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#149649 - 09/20/08 02:00 AM Best Survival Compass
colbyhouse Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/27/06
Posts: 25
I'm looking for a good survival compass - one that I could use both hiking/camping and in my bug-out bag.

Anybody have any suggestions? Please provide any links you may have!

Thanks,

Colby

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#149651 - 09/20/08 02:34 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: colbyhouse]
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
MOST compasses do one very simple thing. They all point to magnetic north.Some do not. Buying one just because you see it listed or displayed in other kits is what keeps compass makers in business. If you're bugging out, do you plan on joining all these other buggees trampling this year's corn crop and doing Ninja rolls past overpasses?
Now for wilderness survival, assuming you need to navigate from point A to point B instead of staying put and signalling, a capable compass for hiking by map will serve your needs.
What you want, before you buy a compass, is a book about compass use.I recommend Be Expert With MAP & COMPASS by Bjorn Kjellstrom.


Edited by Chris Kavanaugh (09/20/08 02:37 AM)

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#149654 - 09/20/08 03:05 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
Yup. Or even an old Boy Scouts Handbook, purchased for a few bucks at a used book store...
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#149655 - 09/20/08 03:05 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
Travis Offline
Stranger

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 1
Loc: Cincinnati
Declination would also be nice, but I guess it depends on how much the declination is off where you live.

Where I live, declination is about 5 degrees, so its not too important. If it was 10 or more, it would be helpful.

One that had a built in scale for topographic maps, or magnifying glass would be nice, but certainly not needed.

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#149667 - 09/20/08 05:08 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Travis]
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
If you have the inclination to adjust for declination first determine if you need to adjust for variation instead.This is why you start with education to avoid frustration.

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#149681 - 09/20/08 11:29 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
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#149682 - 09/20/08 11:30 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
In todays time maybe wondering around the woods is what I need most wink
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#149691 - 09/20/08 02:59 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Todd W]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Get a Suunto M3 Leader compass, a USGS topographic map of the area, set your compass to match the area's magnetic declination, and then go to http://www.compassdude.com/ to learn how to use it.

Don't waist your money on button compasses or those little round compasses - unless all you want to do is go in a straight line in a general direction without using a map.

Like Chris said, without a map, all the compass does is point to north. With a map, the compass can be made to point to a particular destination AND, using triangulation, it can help you figure out where you are.

Or course, if you want to know where you are, then a GPS can do that VERY well. If using a GPS, make sure your topo map has UTM coordinates, make sure your GPS is set to the map's datum, and go to http://www.maptools.com/ to learn how to use UTM coordinates with your map and GPS.

A great source for maps with UTM coordinates is at http://www.mytopo.com

If your GPS is the mapping variety, and you have the appropriate maps, not only can the GPS tell you where you are, but it can also tell you about potential destinations around you, and tell you distances and maybe event routes to those destinations.

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#149693 - 09/20/08 03:49 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
I always like those trailside and mall signs that say 'YOU ARE HERE.' I know I'm 'here.' It's getting 'there' that's the hard part.
Two compass types DO NOT point north. I'll give a turn of my SPARKLITE to whoever names the other two.
A training compass is like many other bits of kit: you get to simple and it falls short. Buy a model with of whistles and bells and you get lost.
A good quality compass in between can suprise lots of folks. My old SILVA Ranger with aluminum bezel plotted many a archaeologic site. I lost track of the people who worriedly double checked my plots with a big fancy Brunton Surveyor's compass @ 8x the cost. that was a lot of post excavation pizza and beer I saved.


Edited by Chris Kavanaugh (09/20/08 03:52 PM)

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#149694 - 09/20/08 04:01 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: colbyhouse]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078


Silva Expedition 4

Although I personally have never needed anything better than a Silva Ranger 3


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#149695 - 09/20/08 04:01 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
PSM Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 77
Loc: Cochise Co., AZ
A drafting compass and, I'm guessing, a Radio Compass (RDF)?

