Map nerds unite! The new “Table Top Adventure Race and Navigation Challenge” booklet from AR Navigation Supplies is a lithe publication of puzzles and mental games made to instruct map-wielding newbies as well as serve to hone skills for seasoned wilderness navigator types.
A thin tome with a spiral binding, the book appears to have been jobbed out at Kinko’s. But inside its 35 pages there are a dozen color maps, drills on compass bearings, UTM coordinate plotting, tests on the principles of declination, and a litany of navigational description and minutia to prepare burgeoning orienteers and adventure racers for map-based challenges to come.
As a bonafide map geek, I took right to the “Table Top Adventure Race and Navigation Challenge,” which sells for $19.95 at www.arnavsupplies.com. Within a few page flips, I was eyes down and studying the topographical idiosyncrasies of a fictional route based from an airplane landing strip in a place called Bloods Meadow near Tamarack, Calif.
Pencil in hand, my UTM plotter flat on the table, I charted a bearing and moved to CP1 (checkpoint 1). I virtually checked elevation. I plotted a UTM coordinate, then trekked an imaginary route to a mountain peak on the page.
In all, the book has a dozen navigation challenge games like the Bloods Meadow race. You travel from mountains to the sea, scrounging for details on the scanned USGS 1:24,000-scale topo maps. If you get “lost” on the page, a help section guides your wayward pen tip back to a recognizable spot.
Map symbols and common features are covered in the book. There are guides for teaching how to take a bearing, plot coordinates, measure distance, and discern magnetic north from true north.
The booklet has a total of 132 challenge questions. Instructions are written in straight, terse text — like what you’ll get at an actual adventure race.
Overall, AR Navigation Supplies has created a neat new tool for anyone interested in the intricacies of navigating outdoors. And for seasoned map people, the “Table Top Challenge” is a fun diversion — an armchair adventure race where vicarious thrills are provided with nothing more than the movement of a pen on a page.
—Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.