A simple improvement I like to make on my protractors takes a few minutes and costs a couple of pennies. If you can navigate from point A to point B, you can easily do this simple upgrade. Not all protractors need this change, as some of the manufacturers are producing protractors already upgraded. But if you find yourself with an older protractor or one that does not have white shading around the edges, this simple change will make your next navigation experience better.

Flip the protractor upside down and using yellow electrical tape, place one strip of tape along each of the four, outside edges of the protractor so that the tape provides a background to the degrees/mils indications. I found this to be helpful in many ways because it:

  1. Improves the longevity of the protractor. Especially if it is an older, mil-issued protractor. I still have a few of the older ones and they are made with plastic that is thinner than the current models. Having tape along the edges will increase the longevity of these, especially if the edge starts to crack.
  2. Improves overall visibility. It’s easy to lose track of the clear protractors if dropped on the ground or laid down while messing with your gear. Having lost a few of these, I can sure appreciate the visibility of the yellow tape. Also, there is no guessing as to whom the protractor belongs, because there aren’t many folks walking around with yellow tape on their protractors! In the picture below, you can see how much the yellow taped protractor stands out compared to the one that isn’t modified.


  1. Improves map reading. This is the best and most important reason to add a yellow strip of electrical tape to the back of your clear protractor. There are times when the degrees along the edge of the protractor ‘washes-out’ into the data on a map. Sure, you can still read it, but sometimes it takes a lot of eye strain to read a number.


No matter what type of protractor you decide to use, make sure you are training often, as navigation is a perishable skill.



Jessie Blaine is a former Marine living in refuge somewhere in the Lone Star state.  He is in a perpetual state of learning, which is the second-best state to be in, with the Lone Star state being the first. He is a Brushbeater student and a proud member of the Mossy Oak Militia.