Tips & Warnings
You can align the map and then simply subtract the variance of magnetic north and true north to give yourself a bearing. Check the map legend. If magnetic north is shown to the left of true north, add the difference. If it is shown to the right, subtract the difference.
Use visible land forms to help keep the map aligned while hiking.
Always keep "red in the shed," the compass needle in its north position on the bezel. Subtract or add the variance from your bearing to get a true bearing while walking.
Take bearings from your position to two landforms to ascertain your exact position.
Measure the distance on the map using the compass ruler. Use a pace count to determine distance traveled on the ground.
Compass readings can be affected by iron and steel objects. Make sure when laying out your route that you are not near these metals. Additionally, some mountains and landforms may actually be magnetic, such as the famed Magnetic Island in Australia, which threw off Captain Cook's navigator and almost wrecked the ship. So pay attention and make sure the reading makes sense.
Article Written By Benjamin Williams
Ben Williams is an award-winning reporter and freelance writer based out of Colorado. He has written for conglomerates of newspapers and magazines, supplying news, features, editorial and opinion. While running an Energy Services and Consulting firm, he now writes for multiple websites including the news site, Examiner.com.