Jump to content

Going to buy a compass - need advice


juanbob
Followers 0

Recommended Posts

I have read several "why do I need a compass" posts and I have decided, mostly from experience, that I am going to buy a compass. Frankly, I haven't used a compass in 20 yrs+ since boyscouts. I can't even be sure I am spelling compass correctly...compass...compas...crap.

 

What kind of compass would you more experienced people recomend? I have looked around at some brands...Silva, Brunton, Suunto. Not sure which one to get.

 

I am not opposed to spending $40 ish on a unit that I will be happy with and that will last me a lifetime. However, if I can get all that for $5, better yet.

 

I have seen compasses for GPS users with UTM offset stuff (no clue on this)...also ones with sighting mirrors on the back (why? I again have no idea).

 

Appreciate any advice. A compass will make the benchmark hunting easier I think.

Link to comment

When I realized that the GPS gets you within about a 30 foot radius, I recognized that backtracking and taking a compass reading might aid in the search. I invested in a little $1.99 K-Mart brand compass with no bells or whistles. When you're that close, a wide degree of latitude (no pun intended) isn't a concern. Just get a general bearing and estimate your distance and plunge your head into the leaves. Eventually, you'll smell the McDonald's grease on the happy meal toys.

 

-----------

 

"Man's ability to weasel out of trouble is what separates us from the animals...except weasels, of course." - Homer Simpson

Link to comment

I've used many different compasses over the years. All compass do the same thing. You need to try different compass at the store to find out what you are comfortable with. I do recommends a compass with a adjustable magnetic declination on it. Once you adjust for the magnetic declination for the area you are in. You no longer have to calilate the magnetic declination ever time you look at the compass.

If you don't know what magnetic declination is.

It is the different between true north and magnetic north.

Link to comment

This could be like the Mag vs Gar!

I prefer bruntons, but I do a lot of compass work without my GPS.

One thing in addition to a declination adjustable compass is that the scales match our maps, very handy in map work.

The Brunton I use has these 3 scales for 1:24K maps. Feet(100ft inc) - UTM's (20 mtr inc) - miles (.1 inc)

Sighting mirrors are for die hard users who want some precision, especially when it comes to resections.

UTM's are good for plotting on maps .

Here are some links for your usuage

http://www.maptools.com/UsingUTM/index.html

http://www.isu.edu/outdoor/OutMap.htm

http://www.netside.com/~lcoble/dir9/land_nav.htm

http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/topo/

http://www.education.qld.gov.au/tal/kla/compass/index.html

http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/manual/mapcompass.shtml

http://celia.mehaffey.com/dale/measure.htm#grids

http://celia.mehaffey.com/dale/wgarmin.htm#toc

 

The "Bushwhacker"

needs_a_shave.gif

Exitus acta probat

>>--->

Link to comment

I tried cheaper compasses and I always seemed to have a problem or two with them. Invest in a decent Silva .... and give those cheap compasses away as cache prizes! icon_biggrin.gif

 

Bret

 

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.

When a man found it, he hid it again." Mt. 13:44

Link to comment

I tried cheaper compasses and I always seemed to have a problem or two with them. Invest in a decent Silva .... and give those cheap compasses away as cache prizes! icon_biggrin.gif

 

Bret

 

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.

When a man found it, he hid it again." Mt. 13:44

Link to comment

I had a Brunton for a while. It worked fine and I liked the adjustable declination but it would develop a bubble in it above 5000 feet. The bubble would interfere with the rotation of the needle. I bought a Silva Trekker after that and have been happy with it.......but it doesn't have adjustable declination. I miss that feature.

 

"There's no need to be afraid of strange noises in the night. Anything that intends you harm will stalk you silently."

Link to comment

Compasses used for competitive orienteering ususally don't have any adjustment for declination. Our maps are already adjusted, since the special made orienteering maps, in scales like 1:10000 or 1:15000, have their meridians drawn to magnetic north.

 

On the other hand, if you are going to use the compass together with a GPS, the GPS can be set to use magnetic north, so they'll cooperate anyway. Besides, in areas where the declination is only a few degrees, it doesn't matter, because you'll hardly follow the bearing that good anyway.

 

Anders

Link to comment

I carry a cheap lensatic/prismatic compass for the sole purpose of triangulating a cache location under tree canopy.

 

First in ADVANCED settings.

North Reference: Magnetic

Directional Display: Numeric Degrees

 

Around 100' or so from the cache, I stop and read the numeric degree heading on the GPS. Then I take out the lensatic compass and line up the numeric degree on the compass wheel with the pointer. Then using the wire sight I note one prominent rock or tree. Imagining a straight line to this point helps, or a partner can stand on the line at the approximate distance to the cache. Then I walk some distance away, 100 feet or so making a rough rough equalateral triangle (or wherever I can get a GPS reading) and take another sighting of another prominent feature. Where the two imaginary sight lines cross, the cache should be near.

I'm not using the correct terms and it's a bit difficult to explain triangulation, but there is no mathmatical conversions involved in transferring the GPS headings to the lensatic compass. It's a simple and accurate way to triangulate caches under tree cover that works for me.

