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BongoTheOneEyed
07-23-2016, 17:54
Im new to understanding and using compasses for map navigation.

Could anyone experienced with using compasses offer some suggestions as to which additional features are reccomended? some ive' seen come with mirrors and sighting lines and metrics on the sides but i dont understand what is most useful and why.

Also, reccomended compass brands and model recommendations would be helpful.

Thanks !

garlic08
07-23-2016, 18:54
What are you using it for? Do you need +/- two degree accuracy for orienteering? You might want a mirror and sights. If you just want to orient a map to the world and account for magnetic declination, you don't need that cost and weight but an outer compass ring is handy. But you need to be able to read a map, too. The best tool in the world is worthless without appropriate training.

Frankly, I've only sighted with a compass once on a hike, and my cheap model without a mirror worked okay for that. I carry a $10 model, and some friends make do with the toys that come on the handles of trekking poles or in gumball machines.

I've had a Silva brand for four decades and have gotten it replaced twice under a lifetime warranty. That's impressive.

I've used very nice compasses as a wildland firefighter, taking sights for triangulating on distant fires. I wouldn't carry one of those compasses on a hike.

Vegan Packer
07-23-2016, 19:06
If you ever plan to go outside of the northern hemisphere, make sure to get a "global compass." I also like compasses that have adjustment for declination. (Check on YouTube for explanation of this term.) The Suunto M3 Global (http://www.suunto.com/en-US/Products/Compasses/Suunto-M-3-Global/Suunto-M-3-G-Compass/) is what I use, because it has full features balanced with size and weight.

BongoTheOneEyed
07-23-2016, 19:06
Hi Garlic - i suppose it would be used for simplifying hiking and orientation to my surroundings in an unfamiliar terrain, I dont understand the +/- degree accuracy you mentioned and yes i would use it with a topo map. Can anyone reccomend a good all-purpose compass for this purpose ?

BongoTheOneEyed
07-23-2016, 19:11
How is a global compass distinguished from other common compasses one may use ? if I traveled to south america, what effect might that have ? other than the obvious..

Don H
07-23-2016, 19:30
How is a global compass distinguished from other common compasses one may use ? if I traveled to south america, what effect might that have ? other than the obvious..

http://www.thecompassstore.com/whatisglobne.html

Wise Old Owl
07-23-2016, 19:57
I have found a dual purpose for that little magnifier in the middle of the Silva. Yes handy for looking at small map symbols, the kids love to borrow it to look at bugs. I can use it to start a fire with a carbon patch.

Not to go out on a limb here, as young hiker I knew nothing of Declination. Back then it was 12 Today its 13 big woop most would say... but the magnetic pole in the last ten years is racing towards Siberia

You might want to read this article too...it won't really make the compass more expensive, to have a variable click here to see all our compasses with adjustable declination. (http://www.thecompassstore.com/comwitaddec.html)

ARTICLE (http://www.thecompassstore.com/howtouseyour.html)

Remember its -5 at Georgia and -16 in Maine.

Venchka
07-23-2016, 20:53
Silva or Suunto. Buy based on size, weight and price.
Keep it where you can get to it.
Wayne


Old. Slow. "Smarter than the average bear."

Mountain Mike
07-23-2016, 21:41
I find adjustable declination to be the most useful but not a necccesity. As I get older I find I use the magnifier more often. The mirror...I've used it more for grooming & tick checks & very rarely for taking a bearing. You really seldom need that level of accuracy. A inexpensive Silva, Sunto or Brunton will all suffice.

fudgefoot
07-24-2016, 06:48
The two most important features to me are: liquid-filled housing (to dampen the needle movement) and rotatable bezel (useful for taking bearings). Silva & Suunto both make good models. You mentioned the mirror/sighting feature - that is not of much practical use for backpacking.

peakbagger
07-24-2016, 07:01
Adjustable declination is a must, in my area the declination is 17 to 18 degrees, its real easy to get confused and add instead of subtract at the wrong point and then you are 34 degrees off.

Venchka
07-31-2016, 23:30
Silva or Suunto. Buy based on size, weight and price.
Keep it where you can get to it.
Wayne


Old. Slow. "Smarter than the average bear."

My Silva System Type 7 NL with adjustable declination and my emergency whistle weigh 1 ounce.
Close enough for Ultralight for me.
Wayne


Old. Slow. "Smarter than the average bear."

