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Map & compass
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Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Navigation... on 06/15/2012 16:10:04 MDT Print View

Mike - I find that interesting. We have incredibly different environments to navigate in, but the problem here is the same. The difference is that we can't see the landmarks for the trees!

When I wander off trail (usually bush whacking to find a lake or section of stream), I drop a waypoint where I leave the trail and leave my tracking on as I go (so I can follow it back).

The problem with map and compass in this environment is that the trees block out most land marks. The underbrush is very dense and there are so many blow downs that you will have to walk 10 times the straight line distance before you reach your destination. While careful course plotting with a map and compass is possible, it's far easier to use a GPS (preferably with a pre-trip waypoint entered as the destination). Returning via the GPS bread crumb trail is never as easy as it would seem, as the accuracy under tree cover makes it difficult to walk the same path and nothing ever looks familiar (but it gets me home).

Edited by skopeo on 06/15/2012 16:11:24 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Navigation on 06/15/2012 20:01:35 MDT Print View

> Here in Scotland, you can't really go hiking unless you have navigation gear, and
> know how to use it.
I suspect Mike means map and compass here. The Scots have been wandering Scotland for an awful long time, way back before transistors were ever invented.

And I am not sure the Creagh Dhu bothered with those...


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Map & compass on 06/16/2012 16:40:39 MDT Print View


Come on Roger, you're a scientist... move with the times. The satellite coverage was a bit thin back then... otherwise, who knows :)

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
lightweight compass on 06/16/2012 22:04:40 MDT Print View

For my navigation class, I was forced to purchase a bulky full-featured compass. I find I like the mirror, it does make readings easier, but it would be nice to have a compass that takes up much less room. Any recommendations on baseplate compasses?

I like the looks of the Silva Ranger 27 that someone mentioned earlier in this thread, but the only locations I"ve found on the web that are selling it are in the UK--a bit far to go. And, how sturdy is the hinge on the Ranger 27? It looks similar to a Silva compass sold by LL Bean, which had several bad reviews on how flimsy it was.

James Berwick
(jhb0510) - F
Map and compass on 06/17/2012 00:05:29 MDT Print View

It is funny how different things are.
I'm with Mike, I live at the opposite end of the UK in Cornwall and do most of my reasonably local walking on Dartmoor. The las 2 trips I have done have involved walking on a bearing in 0 visability and could not have been contemplated without decent navigation skills!
I have a very basic GPS app on my phone which gives me a position if I really need it. I have only used this once, in January when I was out with my 11 year old daughter. Had I taken a wrong turn it would have involved an extra 10 miles or so which she wouldn't have coped with, so better safe than sorry. Had I been on my own I would not have bothered with it.
I used to have a garmin about 10 years ago when they first started to be affordable. It did not have maps on it just way points etc and I found my self using the map more than the GPS as I found a waypoint in the middle of a blank screen fairly meaningless. I think a modern GPS with decent mapping software on it would be another story, but electronics go wrong, so you would still need to carry a map and compass.
Using electronics also raises the issue of power, there just doesn't seem to be alichtweight option. When I first got my android phone I thought that might be the answer, you can get some very fancy mapping software for it, it is also a phone, a camera and can track where you are, a feature my wife really likes when I am off on my own! However the battery only lasts for 7 hours and unless it s mid winter, I walk more than that each day. I have tried carrying spare batteries, but at more than 1 a day, it soon mouns up. I tried a battery pack which you plug int with a USB. That gave me an extra 2 days, but then you have waterfroofing issues. I looked into solar chargers, but they were relatively heavy and we are not always bathed in sunshine!
My conclusion was that some knowledge and a map and compass was the best and lightest option.
I also use laminated maps which are a bit heavier, but dont fall apart at the first sign of moisure, and double up as an excellent picnic blanket when you stop for lunch!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Map & compass on 06/17/2012 00:22:33 MDT Print View

> Come on Roger, you're a scientist... move with the times.
Yep, I'm a scientist. I learnt a long time ago to evaluate the evidence carefully, and to avoid following the herd down the vendors's alley. So what hard facts do I have?

I'm 66. I have used map and compass (and the sun) since I was a Boy Scout. I have always got to where I was aiming, depite deep forest, thick fog, and bad weather. And there has been plenty of that too. Hum - that's a pretty good track record for a map and compass, isn't it? And I have never run out of batteries on the compass.

