Part One
  Map Reading

  Reading Topographical Maps Introduction 1. HOME

  Topographical Maps - Definition, Purpose and Categories 2. Maps

  Information in the margins of an army map 3. Marginal Information    and Symbols

  Latitude, Longitude and Other Methods to Locate Points on Topographic Maps 4. Grids

  Translating Distance on a Topographic Map to Distance on the Ground 5. Scale and Distance

  Grid North, Azimuth, Declination And Other Concepts Used To Find Direction With Topographic Maps 6. Direction

  Overlays - Used Primarily In Army Map Reading 7. Overlays

  Aerial Photographs - Supplements And Substitutes For Topographic Maps 8. Aerial Photographs

 Part Two
  Land Navigation

  Using Compass, GPS, Sun, Shadows, and Stars in Land Navigation 9. Navigation Equipment    and Methods

  Reading The Shape Of The Land In Topographic Maps 10. Elevation and Relief

  Orienting and Navigating With Topographic Maps 11. Terrain Association

  Mounted Land Navigating With Motorized Vehicles 12. Mounted Land    Navigation

  Land Navigation In Different Types of Terrain 13. Navigation in    Different Types of    Terrain

  Sketching Topographic Maps A. Field Sketching

  Folding Topographic Maps B. Map Folding     Techniques

  Units of Measure and Conversion Factors Used in Reading Topographic Maps C. Units of Measure and      Conversion Factors

  Units of Measure and Conversion Factors Used in Reading Topographic Maps D. Joint Operations      Graphics

  US Army Training Material for Map Reading and Land Navigation E. Exportable Training      Material

  Orienteering F. Orienteering

  US Army M2 Compass G. M2 Compass

  Additional Aids such as Night Vision Goggles and Global Positioning System or GPS H. Additional Aids      (GPS, Night Vision)

  Global Positioning System -  GPS J. Global Positioning      System - GPs


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The world continues to become more urbanized each year; therefore, it is unlikely that all fighting will be done in rural settings. Major urban areas represent the power and wealth of a particular country in the form of industrial bases, transportation complexes, economic institutions, and political and cultural centers. Therefore, it may be necessary to secure and neutralize them. When navigating in urban places, it is man-made features, such as roads, railroads, bridges, and buildings that become important, while terrain and vegetation become less useful.

a.   Interpretation and Analysis. Military operations on urbanized terrain require detailed planning that provides for decentralized execution. As a result of the rapid growth and changes occurring in many urban areas, the military topographic map is likely to be outdated. Supplemental use of commercially produced city maps may be helpful, or an up-to-date sketch can be made.

(1)   Urbanized terrain normally offers many AAs for mounted maneuver well forward of and leading to urban centers. In the proximity of these built-up areas, however, such approach routes generally become choked by urban sprawl and perhaps by the nature of adjacent natural terrain. Dismounted forces then make the most of available cover by moving through buildings and underground systems, along edges of streets, and over rooftops. Urban areas tend to separate and isolate units, requiring the small-unit leader to take the initiative and demonstrate his skill in order to prevail.

(2)   The urban condition of an area creates many obstacles, and the destruction of many buildings and bridges as combat power is applied during a battle further limits your freedom of movement. Cover and concealment are plentiful, but observation and fields of fire are greatly restricted.

b.   Navigation. Navigation in urban areas can be confusing, but there are often many cues that will present themselves as you proceed. They include streets and street signs; building styles and sizes; the urban geography of industrial, warehousing, residential housing, and market districts; man-made transportation features other than streets and roads (rail and trolley lines); and the terrain features and hydrographic features located within the built-up area. Strategies for staying on the route in an urban area include:

(1)   Process Route Descriptions. Write down or memorize the route through an urban area as a step-by-step process. For example, "Go three blocks north, turn left (west) on a wide divided boulevard until you go over a river bridge. Turn right (north) along the west bank of the river, and. . . "

(2)   Conceptual Understandings of the Urban Area. While studying the map and operating in a built-up area, work hard to develop an understanding (mental map) of the entire area. This advantage will allow you to navigate over multiple routes to any location. It will also preclude your getting lost whenever you miss a turn or are forced off the planned route by obstacles or the tactical situation.

(3)   Resection. Whenever you have a vantage point to two or more known features portrayed on the map, do not hesitate to use either estimated or plotted resection to pinpoint your position. These opportunities are often plentiful in an urban setting.

Return to Navigation In Different Types Of Terrain



Map Reading and Land Navigation Buy the book this website is based on: Map Reading and Land Navigation

This website is based on the US Army Field Manual: "Map Reading and Land Navigation" Buy a copy from to take with you out in the field.


Book Review - Be Expert with Map and Compass

One of the best ways to learn and become proficient in any subject is to find a way to make a game or sport of it. That's exactly what orienteering does! Orienteering began to develop almost 100 years ago in the Scandinavian countries as a fun and effective method for military training in land navigation. Bjorn Kjellstrom was closely involved with the early development of orienteering, and he is the person who introduced the sport to North America. He, along with his brother Alvar, and a friend named Gunnar Tillander, invented the modern orienteering compass. They manufactured and marketed it as the Silva Protractor compass. This compass, along with Bjorn's book Be Expert with Map and Compass, made it much easier for anyone to learn how to use a map and compass.

This book has become the most widely read classic on the subject of map reading, compass use, and orienteering. Over 500,000 copies have been sold in the english language editions alone. There have been very successful editions published in French, Italian, and other languages as well. It is a short (just over 200 pages), easy to read, enjoyable book that can help you to have fun while you learn the subject quickly and effectively.

The book is organized into four main parts, plus a short, useful introduction. Part 1 covers having fun with maps alone. Then, Part 2 covers having fun with a compass alone. Part 3 puts it together and shows you how to have fun with a map and compass together. This section also introduces the game or sport of orienteering. Part 4 covers competitive orienteering for those who would like to compete with others in the sport.

A reproduction of a segment of an actual topographic map is included as a fold-out in the back of the book. It is used together with the "how-to" instructions the book provides. For example, one of the exercises in Part 3 is an imaginary orienteering "hike" that uses the sample map.

If you would like to have one of the best books available on map reading and using a compass, Be Expert with Map and Compass is hard to beat. You can buy a copy from today.

Read a book review of Agincourt

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