RockDoc
08-01-2016, 16:21
As a geologist, I'm partial to Bruntons, specifically with a sighting mirror, bubble level, and declination adjustment.
You sight it like a gun sight, but read the bearing in the mirror when the bubble shows level. Your reading should be within 1/2 degree accuracy.

This is important because the next thing you will do is transfer your bearing to a paper map using a protractor and pencil. This is why you still need to have a paper map. Do this twice, at features near 90 degrees from each other, and you have determined your position.

There are a lot of other things you can do too, depending on your needs.
But you need a quality compass, it's the last thing you should make an effort to make ultralight because it can save your life.

cmoulder
08-02-2016, 15:14
The first thing to get is a book — "Be Expert with Map and Compass" (https://www.amazon.com/Expert-Map-Compass-Bjorn-Kjellstrom/dp/0470407654) — and a cheapie compass to use while you learn the basics.

A compass without the knowledge to use it becomes an interesting paperweight.

Mags
08-02-2016, 15:49
Silva Starter 1-2-3 or similar is fine for most North America based backpackers. Add or subtract declination as needed.

If you'd rather not futz with declination and/or traveling outside of N.A,, a Suunto M3 or similar works well.

Just Bill
08-02-2016, 16:01
The first thing to get is a book — "Be Expert with Map and Compass" (https://www.amazon.com/Expert-Map-Compass-Bjorn-Kjellstrom/dp/0470407654) — and a cheapie compass to use while you learn the basics.

A compass without the knowledge to use it becomes an interesting paperweight.

Yar- the book now comes in kindle so you can take it with you cheap and easy.

https://www.amazon.com/Silva-2801290-Starter-1-2-3-Compass/dp/B001M5TN3W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1470167807&sr=8-2&keywords=silva+starter+1-2-3

The compass Mags posted.

Spend the $30 (or less) on the book and this compass and you'll cover 99% of what you need.

Not a lot of times there is a "best" but this combo is pretty durn close.

And at the cost and an ounce or so (with kindle version) for the set- it's Cheap, light, and well made which is the triple crown of outdoor marketing right thar I tell you whayt.

Another Kevin
08-04-2016, 17:38
I go off trail pretty regularly.

The high-end Brunton compasses are really, really nice. If I were a geologist like RockDoc, I'd want a Brunton 5006 or something similar. Brunton's mid-grade compasses, I don't like so much. I've got a bubble in one, and had the plastic mirror in another warp to where I can't actually see the needle well enough to align it. I think that the problem may be that these compasses simply don't stand up to the temperatures encountered in a Northeast winter.

My daughter has had one sighting compass from Silva and one from Suunto, that also both got bubbles way sooner than expected.

I finally got a K&R Alpin. It's got an aluminum mirror (not plastic) and a capsule that allegedly can cope with temperature changes. Its declination adjustment is interesting. It has outer and inner rings surrounding the capsule. The inner reads out magnetic, the outer (once you've adjusted it) reads out true. If you go this route, get the metric one. The English one has a Romer scale that reads out in miles, rather than metres. What the heck good is that? You need metres to make grid coordinates even if you're measuring distances in miles.

Most on-trail hikers won't need a sighting compass - a simple baseplate compass like the Suunto A-10, the Silva Starter, or the Brunton Tru-Arc will be fine.

Dogwood
08-04-2016, 20:02
Silva Starter 1-2-3 or similar is fine for most North America based backpackers. Add or subtract declination as needed.

If you'd rather not futz with declination and/or traveling outside of N.A,, a Suunto M3 or similar works well.

Or a Suunto A 10. Learn by practicing map and compass navigation and by reading over how compasses(your specific compass' features work. These are both simple models that you may find handy with their features in time.

MuddyWaters
08-04-2016, 22:26
Im new to understanding and using compasses for map navigation.

Could anyone experienced with using compasses offer some suggestions as to which additional features are reccomended? some ive' seen come with mirrors and sighting lines and metrics on the sides but i dont understand what is most useful and why.

Also, reccomended compass brands and model recommendations would be helpful.

Thanks !


First, learn how to use one.
Then, you can decide.

Silva 123 starter is hard to beat.


