Welcome to the Backpacking 101 Series

Backpacking 101 Lecture Series

The scope of the Backpacking 101 series is to provide clear and sound coverage of the current concepts, techniques, and challenges involved in the pursuit of exploring the backcountry and to provide a fundamental understanding of each topic covered.  Our objective with this series is to:

  1. To have a clear understanding of the basics of backcountry skills. To teach you how to be “safe and comfortable in the backcountry.
  2. To learn the inherent risks and challenges of the backcountry.
  3. To develop the skills necessary to mitigate those risks and develop strategies to overcome those challenges.   

Welcome to Course 5 - Backcountry Navigation

"Backcountry Navigation" is the fifth course in our Backpacking 101 lecture series. You now have a strong grasp on all the types of clothing and gear used in the outdoor world as well as how to plan and map out your backpacking trip. Now it is time to hit the trail, break out your map and compass, and explore the wilderness. In this course we will cover the proper skills and techniques used in wilderness navigation as well as the best tools to use to help you find your way.

I first cut my teeth on compass and map skills back when I was training in the Seal Teams. We had begun a week long course in the mountains we called "Land Navigation" or "LandNav" for short. This course was spread out in the area known as Mt. Laguna which was located east of San Diego in the Laguna Mountains on the eastern edge of the Cleveland National Forest. After a day or two of adjusting to the elevation (I am from Louisiana lol) I really began to hone my skills and study the landscape. By the end of the week I completed the LandNav course in record time and my talent for pathfinding began. Since the military I have spent countless days in the wilderness perfecting my skills and now we want to pass that knowledge on to you. In this course we will cover all the essentials in navigation so that you can have greatest chance for a safe and successful trip. These essentials include; the different types of maps, how to read them, and how to find your location; all the parts of the compass, how to use them, and their relationship between the map and the landscape; modern GPS devices and how they can make your life easier; how to orient a map and yourself; as well as how to properly navigate in the field. The course is outlined as such:

  1. Maps
  2. Compasses
  3. GPS Devices
  4. Route-Finding
  5. Navigation Checklist
  6. Orientation
  7. Navigating in the Field
  8. Emergency Communication Devices
  9. Getting Un-Lost



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