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I believe that the ability to navigate goes hand in hand with bikepacking. It used to be that navigation and mountainbiking were deeply entwined but that doesn’t always appear to be the case these days … maybe it’s something to do with trail centres?

I think it’s also fair to say that even those blessed with an inbuilt compass can still find themselves a little off course from time to time … you can never be too good at navigating.

The Ultimate Navigation Manual is possibly the most comprehensive guide to ‘stop getting lost, knowing where you are, where you’re going and how to get there’ that I’ve come across. At over 350 pages it’s certainly value for money but you might wonder whether the subject of navigation really warrants such an epic. There’s an massive amount of information contained within the pages but it’s laid out in a way that allows you to dip in and out rather than having to wade through from cover to shiny cover.

There’s 5 main sections, each one sub-divided into separate topics or subjects. As you’d imagine, the book starts with what the author terms the essentials, maps, bearings, contours, celestial navigation (yeah that’s an essential), etc. 

In section 2 we start to properly explore the techniques employed in ‘getting there and back again’. The quality photographs and colour diagrams really help here, it’s so much easier when you can see directly what the text is referring to rather than trying to visualise it. Section 3 is given over to ‘special enviroments’. I don’t know how many of us will ever need to find our way through a jungle or a desert but luckily, night-time, forest, mountain and bad weather feature too … all pretty common when you ride a bike off road in the UK.

Modern technology hasn’t been neglected either. There’s a whole big old section on gps / satnav. If you’re new to the modern world and are considering going down the gps route then the books probably worth the cover price for this part alone. There’s no assumptions made that you’ve got the faintest idea about gps at the start of the section, in fact just the opposite. Everything from choosing which unit to buy to GNSS and even ‘jamming and spoofing’ (I’ve no idea either) is covered in enough detail that after reading it you actually understand it rather than being left with a vague idea … apart from ‘jamming and spoofing’ obviously.

The last main section is more general and contains such gems as ground to air emergency signals and common navigation errors … all handy stuff.

If you think you’re ability to navigate, plan a route or pick a good overnight spot from simply looking at the map could all be better, than the Ultimate Navigation Manual isn’t just a good starting point, it’s an ideal finishing point too.


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