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My Life Outdoors

Practice Map and Compass skills with Cardinal Points’ Free Desktop App

Learning how to use a map and compass is an invaluable skill. Sometimes different compass techniques can be confusing and easy to mix up in your head. For instance when taking a magnetic barring do you line the orienting arrow with the magnetic needle or with the grid lines on the map? When trying to follow a bearing in fog do you align the orienting arrow with the grid lines or is it the magnetic needle. In both cases it is the the former. Knowing the difference in the backcountry can be very important.

Instead of trying to memorize the difference and risk getting them confused in your head you should practice map and compass techniques until they become second nature. This is were CardinalPoints.co.uk comes in handy.

Screen shot from Cardinal Points Compass Training Program

 Yon Yonson has created a wonderful little desktop app that allows interactive use of a map and compass in a simulated environment. I first came across Cardinal Points when Yon began following me on twitter. Curious I went and checked out his website and found this amazing app.

Cardinal Points uses a 360 degree panoramic photo (similar to virtual big bend) of Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick in Cumbria to help you practice important map and compass techniques over and over again.

Screen shot of the Compass Familiarization

Cardinal Points takes you step by step through the process of taking a magnetic bearing and locating a bearing on the map. Cardinal Points helps you familiarize yourself with the parts of a compass and even has an advance techniques tutorial that will teach you how to set a map and resection among other techniques.

Cardinal Points Map Screen Shot

The app is free to download and install, works on mac and windows, and is a lot of fun to play with. So if you get confused easily and like to practice techniques give Cardinal Points a try.

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  • Ben

    February 26, 2011

    Im amazed at how many people out hiking cant read a basic map and compass!

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