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#277848 - 12/03/15 09:54 PM A new compass thread
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
I did a search on ETS and found most of the compass threads were somewhat older and possibly out of date. I recalled a recommendation for a Suunto MC-2 and when I searched for it on REI it is no longer available. Doing a google search I did find the compass, but at what seems to be an elevated price point now ($36 US being the lowest price point I saw, which I guess isn't too bad, up to over $80 US).

I looked through several of the threads on compasses (again mostly older threads) and found a recommendation for a Suunto MC-3. I searched and found a deal on one here .

So I was just wondering, is this still considered a good compass? Are there better options available now? DS and I need a good compass for our Scouting adventures and at that price point would make a great stocking stuffer for us. As always, thanks in advance for your help.
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#277849 - 12/03/15 10:51 PM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Mark_F]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2796
Loc: USA
That one looks nice. I have a Brunton TruArc3 that works well for me, and is $8.49 on Amazon (no affiliation with either Brunton or Amazon).

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#277850 - 12/03/15 11:44 PM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Mark_F]
hikermor Online   content
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Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5998
Loc: southern Cal
Compass technology hasn't changed very much lately. if you look,you can probably find a perfectly fine compass used.

The one you reference will certainly work well; the declination offset feature is highly desirable. I like a compass with a mirror, like the MCB Mariner -useful as a signal mirror, shaving, removing thorns, etc.

A lot depends on just how you will use the instrument. All of these will point N, unless abused and will get you home. They will last forever, as well. My MC-2D is at least twenty years old and still aligns dependably.
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#277851 - 12/04/15 12:26 AM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Mark_F]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
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Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077

The Suunto MC-2 is available on Amazon.com for around $40
The Suunto MC-2G (with a global needle) is available on Amazon for around $55

These are excellent compasses even compared to the British Military issue Silva Compass 4 baseplate compass.

If I was to replace my Suunto MC-2 is will be with a Suuto MC-2G.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Suunto-SS0042520...ds=Suunto+MC-2G

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#277853 - 12/04/15 07:38 AM Re: A new compass thread [Re: hikermor]
Tom_L Offline
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Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Originally Posted By: hikermor
Compass technology hasn't changed very much lately.


That's true, but unfortunately the quality of Suunto products has changed for the worse in the meantime. I bought an MC-2G many moons ago and it served me well for about a decade. I had to retire it a little while ago due to the capsule developing a huge bubble, making the compass generally useless at higher altitudes.

I was very much dismayed about the capsule leak, which happened for no good reason. When looking for a replacement compass I noticed that the newer line of Suunto products is built of inferior materials and with much less attention to detail. Instead of getting a new MC-2G I decided to buy an entirely different type of compass altogether and I haven't had any regrets about my decision since.

Anyway, the MC-2G is a superb design, possibly the most practical out there. Unfortunately, it's let down by the less than stellar build quality, which has gotten worse in recent years. The MC-2G is still a decent compass for the money, but I could not recommend it wholeheartedly any longer.

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#277854 - 12/04/15 07:50 AM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
Tom_L Offline
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Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Originally Posted By: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor

These are excellent compasses even compared to the British Military issue Silva Compass 4 baseplate compass.


True, but that isn't really saying much. Most of the compasses marketed by Silva are now made abroad, the quality is even worse than Suunto. The Silva 4 is a good design by all means but cheaply made, which is probably what makes it attractive to the military in the first place.

Probably the best Silva compass at this point is the 54B model, incidentally also used by the military. It is pretty expensive for what you get though, and it's a prismatic rather than mirror compass.

Any older (pre-2000) compass made by Silva, Sunnto or Brunto is a much higher quality product than the current crop. Therefore, buying second-hand would make a lot of sense if you can find a quality compass in good condition.