There are hundreds of tutorials online . This is a good basic one.

http://documents.mx/documents/map-compass-so-easy-a-caveman-can-do-it-
compass-basics-opening-comments-terms-of-a-compass-boxing-a-needle-get-a-bearing-you-to-a-point-get-a.html (http://documents.mx/documents/map-compass-so-easy-a-caveman-can-do-it-compass-basics-opening-comments-terms-of-a-compass-boxing-a-needle-get-a-bearing-you-to-a-point-get-a.html)

Rolls Kanardly
08-05-2016, 05:40
If you are in to declination and inclination use the following link.
http://www.thecompassstore.com/decvar.html#
Rolls

Alligator
08-07-2016, 12:54
I like to have the mirror on it. Beyond the additional accuracy, the mirror can be useful as a signaling device and for personal hygiene. I've used mine to shave many times. It can be used for tick checks, wound inspection, etc.

Five Tango
08-12-2016, 15:31
While we are at it-don't forget the obvious-compasses are sensitive to iron and metals so be sure you are not getting "interference" when you make readings and calculations.

Venchka
08-12-2016, 15:39
While we are at it-don't forget the obvious-compasses are sensitive to iron and metals so be sure you are not getting "interference" when you make readings and calculations.

Somehow I can't picture anyone backpacking with enough steel to throw a compass off. But stranger things have happened.
I'm excited to learn that my antique compass weighs less than an ounce.

Wayne

Five Tango
08-13-2016, 13:51
Somehow I can't picture anyone backpacking with enough steel to throw a compass off. But stranger things have happened.
I'm excited to learn that my antique compass weighs less than an ounce.

Wayne

I know someone in my family tried to use theirs in on a wooden bridge.Bridge had iron rails.Picnic tables have nails.Airplane compasses must be adjusted with brass tools.Just for kicks,get you cell phone too close to your compass and see what happens........

Offshore
08-13-2016, 14:29
As a geologist, I'm partial to Bruntons, specifically with a sighting mirror, bubble level, and declination adjustment.
You sight it like a gun sight, but read the bearing in the mirror when the bubble shows level. Your reading should be within 1/2 degree accuracy.

This is important because the next thing you will do is transfer your bearing to a paper map using a protractor and pencil. This is why you still need to have a paper map. Do this twice, at features near 90 degrees from each other, and you have determined your position.

There are a lot of other things you can do too, depending on your needs.
But you need a quality compass, it's the last thing you should make an effort to make ultralight because it can save your life.

I remember when the only compass-like device Brunton made was the pocket transit in Riverton, WY and your choices were international suspension or not and whether you wanted 0 - 360 or the quadrants on the outer ring. (I went for 0-360, international...)

Venchka
08-13-2016, 19:34
I know someone in my family tried to use theirs in on a wooden bridge.Bridge had iron rails.Picnic tables have nails.Airplane compasses must be adjusted with brass tools.Just for kicks,get you cell phone too close to your compass and see what happens........

One of those in every crowd.
Wayne


Old. Slow. "Smarter than the average bear."

Five Tango
08-13-2016, 19:56
[QUOTE=Venchka;2086416]One of those in every crowd.
Wayne


Old. Slow. "Smarter than the average bear."[/QUOTE
Yeah,that's what I thot when you wanted to get snarky over my original comment to the OP about magnetic interference.

Venchka
08-13-2016, 23:18
Fair enough. My bad.

Wayne

Traffic Jam
08-14-2016, 04:17
Yar- the book now comes in kindle so you can take it with you cheap and easy.

https://www.amazon.com/Silva-2801290-Starter-1-2-3-Compass/dp/B001M5TN3W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1470167807&sr=8-2&keywords=silva+starter+1-2-3

The compass Mags posted.

Spend the $30 (or less) on the book and this compass and you'll cover 99% of what you need.

Not a lot of times there is a "best" but this combo is pretty durn close.

And at the cost and an ounce or so (with kindle version) for the set- it's Cheap, light, and well made which is the triple crown of outdoor marketing right thar I tell you whayt.

All the reviewers discourage buying it on kindle as it doesn't include the practice map.

Engine
08-14-2016, 06:06
Somehow I can't picture anyone backpacking with enough steel to throw a compass off. But stranger things have happened.
I'm excited to learn that my antique compass weighs less than an ounce.

