Tag Archives: compass

Bushwalking Equipment | Can I Really Do Without a Smartphone?

As a bushwalker, can you afford not to own a smartphone? Which smartphone apps can replace dedicated equipment? What are the limitations?

Over the last few years technology has made smartphones invaluable to bushwalkers, replacing many of the devices, which previously had to be bought and carried individually.

Probably the first device carried by bushwalkers to be incorporated into the iPhone was the still and movie camera. Today’s smartphone has a high quality camera which can take video and stills, including panoramas, mark each with the location at which the photo was taken, and then upload it to the web using wifi or mobile (cellular) data.

Next, the GPS became available, allowing routes to be mapped live, waypoints determined and marked, and distances accurately determined. Recently, apps which allow the viewing of calibrated digital maps have become commonly available, and some apps now incorporate the navigation features found in a dedicated GPS. High resolution colour screens make viewing these maps and navigational features easy. Modern smartphones have built-in compasses which can be calibrated and are accurate enough for the day walker, but not accurate enough for bearings over long distances.

Then high quality heart rate sensors came on the market which could pair with a smartphone, initially using a “dongle” plugged into the earphone socket but more recently using low energy interference-free Bluetooth.

Some apps even use the smartphone camera and built-in light to measure blood flow pulses in a finger, without the need for an independent sensor. Fitness training had become more scientific!

The next advance was the ability to measure heart rate variability (HRV) (see previous post), using the powerful analysis capabilities of modern smartphones. Initially measuring HRV was only possible with expensive laboratory based equipment, but soon Polar had incorporated this ability into some of their top-of-the-line wrist computers. In the last few years, this technology has migrated to the smart phone, allowing bushwalk training to be fine tuned.

Bush walkers visiting remote areas often feel the need to take emergency devices with them to obtain help if an emergency occurs. We are all familiar with personal location beacons (PLBs) which can transmit a message, including location, to an overhead satellite, and from there to emergency rescue services.

SPOT gen3 s can send a message via satellite to your emergency contacts or to the same rescue service. Version three is much better functionally according to the reviews, but has a more expensive subscription.

Recently smartphone apps (GetHomeSafe) have become available which can send an SMS or email, if a bushwalker fails to return on time, without the need for any action by the “injured” or “lost” person or instantly in a critical emergency to a contact list or even rescue services directly, including the current location, participant details and a route plan. “You don’t need a working phone (be within range) or even to be be conscious for an alert to be sent.”

Bush walkers on day walks and within range of a mobile tower, up to 70 km from a high enough vantage point, can add weather and tide apps  and the ability to visualise routes or places in 3D using Google Earth.

We now have GPS, fitness, navigation, mapping, emergency notification and weather services available at low cost in the one device! The only problem is a lack of battery capacity, but even this can be overcome to some extent with a solar charger.

What is next?
How do you overcome these limitations?
Where will the future take us?

Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Bushwalking Navigation | How to Avoid Getting Lost or Losing Someone in Your Group

Have you ever been on a bushwalk and lost track of where you were? Ever turned the corner and found the rest of your group was no longer walking ahead? Ever stopped to take a photo and been unable to catch up with your group?

Getting lost on a walk can easily be avoided by some pre-planning, good leadership and each walker taking responsibility for knowing where they are at all times.

The Pre-planning

All walkers should have a map of the walk.

This could be a full topographic map or the relevant part of the map (A4), printed from a digital source or scanned from the original, and then laminated or inserted into a plastic pocket, which has been sealed. Before distributing a small part of the map make sure that the Eastings and Northings are clearly marked on the map, so a grid reference can be given and found. If the route has already been planned, show the route with dots or crosses and significant waypoints, which should be named.

If you have some individuals who have a GPs, issue them with the waypoints and route so they can upload it before leaving home. If you issue the route as a .kml file then individuals can familiarise themselves with the route, by importing the waypoints into Google Earth. Issue a route plan which gives information about the legs of the walk, especially for those without a GPS.

At the Start of the Walk.

A good leader will always brief the group:

  • have everyone locate the starting point on their map
  • have everyone locate the finishing point on their map
  • give an ETA at the campsite and distance
  • outline the route, describe the terrain, point out significant obstacles
  • locate a lunch spot and approximate time

 Before starting appoint a “tail-end charlie” or “whip” to always be at the back and assist in keeping the group together. This person needs to have enough experience and confidence to know when to ask the leader for a break to rest tired individuals or to bring the group back together.