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#277856 - 12/04/15 06:22 PM Re: A new compass thread [Re: chaosmagnet]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
Thanks for the recommendation chaos, looking into that one on amazon.

hikermor, I didn't really think compass technology had changed all that much (which would certainly explain the lack of newer threads for them) but as I noticed the Suunto MC-2 getting harder to find, and as others have mentioned the changes that can happen over a year or two in the build quality, I thought I might ask to see if there are any other options available. As far as the use goes, I anticipate whatever map and compass or orienteering exercises DS might encounter in his scouting adventures (I do know they will need a reliable compass, as well as their ranger beads, to take a pretty precise bearing and go a certain distance to find hidden treasure for a Scout vs Wild camp out they have coming up in January).

AFLM, I see the MC-2 recommended a LOT, thanks for the source

Tom, I am disappointed to learn that the quality of the Suunto has decreased.

I was wondering about the purpose of the mirror on a compass? Other than it's obvious utilitarian use what is the purpose? In my mind I'm seeing it maybe being used to make sure you maintain your compass bearing as you get a line of sight (I'm sorry I'm not well versed in compass speak, I hope I said all that correctly). I almost ALWAYS have a dedicated signal mirror that goes with me so I'm not that worried about the utilitarian and signal mirror usage. If it has other important usage related to the compass I'd be interested to know.

thanks again everyone
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#277857 - 12/04/15 08:09 PM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Mark_F]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5998
Loc: southern Cal
For me,the mirror and its sight aperture allows a more accurate sighting on a terrain feature, cutting down on parallax error and variations due to shakiness in a hand held instrument... I am totally with you on carrying a dedicated signal mirror. in fact, I think the signal mirror is more critcal than the compass on most excursions.

For the trivial increase in weight, one then has two signal mirrors. If you want to attract attention, two mirrors flashing away should be really, really effective. I have never heard of this actually happening in real life. Perhaps others have? Aside from that, the capsule containing the mirror folds over and protects the mechanism (and just looks cool, to boot).

Another less common, but highly effective use of the compass. The first birthday present I gave my wife was a high end Suunto sighting compass, engraved on the side with "To Susan with love." It worked, as we just celebrated our 25th.....
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#277859 - 12/04/15 09:29 PM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Mark_F]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Originally Posted By: Mark_F
I was wondering about the purpose of the mirror on a compass? Other than it's obvious utilitarian use what is the purpose?


Ok, the mirror is primarily used as a sighting device. Here's a good, short instructional video by Silva that covers the basics of map and compass navigation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O8DmkAC2wI

Note that different kinds of compasses exist on the market. In general, a simple, inexpensive baseplate compass is the easiest to use with a map and the best option for learning the basics IMHO. Honestly speaking that's what I would recommend as a first choice if you're not quite sure what the mirror is used for. smile Maybe a Suunto A10 or equivalent, no need for anything particularly extravagant.

Mirror, prismatic and lensatic compasses have additional features and sighting aids for extra precision. However, they tend to be less user friendly as far as the basic functions and require more skill and experience to make good use of all the advanced features.

Also, many high-end compasses tend to be designed with a specific task in mind. E.g. a top-of-the-line prismatic compass is great for surveying or directing artillery fire but much less practical for general land navigation than a $10 baseplate compass.

A quality mirror compass is a wonderful tool, but only if you know how to use it effectively. For most tasks and users it's basically overkill. I love mirror compasses and I'm also very fond of my Cammenga lensatic for serious land navigation, but it's a different cup of tea. A baseplate is much easier to use for a novice and the learning curve is not quite as steep.

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#277861 - 12/04/15 10:23 PM Re: A new compass thread [Re: Tom_L]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5998
Loc: southern Cal
If the need is for basic land navigation, how necessary is any compass? My take is that a compass is rarely necessary, absent foggy/cloudy conditions or navigating at sea.

The vast majority of my experience has been in the topographic feature bountiful western US. Here you orient yourself and/or the map by aligning the terrain features and proceed up or down the ridge or canyon, heading for the peak, pass, or valley. I have gone weeks without referencing the compass. If you are operating in flat, featureless terrain or thick forest, it may be a different story. At sea, a compass is frequently used, at least pre-GPS.
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