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Puzzle Book for Map Geeks

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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.

Sample page spread from “Table Top Adventure Race and Navigation Challenge”

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.

Cover shot of the “Table Top Adventure Race and Navigation Challenge” book

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.

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