Decide who will lead the way and brief them on how you want the group kept together: visual sight to the rear or maximum spread of 50m and/or pause at every junction. The trail-blazer needs to be a competent and strong bushwalker as they will often need to find the best route and break through bush.

Check that everyone has the emergency equipment needed for an overnight stop caused by bad weather or an injury, appropriate clothing  and sufficient water before departure.

During the Walk

During the walk everyone should orientate and thumb the map so that they can follow their route as they walk. The leader/navigator should bring major features on the ground to everyone’s attention, so they can relocate themselves on the map. At each rest break make sure everyone knows where they are on the map.

Individuals should try to match map-to-ground as they walk, anticipate approaching features such as creek bends, junctions and road intersections. Form a 3D image of the country you are walking through and make sure that what you can see fits with what you were expecting. Is the creek you are walking in following the direction the map shows? Is the creek running up hill or downhill? Does this match what the map shows?

Keep you map orientated towards the north using your compass or the sun.

What if you lose the rest of the group?

  • don’t panic
  • keep those “lost” together
  • try to work out where you are
  • head for a high point with your map, compass and phone and try to recognise features. Climb a tree if necessary.
  • If you can’t  see higher ground, head on a compass bearing which you think will most likely lead to higher ground.
  • don’t walk more than 1 km and continually check your bearings, so you don’t walk around in circles
  • return to a recognisable feature  by retracing your steps, taking a bearing before you start off
  • set up camp, build a shelter and conserve energy
  • if 3-4 hours have passed,  consider contacting emergency services or use you PLB.
  • blow your whistle: 3 blasts separated by a short gap. Signal with a torch
  • light a small fire: smokey in the day, bright at night

What if you as leader lose part of your group?

  • do a quick recce (min gp of 4) in areas of high probability such as where they were last seen and return to this point
  • leave a small group here for an extended stay. They should light a visible fire.
  • carry out a search using the remaining members of the group
  • signal for the lost group with a single blast of a whistle, repeated
  • if 3-4 hours have passed,  consider the group totally lost and contact emergency services by sending two well equipped people with full details (equipment carried, health, contact details of NOK, bushwalking skills) of the lost group members or use you PLB
  • searchers give 1 blast, and those lost 3 blasts on their whistles

Relevant Articles

Bushwalking Navigation
Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow
Bushwalking Rescue: Emergency Beacons and Personal Tracking Systems
A Guide to Better Bushwalking
Map Reading Guide (GeoScience)

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | Using Creek Lines in Arid Environments

Ever wondered why it is so easy to get lost following a creek in an arid environment? What precautions can you take? Why is it more difficult to navigate uphill than downhill?

I have just come back from 4 days in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges, over 700 km north of Adelaide where rainfall averages less than 20 mm per month with most of it falling during summer as the tail end of monsoons in the north west of Australia sweep down into northern South Australia and temperatures rise into the mid to high 30s. This has been one of the best start to the bushwalking season for many years and there are large numbers of full waterholes in the creek beds, lots of weed infestations and even a mouse plague.

Walking is usually via dry rocky creeks beds, as the ridges are often steep, rugged and exposed. Sometimes the creeks are full of native vegetation such as paperbarks (Melaleuca) and flood debris which makes movement with a full pack difficult.

Invariably navigation is a challenge, as few, if any, of the creeks have flowing water to help decide which way is downstream and it is difficult to distinguish major tributaries from mere gully’s. Often creek beds are hundreds of metres wide and may have islands in the middle, which can give the impression of a creek intersection, leading to miscounting.

Creek navigation involves

  • starting from a known location (use your GPS)
  • deciding how far away the next creek intersection will be and whether it will be on the left or right
  • calculating your walking speed and using elapsed time as a guide to when the next intersection should occur
  • counting creek intersections as you go
  • checking map to ground as you walk for obvious features such a gorges, cliffs, bends in the creek and stopping if they don’t appear in the correct sequence and place
  • using your compass to check the direction of each creek at each intersection with that expected from the map
  • checking for debris against tree trunks and trickling creeks to decide which way the creek is flowing
  • checking your location frequently with your GPS, even if you think you know where you are, as often parallel creek beds, can appear to be very similar. 
  • deciding on a catching feature so you don’t go too far or a handrail you can follow (see below for glossary)

If you have a GPS, then set up a route linking waypoints you have pre-determined at each creek intersection (decision point). This will give you distance to the next intersection, time to next intersection and bearing, but has severe limitations if the creek bed is very windy as all directions are “as the crow flies”. The GPS should never be relied upon without confirmation from map to ground, especially in narrow gorges where reception can be poor.

