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The 3 Minor Terrain Features To Know

Understanding terrain features is significant, each for the needs of overland navigation and route planning, and in addition for tactical proficiency when operating in the sector.


Disregarding terrain and attempting to blunder your way through goes to make your life miserable, difficult, and potentially deadly depending on the circumstances.

We covered the five major terrain features previously, and today I’m back to take you thru the three minor terrain features you want to know.

Yes, they could be called minor terrain features, but they’re still majorly vital in your purposes. Lace up your boots and let’s get a move on.


A draw is sort of a valley, except that it is way smaller, and customarily accommodates no level ground in any respect along the low point. The ground on either side of a draw slopes upwards towards the head (or starting point) of the draw.

These are often easy to identify on maps because there’s a successive line of v-shaped notches in contour lines, typically pointing up towards a ridge.

Draws are typically formed by flooding events, and will be found on flat terrain but there are typical of ridges and hills.

This is something to bear in mind in the event you ever travel near or along a draw, because a sudden rain event or precipitous snow melt might cause a flash flood that may bowl you all the best way down the slope.

Tactically, draws can provide opportunities for canopy and concealment, but they’re difficult to maneuver along because they don’t contain flat ground as mentioned.


A spur is a brief, steadily sloping area of upper ground that is often jutting out from the side of any given ridge. Spurs are sometimes formed by parallel streams of water cutting draws, described previously, down the perimeters of a ridge.

In a way, you may consider it as a brief, almost self-contained ridge traveling perpendicular from the first ridge.

This is a subtle terrain feature, but learning the way to maximize its advantages based on your direction of travel while minimizing its impediment can allow you to discover a maximally efficient route.

Tactically, depending in your location and the placement of potential enemies, a spur might provide the most effective possible terrain to take cover in or hide if each parties are on the identical side of a ridge at concerning the same level.


A cliff is precisely what it feels like. It is technically a slope, but they’re truly vertical or nearly so. You can fall off of a cliff’s edge, but you fall down other slopes!

If you don’t have climbing gear, cliffs are impassable or they’ll prove extraordinarily dangerous to traverse otherwise unless they’re very short.

Cliffs will generally dictate your path of movement around them, and tactically you need to concentrate on them because in the event you are herded toward them you’ll have nowhere to retreat to.

Setting up near a cliff can be an enormous advantage for an statement point because they typically provide commanding views of the terrain below them.

Cliffs also prevent people from approaching from below them unless there are trails and switchbacks that may allow someone to bypass it.

You Still Need to Know These Minor Terrain Features for Efficient Route Planning

Even though these terrain features are known as minor, they’re still seriously vital in your overall understanding of topography, maps, overland navigation and travel as mentioned previously.

Like the old saying says, “the devil is in the main points,” and in the event you only search for the key terrain features of hills, valleys, ridges, saddles, and depressions you may miss what these lesser features are telling you.

Getting yourself caught in a treacherous saddle with cliffs on either side might mean certain death in case of a flash flood, avalanche, landslide, or the like.

If you’re attempting to stay concealed while climbing a hill, spurs and draws might afford you that capability whereas a smooth and featureless hill wouldn’t.

There are many more examples besides, these are only a pair, but you have to be desirous about the terrain in totality.

Understanding Minor Terrain Features Can Help You Maximize Tactical Awareness

When it involves a firefight, even the smallest and subtlest terrain features may be used to your advantage, or utilized by the enemy to harm you.

It’s surprising where a human being can hide, and if mentally you’ve accepted the notion that you just’re traveling over relatively smooth and featureless terrain.

You’ll be wide open to ambush from someone who knows the way to maximize the terrain features we discussed. This may be put to make use of offensively or defensively as required…

Someone who has a masterful understanding of terrain will find a way to seek out their way in, just as importantly out, of areas which might be under statement or protect themselves from gunfire when your attackers might otherwise think you’ve nowhere to go.

Of course, theory is positive but experience is final: grab your topo map, get on the market and begin applying what you’ve learned so you may start leveling up your fieldcraft.

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