For navigation in featureless areas the key is to learn to use a map, compass, and GPS together, especially learning out to transfer waypoints and bearings to and from the GPS/compass/map.

That sounds easier than it really is. Learning and practicing with UTM coordinates and a UTM map tool is key. has nice tools and a great tutorial.

I recommend getting a declination-adjustable compass, setting it for the local declination, which requires prior research, and getting used to using true north bearings (not manually adjusting for declination).

Oh, and I strongly recommend having extra GPS batteries (I once had to borrow fresh batteries from a young Girl Scout when demonstrating how to use a GPS ... so embarrassing).

Also, learn to use the GPS to mostly enter/get waypoints and bearings - not leaving it on to gather a crumb trail, but only turning it to input/output waypoints or bearings.

I'm a see-thru plastic baseplate compass person. I've never seen the lure of the lensatic compasses for map work.

For the essentials I tend to see two types: (1) when you're out and about you have a set of gear. That gear has to do what you need it to do. Most outdoors folks know what they need and how to do it - or they learn through the years.

(2) It's the second set of gear - what I tend to call survival gear - that is the "other" stuff. The idea is that it needs to be with you pretty much at all times. It's with you went you step out of camp to go to pee in the woods. It's with you went you take a short walk after dinner. It's with you went you when your canoe dumps and the rest of your gear floats away from you downstream. Because that gear has to always be with you it has to be small and lightweight.

I've spent many years coming to this forum, reading books, playing with building survival kits, and playing/practicing with the kit tools. After all this time I see how much money I've spent buying individual gear bits. Ouch.

In the end my best advice is to buy ONE Doug Ritter Personal Survival Pak (PSP), and buy ONE Doug Ritter's Personal Survival Pak PLUS, and then work carefully to follow the recommended instructions for supplementing the pak PLUS with additional needed gear. Use the smaller PSP to play with the tools inside to be comfortable with them, and leave the contents of the Pak PLUS as your real survival kit. In the end you will save a bunch of money ... on shipping alone!!

Don't forget to replace the water sanitizing pills as needed.

If it's not too late, the other bit of advice I have is to stop looking for the ultimate gear!! That will run you poor and make you crazy. You just can't win that game. Get a decent knife (Mora?), a decent compass (Sunnto?), and other decent gear (???), ... and then spend most of your time and money enjoying the amazing outdoors.

Edited by KenK (03/02/18 08:16 PM)