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#242697 - 03/08/12 04:46 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: ]
JerryFountain Offline

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida
Like Hikin_Jim is with stoves, I am with compasses. I have one or two (or three or four ;-) from most of the major makers and lots of others. Lots of styles as well, needles, cards, baseplates, mirrors or not, lensatic, etc.

Brunton Pocket Transit - most used, but not ideal (too heavy) for the use I assume you are talking about. My most used compass other than that is an old Silva Huntsman. Small, easy to use (as either a baseplate or just a direction finder) and accurate, it works well for most uses. I always carry a more precise compass as a backup, they are too light to worry about not having extras. Most of the button compasses in my various equipment are removed (including the one in my RSK). I usually teach general navigation with the Brunton 9020G. Good and inexpensive (you will probably carry it a lot more than you use it) and has setable declination.

As others have said, it is truly terrain dependant how much you will need it, but when you do you want a good one. Precision is often important when you need to use a compass. On the great plains, on the arctic tundra, you can see a long way most of the time and your accuracy is less important. If you are in fog, a few degrees can make the difference between finding home or walking a lot then surviving :-) until the weather clears.

Good compasses are available from lots of makers, but in the US, don't buy a Silva marked compass. They are now made in China and broken ones are common. If you want a Silva, buy a Brunton or go overseas to buy it (I have bought several from vendors in the UK - gee the internet is great). Suunto is great (I love their wrist compass and the Arrow 6 is super for it's purpose).



Edited by JerryFountain (03/08/12 04:47 PM)

#242700 - 03/08/12 05:23 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: JerryFountain]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5001
If I need accuracy, either the Suunto MC-2G or M-3G. The mirror compass has a slight edge in pointing accuracy, the baseplate is lighter and simpler.

That said, the compass I've used more often is a little globe compass that pins onto my shirt -- for when you don't need precision to 1 or 2 degrees and N-E-W-S is good enough.

#242701 - 03/08/12 05:28 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: ]
Alan_Romania Offline


Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 610
Loc: Arizona
I have a small collection of compasses, but the two models I use most often are both Suunto, the M-3 series and M-5SK.

While I have several versions of the M-3, my favorite compass is the M-5SK. The M-5SK is somewhat hard to find, but is basically a M-3 with a longer base-plate.

I prefer simple, base-plate compasses. They have every tool I need in a compass in a lightweight package that easily disappears in a shirt pocket.
"Trust in God --and press-check. You cannot ignore danger and call it faith." -Duke

#242703 - 03/08/12 05:58 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: ]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3600
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I've got a Suunto, Silva and Brunton, but I have to admit, I rarely use them (because I seldom need to. EDIT: Not because I'm depending on more technical technology. I don't need to because we haven't done any serious off-roading lately where navigation has been a issue.) and am getting quite out of practice. Refreshing and practicing my Land Nav skills needs to move up my priority list, especially before the next time I go out with the Cubs and Scouts when they're doing it. wink

Edited by bacpacjac (03/08/12 07:32 PM)
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#242706 - 03/08/12 06:24 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: Taurus]

Very true. Thanks taurus.

#242707 - 03/08/12 06:25 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: Glock-A-Roo]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
Originally Posted By: Glock-A-Roo

Many people who say precision landnav skills are not necessary actually don't have those skills or the experience to know if the skills would be of use.

Very few of us are going to be doing any land navigating in fog, total darkness, or on featureless terrain.

These days, GPS is far more reliable than the skill set, an expensive compass, and a map in the overwhelming majority of cases.

No doubt someone could come up with a contrived situation where that is not true, but the chance of the contrived situation coming true is very limited.
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile


#242708 - 03/08/12 06:27 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: Tyber]

Hey Tyber, Used the Triple Sensor for several years until it got so banged up that it was off a bit. Put a compass and thermometer on the band as back up and got another year out of it. Thanks for responding.

#242709 - 03/08/12 06:27 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: ]
travlite Offline

Registered: 03/07/12
Posts: 2
Loc: S. New England
I use one of two Silva Explorers if I'm actually working with a map. One of them is 30y/o and the other was my father's and must be close to 50y/o. Neither has let me down in any way.

They're not built to take much abuse, but I keep them in a small water-tight orienteering kit, so they're well protected. I've tried to imagine a situation where they would not be sufficiently accurate, but can't. I try to backsite or reference an auxiliary fixed point for course correction whenever possible... never had do a long direction-only traverse with one.


#242710 - 03/08/12 06:29 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: hikermor]

Yep. Orienteering. I should have specified that. Thanks hiker.

#242711 - 03/08/12 06:34 PM Re: COMPASSES [Re: JerryFountain]

Very informative. Thanks. Jerry.

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