Intro to Navigation


As search & rescue personnel, it is very important to *not* get lost in the backcountry (even when technology fails), and to be able to navigate precisely. This goal of this class is to introduce the use of a map and compass, and teach the basics of selecting routes and describing locations in the backcountry.


Duration: 2 days


The basic navigation course has a classroom portion at the Estuary & Ocean Science Center at the Romberg Tiburon Campus. Some practical exercises and our campsite will be at Paradise Beach Park.

Location 1

The Estuary & Ocean Science Center at the Romberg Tiburon Campus

3152 Paradise Dr, Tiburon, CA 94920

Enter through the North Gate and park in the lot, then follow the ESAR signs to the conference room.

Location 2

Paradise Beach Park

Skills emphasized

  • Map reading & interpretation
  • Use of map scales
  • Declination corrections
  • Symbol interpretation
  • Map care
  • Finding and following bearings with a compass
  • Using a compass with a map
  • Fundamentals of terrain interpretation & route selection
  • Describing your location to others
  • Improvised direction-finding

Gear list

Saturday is a classroom and field day, Sunday will be a all day field day.

  • Bring a pen and/or pencil. Course materials will be provided.
  • Bring your own meals for this:
    • 2 lunches you can take in the field
    • a breakfast and dinner to be cooked at the campsite
  • Expect cold, windy weather, possibly wet. Dress accordingly!
  • The campsite has few trees, so plan to bring trekking poles or something similar.
  • Bring along your tarps/lines/stakes from Outdoor Skills to use for your shelter.


Bring a mapping compass with a mirror if you have it. Leave your lensatic or military-style compass at home, it will only get in the way and slow you down. We have a limited number of loaners.

The unit will place a group order of compasses before this class, and people who order a compass will get them first thing in the morning. The unit standard compass is a Suunto MC-2/260/D/CM/IN/NH. The cost for the compass as part of the group purchase is $45.

Detailed schedule


08:30 Arrive at Conference Center

09:00 Training Starts

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Training Continues

15:30 Compass/Triangulation Practice

17:00 Shelter setup/dinner at Paradise Beach Park (bring your own dinner and stove (or share with a buddy)

19:00 Night compass exercise

20:30 Evening topics

21:30 Debrief/Review

22:00 Lights out


07:00 Breakfast (bring your own)

07:30 Shelter Eval/Take down

08:00 Triangulation Part 2

09:00 Field Exercise Briefing

09:30 Field Exercise (Lunch in the Field)

13:30 Exercise debrief/follow-up exercise

14:30 Course debrief/upcoming Event briefing

15:00 Intro Nav Complete