You youngins that've had Siri leading you everywhere by the dick, listen to Colin! Once you steer that sweet vanagon outta latte range, your smartphone's gonna go dumb. I guarantee it! – Vanholio!
Why Is Reading a Paper Map Still an Essential Skill?
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Nevertheless, if this is your first foray into 21st century van life, you would probably don't want to blow it.
Imagine that you are on the road, and suddenly your GPS navigator stops working. How are you going to navigate when you barely know how to use that old paper map you keep in the sun visor? That’s right, the old paper map you were hoping that some stranger would help you read at this moment. Instead, learn and be prepared.
5 Tips for Reading Paper Maps
1. Locate the compass rose
Also referred to as a windrose, a compass rose is the figure on the map with the purpose of displaying the positions of the cardinal directions, namely: north, south, east, and west.
It’s important that you are aware of these directions. After all, how are you going to get to that barbecue, or anywhere else for that matter, if you don’t know which way you are going!?
Additionally, the compass rose is also useful for indicating the relative direction of physical and man-made objects on the landscape, such as: roads, forests, swamps, and towns. Without a compass rose, a map would be practically useless.
2. Locate yourself
Obviously, finding your destination will be a lot easier if you know exactly where you are traveling from. It would be beneficial if you could find a big landmark or land development to align yourself with.
Try to identify a mountain range, or something of that sort, on your map and near your current location. You can then approximately pinpoint your location based on your relation to the landmark or development you have identified.
After following this step, you’re already halfway through the battle and that much closer to your destination! There are just a few other things to take note of on your navigational quest.
3. Find the scale
The scale of the map resembles a small ruler and can usually be found near the bottom of the map. It will inform you of the size of map markings as well, as how many miles per inch the map is scaled to. (Or km/cm, for you foreigners – Vanholio!)
It is also important that you use the right scale map, which should depend on whether you are driving on the interstate or within a city.
A map scale also serves the purpose of displaying the ratio of the distance on the map to the actual distance of the ground. Be sure to pay attention to road lengths and sizes so you can better estimate how long your journey will be.
4. Learn the symbols
Map symbols are used to represent real world objects or characteristics. The best way to understand these symbols is to refer to the map key.
The map key can typically be found towards the bottom of the map (just as the scale), and will display the meaning of each symbol that is shown on the map.
These symbols may include: an airplane to symbolize an airport, a tree to symbolize a park, or a red cross to symbolize a hospital.
My guess is that you should look out for those tree symbols in case the kids decide it’s time for a play break.
5. Understand Latitude and Longitude
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Latitude and longitude points are usually used in instances where there aren’t any landmarks or roads to aid in finding a location.
As long as you are capable of identifying these lines, the rest is quite simple! It may even be a good idea to ascertain the latitude and longitude points of your destination beforehand to make your map reading as simple as possible.
Surviving without some modern-day technology should be considered crucial. When it comes to navigation, who can honestly say that they’re 100% comfortable with relying on technology? I certainly can’t!
The thought of being out in the desert, deep in the woods or even just driving on unfamiliar roads with nothing but battery-operated or electrical guidance makes me quite nervous.
We all know that these gadgets and devices could inconveniently stop working at any time, especially in remote locations or strange temperatures. What’s your plan then?
An ideal one would be to pull out that old faithful paper map! Hopefully, with the tips you’ve just read, it’s a plan you can successfully execute.
About the Author: A survivalist and a prepper. Colin shares tips and tricks about these things he does best at Basisgear.com. Check it out!
Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.
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Basis Gear (survival and prepping blog)