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Collins Ultimate Navigation Manual Book (Lyle Brotherton) Review

Collins have been famed for their “Gem” guides which provide a handy pocket reference for just about any topic you can imagine. Whilst the “Ultimate Navigation Manual” has little in common in terms of size (it weighs in at 368 pages and is roughly A5 in size), it shares the same easy to understand writing style and excellent graphic design.

The author, Lyle Brotherton, is a professional navigation expert and has taught navigation to search and rescue teams in 24 countries so is more than qualified to write about the topic. Added to this, the fact that Sir Ralph Fiennes is prepared to put his name to the work in the form of a preface is testament to the quality of the publication.

According to the Digest of Scottish Mountaineering Incidents, navigation errors are the primary cause of mountain accidents, so whether you are a new walker or an old hand, it pays to brush up on your skills. This book makes it extremely easy to do that and provides all the necessary “micro-navigation” techniques to operate in a wide variety terrains and conditions.

The author suggests that readers follow the book through sequentially for maximum benefit, but Collin’s excellent graphic style make this an excellent book to pick up and enjoy at any point. Vivid graphics and informative inlays position this book not only as an essential manual but also as a fascinating general interest book.

The book starts with the essentials chapter, covering basic navigation equipment and tools before moving onto techniques, special environments and finally the use of modern Global Navigation, Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Digital Mapping – often erroneously referred to as GPS. The layout of the book encourages the practical application of learning through four weekend challenges.

These challenges are supported by detailed lesson plans which makes the book a great buy for scout leaders and outdoor instructors. Though the book isn’t waterproofed in anyway, it is small enough to fit into a backpack during the four learning weekends provided that you consult the weather carefully. If every mountain enthusiast bought and used this book, mountain rescue teams would have a lot less work to do!