Do You Need A Map And Compass When Hiking With Kids?

map and compass

This lego hiker has a map and compass, but do you need one when hiking with kids?

A map and compass are one of the 11 essential items to bring on a day hike with kids. Here is an explanation on why you need to bring these along.

Whenever I go hiking by myself or with my kids I always bring along a map. Some of my maps are extremely detailed and hard to read and others are almost just a black line.   I like looking at those maps to make sure I know where we are going and also to find new places to explore.

map and compassMap And Compass – Do You Need To Bring A Map?

YES! You absolutely should bring along a map anytime that you are hiking.

Anytime that you go hiking you should rely on yourself and your own skills.  Don’t just assume that since you are in a well-travelled area you don’t need a map and can just rely on signs or other hikers.

What Kind Of Map Should You Bring?

I think the type of map that you bring along on your hike depends partially upon where you are hiking and your skill level.

If you are hiking one of the main trails in a National Park or some other very busy, touristy are then you won’t need a very detailed topographical map.  For those types of hikes you want to make sure you have a map that shows the trail you are taking and includes any major features you may encounter, other trails, junctions, and such.  A simple map like that will allow you to stay on your trail without getting off on the wrong trail.

If you are going for a much longer hike, one that is not heavily used, or off trail then you should bring along a good topographical map of the area.

map and compass

You should always bring a compass when you go hiking.

Map And Compass – Do You Need To Bring A Compass?

Yes, you should bring a compass.  The odds are that you will never have to use it, but better safe than sorry. However, a compass will not do you any good if you don’t know how to use it in conjunction with your map.

For most people doing a short day hike on a well made trail you most likely won’t need a compass.   In most of the day hiking I have done I haven’t used a compass. Despite that, I still bring a compass along as a safety precaution because you just never know when something may go wrong.  It is also good for the kids to learn to use the map and compass.

A compass is crucial for those people who want to take a less travelled trail and venture into the backcountry.  A compass along with the map will allow you to wander off trail and still get to your destination and return to your car/trail head.

What About GPS On My Phone?

It seems like most smart phones these days have GPS built in to them, which can be used if you get lost in the wilderness. However, I still strongly recommend you bring along a compass as a safety measure. Your phone may break, run out of power, or just not work and then you would be in a dire situation.

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