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Guest scott

GPS alone or with compass

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Guest scott

The subject sorta says it all. Does anybody besides me use a compass to keep you on the "straight" and narrow path to the cache? I feel like I'm cheating a bit, but it make it sooo much easier.

 

scott

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Guest gfritz

I don't use one, but I sure wish I had one. My last hunt landed me under light tree cover, and my GPS kept flip-flopping my bearing due to poor coverage.

 

Has anyone tried one of those digital compasses or a GPS with built-in compass (like the Garmin eMap)? Do they work well?

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Guest CaptainCurmudgeon

I don't, but I'm going to because:

I can't go fast enough to get a good track reading when I'm walking.

Often, caches are in trees where GPS reception is less than wonderful.

A compass keeps working when I stop or turn.

 

Another thing I'm going to do is mark the position where my truck is so I can find my way back.

 

[This message has been edited by CaptainCurmudgeon (edited 10-10-2000).]

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Guest scott

I haven't tried a digital compass for a couple of reasons:

 

1) Batteries, the GPS eats enought of 'em.

2) My compass is more than accurate enough for me.

 

I'm not even sure a digital compass would be any more accurate, although the display might let you pretend that it was.

 

Capt. Its easy to forget to mark your vehicle (or the trailhead), but it makes the return trip almost painless and worry free, at least about the destination.

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Guest Mike_Teague

I have been taking a compass along since the first cache I searched for...

 

I remember standing still, GPS saying 60 feet bearing 258 or whatever... Going out into the road to start walking fast enough to get the GPS "pointer" to point in the correct directon.. Barely effective.. Ended up using the coordinates.. "ok West a little... Stop.. South a little.. etc."

 

Now when I'm within 100 feet or so, I just read the bearing off of the GPS, dial it into the compass, line it up, and BINGO!

 

Not only for cache hunting, but for general wilderness navigation.. Cant hurt to carry a compass... Last summer a buddy, my brother and I went into the woods with the intention of getting "lost".. All we took was my GPS and a compass, and some extra beers. A stored waypoint of our camp would get us back, we figured... We started out during twilight, got about 1 mile away, and turned back after it got pitch dark. Without the compass, we would have been stuck out there all night, as the tree cover makes the GPS unreliable for travelling in a specific direction. We went in a circle once.. Then we started to get worried. So we break out my trusty 10$ brunton map-type compass.. Once again, we just took a fix, read the bearing, dialed it in on the compass, followed the compass for a hundred yards or so, then took another GPS fix. Repeated that method until we finally made it back...

 

A great experiment! I would never go without a compass AND a gps now...

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Guest mcb

There was a huge discussion about this on the sci.geo.satellite-nav news group. I think the thread was "basic navigaton skills". It got a very heated at times. rolleyes.gif I alway carry my compass when hiking with my GPS. I also carry a paper map if I don't the area real well.

 

Matt

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Guest Ambush Bug

"Has anyone tried one of those digital compasses or a GPS with built-in compass Do they work well?"

 

They do and they don't.... GPS compasses are based upon your last location, and your present location. In this way, it accurately tells you which way you're walking. If you're standing in place, and you pivot around, the compass info doesn't change, because the GPS has no way of knowing which way you're facing.

 

The last time I went without a compass, I found myself actually having to back up and make the approach again, just to see how I was pointing. This happened a couple of times.

 

Bring a compass!

 

P.S. Inexpensive compasses would make EXCELLENT GeoCache items!!! (Don't worry, the liquid-filled ones can't freeze, it's alchohol.)

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Guest jeremy

Actually the GPS units with the electronic compasses work just like a normal compass. You turn around and the compass will follow you. The benefit here is you can have the compass point to true north or magnetic, whatever you want. The eTrex Summit has a magnetic compass and altimeter (the plain eTrex uses your walking to show direction)

 

The negative is the battery issue (already talked about). Make sure to have a regular old $10 compass with you too.

 

Jeremy

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Guest manbilongami

don't forget to convert between magnetic bearing and grid bearing!

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Guest Richard Amirault

What is grid bearing?

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Guest ScottJ

He probably means magnetic vs. true. Many people accidentally leave the bearing units in their GPS's set to TRUE, and then shoot bearings with a magnetic compass. Such a practice can result in azimuth errors of 5 degrees or more, depending on location.

 

Scott

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Guest jeremy

I've flipped my compass over several times, and I still can't find that switch (or the batteries for that matter).

 

icon_wink.gif

 

Jeremy

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Guest jeremy

I've flipped my compass over several times, and I still can't find that switch (or the batteries for that matter).

 

icon_wink.gif

 

Jeremy

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Guest Mike_Teague

Grid Bearing (N on your map) can differ from true N (a degree or so perhaps)... My understanding is some datums don't line up with the true-true N, or some such...

