Thursday, February 24, 2011

Outdoor Skill: Estimating Distance with Pacer Beads

First, I made it through Boy Scouts without learning to calculate distances with a compass. And I now I learn about yet another outdoor distance hack: Pace Counting Beads (or their more impressive sounding name: Ranger or Tracking Beads). Geesh, how did I ever earn my Eagle Scout?!

Pace Beads look like so:

And they don't appear all that tricky to use:

As users walk, they typically slide one bead on the cord for every ten paces taken. On the tenth pace, the user slides a bead in the lower section towards the knot. After the 90th pace, all 9 beads are against the knot. On the 100th pace, all 9 beads in the lower section are returned away from the knot, and a bead from the upper section is slid upwards, away from the knot.

In this manner, the user calculates distance traveled by keeping track of paces taken. To use this method, the user must know the length of his pace to accurately calculate distance traveled. Also, the number of paces to be walked must be precalculated, or the distance traveled has to be calculated from the walked paces.

You can buy them on Amazon, but they seem awfully expensive for what they are. eBay is probably a better option, or heck, just make them from scratch.

They won't replace my GPS, but it does seem like a handy outdoor skill to know.

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