I agree with Doug Ritter's Blog about carrying a GPS rather than a map and compass, especially for US citizens. There really are not many people that can use a map and compass successfully to find there location and navigate their way out of the wilderness.
I remember a few years back when I was a teenager back in Scotland comparing a US army field manual to the UK army cadet manual and comparing navigational techniques and I was surprised to say the least on just how poor the navigational techniques were described in the US army field manual. In the US manual there was no mention of magnetic deviation between the magnetic north and the grid or true north. Precision navigation on a bearing would of course be impossible without taking into account this deviation.
Also in the US manual there was no mention of how to perform a 3 point re-section to establish ones position accurately . Pretty basic stuff. How can you navigate to a point, on a magnetic bearing without compensation to the map grid, without knowing where you are in the first place.
As a 14 year old cadet we were trained to use a map, compass and pacer beads and we were tested on our skills of navigation. We were blindfolded, put in the back of 3-tonne truck and driven off into the wilderness somewhere then told to make our way back to camp. Once these skills was perfected we were then trained in the art of night navigation orientation skills using predictor corrector methods.
These skills are very useful for navigation over the Scottish Mountains which are always subjected to low cloud and misty conditions where points of reference are difficult to obtain and distances difficult to judge.
Anyway getting back to Doug's point about the use of the GPS. Doug is perfectly right in his assertion. A GPS will allow the user to accurately and speedily find their position to within 10m over most of the earths surface. The GPS is a wonderful navigational tool especially for those who have not been trained in the proper use of a map and compass and is an incredibly powerful tool in combination with a Iridium satellite phone for the extraction out of the wilderness by the rescue services. Lets of course remember there is no shame in carrying one of these devices because lets face it the US army would quickly get lost without them.

Edited by bentirran (03/11/07 03:54 PM)