Hike navigation tools and techniques

Knowing how to navigate a hiking trail is an essential skill

While hiking is a relatively safe outdoor activity, it is only safe if you are prepared and know how to navigate the Australian bush. The key to any successful hike is knowing where you are going, where you have been and how to return safely. During your trip preparation you should also be aware of potential emergency and evacuation points in case things don’t go to plan. The most common cause of ill-fated hiking trips is people getting lost, so it is important to know how NOT to get lost and what to do if this does occur.

The most honest advice I can offer is, if you don’t know how to read a topographic map and use a compass or navigate a hiking trail using other aids, then stop to consider the hikes you plan to undertake as some hikes will require more advanced navigation knowledge. Having someone in your group that knows how to navigate is not really enough. You need to be able to return from every hike as if you were hiking solo. We all need to start every hike with the knowledge that we are personally in control of making it back safely.

Hike Navigation

Hike navigation tips

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Hike navigation requires preparation, observation, and attentiveness to your surroundings. Always prioritise safety and be prepared for unexpected situations. Here’s a handful of tips that have helped me on many hikes.

Hiking at night


Hiking at night can be a unique and rewarding experience, but it also requires extra precautions to ensure your safety. If you’re inexperienced or uncomfortable with navigating at night, it’s best to avoid it or...

How to read a map for hiking


Knowing how to read a map isn’t difficult, for most people, given training, a bit of practise and continual use. The symbols, topography lines and direction helpers all might require a little understanding, but the...

Using a GPS watch for hiking

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A GPS watch for hiking can offer a range of benefits such as accurate navigation, tracking and safety features. Here’s a few tips on optimal use, things to consider before purchasing, and a few GPS...

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