Land Navigation – Route Cards

ROUTE CARD HEADER - Land navigation

Route Cards are a simple yet effective navigational method, which allows you to plan and study your route, as well as allowing you to use a route card along your journey.

With the rapid decline of navigational methods and skills, due to the widespread use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), one method that is quickly becoming more obsolete than any other is something called route cards. In short, a route card is like a flight plan, or ships navigation course log, but used for land navigation. Route cards also have many uses, for example:

  • Will help you plan your route in the wilderness.
  • A route card can be used as a reference, which saves time during your hike.
  • Can be used by Search and Rescue (SAR) teams, should you become lost while hiking.

The correct procedure for completing a route card, is to start from the top of the sheet and work your way down to the bottom.

Route Card Sections

Route cards are broken down into three sections: general information, route details, and further information. The photo to the left shows the sections of the route card. The first section of the route card (Red Section) is the general information area. This covers who filled out the route card, the grid reference where you are starting, the grid reference where you will finish your route, the estimated time of departure and arrival (ETD/ETA), and the date(s) which you will be walking this route. Section two (Yellow Section) of your route card breaks down your route into legs. Here you will record the following: the start point and grid reference, then end point of the leg and grid reference, the bearing/azimuth you will be navigating along, the distance of the leg, and notes of your route. Section three (Blue Section) of the route card gives your declination(s) and map sheet(s) you will be using.

The photo to the right shows a route card with three legs already filled out. You will note that the general information section, also denotes the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD), as well as the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). The route card also contains a start date and end date, as even if it is a short route that you intend to make camp along the route, your designated point of contact will know when to expect you back. On the main section of the route card, the REMARKS/LANDMARKS/HAZARDS is useful to denote any other notes you will likely encounter along your route. You will note in the further information section, the declination(s) and map sheet(s) are also included, as this will help SAR if you become lost and a rescue effort is mounted.


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