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

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 1943
Loc: NE Illinois
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.

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

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)
Stay warm out there !

#196383 - 02/22/10 09:24 PM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: BorkBorkBork]
sybert777 Offline

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 299
Loc: 62040
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!

International Military Sales PLUS

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

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 337
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...
Florida Cracker, Cracker Pony...oh, look: key lime pie!

#196398 - 02/23/10 12:32 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: UncleGoo]
Art_in_FL Offline

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.

#196402 - 02/23/10 01:24 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Art_in_FL]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5654
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.
Geezer in Chief

#196407 - 02/23/10 02:04 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: hikermor]
Art_in_FL Offline

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.

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

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 1145
Loc: Land O' Lakes & Rivers - MN, U...
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)
The man got the powr but the byrd got the wyng

#196424 - 02/23/10 11:41 AM Re: Best Survival Compass [Re: Byrd_Huntr]
BorkBorkBork Offline

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)
Stay warm out there !

#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).
my adventures

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