Top tips for map handling
QI’m getting the hang of traditional navigation, but how can I make my maps easier to handle? I always seem to get in such a kerfuffle!
Being able to navigate with a map and compass is an essential skill for any would-be wilderness explorer. But those big old map sheets can be hard to get to grips with, and in a strong wind and hefty rain it can become a full-on wrestling match. However, there are steps you can take to make your maps more manageable:
Fold and flatten
You may need to refold the map to get the area you’re navigating in one easy-to-view frame. This might mean introducing some extra creases into your map, but don’t be afraid to do so – it’ll make using it much easier.
Remove the cover
It might keep you map looking pretty, but those stiff card covers get in the way when trying to fold your map into the right shape. They’re easily removed on OS maps (Harvey Maps have done away with the stiff cover altogether) and you should do this for on-the-hill use.
Customise your maps with the addition of notes and highlights. Circle a particularly nice wild camp spot; pencil on your planned route; highlight potential water sources. It’s not random graffiti – it’s making the most of a navigation tool.
Use a map case
Even waterproof maps, like Harvey Maps, benefit from a robust map case. It will help keep your refolded map in place, provides extra weather protection and, perhaps most importantly, can be used to keep the map tethered to you.
Print your own
In a merging of traditional and digital, you can print mapping from the web. Services like Ordnance Survey’s online OS Maps (free with a Trail subcription) allow you to print custom maps of your chosen area, with the same level of detail as their usual products but in more manageable A4 or A3 sizes.