SAR 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.

When & Where

Current Cal-ESAR Candidates and Members: Please log in to the Member Portal for schedule and location details

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 and can be ordered in the Team store.