Uphill navigation following creek lines is always more difficult than downhill, as there always at least two uphill choices at each intersection but coming downhill, it is unlikely that you would decide to go back uphill at the intersection, knowing that the main creek must be going downhill.

Other Similar Posts

Bushwalking Navigation | A Glossary of Frequently Used Terms 
Bushwalking Navigation

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | A Glossary of Frequently Used Terms

Have you ever wondered what SOG and VMG mean in the context of navigation? What is a breadcrumb trail? What is the difference between a backbearing and a resection? What are waypoints and how do they differ from a  grid reference?

Glossary Terms Description
.kml The KML file specifies a set of features (place marks, images, polygons, 3D models, textual descriptions, etc.) for display in Google Earth, Maps and Mobile, or any other 3D Earth browser (geobrowser) implementing the KML encoding. Each place always has a longitude and a latitude. KML files are very often distributed in KMZ files, which are zipped files with a .kmz extension.
Aiming off Used to find an objective on a feature which is straight eg river, mountain ridge, road.
Deliberately aim to strike the feature 10 ° to right or left of feature and then turn along feature to reach objective (also called
Stefansson method or intentional error)
Attack point A feature, which is near but much easier to find than your objective.
Back Bearing Used to see if you have deviated from the intended path. Face starting point. Check that south end of needle is centred on mark.
Bearing or Course A bearing is the angle between a line connecting two points and a north-south line.
Breadcrumb trail  A track is a compilation of samples or “breadcrumbs” taken over a period of time.
Calibration The process of inputting the grid references of known points, usually the four corners of a map.
Catching feature Prominent features which are beyond your
objective but
can act as safety net. A bearing on prominent feature at
90 ° to direction of travel can be used.
Coordinates In 3D latitude, longitude and elevation
Easting, Northing The terms easting and northing are geographic Cartesian coordinates for a point. Easting refers to the eastward-measured distance (or the x-coordinate), while northing refers to the northward-measured distance (or the y-coordinate). (Wikipedia)
Escape Route These are the routes you will take back to safety if anything prevents your progress to your destination. This could be an injury,
the weather, too slow progress or physical blocking of your route by a landslide, avalanche, bushfire or flooded river.
Grid Reference Numerical grid references consist of an even number of digits. Eastings are given before Northings. Thus in a 6 digit grid reference 123456, the Easting component is 123 and the Northing component is 456. (Wikipedia)
Handrail Definite features which are roughly aligned with direction of travel and which make navigation easier. Don’t use creeks or gullies but may run parallel to them.
Heading Compass heading or course measured from true or magnetic north.
Map Datum The horizontal datum is the model used to measure positions on the earth. A specific point on the earth can have substantially
different coordinates, depending on the datum used to make the measurement.
Naismiths Rule A rule of thumb that helps in the planning of a walking or hiking expedition by calculating how long it will take to walk the route including ascents. (Wikipedia)
Pacing A pace is the distance between each right foot hitting ground. For 1.8m person, with
pack, ≈ 1.5m ie 660 paces to 1km.
POI Points of Interest. Often downloaded in advance of a walk.
Raster Map Made up of a grid of pixels also known as bitmap
Resection Used to describe process of drawing three intersecting transect bearings to find your present location. Select features which are at a maximum angle to each other. eg 120 °
Route Two or more waypoints
Route Card The planned route is broken down into a series of legs, each of which begins and ends at a clearly defined feature, and which can be followed on a single compass bearing. In addition, distances, height gains
and losses and times calculated using Naismith’s rule are included.(Wikipedia)
SOG Speed over ground. The speed at which you are moving over the surface of the earth.
Topographic Map A type of map characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief, usually using contour lines.
Track A track is a compilation of samples or “breadcrumbs” taken over a period of time. (MotionX GPS)
Transect Bearing Useful to locate exact position on a handrail., by identifying a prominent feature and drawing a back bearing on the map to intersect the handrail.
UTM Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system; a grid-based method of mapping locations on the surface of the Earth
Vector map Scaleable, small file size, where lines are specified by coordinates not pixels; not raster or bitmap.
VMG Velocity made good. Effective speed at which you are approaching your waypoint.
Waypoint Sets of coordinates which identify a point in space, often given as a grid reference.

Related postings

Bushwalking Navigation

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 1 Trip Planning Resources

Where are the Gammons? Why visit the Gammons? When is the best time to visit the Gammons and how long do you need? What level of experience do you need and does it require any special planning and equipment because of its remoteness? What resources are available to help you plan, appreciate and enjoy what you see?