Pat


Edited by PSM (09/20/08 04:02 PM)

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#149696 - 09/20/08 04:58 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3753
Loc: TX
The pointer on Chinese compasses point south.

-Blast
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#149697 - 09/20/08 05:05 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Once again, do keep in mind that since 1969, to get a real Silva of Sweden compass in the U.S. you'll need to look for the Brunton or Nexus labels, since those sold under the "Silva" label are NOT made by Silva of Sweden.

If I were very close to the north pole - with Santa - I would think that a regular compass wouldn't point north. Yeah, I know, I'm stretching it.

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#149698 - 09/20/08 05:10 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: colbyhouse]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5341
Loc: SOCAL
GPS receivers are great, but good navigation skills start with understanding the basics -- map and compass. A number of different compasses can serve you well. The Compass Store is a good place to find many options. My favorite user is the Suunto M-2G. IMO it's their "Best Pick" for good reason.

Once you have whichever compass you select, learn to use it in conjunction with a map (topo, street, whatever) to stay found. Refinding yourself after getting lost is not always as easy as you may think, even with knowledge of map and compass.
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Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

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#149699 - 09/20/08 05:26 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Travis]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2844
Loc: La-USA
I don't mean to possibly "sound" rude but some clarification is obviously needed:

"Variation": The difference between True North and Magnetic North.

Usually expressed in degrees & minutes, and labeled East or West; to be added or subtracted from the True North direction, as mapped/charted. Usually found within the Compass Rose and along the mapped Variation lines. There are annual additions or subtractions that must be made between the chart edition year and the year that you are using the map/chart. Use the following guides for converting to/from True North to Magnetic North:

Timid Virgins Make Dull Companions At Weddings
(true) (variation)(magnetic) (deviation) (compass) (add west)
000T + 2w = 002 - 2e = 000M

Can Dead Men Vote Twice And Eat
(compass)(deviation) (magnetic) (variation) (true)(add East)
000M + 2e = 002M - 2w = 002T

Deviation: Is the measured magnetic (usually steel construction) influence of an object (such as a ship) upon the magnetic flow around it. Ships are required to "swing compass" after shipyard work, gunfire, welding/cutting ops, and annually. Taking Deviation into effect on a vessel is necessary, but not for a hiker/backpacker trying to navigate. In the rhymes above, the hiker/backpacker would skip the deviation/magnetic parts to make the following:

Timid Virgins Make At Weddings

Can Vote Twice And Eat


Declination is a factor used in Celestial Navigation of all types. It is not a factor in terrestrial navigation using only a magnetic compass and map/chart.

Lagniappe Item: The difference between a chart and a map:
Maps are made to look at!
Charts are made to be worked upon!
_________________________
QMC, USCG (Ret)
The best luck is what you make yourself!

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#149700 - 09/20/08 05:28 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: wildman800]
DannyL Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 103
Loc: SE Alaska
In spite of all the expensive stuff I have around, I keep using a Brunton 9020G. 12 bucks...go figure....

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#149703 - 09/20/08 06:34 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: DannyL]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I too often use a Brunton 9020G - it fits very nicely in my pants pocket.

The only concern I have with it is related to its symmetric shape. I've seen Scouts use it backwards. They use the end opposite of the direction of travel arrow by mistake.

Actually, if they used the same end all the time it wouldn't matter, but I've seen them switch between ends, which sends them in the wrong direction.

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#149704 - 09/20/08 06:40 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
DannyL Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 103
Loc: SE Alaska
well, if they're not gonna put a lanyard on it, train them that just like their bodies, the hole in the end points south.

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#149706 - 09/20/08 06:47 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I'm no expert in the navigation terminology, but ...

NOAA's Geomagnetism web site Magnetic Calculator Help page ... http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomagmodels/MagneticCalculatorFAQ.jsp?pagetype=0#help8

...defines Declination as "the angle of difference between true North and magnetic North. For instance, if the declination at a certain point were 10° W, then a compass at that location pointing north (magnetic) would actually align 10° W of true North. True North would be 10° E relative to the magnetic North direction given by the compass."

