The Essential Wilderness Navigator: How to Find Your Way in the Great Outdoors, Second Edition / Edition 2

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The Essential Series--Your Trusted Guides

"Puts the world of wilderness navigation in the palm of your hand."--Adventure West

"Teaches the essential disciplines of compass and map-reading . . . but goes beyond the basics with useful, eye-opening advice on how to read nature's highway signs--vegetation bands, wind-whipped ripples in sand or snow, and the positions of the sun and stars."--Northeast Outdoors

If you're at all unsure of your backwoods direction-finding skills, The Essential Wilderness Navigator is the guide you've been looking for. It teaches you how to observe--to see, smell, hear, and sense the details of the environment around you. Then, to supplement your newly enhanced sense of direction, you'll learn to read maps, use a compass, and find your location and route with reference to landmarks. This updated second edition also includes

  • The basics of global positioning system (GPS) navigation and CD-ROM maps
  • A full-color section on reading topographical maps
  • Navigating in deserts, mountains, and snow

Whether you're planning an extended wilderness trek or a day hike on marked trails, here's how to stay found.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071361101
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Series: Essential Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 173
  • Sales rank: 260,703
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Seidman has spent a good portion of his life finding his way around the world. He's crossed oceans, toured central Asia and Mongolia without a map or the ability to speak the language, and found a Mayan ruin in Guatemala. He is the author of The Essential Sea Kayaker and The Complete Sailor and is an editor at Boating magazine.

Paul Cleveland has worked as a wilderness ranger in New Mexico and designed and built trails in the Appalachians. He is a frequent contributor to Backpacker and Climbing magazines and the Web pages. He guides whitewater rafting trips and teaches CPR and first aid for the Red Cross and wilderness navigation for Outward Bound.

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Table of Contents


What's New in this Edition

1. A Sense of Direction

Locating Your Sixth Sense

How Not to Get Lost

Why We Get Lost

How to "Get Found"

2. Maps

The World in Your Hands

Types of Maps

Three Dimensions into Two

The Language of Maps

Reading the Terrain

Latitude and Longitude




Putting Yourself on the Map

Map Care and Gear

3. Compasses

What Compasses Can Do

Earth's Magnetic Field

How Compasses Work

Make Your Own


Compass Types

Orienting Your Compass to Magnetic North

Orienting Your Compass to Geographic North



Following a Compass Course

Testing Your Skills

4. Navigation

Map and Compass Combined

Orienting the Map with a Compass

Finding a Course from the Map

Locating a Mapped Object in the Field

Locating an Observed Object on the Map

A Bearing from a Mapped Object

Other Lines of Position

Warning Bearings

Crossing Lines of Position

Returning to the Same Spot

A Running Fix

Finding Distance Off

Measuring Distance Covered

Dead Reckoning

5. Navigation in Use

Route Planning

The Practice of Navigation

On the Trail

Hitting What You Aim For

Landmarks as Guides

Sources of Error

When You Are Lost

6. Looking to Nature for Clues

Finding North and South at Noon

North and South from a Shadow

Quick but Inaccurate

Movements of Sunrise and Sunset

Bearings from Sunrise and Sunset


The Southern Cross

Other Stars

7. Extreme Environments




8. Electronic Navigation

GPS 101

Getting Started

E-Maps: Topos and Charts on CD-ROM

9. Appendix

Bearings of Sunrise and Sunset

Declination Corrections

Metric Conversion Tables


Sources of Maps, Books, Compasses, Videos, GPS Manufacturers, and Electronic Mapmakers

Travel Plan



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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2004

    Best Map & Compass Book Out There

    The title may keep it from being more popular than it should be, but I have discovered the Essential Wilderness Navigator is the best map & compass land nav book out there. Like many people I had been led to believe that the 'Sierra Club Land Navigation Handbook' or Bjorn Kjellstrom's vastly overrated 'Be Expert with Map and Compass' to be the last word on the subject of reading a map. Those books don't even come close. Wilderness Navigator has by far the best illustrations and material to get you up and running with topo map and compass, along with more advanced material once you're ready. And (yay!) no wasted space on Orienteering, Scouting, Astronomy, or other marginally relevant garbage, just real-life outdoor navigation for hikers and backpackers. Plus, the larger format is easier to read, and you can actually lay the book flat on the ground to help you while practicing your navigation skills. If you really want to know how to read a map and use a compass in authentic outdoor situations, this is the book to buy!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2006

    Best Map/Compass Instruction Guide I've seen..

    You want to learn how to use a map and compass? Mostly for navigating on land, especially remote wilderness? This is the best comprehensive book I've found on the subject, bar none. Reasons: 1) It gets to the point quickly in teaching you map & compass fundamentals. 2) It teaches realistic methods, and does not emphasize the unrealistic ones (one glaring example: penciling a lot of inaccurate magnetic declination lines all over your map the night before your trip (because the author used the method once for an adventure race with a special large-scale map and thinks it's cool) 3) It has clear, large, easy-to-understand illustrations. 4) It teaches BOTH compass dead reckoning (compass only) AND terrain association (map priority) navigation principles and shows the advantages and weaknesses of each in a given situation. 5) It has nice large pages and lays flat while you refer to various sections and practice using your map & compass. 6) It also covers more advanced map/compass skills (such as plotting your position using lat/long and UTM grids) as well as beginner exercises, and does so in the same clear, practical way. 7) It warns you of the inaccuracies of some improvised 'navigational' methods (like telling directions from a wristwatch and the sun) while still giving you useful information on methods that do work well in an emergency. 8) It does not attempt to be a 'all-method navigation' book. Such a book does not exist. Either the GPS material will be inadequate or the map/compass material is too abbreviated.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2014

    Excellent Instruction

    I have read other David Seidman books and really learned/enjoyed them a lot. So when I started an interest in land navigation and he had written on the subject, I bought his.
    This has turned out to be a great instructional manual. I read it cover to cover and did the exercises and such and am now proficient in the practice.
    I have discovered orienteering and adventure racing and knowing navigation is critical to the process. If want to learn and have fun doing it, this is a great book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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