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  1. #1

    Default Best features when using a Compass ?

    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 !

  2. #2
    Garlic
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    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.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    Registered User Vegan Packer's Avatar
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    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 is what I use, because it has full features balanced with size and weight.
    "Not many miles, but a whole lot of smiles." Vegan Packer

  4. #4

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    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 ?

  5. #5

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    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..

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    Quote Originally Posted by BongoTheOneEyed View Post
    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
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    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.

    ARTICLE

    Remember its -5 at Georgia and -16 in Maine.
    Last edited by Wise Old Owl; 07-23-2016 at 20:15.
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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Silva or Suunto. Buy based on size, weight and price.
    Keep it where you can get to it.
    Wayne


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    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.

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    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.

  11. #11

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    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.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    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."
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  13. #13

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    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.

  14. #14

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    The first thing to get is a book"Be Expert with Map and Compass" — and a cheapie compass to use while you learn the basics.

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

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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    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.
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    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    The first thing to get is a book"Be Expert with Map and Compass" — 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

    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.

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    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    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.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BongoTheOneEyed View Post
    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
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-04-2016 at 22:30.

  20. #20

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    If you are in to declination and inclination use the following link.
    http://www.thecompassstore.com/decvar.html#
    Rolls
    Rolls down the hill, Kanardly hike up the other hill
    May all your hikes have clear skies, fair winds and no rocks under your pad.

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