Preview – SHTF – Old School GPS
Develop Your Compass-and-Map Skills — Along With Situational Awareness. Practice. Rinse and Repeat.
Statistics tell us that we’re far more likely to get lost in the mountains during a hiking trip than we are to encounter a catastrophe or undead outbreak. Whether your SHTF moment is worthy of a J.J. Abrams movie adaptation, one thing is for certain: knowing where you are and how to GTFO will dramatically increase your chances of staying alive.
Sadly, your average cubicle jockey wouldn’t find his way out of a paper bag. With the proliferation of GPS units and smartphone navigation, there’s been an overreliance on technology. But what happens if your batteries die or you lose a satellite signal? Or an electromagnetic pulse kills all digital devices in the area?
No worries, you say, because you have a compass. Well, it’s one thing to have a compass in your go-bag, but it’s another thing entirely to know how to use it properly, says Shane Hobel, founder of Mountain Scout Survival School. People tend to develop a false sense of security when they stow, but never use their expensive compasses.
“You should be able to use, or at least be able to set up, any gear you have in your go-bag or camp bag when there’s absolutely no light — that includes navigation equipment,” says Hobel, who teaches both urban and wilderness survival. This means get a compass and a map and start practicing until old-school navigation becomes second nature.
The Right Gear
The first step in learning how to use a compass is to get one, obviously. But which one? Compasses can range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. “The truth of the matter when it comes to certain tools is that — much like a water filter — you don’t buy a cheap one,” Hobel says. “It doesn’t mean you buy the most expensive one, but spend a decent amount.” He suggests avoiding expensive multi-tool-style compasses and instead getting a dedicated compass in the $20 to $50 range, which are usually accurate and reliable. The compass should also have a:
Lid or covering to protect the compass housing;
Lanyard to wear around your neck, so you don’t lose the compass;
Acrylic mirror to simultaneously view the compass dial and what’s ahead of you. The mirror can also be used to communicate with friends in the distance or to signal search-and-rescue parties. It’s also good for hygiene, such as spotting tics.
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