The last thing you ever want to do in life is to allow others to tell you where you are and where you are going. That kind of foolish blind trust can get you killed or lost at home and abroad. For the adventurer, you’re going to get stuck in situation after situation where people are not going to tell you where you are or where you are going for a multitude of reasons from a language barrier to trust. That’s fine, and you should not trust them either – trust no one but yourself.

Welcome to part IV of the mercenary series, read  parts I, II, and III to catch up on this burning train-wreck.

I’m standing by for the speculation, and haters that are gonna hate. Video courtesy of Turner Broadcasting System, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, The Boondocks, YouTube.

Pack Smart

I’ve previously covered some packing techniques in part three of this series –welcome to part four. As for the particulars of navigation a few common sense items and study should make sure that you get home.

  • Brush-up, map reading, and land navigation are perishable skills. Take some time and review what you know and what they are using: Latitude and Longitude, MGRS, Topographical Maps, Friendly and Location Specific Civilian and Military Map Graphics, Scale and Distance, and Star Charts for where you’re going.
  • Area and regional maps – print or draw to fit the occasion
  • Lensatic compass – military grade
  • Star chart and/or Sky Map App
  • Handheld GPS
U.S. Army, FM 3-25.26, Map Reading and Land Navigation
Use this type or a similar Lensatic Compass – Image courtesy of U.S. Army, FM 3-25.26, Map Reading and Land Navigation

Using a handled GPS or phone App brings compromisable discovery risk – use wisely and as previously discussed in the series.

Orient Yourself to the Map

Your map is not a sentient being, and it is not going to tell you that you’re going the wrong way. That is up to you – using your tools, the compass, and the map. To know where one is going, one must know where one is.

  • Find yourself on the map; that is point A.
  • Find where you’re going, that is point B.
  • Either draw a straight line between these two points or do so in your head.
  • Identify yourself at point A, your known location and any visible landmarks and the known direction of travel on the way to point B.
  • Now, rotate your map and not yourself in correspondence to the line. Your map will most like be canted – that’s fine.
  • You are now oriented to your map. If you’re clever, it’s close, and you have plenty of daylight, and you can identify enough terrain features; you could travel to your destination without screwing around. If not, get out your compass.

Don’t be a Microwave, Fix your Compass

Having a compass and using a compass are two different things. I’ve watched seasoned folks in uniform and others while on adventure look at a compass as if it’s an infallible piece of advanced hardware – it’s not. For starters, do not use your compasses while on top of or while in a vehicle, metal tower, any other larger metal object, field guns, munition stocks, near electrical current, by a generator, under powerlines, or while on top of a metallurgic mineral deposit. Metal, electricity, and environmental factors will give you a false compass reading.