 

The difference betweeen True and Magnetic, I presume everyone knows...

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Guest Richard Amirault

Yes but .... here in New England the difference between True and Magnetic is about 12 to 14 deg (I forget exactly) but why bother?

 

I now bring my compass whenever I hunt, but never start using it until I'm close to the end. At that point I'm anywhere from a few hundred to a few dozen (or less) feet away from my target. At those distances the "error" is not worth bothering about. Hey it's not like I'm taking a bearing on a distant landmark a mile away.

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Guest scott

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Amirault:

 

I now bring my compass whenever I hunt, but never start using it until I'm close to the end. At that point I'm anywhere from a few hundred to a few dozen (or less) feet away from my target. At those distances the "error" is not worth bothering about.


 

When you get close and start using the compass, switch the GPS to reference magnetic North. If your compass has a declination adjustment, set it to 0. That way the GPS will tell you the exact bearing (as close as it can get) to the cache. I did this in an area that I had no map and no idea what the magnetic deviation was. Worked like a champ.

 

[This message has been edited by scott (edited 01-07-2001).]

 

[This message has been edited by scott (edited 01-07-2001).]

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Guest Richard Amirault

Yes, but *then* you've got to remember to set it back afterward.

 

As I said, for me, it's not worth the trouble to fiddle with adjusting for the "error".

 

Your mileage may vary.

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Guest Hunter

I always use a compass in concert with the GPS. Makes it so much easier to just get a bearing off GPS and then dial into compass. Then I can line up on a distant target (Like Orienteering) and just periodically check bearing. Walking just to get a bearing off the Etrex can be a drag. Can't see the point in paying extra for a built in compass when regular compasses are so cheap and effective. Walking through thick brush staring at GPS is slow and I seem to stumble alot more. Thats my story and Im sticking to it.

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Guest Richard Amirault

This past weekend one of the cache's I found was quite a ways in from the trail. And, or course, I didn't just bushwack *directly* to it either. I made a few stops and direction adjustments along the way.

 

Well, when it came time to walk out to the trail I started off in what was (I thought) the proper direction. When it became apparent that I would have hit the trail by now (and had not) I pulled the GPS back out from my pocket and turned it back on. Turns out I was headed BACK TOWARDS THE CACHE!! Goodnes!! OK, get a bit closer to the cache ... now .. pull out the COMPASS and use *that* to get me back to the trail.

 

Worked like a champ!

 

I suppose I could have made a waypoint when I left the trail ... maybe next time ;-)

 

Richard in Boston

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Guest DB

I always carry at least a compass or two. I use a Timex Expedition watch with a digital compass built in, which is a bit of a pain for long hikes, but fine if you just need to take a sighting and head out. I also carry a cheapie $1.49 keychain type on my keychain in case I want to fix a bearing from my car to the door in the mall parking lot. When I lose the car later, this gives me a single line to look along.

When I'm searching, I also carry one of the $7 WalMart lensatic compasses, as this gives me a nice, easy, accurate way to line up on a bearing and usually come close to tripping over the cache.

 

DrunkenBard http://www.drunkenbard.com

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Guest Kurt

OK I'm sold! So what's the best kind of compass to get? (Meaning highest quality, functionality, etc)

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Guest Alex

Here in Oz the top brand is Silva and they are priced accordingly. Suunto are just as good and cheaper. Brunton are a bit below both brands in quality.

BTW, probably not a problem in the US, but make sure you get a compass balanced for the hemisphere you are operating in. eg a 'southern hemisphere' or 'northern hemisphere' compass. Something to do with weighting on the needle and the lines of magnetic force.

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Guest swangner

Having done one cache hunt without a compass, and 2 since with a compass, I'll say that the magnetic compass makes it a lot easier and more enjoyable.

 

As far as purists go, some will say that it's cheating, but I just consider it extra safety (which is never a bad thing).

 

As far as what kind of compass to get, if you're going to spend more than $2-3 for one, get an oil-filled one, in case you want to use it in sub-freezing temperatures.

 

[This message has been edited by swangner (edited 02-14-2001).]

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Guest ScottJ

Having been something of a professional ground navigator before the GPS came along, I have always owned the finest compass I could afford. Silva Rangers are great compasses and are not that expensive. I use a Brunton Eclipse, which while somewhat expensive, has markings every degree instead of every two, and has a sighting mirror with clickstops for one-hand operation. Best hand compass I've ever used.

 

By the way, anyone know what's up with Silva and Brunton? I've noticed they're selling nearly identical products, and that both names are on the new GPS/compass. Did one buy the other?

 

Scott

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Guest DrunkenBard

The Eclipse looks nice, but that $150 GPS they're trying to get $400 for is almost ridiculous.

