Pace Count (Old School Land Navigation)

Pace Count: Old School Land Navigation


Pace count is a land navigational skill that every Wilderness Backpacker should know an understand.  What is pace count?  Pace count is a technique that gives you an estimated distance on how far you traveled on foot.  Knowing your pace count allows you to effectively plot your location on a topographical map.  It goes hand in hand with other land navigational tools such as your compass.  In todays society many Wilderness Backpackers use modern technology, (GPS), to determine their distance.   This technology can fail you in a wilderness so understanding and knowing how to use your pace count can keep you safe.  

I use modern technology during my wilderness expeditions to determine my distance, but I also use my pace count, especially when I am bushwhacking, to continue my adventure if my GPS goes down. My use and understanding of pace count began in the military.  Pace counts have been used throughout history but its origins began in the Roman Legion. Military leaders back then used the strides of their soldiers to determine distances on their march.  This has been passed down to other military units throughout the world.  

When you calculate your pace count the preferred method in determining distance is using the the metric system.  The use of meters and kilometers is how I was taught in the Army.  100 meters equal about 328 feet, and 1 Kilometer equals about 3280 feet (6/10 of a mile).  I learned my  pace count while serving in the military.

To determine your pace count, you first need to stake out 100 meters on a relatively flat terrain.  You walk the 100 meters 4 times getting an average of your 4 splits, (Add your 4 pace counts together and divide that number by 4).  When you watch the video you will see that you take 2 steps which equate to one pace.  Once you have your pace count tape it your compass so you ill have it when needed in a Wilderness Area.

There are a few ways to keep track of your distance.  One way is using Pace Count Beads or Ranger Beads.  The other way is to put a small stone or stick in your pocket every 100 meter until you have 10, which is 1 kilometer, or 1 click.  The other way is to tie a knot in a piece of 550 cord for every 100 meters.  You can be as creative as you want on how you want to keep track of your distance.  I find that using a length 550 cord is the easiest way for me to keep track of my distance.

Pace Count

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