I prefer a compass that has true adjustable declination.

...defines Inclination as "the angle between the magnetic field vector and the horizontal plane (the plane is tangent to the surface of the Earth at that point). The inclination is positive when the magnetic field points downward into the earth and negative when it points upward."

Compasses are sold based upon the global region that they will be used in. Here is a site with a map of those regions:
http://www.wide-screen.com/support/FAQsuunto.shtml#Anchor-60059

Suunto's global needle is specially designed to self-adjust for differences in inclination, so it can be used in any (?) of those regions.

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#149707 - 09/20/08 06:53 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: DannyL]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: DannyL
well, if they're not gonna put a lanyard on it, train them that just like their bodies, the hole in the end points south.


I was taught to put a lanyard on my compasses - and alway do, but many (most) Scouts don't bother regardless of what they're taught - I think partially because their t-shirts don't have breast pockets for stowing the compass - so they use their pants pockets - and don't like the lanyard wrapped up on the pocket.

Of course, if you check with the average Scout today, they don't even carry a knife. Sigh.

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#149708 - 09/20/08 06:54 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2844
Loc: La-USA
Declination is the upward (vertical) field affects.

Inclination is the downward (vertical) field affects.

That's why they aren't noted on charts & maps,,only variation (the horizontal component) is given plus the annual increase or decrease.

Deviation is the affect that a magnetized object has on the magnetic flow lines in it's immediate vicinity.
_________________________
QMC, USCG (Ret)
The best luck is what you make yourself!

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#149709 - 09/20/08 06:55 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: wildman800]
DannyL Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 103
Loc: SE Alaska
Ken, I don't post here much, but I just wanted to tell you any Scout Leader is a hero in my book.

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#149724 - 09/20/08 09:03 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
Some period antarctic compasses were built pointing south. The chinese built southern oriented units. Engineering compasses will be oriented south. And last of all, compasses to determine the direction of Mecca for moslem prayers

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#149728 - 09/20/08 09:19 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
SwampDonkey Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
I have to agree with Chris.

I have used a Silva Ranger Type 15 for 25 years at work and play, over hundreds of miles of Ontario bush and have found it to be an accurate, easy to use instrument. I have broken a few of them, but that was always due to neglect, not the fault of the design.

The Silva site now calls it the 515 CL model seen here

Mike

P.S. I just tried my first "overwrite" of a website link, hope this works?


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#149731 - 09/20/08 10:13 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: colbyhouse]
falcon5000 Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 662
Good old rugged, used them in the military and bought one when I got out. Very accurate, beyond durable (tough as nails), use day or night without a light, can use any where in the world without worry of binding up with needle drop. Best investment you can make and will last you for as long as we keep our earths polarity.


http://www.uscav.com/Productinfo.aspx?productID=7587&TabID=548


Military Lensatic Tritium Compass

NSN: 6605-01-196-6971

_________________________
Failure is not an option!
USMC Jungle Environmental Survival Training PI 1985

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#149732 - 09/20/08 10:59 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Blast]
PSM Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 77
Loc: Cochise Co., AZ
Commie propaganda!

Pat

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#149734 - 09/20/08 11:20 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Originally Posted By: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor


Silva Expedition 4

Although I personally have never needed anything better than a Silva Ranger 3



Simple, effective, light, compact and easy to use. Both of those are good choices.

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#149744 - 09/21/08 12:34 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
PSM Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 77
Loc: Cochise Co., AZ
CHEAT! The NMP still determines where they point. Just because they paint a needle to point elsewhere is irrelevant!

I'm throwing a Red Flag! grin

Pat

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#149783 - 09/21/08 09:00 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: colbyhouse]
HerbG Offline
Member

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 142
+1 for the old reliable military lensatic compass. Just be sure you get the real thing and not one of the cheap copies!

