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Topo Maps and Land Nav

This is a discussion on Topo Maps and Land Nav within the Broken Arrow forums, part of the Gun Forum category; It is obvious that a very large majority of the population is extremely reliant on technology in their day to day lives. I know people ...


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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:18 AM   #1
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Topo Maps and Land Nav

It is obvious that a very large majority of the population is extremely reliant on technology in their day to day lives. I know people who use a gps where they live, always having it in their window when they drive, and people who can't go a day without their cell phone. I'm sure a lot of you here know people with the same perceived need of technology. But what if those items become useless?

How many of you keep a lensatic compass, map protractor, and a topographic map of your area in your gear? More importantly, do you have a way to maintain your land nav skills so you are not reliant on a gps?

I found a website where you can order custom topo maps, in either latitude/longitude or MGRS, to any scale, and centered on any location. I believe a good map is a very important asset to have. Do any of you have suggestions of how large of a map (surrounding area covered) one should have for a societal collapse situation? I'm thinking up to and including heavily wooded areas that are viable for hunting and trapping, and nearby state and national parks. What about civil disorder, like a civil war/revolt, or if a foreign army invaded? I can't buy maps of the entire country, would my state and surrounding states be sufficient?

Does anyone have experience with this website?: http://www.mytopo.com/

Here is land nave course if anyone needs it: http://www.landnavigation.org/Pages/default.aspx

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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:25 AM   #2
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Here is another good website for more information on topo maps.

http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/

Thanks from Screech8710
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:29 AM   #3
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How to read a Topographic Map

A Topographic Map includes contour lines drawn to represent changes in elevation.

When you follow a path on a topographic map that crosses these contour lines, you will be either climbing or descending.

A path running parallel to contour lines is relatively flat.

When reading a topographic map, you need to visualize in your mind's eye a 3-dimensional view of what the symbols and contour lines are representing.

The most important thing to remember is that CLOSE contour lines mean STEEP terrain and OPEN contour lines mean FLAT terrain.

==============================================

Shaded relief added to a topographic map makes it more realistic and helps visualize the real landscape.

For example, see how the mountains and canyons stand out on this map:



What is the elevation of Mt. Passaconway? _______________
What is the elevation of Mt. Tripyramid? _______________

The closest Index contour line for both peaks is 3,000 feet. You can see another Index line of 2,000 feet.

There are 4 Intermediate lines between 2000 and 3000 so each intermediate line represents a 200 foot change in elevation.

Counting up from 3,000 feet, there is 3200, 3400, 3600, 3800, and the top line is 4000 (actually the next index line).

So, both peaks are over 4000 feet and it looks like Mt. Tripyramid is possibly almost 4200 feet high.

==============================================

This example of a very simple topographic map shows many common features. Keep your eyes open to see these features on other maps and you will start to understand how a topo map works.



==============================================

Even without elevation numbers, clues that #1 is a hill include:

a) streams converging away from the hilltop,

b) contour lines pointing sharply towards the hilltop (indicating draws),

c) contour lines pointing widely away from the hilltop (indicating rounded ridges).



Using contour lines, you can tell a lot about the terrain, including steepness, ruggedness, and ground cover.

On the image above, look at point A. There are no contour lines around this location so it is relatively flat here and a good place for a campground by the lake.

You can tell from the elevation listed at marker 3095 that the campground is at 10155 feet.

You can also tell the elevation change between each contour line by looking at the Index lines.

Notice that the Index line near point B is labeled 11600 feet and the one due north of it is labeled 10400 feet - that is a difference of 1200 feet.

Between these two Index lines are two more Index lines so each index line represents a change in 400 feet of elevation - 10400, 10800, 11200, and 11600.

Count the lines between two index lines and you should see there are 4 lines which cause the 400 feet between the two index lines to be divided into 5 intervals, each one being 80 feet in elevation.

So, now we know that on this map every contour line represents 80 feet of elevation change.

If you follow a single contour line, your elevation remains constant. For example, starting at point X and following the Index line to the NorthEast, around, and down South to point Y, you would stay at about 10,800 feet.

When you cross contour lines, you are either hiking up or down.

Look at the two routes to get to the peak at point B - the red route and the blue route. Each path reaches the top, but the blue route is three times as long as the red route.

That means it covers more distance to gain the same elevation so it is a more gradual slope - and probably an easier hike. Going up the red route may require a lot of scrambling and hard work.

Using the map above, pretend you are camped at the Grandview Campground but you heard there is great fishing in Willow Creek at point C over the mountain to the SouthEast. How could you get there?

Well, a straight line to the SouthEast would be shortest on the map, but would include a climb of over 1500 feet!

