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General Gear Discussion The General Gear Discussion forum is for the discussion of traditional and lightweight (ultralight) backpacking gear that is not covered in other Practical Backpacking™ forums. [Please post about Backpacks, Shelters, Sleeping Gear, Backcountry Kitchen (Food, Stoves) in those respective forum areas.]


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  #1  
Old 05-12-2006, 12:55 PM
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Scoutitout Scoutitout is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: San Diego
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I need a compass

I've got a cheapy compass that I got at Wal-Mart to keep me out of trouble, but I'd really like to learn how to use one in conjunction with topo maps. I'm looking for tips on what's necessary, useful, a waste of money, and brands to look for/not.
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Old 05-12-2006, 02:08 PM
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Dylan Dylan is offline
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: United Kingdom
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Compass features

A few starters to look for:

Base Plate: Long enough to reach between points on the sort of leg-to-leg navigation that you intend; increases accuracy instead of guesswork on the longer legs.

Luminous Points: if you intend to work early/late, luminous markings make a whole lot of difference.

Scale: Make sure that the outer edge of your compass base plate has the most common map scales readily accessible; if you use 1:50 000 maps and the 1:25 000 scale is against the outer side of your compass, you are destining yourself to unnecessary mental math when you may be tired or distracted.

Romer: If you need to plot grid references, a romer in the right scale can be helpful.

Magnifying lens: how is your eyesight? There is more detail on the map than most people realise; can you scrutinise it properly?

Cord Loop: If it isn't tied to you, you might as well throw it away right now...

Brand: Brands are less important than accurate features. You might like to do an accuracy check with a friend who has a compass which is known to be accurate. Is there any variation? ' If in doubt, throw it out'.

Bubbles: A bubble in the liquid is the signature on a death certificate of a compass; say goodbye and start again.

Any other suggestions ?
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  #3  
Old 05-12-2006, 02:24 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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A baseplate compass is a good one to start with - and will see you through most of the typical navigational needs that backpackers face. There are other, more advanced models, but a common baseplate compass should suffice.

A basic one to consider is the Brunton Nexus Expedition Compass (3DLU).

If you're near an REI, you can take a free compass clinic there. Also, there are books that can be of great help.

Brunton, Silva, and Suunto are all good brands.

Reality
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Old 05-12-2006, 04:43 PM
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hikerjohnd hikerjohnd is offline
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If you are into serious orienteering, a compass that offers adjustable declination is important. Take a look at the Silva Ranger - I take mine with me just about everywhere.

Silva Ranger 530 Ultra Compass

Happy Hiking!
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  #5  
Old 05-12-2006, 05:06 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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hikerjohnd,

That's a good compass. I have one similar, but it's a Brunton (more features).

The weight of the Silva Ranger 530 Ultra is not bad either at 2.4 ounces.

Reality
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  #6  
Old 05-12-2006, 05:37 PM
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Becklund Becklund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hikerjohnd
If you are into serious orienteering, a compass that offers adjustable declination is important. Take a look at the Silva Ranger - I take mine with me just about everywhere.

Silva Ranger 530 Ultra Compass

Happy Hiking!

I second the Silva Ranger nomination... 'tis what I use and it's a fine specimen of compassry.
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Old 05-12-2006, 05:55 PM
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Scoutitout Scoutitout is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions. I can see that this is definitely the type of tool that I can start with something reasonably priced and work my way up as I learn to use. I'm not a bushwacker (yet) so I ought to get by with something under $20, but with the features I need to go to the next step or two on the skill scale.
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:12 PM
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big_load big_load is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutitout
I can see that this is definitely the type of tool that I can start with something reasonably priced and work my way up as I learn to use.

That's a reasonable approach. It's the same approach I once had, which is why I have a $20 compass (a Silva Guide) as well as a Ranger and a Ranger Ultra. My wife inherited the Ranger, and I keep the Guide in my car.
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  #9  
Old 05-14-2006, 08:14 PM
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WildlifeNate WildlifeNate is offline
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Backpack: Osprey Atmos 50
Sleeping Gear: DIY down quilt
Shelter: ENO Doublenest Hammock, WB Bugnet, GG Tarp
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Nacogdoches, TX
Posts: 1,610
I have the Brunton 8099 Eclipse

the Silva Starter

and a tiny little compass with a sighting mirror that is more of an emergency backup in my first aid kit.

I have also used the Silva Ranger extensively and I can vouch for its usefulness.

Last edited by WildlifeNate : 05-14-2006 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  #10  
Old 05-14-2006, 10:59 PM
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Scoutitout Scoutitout is offline
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I bought a Suunto M-2D Locator compass yesterday for $15. Now I need to find a beginners class at REI & a USGS map to mess around with.
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