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#149784 - 09/21/08 09:22 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: HerbG]
comms Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
real GI issue compass with tritium is the ultimate standard. The only drawback is no declination, but you can write that on the map as a reminder. Second place is Silva Ranger. Buy one of those and your set for life.
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Don't just survive. Thrive.

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#149791 - 09/21/08 10:40 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: comms]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Originally Posted By: comms
real GI issue compass with tritium is the ultimate standard. The only drawback is no declination, but you can write that on the map as a reminder. Second place is Silva Ranger. Buy one of those and your set for life.


I have a USGI lensatic. I don't use it much. The sights and mil scale comes in handy calling in fire but I really don't do much of that any more. In practical terms it really doesn't work any better or more accurately than the Silva.

Also the USGI lensatic compass is at least three times the weight of the Silva and it is a very bulky unit that doesn't fit neatly into a pocket. And now that the tritium has hit its half-life, at least once, the glow isn't much better than the twenty year old Silva. Unlike the Silva, which can be exposed to light and recharged, the tritium in the USGI lensatic can't. What you have is what you get.

Now if I was going to be parachuted into Congo alone I wouldn't carry a Silva, I would carry two. Just in case I lose one. And both together wouldn't weigh as much or take up as much room as as one USGI lensatic.

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#149881 - 09/22/08 08:29 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: colbyhouse]
raptor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 288
Loc: Europe
What about Swiss army compass by Recta? I don´t have one but it caught my eye. This will probably be the compass I will get for the tasks where my EDC Suunto Clipper won´t suffice. I like how you can directly aim it like a gun and still read the bearing in the mirror below.
It´s also protected by the box.

I have found review with nice pictures - sorry, only in Czech language but you can see how it operates from the pictures: http://www.svetoutdooru.cz/clanek/?107289-busoly-dp-recta

Suunto manufactures compass of the identical design . Recta is a member of Suunto Group by the way.

Another link: http://www.modernoutpost.com/gear/details/ra_dp2_standard.php

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#149887 - 09/22/08 09:28 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: raptor]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
The advantage of the mirror on top like on a Brunton 15TDCL and copycats is that it can also be used as a signal mirror or for veiwing one's own face (to check on injuries). In survival gear multi-purpose is a good thing.

Its my understanding that the mirrors on the bottom aren't available for such uses without damaging the compass, though I haven't seen one in person in a long while - can't remember if the mirror swings out or not.

I've given the lensatic compasses an honest try, spending the big bucks for the Cammenga, but I just couldn't see why it is preferred over the 15TDCL. They are heavy, bulky, don't have any declination adjustment, and don't have a see-thru capsule (which is another problem with the mirror-on-the-bottom compasses).

I'm sure the military has its good reasons - the idea of a fluidless capsule is interesting, but my own preference is still the Brunton 15TDCL.

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#149900 - 09/22/08 11:55 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
Schwert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 905
Loc: Seattle, Washington
The mirror on the bottom matchbox type compass does not allow one to use the mirror for other uses. It will only fall out at the angle necessary to view the compass needle.

The mirror on the bottom compass (Recta matchbox) does indeed have a clear bottom and can be used just like a standard Ranger compass on the map...the mirror slides out when needed for sighting, but slides back into the matchbox when using it on the map.

The matchbox is a great compact compass, with its only real drawback that the mirror cannot be used for any other purpose.

There is no way I would consider a lensatic compass for most any need. Neat they are but impractical, heavy and not anywhere near as easy to use with a map as a good Ranger or standard baseplate compass is.


Edited by Schwert (09/22/08 11:56 PM)

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#149906 - 09/23/08 12:51 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
SwampDonkey Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Good Thoughts KenK,

Many, many times I have used the mirror on my Silva Ranger Type 15 when removing blackflies (and other forest crap) from my eyes (common occurance in May/June).

