If you’re serious about trail design, it’s important to measure the steepness of a proposed route with a clinometer like the Silva Ranger. According to one of the most knowledgeable trail building organizations, the International Mountain Biking Association, you should route a trail so that it’s always less than half as steep as the hillside, and never more than a ten percent grade.
To build our local trail, we start by using offline topo maps on Backcountry Navigator, paying attention to the spacing of contour lines to rough out the trail. Then we walked the area using a clinometer to nail down the route.
You use the Silva Ranger by holding the long side against the terrain you want to measure, and reading the black clinometer needle on the face. Grade appears on the inner dial as a percent.
Sound like fun? Build your own clinometer.
Weight: 2.4 ounces