May 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm #1302756
Hello. I'm looking to purchase my first compass. My recent trips have been in familiar places where I haven't even taken a map. As I begin to backpack in new places, I'm planning to carry a topo map and also buy a compass. After searching old posts, I'm unsure as to whether I should stick to a "button" compass or get something that is more capable. While I have no training, I have a desire to learn how to use a proper compass. Would love to hear recommendations. Thank you.May 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm #1984897
A basic "real" compass like the Silva Starter is a good way to go. Inexpensive at about $10-12 and it really is all the compass you will ever really need.May 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm #1984899
get one with adjustable declination, like the suunto M2
Unless you hike somewhere where mag north is fairly close to true north.May 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm #1984912
I suggest you snag a Silva Guide/Huntsman (color is the only difference between these models). It's a very lightweight sighting compass with adjustable declination. It floats if you drop it in a lake, the mirror is large enough for "mirror uses" while backpacking (multiple use gear, eh!) and the graduations are easy to read. When closed, the edges are rounded and don't snag or poke pockets/legs, but it's low profile. It's got a ruler on one edge for map work and they are MSRP $23 bucks.
I carry and use a smaller version of these, but it's the Guide/Huntsman I suggest to my Scouts when they ask.May 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm #1984918
A button compass basically just tells you which way is north and nothing else. With a proper compass you taking readings from known mountains in the distance and then transfer that to your mape and triangulate to find out exactly where you are.
Then from the known possition you can plot a line on the map to your destination and then set the compase to guide you in that direction (which is often not directly north or sout). A good compass has a lot of uses while a button compass has basically only one use.May 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm #1984930
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
A compass does you no good unless you know how to use it… when it counts.
You might find a compass class at REI…. or, I'm sure you could buy a compass book at REI or on line… it's not hard to learn the basics..
billMay 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm #1984941
Plenty of tutes on YouTube to teach how to use one.May 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm #1985135
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
+1 on the adjustable declination.
If the compass does not have a declination adjustment screw on the bezel ring don't buy it no matter how cool it looks.
P.S. a small bezel ring is less accurate tham a larger one, which usually has more degree markings.May 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm #1985168
After doing some additional searching, I found that most of the newer Silvas sold here are made in China. If I decide to go with Suunto, REI carries the Suunto MC-2. Is this too much compass for me? I figure the Suunto MC-2G is overkill.May 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm #1985174
I have a few of the older made-in-finland Silva compasses, and they are superior to the newer ones – and the US-made Bruntons – in every way. Even better, a starter model new-old-stock with package and not a scratch will only cost $5. Check it out. I really think if you hike near where you live, declination is not that big a deal. It's easy math add or subtract 10-15 degrees and the exact declination is marked on most maps. Get in the habit of it and you won't ruin your eyes trying to move, set and read that little wheel. Just my $0.02.May 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm #1985177
@rodney_mrukLocale: Northeast Oregon
You have been given a lot of good advice from those who have responded. One thing to think about is just what will you use the compass for. I have found that a compass is not all that important when hiking on the trails. Sure it helps to orient the map. But if you are not going off trail, then I have found a compass is not all that crucial. What helps me more is an altimeter. When I know my elevation and follow the trail on the map, I am able to pin point my location. So my thought is to not spend a whole lot on a compass. Just my thoughts of course and each person must hike their own hike.
I use a device from Highgear. It is no longer made but they have something similar available. Here is the link https://www.highgear.com/Product/WeatherPort
Mine has an altimeter, compass, clock, thermometer, flashlight and barometer which gives a weather forecast. It weighs 2.5 ounces including the battery which is two years old and still going.
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