One evening last January I used it to look under my snowmobile engine to see if it was on fire! As it turned out I had blown a piston and the muffler was glowing red hot and just reflecting off the lake ice.

Mike

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#149909 - 09/23/08 01:24 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Art_in_FL]
falcon5000 Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 662
I was wondering if Silva has made all of there models adjusted for magnetic dip through the 5 zones of is it just the Silva Voyager series. (see below article)

It's all in what you prefer I guess, I used the Cammenga in the military and it's been in Alaska to the Philippines and has been rock steady, but it is heavy and you could probably throw it at some body and put an eye out. I guess there are some things that we get use to and it's hard to part with but it's been a good little compass for me and I haven't got any needle sticking while traveling. I'll stay with ole faithful for me but it sounds like Silva may be it for you guys, just get one that will work in all 5 zones like the voyager series for example or a Suunto M-2G.


Geographic Magnetic Zones & Dip
The horizontal and vertical components of the earth's magnetic field vary considerably at different
locations on the Earth. This causes the compass needle to point down vertically into the Earth at
the magnetic poles – while the needle stays horizontal near the equator. This vertical magnetic
component is called Inclination or Dip.
To get an accurate reading from a compass, the needle or dial card needs to be ‘balanced’, so it does not drag on the top or bottom of the capsule. Because of the variations of the Earth's
magnetic field, a compass needle that ‘balances’ perfectly in North America will drag or stick in
South America. To accommodate for these magnetic variances, the compass industry has divided
the Earth into 5 Zones:
Compass Magnetic Zones
Zone 1: MN – (Magnetic North)
Zone 2: NME – (North Magnetic Equatorial)
Zone 3: ME – (Magnetic Equatorial)
Zone 4: SME – (South Magnetic Equatorial)
Zone 5: MS – (Magnetic South )

Most compasses are compensated for magnetic Inclination or Dip across these Zones by a
counterweight on one end of the needle. This keeps the needle level and prevents it from dragging
on the top or bottom of the capsule. Some compass manufacturers, Silva and Suunto for example,
offer normal models that are set for specific Zones – and ‘Global Dip-corrected’ compasses that
will operate just about anywhere.

Being a military specified piece of equipment, Cammenga Lensatic compasses are designed to
function anywhere in the world. Most of the compasses they manufacture are balanced for Zone 1
– but even these have been tested and used successfully even in Zone 5 by holding the compass
at a slight angle. However, Cammenga do supply models balanced specifically for the Southern
Hemisphere.


Added note: I added the bold letters so you could just read the highlights of the boringly long paragraph, I didn't want to think I was yelling or anything, I just wanted to make the point if your going to invest in a compass and plan on traveling out of country that it may be beneficial to get one that will work through the 5 zones.
_________________________
Failure is not an option!
USMC Jungle Environmental Survival Training PI 1985

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#149957 - 09/23/08 08:47 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: falcon5000]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
DON'T THROW YOUR COMPASS AS OTHER PEOPLE'S EYES!!

It is considered impolite in many cultures. :-)


I don't think Silva SE/Brunton have many truly global compasses - yet. If I understand correctly they have a global version of the 9020G - though its not listed on Brunton's site - only on Silva's site - and their Eclipse 8096 has a global needle. I've read someone say all the Eclipse models have global needles, but I have no confirmation of that.

The 15TDCL is NOT a global design. You'd need to buy the one made for each particular region.

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#149967 - 09/23/08 09:59 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5341
Loc: SOCAL
Which is just another reason to take another look at the Suunto MC-2G.
_________________________
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

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#149976 - 09/23/08 11:26 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Russ]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Even the Suunto MC-2G can hurt pretty bad if you're hit just right.

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#149980 - 09/23/08 11:51 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: KenK]
comms Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
of course the best compass is the one you have when you need it. weight, mirror, global use, this or that the ability to use the compass whether it costs $14.99 or $79.99 is the most important thing.
_________________________
Don't just survive. Thrive.

