First and foremost, a compass can help a backpacker find their way through unknown territory. Especially, when poor weather conditions deteriorate visibility and the backpacker can see none of the landmarks, there is no friend like a compass.
No backpacker ever strays from the trail intentionally. But, a brief moment of oblivion and distraction can take one down a wrong fork in the trail. Then, as they turn around, they do not find the correct trail. They immediately become disoriented and feel completely lost. If they had been carrying a compass and knew how to read it, they have a great chance of finding their way back. They could also find their way with the help of a map, but a compass makes it easier and quicker. No matter how alert and attentive a backpacker be, long days of backpacking is bound to make one distracted at times. Anybody can lose the trail at such a moment. A compass helps you avoid wasting hours, roaming in the wilderness, trying to find your way back.
While your map helps you become accustomed to the trail, your compass helps you in following the right trail. Whenever your mind is at a crossroads about which way to take, you should work out your present position from the map, and then take a reading on the compass to be absolutely sure about the trail you should follow. Every trail might not be clearly defined. Hence, a backpacker should always use a compass and a map to ascertain the direction of their travel.
A compass can help a backpacker avoid the worst. Losing the trail amidst heavy fog, rain or snow can literally be fatal for a backpacker. The wilderness is not all about fun and adventure. It is also about danger. A sudden cliff or waterfall can endanger one’s life at any moment. Losing the way more and more into a deep forest is also quite risky. A compass comes to one’s help immensely in such a situation. Carrying a compass - and knowing how to read it - are the two best favors that a backpacker can do for himself while venturing out in the wilderness.
When a backpacker has lost the trail, the worst thing that they can do is panic. Panic and fear will only add to the bewilderment. After sounding the emergency whistle, the backpacker needs to get to the closest highest point and use their basic compass knowledge to narrow down their location. The knowledge that they are carrying a compass and that they know how to read it is going to prevent their confidence from flaggin.
Thus, a compass helps a lost backpacker immensely in finding their way back, and staying on the trail. A backpacker can avoid innumerable untoward incidents and dangerous outcomes during their trip, with the assistance of the ever-reliable compass.
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Article Added on Tuesday, December 16, 2008
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