Wayne

Deer hunting as a teenager in Northern Michigan I came dragging into camp well after dark one evening, having walked MANY extra miles due to a compass error. I had a clipon compass of the front pocket of my jacket and had forgotten there was a small knife in the pocket. My dad laughed for an hour about that one...:rolleyes:

atraildreamer
08-14-2016, 17:15
I like to have the mirror on it. Beyond the additional accuracy, the mirror can be useful as a signaling device and for personal hygiene. I've used mine to shave many times. It can be used for tick checks, wound inspection, etc.

...and if you don't know how to properly use a compass, you can look in the mirror and see who is lost! :eek: :D :banana

Alleghanian Orogeny
08-16-2016, 16:11
Particularly in the East Coast states, where I cut my geologist teeth in college and working on the exploration side of the mining business afterwards, it's quite common to find all sorts of iron where you would not expect it. Everything from fragments of old cars and farm implements, segments of old barbed wire fence fully enveloped by a tree's growth, shrapnel from blown up stills, buried household garbage dumps, pieces of old mining and logging equipment, sections of logging railway rails, and spikes and similar railroad hardware from logging and mining railways. Such items could be found just beneath leaf litter or buried by recent sediment and would cause our Bruntons and other instruments to go haywire.

There are also plenty of localities with mapped and unmapped "local magnetic disturbances" created by iron-bearing minerals (such as magnetite) disseminated within bedrock and the soils derived from its weathering.

I'll always believe there is no complete substitute for a map, a compass, and the ability to use them, but we must always remember that a single compass bearing may be affected by iron objects and iron bearing substances we can't readily see.

AO

prodrigues
08-16-2016, 18:17
For true beginners (that haven't bought "Be Expert...") Skurka's got a quick little youtube series through Sierra Designs:

https://youtu.be/NWaR_hWqm4E

Another Kevin
08-16-2016, 23:50
There are also plenty of localities with mapped and unmapped "local magnetic disturbances" created by iron-bearing minerals (such as magnetite) disseminated within bedrock and the soils derived from its weathering.


For what it's worth, both Harriman and the Taconic ridge have significant "local magnetic disturbances." They were both iron mining areas and have both human wreckage and native magnetite.

johngo
12-11-2016, 23:03
Hi amigos,
I am new here, but I have a few helpful things to offer regarding back country navigation. I am a former USFS Wilderness Ranger (Sierra NF in California) have a Masters degree in cartography, and I am active in the competitive sport of orienteering. Besides this, I teach wilderness navigation to around 100 people every year, so I've got a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't.
And since the OP asked about compass recommendations, here's mine. Go with Suunto. I always recommend that people buy a compass with adjustable declination. It's makes using a compass vastly simpler, with no "East is least, West is best" silly rhymes to help you try to remember declination arithmetic, which I will guarantee five years from now when you try to do this you will not remember.
For most all recreational users, I recommend the Suunto M-3. It's got all the features you need and none of the fluff (mirror and inclinometer) that you don't. It's available on Amazon for about $30. Percent reason REI charges about $45, so I recommend you purchase it on Amazon. Please note that many of the Amazon descriptions are incorrect. For example, this one says it's a "G" for Global compass, when in fact it's not. The M3 model around $30 will be a compass designed for use in North America. If you see an M3 that's more like $70 or $80, that is a global compass that's designed to work anywhere in the world.

link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XANJRHG/

If you want something a little more high-end and want to spend around $40, go for the Suunto MC-2. It has a mirror and an inclinometer, which I consider optional features for most recreational users, and features that also add weight, cost, and one more thing that can break. (Yes, a mirror can be helpful for backcountry grooming and contact lens insertion, but it's really difficult to signal with a mirror in an emergency situation unless you have had some specific training in doing so.) So, unless you are a outdoors professional such as a forester, ranger, firefighter, geologist, search and rescue team member, etc., I think the extra weight and expense of a mirrored compass is not worth it.

https://www.amazon.com/Suunto-SS004239001-MC-2DLIN-Compass/dp/B001UE6MLG/?th=1

I have had hundreds of students over the years purchase the Suunto M3 and have yet to hear a single complaint, so I think it would serve you well. And, if the cost is on your mind, think of how much money you spend on outdoor equipment and clothing already. Getting a cheap compass for $10 or a really good one for $30 is kind of small potatoes.

My 2 bits,
JohnGo