Going Tent Camping

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Map Selection Tips On Camping  


Using a map in the field can be quite an undertaken if you do not know what you are doing.  One of the main tips on camping is to be prepared.  The Boy scouts had it right.  Here, are tips on using your map that can help ensure you know exactly where you are and have a map that can survive your camping trip. 


1.  Find an as updated map as you can find.  This might seem obvious to some; however, using a map that was made 10 years ago may neglect to mention new landmarks.  By getting the most recent map you can find, you give yourself a much better chance of not being surprised. 


2.  Make sure the map shows all relevant landmarks.  The map you choose should correctly show the location of roads, railroad tracks, streams, creeks, rivers, etc.  In remote wilderness areas, these landmarks provide you points of reference which can help you determine where you are when your compass misleads you or if you have managed to lose your compass. 


3.  The map should include elevation numbers.  This means you want to find a topographical map.  These types of maps are especially important if you are in a hilly or mountainous region.  Knowing the elevation of different points will help you chart your course and determine how long it will take you to travel. 


4.  Protect your map.  Maps get roughed up pretty good on a regular camping trip.  With the wind and rain always an issue, it is a good idea to take extra care with your map.  Here, are some tips on how to do it: 

        a.  Laminate the map.  This will give the map some rigidity that will protect against wind damage and waterproof it or 

        b.  Place the map in a plastic bag.  This method will allow for protection to the rain.  The disadvantages are you will end up having to take the map out and fold it another way so this section can be seen through the plastic bag and it does not have the same amount of rigidity as a laminated map and thus is susceptible to wear due to continuous folding and unfolding of the map.   


5.  Use your map at home first.  Make sure you understand the legend and other indicators on your map.  If you are unsure of the information, go back to the store where you purchased the map or contact a representative at Mapsco.  They should be able to answer your questions.  It is far better to swallow a little pride at home and admit you need help rather than finding out in the field that you really needed to know what something meant. 


6.  Recognize nature’s direction indicators.  There are few rules and myths you should recognize about how nature tells you what the directions are: 

        a.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  If the sun is visible, you can use this to help determine all four directions.   

        b.  Moss does not just grow on the north side of trees.  It will actually grow anywhere and so this myth should be ignored. 

        c.  Rivers will tend to run south.  However, there are a large number of exceptions to this including:  St. John’s River in Florida, the Williamette River in Oregon, and the Monongahela River in West Virginia. 


With these tips on camping, you should be able to pick out a quality map and have more success in determining exactly where you are while camping in even some of the most remote areas.


*To get some unconventional cooking tips, check out camping tips and tricks.


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