If you’re into outdoor activities, then you’ve got to befriend the compass.
Knowing how to use a compass is a necessary outdoor skill.
Why you may ask? Well there are several reasons for that.
One is, you might need it for your survival in some cases, though that would be an extreme scenario. You need to know how to use this device so you can navigate your way when you are hiking, or doing some other activity that involves being in the outdoors too.
So you see, learning how to read and use a compass is really something you shouldn’t neglect.
Tune in and in the next few minutes, you will learn how you can choose a good compass for your regular outdoor activities.
Why You Need a Compass
In today’s modern world, is a compass still an essential piece of equipment?
If you ask an experienced outdoorsman, the answer would be yes. Using a compass is still very important, even if there are so many modern devices that are available now.
You can quickly reorient yourself should you become lost in the outdoors when visibility is low.
You can also use a compass to triangulate your actual location if you happen to see any familiar landmarks and you have a map.
Tips on Choosing the Best Compass for Hiking
When you plan on going hiking for long distances, you must bring along a reliable compass. Not doing so would be taking a huge risk on your part.
But how do you choose a compass for your hiking?
There are several factors that you need to consider and some tips which might help you out. These are the basic features that you need to check out when choosing a compass:
1. Magnetized Needle
In most compasses, this is the red tip of a pivoting compass needle. It is the part that points to the magnetic north pole, so in some ways, it is the most crucial part of the compass.
In most compasses, the needle floats on damping fluid which helps to steady its movement. The fluid will not freeze even in low temperatures.
2. Rotating Bezel
This is a ring which surrounds the needle capsule. It is marked from 0 to 360 degrees.
Keep in mind that the smaller the intervals between the degrees, the easier it would be for you to navigate. This is also known as the azimuth ring.
The baseplate is the flat and transparent base of the compass. It contains some navigational markings which can be used for navigation and for measuring distances on a map.
4. Orienting Lines and Arrows
These are the markings which can be found on the baseplate and the needle housing which can be used for navigation.
5. Magnifying Lens
This is one of the extra features which can be found in some, but not all compasses. In other words, it is not really a necessity for using the compass, but it can really help. Some compasses have magnifying lenses that are placed on the baseplate which helps in using it.
6. Luminescent Indicators
Should you happen to start out while it is still dark or if you plan on continuing your hiking when the sun has gone down, you should get a compass with luminescent indicators. There are many compasses with this kind of feature so you would not have a hard time in finding one.
7. Declination Adjustment
This is one of the more advanced compass features you can get. This kind of feature is used by more experienced hikers and is kind of technical. Declination refers to the difference between the magnetic north and the true north. That difference is measured in degrees.
Because declination can differ from place to place, being able to adjust it in your compass is crucial. Once you have set it, you can use your compass with accuracy and forget it until you move to another region.
8. Sighting Mirror
The sighting mirror is useful when it comes to aiming when you are following a precise bearing. It can also be used as a signaling device during emergencies.
This can be used for measuring the vertical angle of a slope. This very useful when you are hiking uphill and for assessing the danger of an avalanche.
10. Global Needle
This feature can be used for compensating for variance in the magnetic field. It allows the compass to work smoothly wherever you are in the world. Without this needle, a compass would be specific to North America or South America.
Get a real compass!
Keep in mind that accessories like compass keychains are not actual navigational tools. Do not rely on these when you are in the field. The same goes for the compass feature on a digital watch. It might be fancy to look at but it’s not a substitute for an actual compass.
Now, you know what the features to get in a compass are. It’s crucial that you know how to use those. A compass is only as useful if the user really has a clear idea on how to navigate using it. So, before you head out hiking with your new compass, make sure that you know how to utilize it properly.
I suggest you should read this post after this if you’re planning on trying out off trail hiking. It’ll give you some tips that can be useful when doing this activity off trails.
But before you click that, don’t forget to grab your copy of our free hiking checklist first!