 

Besides, what moron hired their web designer? Lots of pretty colors and pictures, but where are the product descriptions and feature lists for anything other than the GPS? For that matter, where's the list of dealers, since they apparently don't sell directly to consumers?

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Guest Captain Leno

I Never go into the under brush without a compass !!

Long before the GPS was even invented I learned that lesson !!!

Hey folks, for no other reason, GPS is an electronic device that MAY FAIL !!!!

And you need something to get you home !!!!

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Guest DrunkenBard

I had that lesson driven home by a battery failure tonight. One of the cheapo batteries I'd decided to try went pop and dumped gunk all over the innards of the Lowrance. Aside from nearly losing the battery cover when I popped it off and flung the batteries out as hard as I could, and getting some of the stuff on my hands, it went well, though. Cleanup went quickly, the cover was found, and I had some extra Energizers in the car. The Lowrance doesn't seem to have suffered any ill effects after cleaning, and I now know that it's not worth risking my $200 GPS over a $1.50 pack of no-name batteries. The compass on the other hand, was totally unconcerned throughout the incident.

 

------------------

DrunkenBard

http://www.drunkenbard.com

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Guest coldboy

quote:
Originally posted by Ambush Bug:

"Has anyone tried one of those digital compasses or a GPS with built-in compass Do they work well?"

 

They do and they don't.... GPS compasses are based upon your last location, and your present location. In this way, it accurately tells you which way you're walking. If you're standing in place, and you pivot around, the compass info doesn't change, because the GPS has no way of knowing which way you're facing.

 

The last time I went without a compass, I found myself actually having to back up and make the approach again, just to see how I was pointing. This happened a couple of times.

 

Bring a compass!

 

P.S. Inexpensive compasses would make EXCELLENT GeoCache items!!! (Don't worry, the liquid-filled ones can't freeze, it's alchohol.)


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Guest nekosoft

I agree. The advantages of a compass are myriad, with no real disadvantages (outside of the objections of any geocaching purists).

 

I've got my Suunto in my coat pocket with me all the time now. I've got to start using that car location method suggested. (Although, I guess I could mark my car as a waypoint before I go into the mall. I guess the parking lot's not that big.)

 

nekosoft

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Guest Tabber

g and then use GPS as an adjunct to that. Not the other way around - which is what I suspect is happening. I suppose the good thing to come out of this is that people tempted out by the gee-whizzery of GPS might discover that there are delights and a great deal of satisfaction to be had from learning to navigate cross country properly 'the old fashioned way' I speak as someone with a lot of professional experience navigating in difficult terrain (and, incidentally, placing caches where GPS accuracy is inevitably degraded and the only records are distances and bearings). GPS receivers are wonderful kit; but come to rely on them, allow the basic skills to fade and Sod's law means that one day you will find yourself in deep trouble. A map and a compass are essentials - not optionals - for serious navigation.

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Guest Tabber

PS - By the way, Suunto & Silva compasses are almost indentical, and are excellent equipment; even if they can prove to be a bit fragile sometimes; they're only plastic. And while good enough for navigating on foot, for locating caches their sighting accuracy is only in the order of a degree or so if you're really really good. Much more expensive, but far more precise, are prismatic sighting compasses.

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Guest ScottJ

You're right about the prismatic devices, they're really more like pocket-sized surveyor's transits than compasses. icon_smile.gif Most of the outdoors compasses sold these days are marked in 2 degree increments. My Eclipse is one of the few that actually has 1 degree markings, and sighting features that give you the ability to take advantage of that 1 degree resolution. A degree is close enough for any ground navigation I'll be doing.

 

Oh, and I am really, really good. icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

 

Scott

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Guest ScottJ

You're right about the prismatic devices, they're really more like pocket-sized surveyor's transits than compasses. icon_smile.gif Most of the outdoors compasses sold these days are marked in 2 degree increments. My Eclipse is one of the few that actually has 1 degree markings, and sighting features that give you the ability to take advantage of that 1 degree resolution. A degree is close enough for any ground navigation I'll be doing.

 

Oh, and I am really, really good. icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

 

Scott

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Guest Tabber

....and what about whether it's better to use mils or degrees ?

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Guest robanna

found a cache today with only a TopoZone map and compass. i always go with a compass. Once you get close the set the bearing and you should walk right to it.

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Guest Alex

I agree,take a compass always...but more importantly, know how to use it!

 

This question and the comments show our differing background, some of us had an outdoors background before discovering the technology of GPS. Others are technologists who have discovered the outdoors. Whatever our backgrounds the end result is a new fun activity.