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#150018 - 09/24/08 02:48 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: comms]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2179
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: comms
of course the best compass is the one you have when you need it. weight, mirror, global use, this or that the ability to use the compass whether it costs $14.99 or $79.99 is the most important thing.


Sure, a compass doesn't do any good if you left it at home - ask half the Scouts in my son's troop.

But still, there is a matter of whether the compass' features make it effective for its intended use. I do think the $20 baseplate compass can be just as effective as the $60 baseplate compass - though with less accuracy (often not a big deal) and without some of the nice features (UTM grid, magnifier, mirror).

The modern rectangular plastic compasses are awesome when working with topo maps outdoors.

The military lensatic compasses clearly do well for those in the military, though they're not my cup of tea.

I think the map of the area is of more value than the compass. That said, maybe those little button compasses would be all you really need. Then again, you can usually figure out directions based upon landmarks, sun & moon movements, and based uopn the stars.

If you're out to buy a compass, reading this thread would be a good thing. No, someone doesn't need to spend $60 for a compass. If folks are concerned about survival, then my advice is to put more effort in making sure you have a good map of the area and pay attention to where you are on that map at all times, than worry so much about the compass. Lots of outdoor folks will tell you that they live by their maps, and then the compass only comes out once-in-a-while to confirm a direction.

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#196379 - 02/22/10 08:33 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: comms]
BorkBorkBork Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 70
Loc: Sweden
I like this one, because it is orange and thus highly visible:
Silva Guide 426 Compass, orange, PRICE $17.95

Lifeview Outdoors


Edited by BorkBorkBork (02/22/10 08:34 PM)
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#196383 - 02/22/10 09:24 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: BorkBorkBork]
sybert777 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 300
Loc: 62208
Time to get rid of it!!! I have a Silva type 15 CL, and it is a great compass in good condition if you need a great compass at an overstock price!!! if you are interested, please PM! It is made in sweden, says it in small print on the cover. Sorry, no pics, I can Email pics!

777

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#196386 - 02/22/10 09:37 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: sybert777]
UncleGoo Online   content
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 386
Loc: CT
It's interesting to see that the Silva 15 on that webpage is still retailing for $50. I think that's what I paid for my first one...in 1975 or 1976...
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#196398 - 02/23/10 12:32 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: UncleGoo]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
From observation of where people are, where they hike and where emergencies tend to happen I suspect that most people could get along with a very simple compass.

If your into orienteering or geocaching you need the precision to find a small target in a large, often unmarked, area. If your life depends on finding a wet two foot hole in the middle of a desert you have to hit your mark within a couple of meters or die. But most people don't need anywhere near as much precision as that. If you can get within a stones throw of your target your golden.

Most people can get along without even considering declination. As long as they know which way is north, +/- 30 degrees, and stay inside obvious boundaries, like a road or river, you can find your camp and get home. Which is why a lot of sportsmen carry very basic compasses. Even a basic $8 button compass, as long as it is reliable, will give them all the information they need to orient themselves and avoid walking in circles.

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#196402 - 02/23/10 01:24 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Art_in_FL]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
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Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7645
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: Art_in_FL
From observation of where people are, where they hike and where emergencies tend to happen I suspect that most people could get along with a very simple compass.



or even no compass at all, provided one has an adequate topo map. Hiking in the mountainous western US, mostly in Arizona, I used my compass exactly twice for real in thirty years of active hiking, climbing and SAR work. Both times were in foggy, restricted visibility situations.

Coming to coastal California and getting on the water, I have used the compass a lot more. I remember vividly one day paddle when I mounted my compass on my sea kayak mainly to show what a cool dude I was. We launched, got just out of the breakers, and the fog moved in. I must have referred to that compass at least 100 times over the next ninety minutes as we crept toward our destination.

