A compass may seem old fashioned, but it’s a tremendous tool that has been used for centuries to point you in the right direction. If you’re not adept at reading stars, having a compass while camping or hiking is a wonderful investment, because should your GPS or phone die on your, the compass will still show you the way home. It’s the tried and true method for determining what direction you’re going, with unbelievable accuracy. In fact, you shouldn’t be caught dead in the wilderness without this tool, along with an accurate map. These two combined are lifesavers. What the compass helps you to do is orient yourself on the map. You’re able to identify features and pinpoint your position with ease. Learning to use the combined forces of a map an compass is a wilderness skill that you shouldn’t even attempt to venture forth without understanding and being adept at. There are digital compasses, and even more reliable are the floating needle compasses. When you purchase a high-quality model, the floating needle compass will never let you down.
Compass Buying Guide
A compass comes in handy when you take part in outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and camping. Having a device that enables you to navigate and follow a map safely can be the difference between life and death. There are many choices in the market and not all of them are digital.
The terrain that you intend to hike will dictate the type of compass that you should choose. Some exciting outdoor destinations are so remote that you cannot use a smart gadget, and you have to settle for an old fashioned, manual navigation device.
7 Types of Compasses
Compasses are available in various qualities, designs, and have different features. Navigation devices are designed for campers, hikers, mountaineers, and anyone who wants to explore unfamiliar terrains.
1. Card Compass
A card compass is used by big ships, freighters, and boats when navigating the sea. It tracks the vessel’s motion, and the card reads accurate direction.
2. Tubular Compass
In this compass, the magnetic tube is housed in a tube with a diaphragm on the needle’s end. It also has a glass plate carried on an eyepiece that has vertical readings.
3. GPS Compass
A GPS compass utilizes satellites to find true north. It is ideal for hikers, campers, and anyone who loves outdoor exploration. It is accurate and reliable.
4. Solid-state Navigation Compass
This compass is accurate and uses electronic and magnetic sensors. It’s the best choice when looking for a very precise compass.
5. Prismatic Compass
A Prismatic compass is designed to provide extremely accurate direction. It reads the exact compass bearings.
6. Thumb Compass
A Thumb compass is for sports enthusiasts. It comes in handy in competitions or adventures and directs you effortlessly. You simply attach it to your thumb and you are good to go.
7. Baseplate Compass
This compass has excellent features, including a magnifying lens to use when reading the map. It also has scales that can be used worldwide and luminous components for low-lit areas. The compass is mounted on a clear rectangular plastic base that allows the liquid-filled navigation tool to direct you easily. This is the most common and affordable compass used by hikers and campers.
Factors to Consider When Buying Compass
Speed and Stability
A good compass should have a needle that shows the true north fast. Most outdoor activities involve mountaineering, trekking, and hiking in areas where you are not familiar with the terrain. This requires a compass that moves fast to avoid making wrong turns. Note that the weather can suddenly change and you may need to find your way out quickly.
A compass should be durable and made from sturdy materials. There is a possibility of falling or getting crushed in your backpack if it’s too delicate. It can even slip from your hands to the ground as you try to read the map in the wilderness. What’s more, you will have thick gloves, which means your grip will not be firm enough.
The extra features available in a compass can be significant. They include the rotating bezel, a base plate that has a ruler, and a declination scale. As you move to different areas, a high-quality compass with the declination adjustment feature will point to true north and not magnetic north. The ruler helps measure distances on the map and the rotating bezel measures azimuth.
Additionally, some compasses have extra features like clinometers, luminescent indicators, magnifying lens, and sighting mirror. The luminescent indicator allows easy use of your compass after nightfall, and a clinometer enables you to measure steepness that helps you assess object heights and avalanche hazards safely.
The best compass has to be of high quality; there is no question about that. You should be careful when buying a compass because it will determine your safety away from home. If you like going off the grid sometimes, get a compass with the right features. Nothing can beat the fun of going beyond your ordinary boundaries, but you must be well equipped, and it begins with a reliable navigation device.