UPDATE: there has been a mouse plague in the Gammons (April -? 2011) and I would advise taking your tent inner, storing food outside your tent in air tight bags and hanging your food out of reach.

Bushwalking, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park ……..in brief

Gammon Ranges 

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is an arid wilderness of spectacular rugged ranges and deep gorges 400 km N of Port Augusta off the Copley-Balcanoona Rd. The park has important cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people who are the traditional custodians of the region. There are several access points, both for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, with the heart of the park offering challenging wilderness bushwalking experiences. The park includes limited caravan sites, bush camping, 4WD touring tracks and several accommodation options. Bookings are essential for hut accommodation and shearers’ quarters. The park adjoins Lake Frome Regional Reserve and shares a boundary with Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges Traditional Owners and DEH co-manage the park. ” (DENR )

Google Aerial view of the Gammons

View Larger Map


 The last 100 km is largely over dirt roads, which can sometimes be badly corrugated. If you wish to set up a base camp at Grindell Hut inside the Park, I recommend that you use a 4WD as the tracks are sometimes sandy and the wheel ruts can be deep. Many conventional cars will not have sufficient ground clearance. Make sure you carry essential spare parts for your vehicle and read the RAA Outback Driving booklet. 

Up-to-date road conditions can be checked via the Far Northern and Western Areas road condition hotline – 1300 361 033 or by visiting http://www.dtei.sa.gov.au. Alternatively call the Desert Parks information line on 1800 816 078.

Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley (just north of Leigh Creek)
SA Outback Fuel Chart
Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley( just north of Leigh Creek)
Google Maps Copley, Vulkathuna – Gammon Ranges Nat Pk and Arkaroola Village

Outback Driving (RAA)


If you are planning a trip to northern SA (eg the Gammons) check the forecast carefully as the temperature is often in the high twenties or low thirties, when it is in the high teens in Adelaide. My experience is that it is often 5 -10 degrees warmer than Adelaide but colder at night. 

Check the Weatherzone climate statistics for Arkarooola  , the nearest weather station or visit the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary’s Climate Information page which compares the climate with other capital cities.

Long term averages show May to early September to be the  best from a temperature perspective (mean max 19-20 deg C). Mean minimum temperatures are 3-7 deg C, (lightweight sleeping bag weather). Days of rain 3, mean rain 6-10 mm (you may even risk just a fly depending on the month)

Further north in the Gammons, water can also be short supply after six months with little rain. A spring/early summer trip is risky as most rain falls in December-March as the tail ends of monsoons sweep down SE from the Kimberley and most will have gone by then.

Fire Bans

All wood fires or solid fuel fires are prohibited from 1 November 2010 to 31 March 2011. Gas fires are permitted other than on days of total fire ban. For further information, please contact the Port Augusta Regional Office (08) 8648 5300, the Wilpena Visitor Centre (08) 8648 0048 or the CFS Fire Bans Hotline 1300 362 361.  Timely reminder of fire restrictions in parks (DENR 103kb pdf)

Time Required

The Vulkathuna – Gammon Ranges are a long drive of 8 – 9 hours from Adelaide, over unsealed roads from Copley, which can be badly corrugated depending on how recently they have been graded. For most people, the two days of travel encourages you to spend a minimum of  3-5 days in the Gammons, including some time at the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and the Paralana Hot Springs which are a short drive away. If you based yourself at Grindell Hut within the Park, then  it would be possible to spend a whole week in the Park and then at least another three days at Arkaroola.

Panorama of Grindell’s Hut, showing the hut and the landscape surrounding it. (Peter Neaum 2009-09-10)

Bushwalking Experience Level

The Gammons are remote with the nearest major town, Leigh Creek, a hundred and thirty kilometres away to the west, which takes about 2-4 hours, depending on the state of the road. In addition to the remoteness, water supplies are unpredictable, the temperatures much higher than Adelaide and the terrain rugged, with significant exposure at times, when climbing the waterfalls. A high level of navigation skill, using both map and compass and GPS, is required as most of the walking trails are off-track with no signage and no trail markers. This Park is designated as being unsuitable for beginning bushwalkers, with experience of multi-day hikes, the ability to carry heavy loads and self-sufficiency in terms of first aid and training a necessary requirement. The carrying of an emergency beacon (PLB), GPS, relevant maps, mobile phone and even a UHF radio in case of emergency communication with nearby stations is advised. Don’t forget to leave your trip intentions form with the Ranger at Balcanoona.

Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Outback South Australia 4wd  Tracks and Repeaters Brochure  (5.5Mb, pdf)

Department Environment and Natural Resources

Park Passes
Park Closures
Trip Intentions Form (323kb pdf)
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (647kb pdf)
Wildlife of the Desert Parks (419kb pdf)
Balcanoona Shearer’s Quarters Booking Information (145kb pdf)
SA National Parks Guide – Flinders Ranges and Outback Region (816kb pdf)
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Weetootla Hike Network brochure (686kb pdf)


 John Chapman’s Gammon Ranges


Maps: 1:50,000 Topographic Illinawortina, Nepabunna, Serle, Angepena
Northern Flinders Ranges (1.4MB pdf)
South Australian Outback (1.2MB pdf)
The Map Shop 
Map index:  Arkarooola – Gammon Ranges – Yudnamutana – Farina
Map Index:  North Flinders – Wilpena – Blinman – Leigh Creek – Balcanoona
RAA Flinders Ranges & Outback Maps 

Further Reading 


South Australia: Vulkathana – Gammon Ranges (ABC, Program One: 29 December 2003 )
The Grindell Murder Case (Flinders Ranges Research)
Gammon Ranges Bunyip Chasm (ExplorOz)
Grindell Hut ( ExplorOz)
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (Wikipedia)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Search Results| Gammons
Biological Survey of the North West Flinders Ranges (near Leigh Creek) (4.48mb pdf)
Gammon Ranges National Park Access Guide and Newsletter 2006 Autumn Edition (SA Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs Inc) (149kb pdf)
Arkarola Wilderness Sanctuary Activities (nearby tourist accommodation)


Gammon Ranges (Flikr) 

Scientific Expeditions Group (SEG)

Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project (VGRaSP)
Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project | General Description (VGRaSP 118Kb pdf)
Analysis of Rainfall in the Gammon Ranges of South Australia 1992 – 2002  (1.7Mb pdf SEG)
The Gammon Ranges Project – Monitoring in a Remote Area D.J. Kemp1, C.J. Wright and S.A. Jewell Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (pdf,338Kb)


C. Warren Bonython. Walking the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2000.

The story of Warren Bonython’s walk from the Crystal Brook in the south to Mt Hopeless in the north.  xiii, 231 p. [32] p. of plates :bill. (some col.) ; 24 cm. 

Adrian Heard. A Walking Guide to the Northern Flinders Ranges. State Publishing South Australia, 1990.

An excellent book, describing 3 circuit walks of around one week’s length in the Gammon Ranges and briefer notes to the Arkaroola Sanctuary area. Recommended if you are planning a long walk in the Gammon Ranges. Probably out of print, price unknown.

John Chapman  Bushwalking In Australia, 4th edition 2003

320 pages, A5 in size – full colour throughout, 181 colour photographs, 56 colour topographic maps, 

Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992

Paperback, 168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps, 180mm x 120mm x 11mm. The Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island are featured in the walks over terrain ranging from coastal scrub to mountains and arid desert. ISBN: 9780855722111

Barker, Susan and McCaskill, Murray (Eds) Explore The Flinders Ranges RGSSA Adelaide 2005

A ‘must have’ for all travellers and admirers of the Flinders Ranges.  Recommended by tourist authorities; ideal for tourism studies and school projects.

Osterstock, Alan Time: in the Flinders Ranges. Austaprint,1970

56 pages, A5 in size, 8 colour photos. Covers the geology and history of the Flinders Ranges.

Osterstock, Alan The Flinders in Flower. Austaprint,1975

53 pages, A5 in size, 25 colour photos. Describes 27 of the most common flowers of the Flinders Ranges.

Corbett, David A Field Guide to the Flinders Ranges Rigby, 1980

A field guide to the plants, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fishes, frogs, rock types, landforms and a brief history.

Pedler, Rosemary Plant Identikit: Wildflowers of the Northern Flinders Ranges  Rosemary Pedler1994

This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 70 of the most common plants of the northern Flinders Ranges

M. Davies,  C.R. Twidale, M. J Tyler Natural History of the Flinders Ranges Royal Society of South Australia Inc 1996

This 208 page A5 book describes the history of settlement and exploration, the geology and minerals, fossils, landforms, climate, soils, vegetation, aquatic life,invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptile and amphibians and aboriginal people . It is well illustrated with B&W photos, graphs, tables, maps and has an extensive reference list

Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992

168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 18 cm.  ISBN     0855722118 (pbk.) : Includes index.
Subjects     Hiking – South Australia – Guidebooks.  |  Walking – South Australia – Guidebooks.  |  South Australia – Guidebooks.

