.  I chose this style because I the aluminum case seems ![41ajtm3w4pl-_ac_us218]( and protective.  Although I was assigned to the field artillery in the army we never actually used compasses.  :-\

  • [Edited to add this] Silva Polaris Type 7 NL, which I think was the Boy Scout model.  Still in good shape with no bubbles.

  • Garmin 60Cx - this old handheld is my favorite gps of all times.  Tough, accurate and configurable.  Jacks for external power, antenna, data, etc.  It’s apparently been replaced by the GPSMap 64.

  • Garmin StreetPilot i3 - one of the first routing gps units from garmin.  This thing cracks me up:  it’s about the size of a baseball and still works.  I use it as a backup or when going somewhere a decent nav unit might get stolen.  They are about $20 shipped on eBay nowadays (!) and use the free OSM maps mentioned above.

  • Garmin ForeTrex 201 - ancient wearable GPS.  No frills at all, but you wear it like a watch.  I turn on the .gpx breadcrumb trail and forget about it when hiking or whatever.  That way if things go wrong I can backtrack.  And if I remember I mark the waypoint where I parked.