Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Best Compass

Frequently people will ask what is the best compass a hiker can buy?  It really does make a difference.

My answer is that first I'll eliminate all the small ball and wrist watch compasses.  Those models just cannot provide accurate azimuth/bearing information.  They will provide a trend of direction but that is about it.

I'll then eliminate the inexpensive base plate models that can't be adjusted for declination.  The small Silva models come to mind here.  Some maybe suitable as a backup compass. 

I find that the Silva "Ranger" style is my pick.  It is accurate and keeps my navigation simple.  Importantly, this model can be adjusted mechanically for declination, has a decent sighting system and is simple to use.  Prices for this model will range from about $38 - $50.  Suunto makes a similar model too that is just fine.

Unique to this style of compass is the sighting system.  It's similar to sighting a hunting rifle. The compass box offers two methods (the notch on top and one at the hinge.)  Read the manual about using the mirror's line that is scribed/etched into the surface.

Adjusting for declination keeps things simple.  Just preset the declination value with the set screw (provided) for the area the hiker will be operating in.  This eliminates the need to remember the rhymes associated with declination (East is least &west is best.)

For tips on sighting with a compass go to my blog post.

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