Morrison, RGB  A Field guide to the Tracks and Traces of Australian Mammals Rigby 1981

This unique 198 page field guide contains a large number of B&W photos of tracks, diggings, droppings & scats and bones and skulls of Australian animals which helps with identification. [ISBN 0 7270 1489 7

Bonney, Neville & Annie Reid Plant Identikit Common Plants of the Flinders Ranges Neville Bonney1993 [ISBN 0 646 15406 0]

This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 51 of the most common plants of the Flinders Ranges, including the Gammon Ranges National Park

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

SAS Survival Guide: an iPhone App Review for Bushwalkers

I purchased the pocket sized COLLINS GEM SAS Survival Guide (384 pages) back in 1993 and have often referred to it since, although I have never taken it on a bushwalk. Only last week I used it to find the ground-to-air signals for helicopter rescue.

“Written by former SAS soldier and instructor, John “Lofty” Wiseman, this application brings you the elite training techniques of Britain’s toughest fighting force in the most accessible version ever. Now you can take the world-class survival skills of the SAS with you anywhere in the world – from the peaks of Kilimanjaro to the deserts of Kandahar…or to your closest national park.

This is the digital version (released June 2010) of this book, and comes in two versions, one free, which contains a small selection of the total. The full version contains the complete book optimised for viewing on the iPhone. Neither version is localised for Australia, which means that the animals and plants are  from the northern hemisphere. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, as many of these exotic plants eg blackberry are also found in Australia.

There appears to be little attempt to update the contents and this is most obvious in the first aid section where the artificial resuscitation methods badly need updating eg the Holger Nielson and Silvester techniques  which I last used in my Royal Lifesaving days in the 60’s and 70’s are recommended.

SAS Survival Guide

The Full app contains:
•Full text, in 9 chapters, of the bestselling book optimised for the iPhone
•16 videos providing invaluable survival tips from Lofty himself
•Photo galleries of edible, medicinal and poisonous plants
•Morse Code signalling device
•100 + question quiz to test if you’ve got what it takes to survive
•Survival Checklist
•Sun Compass
•Search tool to scan entire book by subject
•Extreme Climate Survival: sections on surviving Polar, Desert, Tropical, and Sea
•Comprehensive First Aid section NB Needs updating

SAS Survival Guide Lite

The Lite App Contains:
•Basic survival information including: building fires, finding water, navigating by the stars, survival kit, signals and codes
•Photo galleries of cloud spotting, night sky navigation, and more
•Video of Lofty Wiseman demonstrating knife skills
•100+ question quiz to test if you’ve got what it takes to survive
•Survival checklist to help you prepare for trips
•Search the app by keyword for quick reference

This version is a “must have” for any bushwalker, but of course you can only read it when your iPhone batteries are not flat. You will need to be able to keep your iPhone charged  to be able to use the app.

Do I think the paid version (USD $5.99) is worthwhile? The original book cost me $7.95 many years ago and the digital version has additional information, so you would have to say yes, especially with the extra features such as videos, Morse Code Signaller, search tool and Sun Compass. But is it expensive? Yes!

Adittional Features

1. Morse Code Signalling Device

This  allows you to automatically produce both the audio and synchronised flashing light for common emergency messages such as SOS, mayday, and help but can send any message you wish by simply typing in the sentence. It is easy to use and does exactly as it should.

2. Sun Compass

Many of us have been taught to work out north by bisecting the angle between the hour of the day and the sun, but how many of us can remember how to do it when we need to do so. This inbuilt app does it automatically, with easy step-by-step instructions.

3. Photo-galleries

These colour “how to” slideshows  show step by step how to achieve such essential tasks as:

How to build a fire. How to build a solar still.How to trap water. Night sky navigation.Cloud spotting

Other categories include

Making a camp. Wild food. Polar Climate. Desert and Tropics. Sea and Coast. Hunting. First Aid

4. Videos

Contents of a survival tin. Fern Cover. Night navigation. Shelter . Location. Waterbag. Gutting. Sun Compass. Solar still. Rationing. Sand stove. Trapping. Fire. Survival Situation. Knife Skills. Snow Hole

6. Checklists include:

Survival kit
Survival pouch
Medical Kit

In my opinion, this is excellent value for such a high quality and useful resource and a must have for bushwalkers.

View other related iPhone posts

Creative Commons License
This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.