Outdoor Gear for Navigation

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OS map showing Greywell walk

Outdoor Gear for Navigation

Here is a growing collection of cool tools to help you navigate. From maps and books to a plotter for kayaking. 

For some items I have written a more indepth review – just look out for the REVIEW links.

Some of the links are affiliate links and if you click on one and buy a product I may receive a small commission.  This does not cost you anything at all, but helps me to continue creating content for you. I only link to products that I like and these mini reviews are my honest opinions – warts and all.  


OS Maps

I have been using  OS maps  on my phone, tablet and laptop for the last couple of years having bought an annual subscription. 

OS Maps are great for planning and navigating in more remote places. The annual subscription provides the following:

  • Unlimited access to both the Landranger (1:50,000) and Explorer (1:25,000) maps for the whole of the UK on any device.
  • It’s very useful for route planning at home on the laptop.
  • The phone and tablet apps use GPS to show your current location on the OS Map. 
  • The OS Maps app can track and record your current trip, creating a record for yourself or to share later with others. 
  • You can download a map covering your next planned route, so the map can be viewed off-line in remote locations, where there is no data connection.  There is no limit to the number of maps you can download. 
  • Maps can be printed at home up to A3 in size. Having a printed map for navigating or as a backup to your device is very helpful, often essential, so I love this feature.  Having an annual subscription and printing my own maps has been so much cheaper than buying lots of paper maps to cover the areas I want to explore. I usually laminate my maps to make them waterproof although a good quality map case will work too. 

There is a free version of the OS Maps app too, which gives you access to a simplified but still useful map.

Is there anything I don’t like about it? 

Well a slight irritation is that you can’t lock a map at a specific scale. As you enlarge an area, the map will automatically switch from the Landranger (1:50,000) to Explorer (1:25,000) for example. Most of the time, this is very useful, but occasionally I would like to be able to lock the map to one scale. I believe OS Maps are planning to change this in a future update. 

OS Map on phone. Greywell Moors, Hampshire, UK.
Viewing OS Maps on a phone during a walk.
A route created using OS Maps on my laptop (routes can also be created on tablets and phones)

Get access to all UK OS Maps on your phone, tablet and laptop.

Or choose any UK location to find paper maps


Book: The Ultimate Navigation Manual by Lyle Brotherton

This book was given to me as a very thoughtful Christmas present a few years ago – thanks Rick 🙂 

If you want to learn or improve your navigation skills, this is the book to get. It covers everything from understanding how to plan and use maps properly to using environmental clues, GPS and apps. 

Each chapter has a number of projects for you complete, which will get you outdoors applying the skills you have just read about. If you take the time to work your way through this book, it will give keep you busy for many hours and your navigation skills will significantly improve.

There’s a Kindle edition too.

Sea Kayaking Plotter

Sea Kayak Navigation Aid 'the Pocket Plotter'.

This clear, flexible navigation aid was designed by sea kayaking expert Howard Jeffs to help plan and navigate sea kayaking journeys while in the boat.  Being flexible it can bend over the curve of the kayak’s deck making it easy to hold onto and use and it fits into most sea kayaking buoyancy aid pockets.  It can be used with both OS maps and nautical charts. 

Kayaking guru, Howard Jeffs, designed it to bridge the gap between the professional ‘chart table’ and the SILVA (Type 4) mountaineering style compass, often used by outdoor enthusiasts. It is easy to use from the cockpit of a kayak.

About the creator

Howard Jeffs in well known in the Sea kayaking world for his excellent coaching, books, boat building and sea kayaking exploration. Take a look at his website HowardJeffs.com 

Learn more or purchase the Sea Kayak Navigation Aid ‘the Pocket Plotter’

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