Backcountry Navigation Tools and Gear: What You Need to Know

  1. Homesteading Supplies
  2. Survival Supplies
  3. Backcountry Navigation Tools and Gear

Are you planning a backcountry adventure? Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a first-time explorer, you need the right navigation tools and gear to ensure a safe and successful journey. From compasses and maps to GPS devices and satellite trackers, there's a range of essential items that can help you find your way. In this article, we'll look at the different types of backcountry navigation tools and gear, how to use them, and what to consider when making your selection. Read on to get the lowdown on backcountry navigation and make sure you're equipped for your next outdoor adventure.


A compass is an essential tool for backcountry navigation.

It is used to determine direction and can be used in conjunction with a map to accurately determine your location. A traditional compass is a handheld device with a rotating needle that points north. Many modern compasses are digital, with more features such as GPS and altimeters, but the basic function remains the same. When using a compass, it is important to understand how to read the various markings on the device.

The needle always points to magnetic north and the markings indicate the four cardinal directions (north, south, east and west). It is also important to note that compasses can be affected by metal objects and should be kept at least five feet away from them when in use. Another important component of a compass is a map. When combined with a compass, a map can provide invaluable information about your location.

Maps contain important information such as terrain features, trails, bodies of water, and man-made landmarks. By using the compass to identify which direction you are traveling in and then referring to the map, you can determine your exact location.

GPS Device

A GPS device is an essential tool for backcountry navigation. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and is the most accurate way to navigate in a wilderness setting. GPS devices allow you to pinpoint your exact location, as well as track your progress and route.

A GPS device can be used to find your way back to camp if you get lost, as well as plan out your route before you start your journey. GPS devices come in many shapes and sizes, from handheld units to smartphone apps. Handheld units offer more accurate readings and are usually more durable, while smartphone apps are typically cheaper and easier to use. When choosing a GPS device, it's important to consider the features and capabilities that best suit your needs. Some devices offer pre-loaded maps and waypoints, while others allow users to customize their own maps and routes.

It's also important to consider the battery life of the device, as some devices will need to be recharged after a few hours of use. Additionally, be sure to check the device's waterproof rating, as some models may not be suitable for use in wet weather. No matter what kind of GPS device you choose, having one on hand can help ensure a safe and successful backcountry journey.


An altimeter is an essential tool for backcountry navigation. It measures your altitude, which is the height above sea level. This information is critical for navigating in the backcountry, as it helps you get a better understanding of your environment, and can help you avoid areas that may be hazardous.

An altimeter typically works by measuring air pressure, which decreases with altitude. It is important to note that an altimeter will not be accurate if there is a large change in air pressure, such as when a storm is nearby. It is also important to calibrate your altimeter regularly to ensure accuracy. Altimeters come in two main types: digital and analog. Digital altimeters are typically more accurate than analog altimeters, and they often feature additional features such as a barometer, thermometer, and compass.

They typically use a battery to power the device, although some models are powered by solar energy. Analog altimeters are simpler and less expensive, but they can still provide accurate readings. When selecting an altimeter for your backcountry navigation needs, it's important to consider factors such as accuracy, power source, and cost. You'll also want to make sure the device you choose is compatible with your other navigation tools and gear. With the right altimeter, you can rest assured that your backcountry navigation will be a successful one.


A map is an essential tool for backcountry navigation.

It allows you to plan your route, identify potential obstacles, and find landmarks. When choosing a map, it's important to consider the scale of the map, the accuracy of the information, and the type of terrain you'll be navigating. The most important thing to remember is that a map should be easy to read and understand. When navigating in the backcountry, it's important to have a topographic map.

A topographic map is a two-dimensional representation of the land surface that includes contour lines, which show elevation and valleys. It also includes symbols that represent various features such as roads, trails, campsites, lakes, rivers, and more. Another tool to consider is a GPS unit. GPS units allow you to pinpoint your exact location on a map, as well as track your progress along a route.

They are also useful for recording data such as elevation, speed, and distance traveled. It's also important to have a compass when navigating in the backcountry. A compass will help you determine direction and can be used in combination with a map to plot a course or find your way back if you become lost. Finally, it's important to have the right navigation supplies with you when venturing into the backcountry.

This includes items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, matches or a lighter, signal mirror, whistle or flare gun, and a first aid kit.

Sighting Device

A sighting device is an essential tool for backcountry navigation. It is a device used to accurately measure the direction, angle, or elevation of an object. Examples of sighting devices include a compass, GPS, binoculars, and rangefinders. All of these devices are used to help you determine your bearing, keep track of your progress, and identify your destination.

A compass is the most basic sighting device and should be the first item you bring on any backcountry trip. A quality compass will have features such as a rotating bezel and adjustable declination. It is important to learn how to use a compass correctly before heading into the backcountry. GPS receivers are becoming more popular for backcountry navigation as they provide more detailed information than a traditional compass.

GPS receivers can record your exact location and track your progress over time. They are also extremely useful when navigating in areas with no landmarks or trails. Binoculars are great for looking out over the landscape and identifying potential landmarks or trails. Binoculars can also be used to spot wildlife or other hazards. Rangefinders are used to accurately measure distances between two points.

They are particularly useful when navigating in areas with no landmarks or trails. No matter which sighting device you choose, it is important to know how to use it correctly before setting out into the backcountry. By understanding the basics of each device, you can ensure that your backcountry journey is safe and successful.


A protractor is an essential tool for backcountry navigation. It is used to measure the angles and distances between two points. It can help you accurately determine the direction you need to travel and help you plan a route for your journey.

Protractors are typically made of metal or plastic and come in various sizes and shapes. When using a protractor for backcountry navigation, it is important to make sure that the protractor is level and secure on the ground. This will ensure that the measurements you take are accurate. To do this, you can use a compass or some other type of leveler. Additionally, you can mark the direction of travel on the protractor with a pencil or pen. When taking measurements, it is important to note that the angle of the protractor should be parallel to the ground.

This will help ensure that the measurements taken are precise and accurate. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the protractor is placed at a distance from any obstacles or objects that could interfere with the accuracy of the measurement. Using a protractor for backcountry navigation can be a great way to stay safe and navigate your way through the wilderness. With the right tools and gear, you can make sure your next backcountry trip is a success.


Navigating in the backcountry requires having the right gear and supplies. Some of the essential pieces of gear for backcountry navigation are compasses, maps, GPS units, and navigation apps.

Compasses are a must-have for any backcountry traveler. They allow you to orient yourself in the landscape and to determine your direction of travel. Compasses come in a variety of styles and sizes, so it's important to choose one that is suitable for your needs. Maps are another important navigation tool, especially if you are exploring unfamiliar terrain.

They provide detailed information about topography, trails, and other landmarks that can help you stay on track. Many maps can be purchased from outdoor stores or downloaded from online sources. GPS units are another useful tool for backcountry navigation. They provide accurate information about your location and can help you find your way back to camp or a trailhead if you get lost.

GPS units come in a range of styles and prices, so it's important to choose one that meets your needs. Navigation apps are also a great way to stay on track while exploring the backcountry. These apps can provide detailed maps, elevation profiles, and other information that can help you stay on course. It's important to make sure the app you are using is reliable and up-to-date.

Charles Eisnnicher
Charles Eisnnicher

Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuses on outdoor entertainment and endeavors