 

Comments, suggestions welcome.

 

"Prismatic compass. This compass has a glass prism sighting arrangement and a lid with a hairline for lining up the object to be sighted. The compass card rotates in the base and when it comes to rest the required bearing is read off, through the prisms. These are quite sophisticated hand compasses."

 

Maps and Compasses - Compasses and Bearings - Equipment

Address:http://www.education.qld.gov.au/tal/kla/compass/html/coequ.htm

 

----------

Greenjeens

Link to comment

quote:
Originally posted by Bushwhacker:

This could be like the Mag vs Gar!

I prefer bruntons, but I do a lot of compass work without my GPS.

One thing in addition to a declination adjustable compass is that the scales match our maps, very handy in map work.

The Brunton I use has these 3 scales for 1:24K maps. Feet(100ft inc) - UTM's (20 mtr inc) - miles (.1 inc)

Sighting mirrors are for die hard users who want some precision, especially when it comes to resections.

UTM's are good for plotting on maps .

>>--->


 

I don't use a compass often but those flat clear ones are pretty straight foward when used on a map.

This may sound silly, but I had this flat plasic Suunto compass with a mirrored cover cap and after several hours and many attempts, no matter how I tried to read it in field, the bearings were always reading (as close as I could tell) 180 off. I know there must be some simple explanation. Another cheap wire sighting lensatic compass worked perfectly with my GPS without any conversions.

 

An interesting fact about declination from one of the links...

"The magnetic field lines of the earth are constantly changing, moving slowly westward (to 1 degree every five years). This is why it is important to have a recent map. An old map will show a declination that is no longer accurate, and all your calculations using that declination angle will be incorrect."

 

OA Guide to Map & Compass - Part 2

Address:http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/manual/mapcompass2.shtml

----------

Greenjeens

Link to comment

Okay. First go to www.campmor.com and look at what they have. The prices are always the best.

 

1. Get one with an adjustable magnetic declination. Then understand what this means. Many (not all) of the compasses with adjustable declination have a little key that is used to make this adjectment. the key stays on the lanyard.

 

2. Consider one with a sighting mirror, and a sighting window. These come in handy when trying to line up the compass with a tree, rock, mountain top, etc. Many of these also fold over to cover the compass and protect it when it is stuffed into a pack.

 

3. Consider getting a compass with 1 degree divisions on the compass scale. I did, and it works fine. I like to extra accuracy. Most compasses have a 2 degree accuracy.

 

Brand names. Brunton, Silva. I have a Brunton which seems to be more technical, and smarter made.

Link to comment

I also just decided I needed to add a descent compass to my pack. After asking some friends I was told to try and get my hands on one of the army issue lensatics. I got a pretty good deal on one off of Ebay and am waitinh on it to get here.

Now I just have to learn how to use the dadgum thing when it gets here icon_smile.gif

 

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

Hope is the destination that we seek.

Love is the road that leads to hope.

Courage is the motor that drives us.

We travel out of darkness into faith.

 

-=The Book Of Counted Sorrows=-

 

[This message was edited by crashmore on September 01, 2002 at 07:23 PM.]

Link to comment

I also just decided I needed to add a descent compass to my pack. After asking some friends I was told to try and get my hands on one of the army issue lensatics. I got a pretty good deal on one off of Ebay and am waitinh on it to get here.

Now I just have to learn how to use the dadgum thing when it gets here icon_smile.gif

 

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

Hope is the destination that we seek.

Love is the road that leads to hope.

Courage is the motor that drives us.

We travel out of darkness into faith.

 

-=The Book Of Counted Sorrows=-

 

[This message was edited by crashmore on September 01, 2002 at 07:23 PM.]

Link to comment

I really appreciate all the advice (even the happy meal ones!! haha). I am going to a local store here to get my hands on some real models to make sure I get what I need. I may end up getting one cheapo and one nice compass...whichever doesn't workout for me, I will leave in a cache. Could be a good prize if I like the $2 compass better!

 

Also, thanks bushwacker for all those links...that will keep me busy for days!

Link to comment

I ended up at 3 "sporting goods" stores here locally...they sucked. "Compass? You mean like that magnetic thingy? we don't have that"

 

Geesh...ended up at Walmart of all places and purchased a Silva Landmark and a budget Ozark Trail compass with lid.

 

Going for a marathon walk tomorrow...have 5 caches and 11 benchmarks printed for tomorrow. Want to hit a bunch before hunting season starts and I could be killed while geocaching or benchmark hunting.

 

icon_eek.gif

Link to comment

I ended up at 3 "sporting goods" stores here locally...they sucked. "Compass? You mean like that magnetic thingy? we don't have that"

 

Geesh...ended up at Walmart of all places and purchased a Silva Landmark and a budget Ozark Trail compass with lid.

 

Going for a marathon walk tomorrow...have 5 caches and 11 benchmarks printed for tomorrow. Want to hit a bunch before hunting season starts and I could be killed while geocaching or benchmark hunting.

