Using a map and compass properly is not just for boy scouts, even – especially - in the age of GPS, with more people getting into situations they aren't prepared to get out of when the battery gods abandon them. Into the breach sallies Be Expert with Map & Compass, Third Edition, an update of compass manufacturer Silva co-founder Bjorn Kjellstrom's text by his daughter Carina. Targeted at beginning and intermediate orienteers, the original text was published in 1955, so it's got legs.
This is not a quick and dirty guide to using a map and compass, which is appropriate from the man who is credited with coining the term "orienteering." It is well over 200 pages of in-depth history, instruction, drills and practice questions for the orienteering enthusiast. After the introduction the book has four sections: on maps, on the compass, using the two together and competitive orienteering. Updated material includes using a GPS with map and compass, and there is a useful fold-out practice map in back. There are plenty of useful line-drawing illustrations, although the photographs are somewhat random with a dated feel.
This book will be of most use to beginners and those interesting in the sport of orienteering. The orienteering section is fully a third of the book, more like half if you add in the orienteering parts of the other sections. The skills it teaches certainly apply to backcountry navigation, but the copious material on orienteering has little application and there are many omissions from the point of view of wilderness travellers. There is little or no discussion of coordinate/grid systems such as UTM, intersection and resection techniques, or non-compass means of determining location and heading. Bottom line: keep in mind the intended audience. Be Expert with Map & Compass, Third Edition will be greatly appreciated by beginning and intermediate orienteers, but those looking for backcountry and wilderness navigation instruction will be better served by other titles.