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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was reading Zane's thread about the perfect shtf soldier.

I saw where Joemamma responded about socks. He said cotton was a no-no. Why is this? What socks would you all recommend?

Also, does anyone know of a good site where I can learn how to navigate with a compass? Where do you get the maps to navigate by?

Thanks for the help.
 

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Cotton socks = blisters.

Think about bath towels. They are made of cotton because they are expected to retain moisture. Cotton socks absorb the sweat from your feet BUT don't allow that sweat to readily evaporate away from your foot. The moisture contributes to friction and causes hot spots which evolve into blisters.

Synthetics wick moisture away from your feet. If you have time to take off your boots, your feet dry very quickly with synthetic socks.

Wool socks have similar properties to synthetics.
 

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Not sure about where to buy the maps, but we always used 1:100,000 maps AFAIR, 1:25,000/1:50,000 were better but the 1:25,000 requires you to make a special protractor in order to navigate. I'm sure there are oodles of guides on the internet but there are several ways to navigate. First you must understand the map and its key in full. Pretty simple stuff, blue is water, green is vegetation, dotted black lines are small roads (dirt/gravel), solid black lines is hardball roads, and black squares indicate man-made structure. After that, it gets a bit lengthy. I will give you the most brief possible explanation according to me, but I'm no expert as my experience is limited to navigation in the Kahukus of Hawaii, the Sierra Nevadas in CA, Eastern Afghanistan and Al Anbar, Iraq (But we had SAT maps there so I don't really count it much.) There's probably a lot of die hard back to the basics guys, but I'm a big fan of "if SHTF hopefully my Rhino will still work :D" mindset.

When utilizing a map, you'll need the aid of a protractor, map pens (non permanent and very handy,) a lensatic compass (most surplus stores will carry both,) and a known point -- preferably your location :goof: . With these items you will plot the destination you wish to go to on the map utilizing map pens from your known point to your destination. Once you have the point you wish to reach, you'll draw a line from your location to the point of your destination and measure it with the protractor. After you have the degree, you'll subtract the GM angle (all maps will have it somewhere on the map... right hand cornerish?) from the degree you wish to go. This is to add in the fact that the earth is spherical and the map is 2D. With this new number (somewhere between 0 and 360 degrees) you'll be then find it on your compass by pointing it and watching the inner ring move. Once it's lined up, there is a sighting system involved which looks like a rudimentary gun sight and subtract the GM angle which helps you "shoot an azimuth" with the compass. Now you have the direction you are going basically, but if you have to travel 1600 meters, it's best to shoot an azimuth to something more manageable and noticeable. For instance if you're trying to reach a peak (which is an obvious feature you can find both in the terrain and on the map) you might first wish to shoot your azimuth to a bush or something on the way. Be sure to plot it on your map.

Now comes the most fun part, which is the pace count. I walk 67 paces with basically no load per every 100 yards/meters whatever. This is done by counting every left step until you hit 67 (or your pace count.) Once you do, you got yourself 100 yds/meters (whatever your measuring by.) It's not exact because when you figure your pace count it should be done on something you know for sure is exactly 100 yards. Well... football and soccer fields don't have streams you can fall in, bush thats so unmanageable you have to go around, or critters that may scare you away and alter your pace count. Not to mention, if your carrying a kitchen sink on your back or hearing your loved ones complain -- these also alter your pace count. I guess you just kind of guestimate it and I never try to overestimate. People have fancy ways of measuring yardage with the use of super tactical ranger bead systems and other silliness, but I was always a big fan of having a foot long piece of string and just tying a knot in it every 67 paces. Ten knots is a thousand yards or a klick depending on you, then you start over. This is so you can chart where you have gone in terrain that doesn't have easily usable terrain features available. It's a good skill to have though, because then you can always figure out how far stuff is away.

To test this out, I would do it in a national park with easily accessible trails, noticeable terrain features (streams, fingers, hills, peaks, etc) and cell phone coverage (that way if you get eaten by an animal or lost you can call the wife) and utilize the terrain features to aid you in your quest in map reading/compass mastery. Be sure to fold the map down to the section you're actually using and tape the edges to where it can fit in a cargo pocket.

There's three other things that I'm not going to cover unless specifically requested because this thing got way out of hand and it's about 1ish AM here. There is intersection, which is a method of determining a point on a map according to terrain features (helpful for locating yourself or other points not specifically noticeable on the map) and drawing lines from them to intersect on the point which you wish to find. Resection which is reversing azimuth AFAIR and then dead reckoning which is point the compass in the azimuth you shoot and keep going till you find it hopefully (used at night from what I learned.) Also there are methods to maintaining your course while having to circumvent an object (such as a lake or crazed flock of chickens) by adding and subtracting 180 degrees in a U shape to get around it.

http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival-downloads/map-reading-and-navigation-US-Army-FM-21-26.pdf

There's plenty of manuals online, the stuff I have refers to this (FM 21-26) on map reading which may help. I find both Army and Marine manuals as interesting as eating cardboard so I don't recommend them. It's a skill that should be taught person to person because it's kind of boring to learn just by yourself.. If you know an eagle scout, they should know how to do this as well. Most grunts these days don't excell at this due to the heavy use of GPS and compressed classes due to the war, but there are a few of us out there! Old salts should have this down but remember to have them demonstrate it first because everyone is a master navigator until you're lost in the wilderness... :goof: Remember, half the fun is getting your friends lost!

