Give me a map and compass everytime.

Posted: July 6, 2010 in Life's Experiences, Technology
Tags: , ,

There is a saying, “technology kills”, whether this be fun, income or in the very worst extremes, well we won’t go there.

Personal navigational device (PND) are frequently found as either standalone devices or built within smart phones. Discussions are ongoing within the geo-technology community as to whether there is much life left in the standalone systems; a result in the advancement in the technology of smart phones. One could raise the argument that there are “horses for courses”; therefore there may be a place for both in the market place. However, technology appears to have pushed the grandfather of navigational aids from a functional role into that of artwork.

This article is being written from the perspective of someone who enjoys walking over the moors; environments often lacking in land marks and prone to sudden changes in weather.

I was brought up using map and compass, and many of the walkers and ramblers I know use this system as their primary source of navigation. Some carry PND as a means of clarifying their position, but nothing more; the PND is a “redundant backup”. There are many organisations that still teach the art of map and compass work today; the PND is not king yet! When planning a walk with map and compass, the topography is studied the route is planned, waypoints marked and contingency plans made; you find yourself “walking the walk”, developing a feel for the environment. The interpretations of contour lines making you feel tired before you have even set off. Once underway, the occasions on which you actually refer to map tend to relate to pre-planned way points, or the occasional check for checking sake. The map and compass will not be affected by changes in weather nor power failure. Whilst the map and compass is not infallible; they are not devices the reasonable individual would attempt to use off the shelf.

My experience in the use of PND as a primary navigation aid is limited; however sufficiently so to conclude that they should not be used off the shelf by the inexperienced map reader.  It is far too easy to buy a PND read the manual, programme the walk and then set off. The result of which is clearly seen by the number of articles confirming the increase in incidents attended by mountain rescue teams involving PND.

So all I will say as technology tries to push out the good old map and compass, “not in this household”.


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