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Thread: Compass?

  1. #1
    Registered User Boo-Yah's Avatar
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    Default Compass?

    I am getting ready to do section hike, is compass advisable on AT? I bought a cheaper one off Amazon some time back Suunto A10, piece of crap, needle sticks, then when you get it to move it turns with the compass as you try to get to true north.

    If compass is needed what is the best economical version?






    "I ain't as good as I once was, but I am as good once as I ever was"

  2. #2

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    I carry a super cheap compass thermometer combo, mainly for the thermometer. The AT is so well marked you will not need it. I think any basic compass would serve in an emergency.

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    Registered User tarditi's Avatar
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    Don't really need one as the trail is well marked with white blazes (hence the name of the forum!) but if you want one, I recommend a decent baseplate compass like you might use for orienteering (silva or suunto).

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    yeah......for the AT, you dont really need a compass........

    direction wise the biggest thing you have to worry about is leaving a shelter and make sure youre going in the right direction leaving it.............

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    I have the pin on kind that is in view by looking down because it's pinned to my chest strap. I refer to it frequently to keep my bearing. It's a great refrence point. Let's see...that should be North....then I look down....sure enough...that's North.

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    Lost mine in the first week or so of my thru, never needed it.

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    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    no compass is needed. they don't help anyway as the trail guides show "north" and "south" but the trail winds and weaves its way east and west around mountains.

  8. #8
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    I have a small compass on my watch band. I find it useful for figuring out where the sun will come up in the morning, where I am on the map, and, yes, making sure I head out in the right direction after a break or a night's sleep.


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  9. #9

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    I have and use quite often the Suunto clipper.
    Not truly needed but I don't always hike on trails that are as well blazed as others.
    I just like to look at it during breaks or prior to going off trail to pitch or poo.

    If I were to purchase a full sized compass I would get the Suunto M-3G.
    BUT a compass will do you little good if you do not know how to use it or carry maps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swisscross View Post
    I have and use quite often the Suunto clipper.
    Not truly needed but I don't always hike on trails that are as well blazed as others.
    I just like to look at it during breaks or prior to going off trail to pitch or poo.

    If I were to purchase a full sized compass I would get the Suunto M-3G.
    BUT a compass will do you little good if you do not know how to use it or carry maps.
    I tried to buy the clipper for my Suunto core watch band but band is to wide.....go figure a Suunto watchband compass doesn't fit on Suunto watch band.....dumb!!!


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  11. #11
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    You don't need it... 'till you're really lost. I carry a cheap keychain compass/thermometer clipped to the pack. Never had to use it, but it gives me a little peace of mind.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    I tried to buy the clipper for my Suunto core watch band but band is to wide.....go figure a Suunto watchband compass doesn't fit on Suunto watch band.....dumb!!!


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    That is sort of dumb. I have mine on my shoulder pack strap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swisscross View Post
    That is sort of dumb. I have mine on my shoulder pack strap.
    Yep....the watch has a compass but electronics fail.....chance of getting lost on the AT is slim but look at what happened to Inchworm....


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  14. #14

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    It's good as a back-up. I'm sure the vast majority of hikers don't need one, because it's so well blazed, but I have an obsessive habit of doing map-and-compass work - makes me feel reassured. I have a Suunto with a mirror - fast and precise.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boo-Yah View Post
    I am getting ready to do section hike, is compass advisable on AT? I bought a cheaper one off Amazon some time back Suunto A10, piece of crap, needle sticks, then when you get it to move it turns with the compass as you try to get to true north.

    If compass is needed what is the best economical version?
    I carried a compass for many years without ever needing it. Then I got caught in an unexpected snow storm. The snow quickly covered the trail and the white out conditions made land marks impossible to see. My button compass allowed me to find my way back to my car.

    My recommendation is to always carry at least a survival button compass -- http://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Filled-...button+compass
    Shutterbug

  16. #16

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    For the AT a smartphone compass is fine and sometimes useful.

  17. #17

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    Just a small tag type compass and some idea of the local magnetic declination. In Maine, for instance, Magnetic North is about 20 West of True North.

    For people who are really into precise navigation with compass and map, magnetic declination drifts over time and the declination printed on old maps can be off by a few degrees. Current declination can be found HERE.

    Also useful to have a basic understanding of the UTM system and a rudimentary understanding of lat/lon formats, i.e. ddd.dddd vs ddd.min.sec

  18. #18

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    Need for a compass on the AT these days is low given the trail is pretty clearly defined with many thousands of feet and blazes. However Shutterbug has a great observation about getting caught in a snow storm and very low visibility that a compass came in handy. Fog and dark conditions can have a similar effect and a compass might be the handiest tool you have that day.

    No need to carry a compass unless you know how to use one though. The good news is it doesn't take long to learn, there is a variety of small books on orienteering that you can get. The internet is full of sites that can provide entry level information on compass use as well. Carry a map of the trail section with you once you get some basic compass skills and getting lost is less of a concern.

  19. #19
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    I too have a compass/thermometer zipper pull. Great to indicating general direction (NESW). As others have stated above, it's a useful tool.

  20. #20
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Call me an old fart (I am), but I don't think I've ever hiked anywhere without some sort of compass, the entire AT included. I needed it once on the whole AT, and was glad to have it. My old compass, used for decades was a 0.7 ounce Silva-something, basically worn out and finally actually broke somehow. Per a tip on here somewhere by someone, I now carry that little 4 gram Suunto clip compass, works very smoothly, a fantastic little piece of gear.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o01_s00

    Yikes, the price went up to $23, I bought it for $14 just recently.

    Not sure what folks mean by "learning how to use it", nothing to it really, a little needle points to magnetic North, sometimes that is really handy on a trail that winds around all over the place in a climate where the direction of the sun is sometimes completely hidden from view. Same as saying "it's useless without a map". Nope, not useless. I suppose they are referring to triangulation, orienteering, etc, good stuff, but sometimes one simply needs to know what direction is what, there is zero learning on that simple task. There's the magnetic/true north declination thing, but that's small enough in the eastern US to pretty much ignore (about 13 degrees though in CO).

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