Sorry for the book, GL in your quest! And if I didn't meet the standards of land navigation masters who lurk in the shadows of this post, so sorry :neutral:
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow. Thanks Kermit for your time; didn't know there was that much to it. You made my mind up as to I need to buy a book. Thanks for the park idea also. I bought a Commenga Compass with Tritium inserts; now I need to learn how to use the damn thing. I am still puzzled about maps though. Now to try my Google-Fu.
 

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An outstanding post by mrkermit!

I need to find out where I can get topo maps. If I remember right, these can be had for free from the Government, but you must pay shipping. If anyone has the definitive resource for this, by all means post it.

The best damn booklet on map reading that will explain everything you ever wanted to know about map reading, the compass, how to use a protractor, intersection and resection ect is this one:



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As far as the socks go, MPiKM-72 nailed it. I"m sure there are much better socks than Military issue ones, but since those are the ones I know, I use them.
Under Armor also makes some kickass socks too, but will cost you some coin.
 

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Most places that sell/service survey equipment or reproduce blueprints also sell topo maps. They are currently around $9 a piece now.
 

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Also for some freebies -


Some, if not all states have free down loadable PDF road maps of the entire state, county by county. They show all the route numbers and every road.

Also, check with your state DNR for free booklets and maps. I know WV DNR has stream maps (every damn creek!), free identification posters, free books on farming, etc...
 

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You can get good topo maps at most wilderness outfitters like REI. Forget the lensactic compass and protrator and get a good Silva or Brunton. They have the protractor built in and are much easier and faster to use. They also will have an adjusting screw for magnetic declination, which will be shown on the map. Set it and forget it, you don't have to do any addtional calculations that way. Get a beginners book on orienteering or basic map and compass and you're set. One trip to REI gets you fixed up, they have it all. The "Basic Essentials of Map and Compass" is a great book and easy to understand. In the pic below, you can see the lanyards have a little metal tab on them; that's the mini-screwdeiver for setting declination.



If you really want the lensatic style get one like the one on the left. It will do everything the mil compass will do and more.

The advantage of having the Silva or Brunton is that you can lay them directly on the map, they have a straightedge, serve as a protractor and you have less to carry and lose.

REI also does classes that are inexpensive and great. I am pretty sure they have basic map and compass and I know they do basic orienteering. They also have GPS classes. Anyone on this forum who lives in a town with an REI should be a member. They have a lot of the equipment we discuss, including medical stuff like SAM splints and Quickclot. Staff is generally knowledgeable, although from a recreational perspective. Prices are competitive and your membership gets you a 10% rebate on everything you buy.

They sell good wicking synthetic hiking socks at REI too. :grin:

Did I mention I like REI?

joedog
 

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REI is pretty much the best out there. Wish I had a store here in Nebraska :sad: I'm hoping though soon, we have a Cabelas, a Bass Pro Shop, Scheels, and Dick's.. they have to be coming sooner or later :grin:

JoeMomma, does that thing have an ISBN?
 

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Kermit-you discuss 1:25,000, 1:50,000, and 1:100,000 maps, which is what the military uses. The newer military protractors will work for any of those 3, including 1:25,000.

However, most of those are FOUO maps currently produced by the National Geospatial Intel Agency, meaning we can't get them. The most common maps available, therefore, are USGS 7.5 minute (1:24,000) and 15 minute (1:64,000) maps. These don't have 1,000 meter grids like the military ones do, and they are not the same scale, so a military protractor won't do anything more for you than a regular round, transparent protractor won't.

My kit has a round transparent protractor, a compass with hasty measuring ticks for all the common map scales, an engineering scale (one of those 3 sided rulers), pencil and eraser (both of which I use lightly), and whatever maps I need. A functioning watch is a damn good thing to have for navigation, too. I also have a military compass, in case I would come across any military scale maps in a SHTF scenario.
 

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SwannyJ said:
Kermit-you discuss 1:25,000, 1:50,000, and 1:100,000 maps, which is what the military uses. The newer military protractors will work for any of those 3, including 1:25,000.

However, most of those are FOUO maps currently produced by the National Geospatial Intel Agency, meaning we can't get them. The most common maps available, therefore, are USGS 7.5 minute (1:24,000) and 15 minute (1:64,000) maps. These don't have 1,000 meter grids like the military ones do, and they are not the same scale, so a military protractor won't do anything more for you than a regular round, transparent protractor won't.
I didn't pick up the map difference, good catch. The maps i was talking about are the USGS maps.

joedog
 

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Kermit-you discuss 1:25,000, 1:50,000, and 1:100,000 maps, which is what the military uses. The newer military protractors will work for any of those 3, including 1:25,000.