Instead, heading East from camp and circling the north side of the mountain will result in a longer distance covered but only about 325 feet in elevation! That may be a much better hike.

One other thing to take into consideration. Notice that the ground is colored green up to about the 10,800 foot index line. The white area above that is open ground while the green area is forested.

This can be good or bad. The forest can offer shade and coolness, but on the other hand it may be thick and difficult to navigate.

Here is a link which instructs on how to read a Topographic Map ..



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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:32 AM   #4
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I've ordered quite a few maps from these guys to use while hunting/hiking.. all of them with the water-resistant paper. Good prices, fast shipping... no complaints at all. If you don't have a protractor, make sure to match up the maps' scale with your compass when ordering.

http://www.maptools.com/products/index.html

This site has almost every protractor you'll ever need, even in hard to find scales.

Thanks from Screech8710
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 10:05 AM   #5
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I take topo maps & cut them for the area I'm concerned with & if necessary tape multiples together. My combat harness has a B&W map while existence load has a color one. Only have lensatic compass in the existence load. Just use magnetic compasses with the combat load.

7.5 minute topo maps are what I use which were purchases from USGS.

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Old February 3rd, 2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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I'm a big fan of TopoUSA by National Geographic. You can print out what ever you need on a state by state basis. Depending on the printer setup you have, you can plot large maps. I use this whenever I'm hunting in an unfamiliar spot. It helped me to harvest a buck in the Ruby Mountains.

If you want copies of 7.5 min quad maps, checkout your local land management agency's (blm, forest service, park service) office. They sell all the USGS maps you could want of their district's land.

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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for reminding me of my old "land nav" days...

Thanks from SGTPinder
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:20 PM   #8
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Yup don't miss that at all. Especially on night navs

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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:36 PM   #9
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We did not learn that in the Cub Scout Force - USAF.... lol

Good stuff, thanks for posting

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Old February 3rd, 2013, 06:04 PM   #10
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Just make sure the topo you get has a scale you can easily use with yoir compass like 1/32

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Old February 5th, 2013, 07:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huntinghawk View Post
I take topo maps & cut them for the area I'm concerned with & if necessary tape multiples together. My combat harness has a B&W map while existence load has a color one. Only have lensatic compass in the existence load. Just use magnetic compasses with the combat load.

7.5 minute topo maps are what I use which were purchases from USGS.
So we are on the same page with what maps to get? I live on the edge of a city, a road map works there, but there is a state park nearby to the south that I would get a topo map for, along with surrounding areas.

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Old February 5th, 2013, 08:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by dragon6097 View Post
Yup don't miss that at all. Especially on night navs
My buddy lost his two front teeth during night navigation training.
Falling off small cliff ---- all bloody face....

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Old February 5th, 2013, 10:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Screech8710 View Post
It is obvious that a very large majority of the population is extremely reliant on technology in their day to day lives. I know people who use a gps where they live, always having it in their window when they drive, and people who can't go a day without their cell phone. I'm sure a lot of you here know people with the same perceived need of technology. But what if those items become useless?

How many of you keep a lensatic compass, map protractor, and a topographic map of your area in your gear? More importantly, do you have a way to maintain your land nav skills so you are not reliant on a gps?

I found a website where you can order custom topo maps, in either latitude/longitude or MGRS, to any scale, and centered on any location. I believe a good map is a very important asset to have. Do any of you have suggestions of how large of a map (surrounding area covered) one should have for a societal collapse situation? I'm thinking up to and including heavily wooded areas that are viable for hunting and trapping, and nearby state and national parks. What about civil disorder, like a civil war/revolt, or if a foreign army invaded? I can't buy maps of the entire country, would my state and surrounding states be sufficient?

Does anyone have experience with this website?: http://www.mytopo.com/

Here is land nave course if anyone needs it: http://www.landnavigation.org/Pages/default.aspx
Yup...I have all those things, and use them. But I'm not opposed to using GPS, in the slightest.

And I do have maps/aerial photos from "MyTopo" including a 4X5 aerial with lat/long of my area. Now, if necessary, I know where every swimming pool/water source is within a half mile in any direction. MyTopo is pretty current also...at least in my neighborhood.

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Old February 5th, 2013, 02:10 PM   #14
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Reading a topo map is much more than a map and a compass.

Anyone with old school military experience knows that this takes practice and even more practice both on foot and in a vehicle.

Thanks from GARRARD
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Old February 5th, 2013, 06:08 PM   #15
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Or anyone who is a Forester ;)

The 7.5 Minute USGS Topo sheets are, in my opinion, the best and most accurate maps you can get.

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