Basic Land Navigation

Explore with confidence by learning the fundamentals of using a map and compass.  Whether you are a beginner, or need a refresher, this course is for you.

In our Basic Land Navigation course we place a strong emphasis on teaching you the fundamentals of using a map and compass.  So, you will start by learning the basics, like parts of the compass, how to read a topographic map, the importance of declination, as well as how to use related tools, equipment, and resources.  Then, as you become more confident in your ability, we will set off into the woods so that you can increasingly put your knowledge to use in an active, hands-on, and practicable way.  This will allow you to become comfortable setting bearings, translating terrain features, and estimating travel times, amongst other skills.  Best of all, this course will provide you a foundation for your continued learning … and the confidence to better explore your world!

Amongst the many other topics that you will learn:

  • Compass selection and use, especially an orienteering type.
  • Map reading, with emphasis on USGS topographic 1:24000 scale.
  • Understanding and using declination.
  • Navigating techniques, with an emphasis on dead-reckoning, and with an introduction to terrain association.

From our anonymous course evaluation.

This course is geared towards participants of all skill levels and backgrounds so no particular experience or athletic ability is necessary. We only require that you bring the necessary equipment, your sense of adventure, and your Positive Mental Attitude. From there, we will work together to take care of the rest.  Please check the “Level of Physical Difficulty” description below so that you can get the most out of it.

Here is an overview of the program:

  • Start / End Times: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Fee: $125 per person
  • Location: Hartwood Acres County Park (roughly 15 miles north of Downtown Pittsburgh).
  • Maximum Group Size: 8
  • Minimum Group Size: The course requires a minimum of four persons to run this training.  If we are unable to meet this size, True North will fully refund your payment with as much advance notice as possible.
  • Minimum Age: Children 15-17 years old are welcome when accompanied by a parent or guardian.  In our private courses, there is no set age requirement as it depends on the specific group’s needs and goals.
  • Description of the Level of Physical Difficulty – Moderate:  This course involves walking over varying distances at a steady pace over varying terrain that will include off-trail sections, rough spots, unexpected obstacles, and low to steep inclines and declines.  This course is conducted in varying weather conditions, including hot, cold, humid, rain, and snow.  This course is best suited for those in good physical condition.

Check Out these Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

What happens when I register?   One of our instructors will personally follow up with you regarding your contact information, basic medical information (for safety purposes), and our waiver.  Then we will send you a detailed course information sheet which will contain all of the applicable details, like required and recommended gear, exact gathering point, general driving directions.  For an overview of the gear list now, check it out further down.

Do you run this course for private groups?  Yes, just contact us for information and details.

Are bathroom facilities available?  Bathroom facilities are available at this location.

What about the Coronavirus?  True North continues to follow all Center for Disease Control and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines to minimize transmission of COVID.  We recommend that you bring a face-covering to wear for those brief handful of times when you cannot socially distance.

What kind of gear do I need to bring?  True North will provide all of the needed training supplies, including maps and compasses.

BLN Equipment

Course equipment list – Click to enlarge.

If you would like a better sense of what additional gear that you need to bring on the course, or optional gear to consider, then check out the equipment list that will be included with the course information sheet (just “click” on the image to enlarge) when you register.

However, since one of our course goals is to teach you about various gear, plus offer you a chance to “test drive” it before you buy it, if you don’t have an item, don’t necessarily feel compelled to buy it right away … especially if it’s expensive.  Instead, contact us to see if we can loan you an item or make a recommendation for purchase.

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