Saturday, January 28, 2023


How to use a compass

By Cheri Sicard
It may seem basic, but if you never went to scouts and nobody ever showed you, how are you supposed to learn? By watching the video on how to use a compass from outdoor experts at REI, of course!

Everyone, young and old, should understand this basic survival skill, so why not sit down and watch the video with the entire family?

The video covers some important topics including:

  • The essential parts of a compass.
  • How to set up your compass to account for the declination of your region.
  • How to take a bearing from a map to find an object in the field.
  • How to take a bearing in the field in order to find yourself on a map.

How to use a compass: Step-by-step

It’s hard to talk about how to use a compass without understanding its parts and what they do. Likewise, the video starts by explaining and showing these fundamentals.

It then covers the definition of declination, in other words, the angle difference between magnetic north and true north.

The needle in a compass always points to magnetic north. If you don’t adjust for this difference, it can really mess up your navigation. The video shows you where to find the important information you will need and how to make this adjustment, depending on where you are in the world.

Next, it looks at how to set a bearing on your map. A bearing describes a direction in terms of degrees. Setting bearings will allow you to be precise in your directions.

Conversely, taking a bearing on a map is a skill that will help you determine where you are on a map by using landmarks you can see. By using triangulation, as shown in the video, you can get extremely accurate in pinpointing your location.

It may all sound daunting, but by watching the video and then going out and practicing in the field, you too can get the hang of navigating with a compass just like a pro.



If you value what you learn from, would you please consider becoming a voluntary subscriber by pledging your support? Every contribution, no matter how modest, helps us serve you better. Thank youLearn more here.

Facebook Groups you might like
RVing with Dogs
RV Tech Tips
RV Advice
Towing Behind a Motorhome
RVing Over 70
. . . and the official Facebook page

Winterizing your RV this season? Amazon has a wide choice of RV antifreeze.


4.9 7 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bob p
3 days ago

Or if you’re not a draft dodger and served in the military you learned how to use a compass there.

Cheri Sicard
3 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

Always the ray of sunshine you are Bob. And always so nonjudgemental.

Diane McGovern
3 days ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

On the other hand, Bob, thank you very much for your service. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

3 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I didn’t dodge the draft and was a Combat Engineer during Nam. I learned all about all kinds of maps and the compass, along with about every weapon used by both sides, and could build every kind of bridge the military had. Not having used any of these skills for 56 years I need a bit more than a refresher course. I don’t see how showing someone how to read and use a map has anything to do with the politics of the 1960s. Thank you Cheri for the video.

Diane McGovern
3 days ago
Reply to  KellyR

Thank you very much for your service, as well, Kelly! Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

Cheri Sicard
3 days ago
Reply to  KellyR

Thank you. While I appreciate both your service, I see no need whatsoever to bring the politics of the Vietnam war into this post. Or to brand an entire population who did not serve in the military, for whatever reasons, as “draft dodgers.”

Last edited 3 days ago by Cheri Sicard
3 days ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

Keep on keepin’ on, Cheri.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.