“Wherever you go, there you are.”
- Finding Direction Using Shadow & Stick Method
- Finding North Using A Wristwatch
- Finding North: Using Ursa Major-Polaris (North Star)
- Estimating Remaining Daylight Using Your Hand
- Latitude & Longitude
- Road Maps
- Topographical or Contour Maps
- How To Use A Map & Compass
- Global Positioning System
- Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid System
- Military Grid Reference System(MGRS)
- Military Land Navigation
- Tricks & Cheats
- Manuals in PDF Format
- Useful Links
Finding Direction Using Shadow & Stick Method:
If you find yourself lost in the wilderness without the aid of a compass, you will need to find a way to get your bearings. If the sky is clear you can easily find the directions by using the shadow and stick method.
To use the Shadow and Stick Method:
- Find a stick
- Place the stick into the ground
- Take a stone and mark where the end of the shadow is.
- Leave the stick sit for 15 minutes.
- After 15 Minutes mark the next shadow point with a rock.
- Place a line from one rock to the next rock, this should give you a rough east-west line.
Finding North Using A Wristwatch:
Finding North Using Ursa Major-Polaris (North Star):
Estimating Remaining Daylight Using Your Hand:
Latitude & Longitude:
In each of your vehicles you should have current road maps for your state and any states within 500 miles. If you live in a big city you should also have a detailed map of the metropolitan area.
It is not a bad idea to have two different evacuation routes highlighted on your maps. You can label them “1” & “2”, or “A” & “B”. This will make it easy to leave a note or otherwise communicate with other members of your group as to your intended route.
You can label waypoints or rally points (RP’s) for the group so that you don’t have to say actual positions over radios. Try to pick locations where you believe that there may be fuel, water, food, and possibly medical care.
Topographical or Contour Maps:
How To Get Free Topographical Maps:
How To Read Topographical Maps:
How To Use A Map & Compass:
Global Positioning System (GPS):
The Global Positioning System uses a system of satellites in geosynchronous orbit to triangulate your position on the planet.
Tomtom and other brands of GPS systems can be an invaluable asset when navigating roadways. Handheld GPS systems, like the Garmin 60 series units pictured above, can save your behind when moving through the wilderness. Learn how to use these systems during the good times so that you will be proficient with them during the bad.
Keep in mind that they are delicate electronics. They are subject to failure, especially when “Murphy” decides to rear his ugly head. If there is a big enough meltdown of the system, or if the government decides that is tactically necessary, the GPS system may be down, or switched off for non-military use.
Use the system for all it’s worth, but always be ready for it to go down. Always, always, always have charts or maps for your area of operation (AO), know your exact position, and don’t be surprised or caught with your pants down if the system goes down.
Always keep extra batteries for your handheld system.
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid System:
If you are going to carry a GPS, then carry a compass and map to back it up, preferably a 1:24,000 U.S. Geological Survey map with the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid already lined in.
UTM is a rectangular coordinate system that divides the earth into 60 zones (numbered 1 through 60) and 20 latitude bands.
All coordinates are expressed in meters, since it is much easier to have a mapping system based on ten than to figure equations such as: 12 inches equal a foot, three feet equal a yard, 5280 feet equal a mile, etc.
This equally divisible “world laid out in flat” grid system allows it to be projected onto maps without the curvature distortion caused by the Latitude/Longitude system. The distance between UTM grid lines remains constant through the mapping system, unlike Lat/Long.
Here is an example GPS coordinate in UTM position format:
16 S 0572576
The reading 16 S 0572576 is the “Easting” reading and will always be the first coordinate given. The “Northing” coordinate is 3763377. The 16 S is the UTM map zone. Map zone information will be printed on the data section of your topo map.
The next digits (0572) will be found on the bottom Easting (left to right) meridian of your map. The 0 will typically be left off, so you will be looking for 572 and a small blue tick mark. One that is located, the remaining three digits on your GPS reading (576) are the actual number of meters east (to the right) of the 572 blue tick mark.
To determine this on your paper amp, use the correct scale map card (in this case 1:24,000) and measure 576 meters east of the 572 tick mark and mark that point.
To find your Northing location on the map, use the sam process as Easting. In the above example, the 3763 will already be marked on the Northing map meridian, so you only need to plot the 377 meters north of the 3763 blue tick mark. Where the Easting and Northing locations cross is your exact location on the map.
Each blue tick mark is separated by exactly 1000 meters on a 1:24,000 topo map.
The most common mistakes are having the wrong map datum programmed into your GPS unit or not using the correct position format.
Always look a the map data paragraph located at the bottom of the map. (On Geological Survey maps, the map datum will usually be printed in the lower left hand corner of the map.) Example: “1927 North American Datum” translates to NAD27 on your GPS. Other common datums include NAD83 and WGS84. If you use the wrong datum, you can easily be several hundred meters off once you plot your coordinates from the GPS to the paper map.
Make sure you are using UTM as your position format in the GPS unit, otherwise the coordinates you read will be useless for UTM mapping system.
Another common mistake is having the wrong map for the area you are working in. Always verify the “big picture” of where you will be . If you are going to be working in an area that is close to the map’s edge, make sure to carry the next map in the series.
Remember to plot Easting first, then Northing second. the GPS will always show Easting as the first coordinate and Northing second. Plot left to right, then bottom to top. This can be confusing. Make a reminder note if necessary.
Plan your route of travel and plot out exact UTM positions using your map scale card, then enter those coordinates into your GPS as a new way point.
If you plan on verifying your position with good old map and compass skills (such as bisection and triangulation) and choose to orient your map using the UTM grid lines, remember that declination for the UTM system is the difference between Magnetic North (MN) and Grid North (GN). It is not the difference between True North (longitude lines on the map) and Grid North (UTM lines on the map). So, if your map shows an MN declination of eight degrees west and a GN declination of three degrees west, your actual declination for UTM would be five degrees west. Overall, this should not be a concern for users who simply want to plot their location on a map using their GPS, but for the diehard map and compass user, it can be critical.
Military Grid Reference System (MGRS):
The military grid reference system (MGRS) is the geocoordinate standard used by NATO militaries for locating points on the earth. The MGRS is derived from the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid system and the universal polar stereographic (UPS) grid system, but uses a different labeling convention. The MGRS is used for the entire earth.
Military Land Navigation:
Tricks & Cheats:
If you are lost and you stumble upon a cemetery it is useful to note that 99% of graves in the United States face east (oriented so that if the dead person were to sit up they would be looking at the rising sun in the east… something to do with new life and resurrection).
Manuals in PDF Format: