Orienteering

GPS:
Most people are familiar with GPS positioning equipment – they are a built-in feature in many new cars.  These devices are just as useful aids in finding the right way in the wilderness.  Today it is possible to get a good map of Iceland for Garmin GPS devices and the maps are available in many places, e.g. online, so that you can order them and put them into the device before arriving in Iceland.

Maps can be bought in many places but we recommend Ferðakort and Eymundsson bookstore in Kringlan mall.

Remember to set the device to WGS84, which is the “map datum” to which most maps from Iceland are tuned.

Before departure, it is a good idea to get the positions of lodges, campsites, fords across rivers, and other things that make a journey safer.  Such information can be obtained from fellow travellers in Iceland and elsewhere.  Remember that batteries in GPS devices do not last for particularly long.  You should accordingly bring enough batteries and/or conserve usage of the device.

Compass:
This is the top device for finding one’s way and at the same time the most secure because it does not use batteries and no technological problems can occur.  The only thing needed is a traveler who knows how to use his or her compass.

Due to Iceland’s position, it’s necessary to calibrate the compass between the geographical and magnetic North Pole.  This distortion is called magnetic declination.  This means that when you have found your route on a map you should add the magnetic declination before heading out.  In the same manner, you should remove the declination when you change course from the mapped route.

Magnetic declination in Iceland ranges from 12° – 18° from east to west. Before travelling you should find out the magnetic declination on that area but among other places to do so is here.

You shouldn’t forget that a compass has multiple uses: it has a lid from which you can drink the best water in the world from clear mountain streams, and you can use the mirror to make sure you look respectable for your next place of stay.

Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue Skógarhlíð 14, 105 Rvk. Iceland safetravel@safetravel.is +354 570-5900 Disclaimer