 

icon_eek.gif

Link to comment

If anyone is interested in learning how to properly use a compass, check your library or book store for "Wilderness Navigation" by Bob and Mike Burns. It is a very informative book and will explain many of the issues brought up in this thread. It discusses Bruton vs. Silva compasses as well as base plate (Silva style) vs. lensatic (military style). There’s also a small section on GPS. It’s a good read even if there is little immediately relevant to geocaching.

 

><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><

What is the price of experience, do men buy it for a song,

Or wisdom for a dance in the street.................

Link to comment

I'm with criminal. It's hard to go wrong with a Silva Ranger. I personally don't set the declination (I just leave everything in magnetic and mark the map (if it isn't already marked)).

 

The sighting mirror is good for things other than accurate reads. I've used it to signal a friend, shave, and pull a splinter out of my ear.

 

I also use the inclinometer quite a bit, but that is one feature that many users could probably skip.

 

-jjf

Link to comment

I used my brand new Silva compass today for the first time on a cache...and it saved my butt! Got me going where I needed to go until the GPS reception picked up. I like it!! I can do the basic stuff with the silva...still not really sure about the mirror and the sighting line thing, but things come in time. I may have to checkout the wilderness book recomended 2 or 3 posts up. THink my $2 cheapo trail compass will become a cache prize very soon.

 

Again, thanks to everyone who responded to my call for "help the newbie" advice. (passed 10 caches found today though! woohoo)

 

Juanbob

Link to comment

As a fellow Pennsylvanian, and former Boy Scout, I must give you one word of advice while using a compass in our area. When you are near large iron deposits, such as abandoned mines, any magnetic compass may become useless. I have seen this at several locations in Pennsylvania, as well as in north Jersey and nearby New York.

 

Please learn other methods of finding north, such as the clock and sun method. When I was an eleven year old Tenderfoot Boy Scout in 1953 an assistant scoutmaster demonstrated the importance of knowing the clock and sun method near an abandoned mine in Harriman Park, New York.

Link to comment

point the hour hand towards the sun and halfway between the hour hand and 12 will be south. it helps to lay the watch on a rock or a stump and use a pointer such as a match stick or a twig.

 

you have to consider whether it is am or pm.

 

to understand what is happening lay your watch down near your compass and rotate your watch from 7:00am for sunrise and 7:00 pm for sunset.

 

[This message was edited by dave and jaime on August 31, 2002 at 03:19 PM.]

 

[This message was edited by dave and jaime on August 31, 2002 at 03:24 PM.]

 

[This message was edited by dave and jaime on August 31, 2002 at 03:27 PM.]

Link to comment

For dave and jamie,

Thank you for explaining the use of the watch and sun method. Nicely done.

 

For Jaunbob,

1. As a person who has been hiking regularly, and using a compass, for over 40 years, the times there are problems are very rare. All but seven of those years I lived in either the New York City or Philadelphia area.

2. I am trying to remember if I ever saw a problem outside the three state NY, NJ, PA area. I do not believe I ever did. I am sure that it occurs in other iron rich area, but I have not seen it.

3. Where the compass is not working correctly, I have always found no problem 200 yards away. That is 200 yards in any direction. The problem is knowing when you have a problem, on this the GPS may help.

4. I have heard of other problem with magnetic compasses in Northern Canada. However, I can not give you any first hand experience with these.

Link to comment

Umm... where do I point my digital watch?? ::Looking at her watch for hands:: How about if I just yell really really loud and hope you hear me??

 

=-)

 

Originally posted by dave and jaime:

point the hour hand towards the sun and halfway between the hour hand and 12 will be south. it helps to lay the watch on a rock or a stump and use a pointer such as a match stick or a twig.

 

**Try something 3 times before giving up on it! The 1st time may be bad weather, the 2nd may be dead GPS batteries, the 3rd you may spot that hiding spot!!**

Link to comment

The Brunton baseplate range are identical to the Silva models (except they have the word Brunton on them instead of Silva of course)Here is the quote from the Silva website "Products made by Silva Sweden are sold under the Brunton brand name in USA and Canada. "

 

Anybody tried the new model (www.brunton.com or www.silva.se) "Especially for GPS users"?

The 8096 GPS ECLIPSE

 

Looks nice but doesn't have a traditional "needle"

 

I like the look of Recta too, but I dont know how good they are for map work, as I have never used one.

NG

Link to comment

Well to add yet another name to the mix look at Sunnto brand comapsses. I've used silva and sunnto for years and both work great, Sunnto is usually alittle cheaper. Also for great direction finding equip. try Forestry Suppliers and Ben Meadows Company. Both are great sources for outdoor gear of all kinds from basic to very professional. don't have the web address just yet but will try to post them.

 

"I found the cache, but where's the car?....."

Link to comment

Basher_boy,

 

I have one too, a dp7. I like it very much because it is small (matchbox-like), accurate with the mirror and line of sight, and it is adjustable for deviation and usuable both on northern and southern hemisphere.

 

Probably Recta is popular in Europe and not in US.

 

nojevive

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 0
×
×
  • Create New...