My conclusion from these facts is that a map and compass works just fine.

A scientific evaluation?


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 09:13:01 MDT Print View

Diane- my 27 is the same one I've been carrying since my days as a Wilderness Ranger in the Bob Marshall (where it got a good workout pinpointing camping sites on a topo- this was pre- GPS days! :)) it's possible the quality isn't what is was, not sure

looking at the Silva line, the Silva Guide 426 looks to be very similar to my 27, again can't comment on quality on the newer ones however

for the price, might be worth giving it a go???


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 10:01:48 MDT Print View

Silva compasses now sold in the USA are not made in Finland, but China. Get a Suunto. I have not been impressed with the Brunton compasses either.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
compass website on 06/17/2012 11:24:40 MDT Print View

i failed to bookmark it, but out there in internet land is a website by one of our members that has some absolutely stellar information of compass workings, and dirt of silva. i would think his site is about the last word on all you'd ever want to know about which compass to carry. punt about for it, you'll find it.
i carry a compass on a brightly colored lanyard (the knot is glued) around my neck. in this way i can check quite often to make sure i'm not off vector on a bushwack in the sticks.
if it's brushy enough to put the side shields on my glasses, it's plenty dang brushy enough to want a compass.
i currently carry the Suunto M3G. it's a truly nice bit of gear, and avail at deep discount off amazon.

peter v.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: compass website on 06/17/2012 12:12:00 MDT Print View

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 12:45:24 MDT Print View


Silva and Brunton on are the Same company.


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 12:53:46 MDT Print View

appears Suunto makes a similar compass to the Ranger 27, called the MCB

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Re: Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 14:49:19 MDT Print View

I also like a mirrored compass and downsized to a Suunto MCA-D IN which has a clear base plate versus the MCB and it has a much more substantial hinge on the mirror. Wish it had declination adjustment but I work around that. 1.4 oz. with out the lanyard.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 15:28:33 MDT Print View

Are you sure about that Stephen? Johnson Outdoors own a bunch of brands including Silva. Primus is a sister company to Brunton.

Edited by jshann on 06/17/2012 15:31:05 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: Re: Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 17:03:08 MDT Print View

Hi John,

I am definitely sure, Brunton kit is just rebadged Silva.


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: lightweight compass on 06/17/2012 17:27:09 MDT Print View

There are still good Silvas

We just don't see them here. Check the Where to Buy section of the website.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: lightweight compass on 06/18/2012 02:41:50 MDT Print View

The best baseplate type compass I have come across bar none (I am an ex-orienteer and Mountain Marathon competitor) is the Moscow compass:

The needle is so fast and yet well damped, you can reliably use this type of compass whilst on the run.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
bubble is bad? on 06/18/2012 06:14:16 MDT Print View


Why bubble is bad? I use my compas for about 20 years. My dad bought me this compass. I think the bubble always was there. Why it's bad? It maybe used even as a leveling tool :)

Regarding SUBJ, I always carry compass + color printed topo map of the area where I hike. For me it's a MUST. I use compass maybe 3-4 times in year, but it saved me alot of time I could spend walking in wrong direction.

I don't have GPS receiver at all. Thought about eTrex 10, but still not sure whether I need one...

If we talk here about compasses, what are the best ones for both navigation and as an emergency compass (tiny). Saw that ($34) suunto MCA-D (42 gram = 1.5 oz):

Looking good. Mirror is great multiuse tool. I think I will grab one.
But then I saw this one, full of features and expensive ($84) Suunto MC-2 Global (74 gram = 2.6 oz)

So what is clinometr? I suppose it measures declination, but how it knows it? It's something that corrects the north-pointing arrow? I wonder it's so much heavier and expensive, why?

Edited by tauneutrino on 06/18/2012 06:16:13 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: bubble is bad? on 06/18/2012 06:32:22 MDT Print View

Clinometer is for measuring the angle of a slope, think avalanche. A bubble in your compass will expand as you gain elevation. If it gets large enough it will effect the operation of the compass needle.

That expensive model is expensive because it has a global needle, so it will work on both hemispheres. Heavier because the housing for the needle is taller and has more liquid in it. Plus it is a full size compass. I've had the predecessor for 20 years.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Wooops. Thanks! :) on 06/18/2012 07:28:33 MDT Print View

Good to know that. Thanks.