5 November 2015

Mountain Skills Tip: Map Memory

Map Memory is a great technique for mountain, forest and kayak navigation. This is a technique to practice and get good at!

Because you are navigating from memory it allows you to focus mainly on difficult conditions you may be tackling; such as raging weather, snow work, impenetrable forest or big waves.

With care it also allows you to navigate longer legs than the usual 15 min or 500 meter rule, good for when conditions are difficult, or you need to put the head down and cover big distance.


1. Study your map as normal and plan your leg as normal.
2. At a minimum you need timing, tick off points and cut off point.
3. Finally, just before you put away your map, take a memory 'photo' of your map route.
4. Keep that photo firmly in your memory and track yourself across the photo as you make progress.
5. Your map memory/photo progress is backed up with your timing, tick off points and cut off point.


Simple but effective technique, keeping your hands free, and you making progress. With practice you can recall a decent map photo from your memory and track yourself pretty well; recognising expected features, ticking off expected features and changing tack when needed.

Nathan Kingerlee - Outdoors Ireland

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