Maps are essential for navigation. Always carry a detailed topographic map of the area you are visiting, and place it in a protective case or plastic covering. Always carry a compass.
Climbers may also choose to carry other navigational tools such as an altimeter or global positioning system (GPS) receiver; other aids include route markers, route descriptions, and other types of maps or photos.
For short day hikes, perusing a map prior to the hike to refresh your memory of the trail and bearings may be all that is necessary.
For longer trips, a physical map, perhaps with the route marked with HighLighter pen and notes of landmarks, etc. is more prudent to carry. Still, you should review the map to refresh your memory BEFORE you go on the trip.
A USGS topological map is the most useful, with waterways, contour line and latitude-longitude marks. Better yet, if you are using a GPS, then get maps with UTM marks and learn how to use them. They are invaluable.
I review the route before I leave the house and carry the relevant USGS quad maps in a Ziploc bag with highlighted route. If I use a GPS, I pre-load the trailhead, destination and major waypoint coordinates into a route on the device.
Click here for more information on Compass
Jim Yuen 3/18/2002