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Guest Cape Cod Cache

at the risk of being redundent , here goes... compass? yes, map? yes, GPS? (DUH) yes, RADAR? too dadgum heavy, I'll leave it on the boat. GPS is just another 'tool' to use in a navigator's toolbox. Use all the stuff at your means. I'd never sail on a boat without a compass.

my $0.02

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Guest olmec

I went on my first gps hunt friday. it was an unplanned trip from auhburn hills, mi to Marblehead, OH icon_smile.gif I wish I would have planned for the trip better by bringing a map and a compass I drove all that way over 150mi an didn't find the cache. my III+ got me within an few feet of the cache I take a step in the other direction and it would be off by 20 to 46 feet fustrated I drove around to a side road about 4 miles on the other side of a pond and it said I was about .26 mile from the cache... I end up in a wildlife preserve. The next day I went out an bought a silva beginner compass... today I'm going to buy a book on orienteering and some mace. Never lnow where these cache can lead you, Bear country, etc... anyone know a good defense against wildlife?

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Guest olmec

I went on my first gps hunt friday. it was an unplanned trip from auhburn hills, mi to Marblehead, OH icon_smile.gif I wish I would have planned for the trip better by bringing a map and a compass I drove all that way over 150mi an didn't find the cache. my III+ got me within an few feet of the cache I take a step in the other direction and it would be off by 20 to 46 feet fustrated I drove around to a side road about 4 miles on the other side of a pond and it said I was about .26 mile from the cache... I end up in a wildlife preserve. The next day I went out an bought a silva beginner compass... today I'm going to buy a book on orienteering and some mace. Never lnow where these cache can lead you, Bear country, etc... anyone know a good defense against wildlife?

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Guest Tennessee_Bob

The best defense against wildlife? Know which way the slowest person in the group is going to run.....

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Guest BigFig

The best defense agains bears is to be prepared and know your animal behavior. For preparation, I suggest you always wear bear bells and carry pepper spray. Generally speaking, Grizzly bears are more prone to attacking humans than black bears, so it's important to be able to know if you are in Griz territory or black bear territory. The best way is by examining their scat "poop".

Black bear scat will be small, have a faint smell of fruit, and have insects and berries in it. Grizzly scat will smell like pepper spray and have small bells in it icon_smile.gif

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Guest BigFig

The best defense agains bears is to be prepared and know your animal behavior. For preparation, I suggest you always wear bear bells and carry pepper spray. Generally speaking, Grizzly bears are more prone to attacking humans than black bears, so it's important to be able to know if you are in Griz territory or black bear territory. The best way is by examining their scat "poop".

Black bear scat will be small, have a faint smell of fruit, and have insects and berries in it. Grizzly scat will smell like pepper spray and have small bells in it icon_smile.gif

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Guest Markwell

You sure about the bells BigFig? My in-laws went to Alaska hiking and were told about the bells as well - then a ranger told them that bears up there have heard the bells long enough to a) not be afraid of them and, :D realize that humans were defenseless. Add A+B and you soon realize that those bells are now "dinner bells" for the bears.

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Guest Jude from New Brunswick

jonction with a GPS.This is a failsafe way to reach your target and back to your vehicle.GPS is a sort of a calculator to where your are and your destination is on the ground.Don't rely on it to heavily.I've read some of u guys go in the wilderness with GPS alone and make it your primary source of navigation...Not recommended.This is how I would use the GPS & compass.Enter your waypoint.Go to that waypoint in your GPS and read the degree and distance.Turn the GPS off and take the compass out and adjust the compass to the degree.Go to your destination.Know you don't have to have that compass in your face all the time.Enjoy the scenary and choose the easiest path.When you take a break,bring out the GPS,turn it on and let it reposition itself.Make your new adjustment to your compass and turn it off again.A set of battery will go far this way and the GPS will more reliable on good batteries.Make sure your compass & GPS are match together regarding to "true north" and "mag north".Always a good idea to have a pencil and notepad and scratch down those compass reading has you go along.It would come in handy if the GPS would go on you.Have spare batteries.Silva ranger his a good compass,whitch I use in my ventures in the wilderness.Hope I have help answer some question,maybe I have arise new question? If any my E-mail add.... qwerty@nb.sympatico.ca

 

ps:Good hunting people

 

JuDE

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Guest 300mag

quote:
Originally posted by Tennessee_Bob:

The best defense against wildlife? Know which way the slowest person in the group is going to run.....


 

That was really funny Tennessee Bob

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Guest GOMom

OK, you guys have convinced me that I need to learn more orienteering skills! Now, where can I best do that? any suggested reading materials, websites,etc? This is going to be great homeschooling material!

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Guest ScottJ

There are lots of good books out there. Also, this may sound silly, but find yourself a Boy Scout supply outlet and get the book for the Orienteering merit badge. It's one of the better tutorials, very basic but strong on the important points.

 

Scott

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