Even in mountain country, I religiously carry a decent compass (Silva Ranger). It isn't very heavy, and when you need it, you really need it.
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#196407 - 02/23/10 02:04 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: hikermor]
Art_in_FL Offline
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Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
I would say most people, most times, in most places, could get along well enough without a compass but I have seen fog, rain, snow, even dense vegetation become an issue. Before you know it you have no idea which way is which. That's when even a button or tiny ball compass earns its keep. The simple base plate models of Silva compasses are compact, light and cheap and are a great investment. Even if it might not be needed for years.

Your not going to be laying artillery tubes or accurately plotting your position to within a couple of meters by plotting azimuths off landmarks like you can with a high quality lensatic but for most survival uses a Silva base plate model will work. I still have the original Silva I learned the basics of orienteering on and it is still kicking.

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#196421 - 02/23/10 10:45 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
Byrd_Huntr Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 1174
Loc: MN, Land O' Lakes & Rivers ...
Originally Posted By: Chris Kavanaugh
I always like those trailside and mall signs that say 'YOU ARE HERE.' I know I'm 'here.' It's getting 'there' that's the hard part.
Two compass types DO NOT point north. I'll give a turn of my SPARKLITE to whoever names the other two.
A training compass is like many other bits of kit: you get to simple and it falls short. Buy a model with of whistles and bells and you get lost.
A good quality compass in between can suprise lots of folks. My old SILVA Ranger with aluminum bezel plotted many a archaeologic site. I lost track of the people who worriedly double checked my plots with a big fancy Brunton Surveyor's compass @ 8x the cost. that was a lot of post excavation pizza and beer I saved.



A muslim compass points East. A car compass points South (opposite)
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#196424 - 02/23/10 11:41 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Byrd_Huntr]
BorkBorkBork Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 70
Loc: Sweden
Sorry to disillusion any of you but the muslim or qibla compass does not point to the east at all. The Qibla Compass points like any other compass to magnetic North-South nothing else. It comes however with preset indications/directions (depending on region), which points to Mecca and specifically to Ka'abah.

One of the earlier chinese compasses, the ladle or spoon compass aligned itself so the handle pointed south, yes, but then of course the other end will point to the north.

Compasses align themselves with the earth's magnetic field.
With the exception of gyro compasses which aren't magnetic at all and always point to true north.


Edited by BorkBorkBork (02/23/10 12:04 PM)
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#196434 - 02/23/10 01:25 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: BorkBorkBork]
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA
Anyone here do any night land navigation? That was the most challenging thing when I was in the military, and, as an infantryman, we ALWAYS moved at night. We had handrails, if the route provided them-we didnt follow them (they are avoided, as they are considered likely routes of travel), but we are aware of them if we veer off course. Night land nav usually involved simple distance & direction-you had to be spot on with your pace count, and your compass skills better be good too.
I took my EIB (Expert Infantrymans Badge) course in Ft. Lewis, WA-the night land nav part of the course was arguably the hardest land nav course I had ever done. We werent allowed to use roads-we had to bushwhack the whole way. We had a 4 hour time limit, to find 4 points. The undergrowth there was a killer-frustration almost caused me a nogo that night. I learned a lot doing that course at night-ALWAYS trust your compass (easy to second guess with no visual cues), tie things down you dont want to lose, and you will NEVER be spot on, so figure in your own deflection (deliberatley steer to one side of the target, so you KNOW which way to search).
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#196440 - 02/23/10 03:25 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: oldsoldier]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7645
Loc: southern Cal
I have done a fair amount of night navigation doing SAR operations (they almost always occur at night), but without the constraints you faced. We could use trails and the whole point of our presence was to be obvious.

Again, in mountainous terrain, compass use was rarely required, but a good topo map was essential.
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#196476 - 02/24/10 07:43 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: hikermor]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: hikermor

Again, in mountainous terrain, compass use was rarely required, but a good topo map was essential.


Agreed. I'd like to rephrase that into that in such terrain the compass primarily is a backup for when you find yourself in a state of geographical confusion, either because you've made a map reading mistake or there's limited visibility.

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