Family Backpacking Navigation:
When family backpacking, we obviously want to be sure we know where we are going! (Although we definitely didn’t this time in White Sands, New Mexico and never want to repeat that experience!) In the top zipper pocket of one pack (usually mine) so that it is easily accessible, we place a large plastic ziploc bag which holds the trail map for the trail we are on, a guide book if we are using one, and a Compass. Before you head out to hike, make sure you know how to use a compass! (Click here for access to a useful tutorial.) REI also offers compass and map reading classes periodically, so check your local store. When planning our route for the day, we fold the map so that we can easily see the section we are walking that day through the bag. This allows us to look for route guidance even when it is raining. I also keep my iPhone in a LifeProof Case in this bag for emergency use. I hesitated to buy a LifeProof case because it is somewhat pricey, but I am so glad I did. Virtually indestructible, my phone has fallen in ponds, been rained on, snowed on and dropped countless times and it still is perfect. Worth every penny! Dave also likes to use the iPhone for Topo Maps, an app which allows you to download a USGS topographic map of anywhere in the country which also tracks our current position. While I wouldn’t count on our phones as our only map, it is a nice extra for longer trips.
Family Backpacking navigation doesn’t have to be intimidating! With advance planning, you can be ready to get where you need to go for your next family adventure!