However, most of those are FOUO maps currently produced by the National Geospatial Intel Agency, meaning we can't get them. The most common maps available, therefore, are USGS 7.5 minute (1:24,000) and 15 minute (1:64,000) maps. These don't have 1,000 meter grids like the military ones do, and they are not the same scale, so a military protractor won't do anything more for you than a regular round, transparent protractor won't.
You sir are correct. I forgot about that issue completely and the difference between the 1:50000/1:100000 I've used and of the 1:24000 non-metric stuff. :doh:
 

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joedog said:
They sell good wicking synthetic hiking socks at REI too. :grin:

Did I mention I like REI?

joedog
That's where I buy my Fox River X-static sock liners. It's about $10 driveout for a pair, but I got some pairs that are near a decade old and still fine. I think they are a bargain and I am quite cheap on some things.

I like the map naivgation posts here. I ususally carry a Silva (lightweight) or Tritium lensatic USGI compass (heavy - almost feels like a loaded spare CZ-82 mag) - I like both. Most of my navigation experience is from hunting in East Texas National Forests. I got lost after dark one time in the Angelina National Forest. I loaned my compass to a teenager I'd brought with me (his first time) because he left his in the truck and I had no other compass on my person. I had him set up in about a half mile from where my stand was. I thought I'd be fine because I had my new wizbang GPS (this was 2000 - old tech now) and had the mistaken impression that I could use that particular GPS as a compass. WRONG. While playing with the buttons on the GPS I somehow wiped out my waypoints that I'd saved (including where my $300 deerstand was). At this point I couldn't find the teenager nor figure out which direction the road was in. The sun went down and I was quite lost. My buddy who was hunting elsewhere was in radio contact, so I had him go to my truck and honk the horn to give us an audible bearing. We got out of the wood just fine, but since then I have little cheapie compasses from Academy tucked in various pockets since they almost weigh nothing. I found the deerstand - 5 DAYS LATER. :hung: The moral of the story is have more than one navigation aid and if you are using a GPS, learn to use it before entering the woods. :goof:

The next year at the same Angelina NF my buddy and I were driving back to camp. A lot of things had gone wrong on this trip. My buddy had to work late before the trip so I had to set up deer stands by myself. It was pouring rain. Because of the rain we'd just thrown our gear into the back of my camper shell at dusk. Normally we turn the radios off once we make eye contact. The rain kinda had us distracted and we left one of our FRS radios on. As we drove back to camp we heard someone on the radio calling for help (the signal was weak) because he was lost. We talked to him and figured out where he had entered the woods, then used the same "vehicle horn bearing technique" to guide him to the road. We took him back to camp and his buddies were sipping beer with their radios off. In all other respects it wasn't a good hunting trip that time, but helping that guy get out of the woods on a rainy night made that trip worthwhile.
 

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I've been wearing Thor-Lo boot socks for at least 15 years. They aren't cheap, but they wear well, clean easily, and stay warm. I've worn them with heavy Matterhorn boots and with tennis shoes with no problems.

For good info on land navigation, you might check out the silva compass website (I believe it's silvacompass.com) Silvas are Scandanavian-made (Swedish, I believe) and the sport of Orienteering (land navigation) is popular there. You can get good information about navigation techniques using maps, compass and terrain association. Military land nav techniques, using a lensatic type compass are, in my experience, confusing and hard to learn, although I know many military types who are proficient using them. I primarily learned landnav skills (that stuck with me and worked) while on a military orienteering team in the early 70's and any land SAR courses you run across will emphasize terrain association and the silva-type compass.

Please don't anyone take what I've said as criticism of the military landnav techniques taught to all you 11Bs and Rangers out there; I'm just talking about what has worked for me and many others over the years.
 

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As to socks, it's really hot and muggy here right now, and I have force on force training (Airsoft and NOK trainers) tomorrow and then an all day beginning defensive pistol class that I am helping instruct on Sunday.

I just bought 2 pair of the Smartwool lightweight wicking socks to try out since I will be in my boots outdoors all weekend.

Wouldn't have thought of it if I didn't hang around here.

Thanks guys.

joedog
 

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Smartwool is good stuff, Jdog. I wore a pair completely out. They were still comfy even after getting threadbare. The wife tossed 'em when she saw how bad they got. :grin:

By the way, when I was in boot camp, they gave us wool socks. In fact that was what we got for dress uniform socks also. That was *gulp* 35 years ago, but I remember those socks wearing like iron. I also remember that if you didn't put them on just right, they'd hurt like a fucker because they didn't have a flat-sewn toe. In fact, if you didn't get them on perfectly, it felt like there was a strip of rope sewn on the toe. :sad:
 
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