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Land Navigation 101: What You Need to Know | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #38

Land Navigation 101: What You Need to Know | THE SHED KNIVES BLOG #38

Welcome back to another exciting edition of The Shed Knives blog! Today, we're embarking on a journey of exploration and self-reliance as we delve into the world of land navigation. Whether you're an aspiring hiker, an outdoor enthusiast, or a survivalist, understanding the basics of land navigation is an invaluable skill that can enhance your outdoor experiences and keep you safe. Join us as we unravel the mysteries of maps, compasses, and navigating through the wilderness.

Why Land Navigation Matters

In a world heavily reliant on technology, the ability to navigate using traditional methods has become a lost art for many. But what happens when your GPS device runs out of battery, or you find yourself in an area with no cellular signal? This is where land navigation skills become essential. Being able to read a map, use a compass, and navigate by natural landmarks empowers you to confidently explore even the most remote and uncharted territories.

1. Mastering Map Reading

Above is a topographic map

Maps are your windows to the world, and understanding them is the first step towards successful land navigation. Topographic maps are particularly valuable as they depict terrain features, elevation changes, and natural landmarks. Here's what you need to know:

  • Scale: Pay attention to the scale of the map. This will help you understand the relationship between the distance on the map and the actual distance on the ground.

  • Legend: The legend provides a key to understanding symbols, contour lines, and other features on the map. Study it thoroughly.

  • Contour Lines: Contour lines indicate changes in elevation. The closer the lines, the steeper the terrain; the farther apart, the flatter the land.

  • Orientation: Always ensure the map is oriented correctly with the real-world direction you're facing. Use landmarks or a compass to achieve this.

2. Navigating with a Compass

A compass is a fundamental tool for land navigation. It helps you establish your direction and maintain a sense of orientation. Here's how to use it effectively:

  • Declination: Be aware of the declination (the difference between true north and magnetic north) for your area. Adjust your compass accordingly.

  • Taking a Bearing: To navigate from one point to another, take a bearing by aligning the compass's needle with the orienting arrow. Follow the direction indicated by the direction-of-travel arrow.

  • Triangulation: Using a compass, you can triangulate your position by taking bearings to known landmarks. Where these bearings intersect on the map is likely your location.

3. Using Natural Landmarks

2023 Shed Knives Conquest

Nature itself can be a reliable guide when navigating through the wilderness. Learn to recognize key natural features:

  • Sun: The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Its position in the sky can give you a general sense of direction.

  • Stars: At night, the North Star (Polaris) can serve as a fixed point for determining north.

  • Mountains and Valleys: Prominent mountains, hills, and valleys can provide you with a sense of location and direction.

  • Water Sources: Rivers, streams, and lakes are often depicted on maps and can help you orient yourself.

4. Dead Reckoning

2023 Shed Knives Atlas

Dead reckoning involves estimating your current position based on your last known location and your estimated speed and direction of travel. While not as accurate as using a compass and map, it's a valuable skill in situations where you're without these tools.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

2023 Shed Knives Skur (x2)

Land navigation is a skill that improves with practice. Start with familiar areas and gradually work your way to more challenging terrains. Engage in orienteering activities or geocaching to test your skills in a fun and practical way.

6. Safety First

While land navigation can be exhilarating, safety should always be a top priority. Always inform someone about your intended route and estimated return time. Carry necessary supplies such as water, food, a first aid kit, and appropriate clothing for the conditions.


In an age of GPS and digital maps, mastering the art of land navigation might seem like a lost endeavor. However, the knowledge of reading maps, using a compass, and navigating by natural landmarks is a timeless and essential skill for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. By honing these skills, you're not only ensuring your safety but also fostering a deeper connection with the natural world. So, gear up with a map and compass, embrace the challenge, and embark on a journey of self-discovery through the untamed wilderness.


To explore a wide range of high-quality knives and tools, including the entire 2023 Collection mentioned in this article, visit the Shed Knives website HERE. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next edition of The Shed Knives Blog.



About The Author:

CEO & Founder of Shed Knives, W. Jack Billings

Jack Billings is the 19 year old CEO and Founder of Shed Knives, a rising manufacturer of high-quality fixed blade bushcraft knives. With over 5 years of experience as a knife maker, he has developed a reputation for crafting durable, reliable knives that are designed for outdoor enthusiasts and bushcrafters alike. Jack started making knives at the age of 13 and has been refining his craft ever since.

In addition to his expertise in knife making, Jack has a High School Degree from POLYTECH High School, where he studied Automotive Technology and obtained his ASE Certification. He is also a content creator for Shed Knives and has reached the eyes of over 600,000 people across the world through his work.

When he's not working on knives, Jack enjoys exploring the outdoors and has a passion for bushcraft. He also has a passion for the automotive world and enjoys learning about new technologies and advancements. Additionally, he has a great interest in language and is studying Spanish, German, and Arabic.

Jack's personal mission is to constantly improve himself, his products, and his processes in order to stay ahead of the rapidly changing interests of the knife industry and to surpass the competition. He takes great pride in American manufacturing and is committed to contributing to the growth of the world knife industry through his work.


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