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Hikers Compass

jimmyswo

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2010
Messages
4
Hi Everyone,
I am in the process of learning to Navigate and buying a Hikers Compass (the Marine Compass comes next). As far as Hikers Compasses go - I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations from their experiences. They range in price a bit and just wondering what people thought was good value for money.
thanks
Jim
 
What to look for in a hiking compass:

-Sighting mirror
-Declination screw (and make sure to set it every time you hike)
-Decide if you want degrees or mils. Most people know degrees.
-Romers at 1:50000 can be useful though I'm finding mine are wearing off the base plate
-If you plan to use it at night get one with luminous points
-Lanyard with screw driver (for declination screw)
-Meridian lines make it easier to align compass with map
-Get a compass that is balanced for global use (slightly more expensive) or make sure it is balanced for the area you will be using it. Magnetic inclination at different places on the globe will cause inaccuracy (the needle sticks) unless the compass is properly balanced.

-Get a good one with more capability than you think you need; its a once in a lifetime purchase.

A hiking compass is not useful on the deck of a kayak; too prone to sliding off into the vasty deep. Get a deck mounted compass meant for kayaking.
 
For a hikers compass, I have a Silva Ranger. Had it since my explorer search & rescue days in high school. Has all the features mentioned above and is in degrees.
 
By far - the Silva Ranger is the best one to have, and would be the last compass one needs to buy. If you are prone to losing stuff or need a spare, there are much cheaper ones available; but they don't have the proper adjustable declination feature. :big_thumb
 
Suunto makes a number of good units as well

us-military-lensatic-compass.jpg


silva-ranger-15-clinometer-compass.jpg

http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_deta ... 8658870725
 
If you are learning navigation for kayaking only, I would suggest going directly to the marine compass and working with magnetic readings only. I carry both a deckmounted marine compass and a handheld orienteering compass, but I'm
thinking of replacing the latter with a small handbearing marine compass so that I don't have to bother with variation. This assumes, of course, that you are using marine charts only, not topo maps.
 
AM said:
If you are learning navigation for kayaking only, I would suggest going directly to the marine compass and working with magnetic readings only. I carry both a deckmounted marine compass and a handheld orienteering compass, but I'm
thinking of replacing the latter with a small handbearing marine compass so that I don't have to bother with variation. This assumes, of course, that you are using marine charts only, not topo maps.

Just set the variation/declination of your orienteering unit to 0 and you can save a bit.

Even if you are to use topo's, it's not such a big deal to add or subtract as needed. You would still have to do it with the marine charts.
 
GordB said:
Just set the variation/declination of your orienteering unit to 0 and you can save a bit.

Yeah, that's what I've been doing for years, until I used one of these units recently and found it much easier to use from the cockpit of a kayak:

http://www.landfallnavigation.com/iris50.html

My point is that for someone learning to navigate a kayak, a marine compass is all that's needed to use nautical charts. I started out backpacking and using topo maps, so I learned to use an orienteering compass and take variation into account. Now that I am solely on the charts, I use only magnetic bearings.
 
AM said:
My point is that for someone learning to navigate a kayak, a marine compass is all that's needed to use nautical charts. I started out backpacking and using topo maps, so I learned to use an orienteering compass and take variation into account. Now that I am solely on the charts, I use only magnetic bearings.
Same background, same intervening process, same end point. It is crazy to "start" with an orienteering compass if your goal is to navigate from the cockpit. Who has the extra hands and time to do the variation in your head, lay the compass on the chart and take note of the variation, rotate the compass to get the bearing, etc., etc.

Somewhere back in the dark ages of my paddletime I elected to draw many multiple parallel lines of magnetic north on all the charts I use on the water and take along a good-sized protractor (also lives on deck). With these two I can pull magnetic courses off the chart, on the fly and use those directly on the deck-mounted compass. No parallel dividers, no fuss, no muss.

Like AM, I sometimes take along a sighting compass (his is an excellent one; simpler ones are much cheaper), an improvement piloting a power boat made me appreciate enormously. This allows taking bearings on landmarks or navaids and (with that big protractor and the plotted lines of mag north) translating those into quick lines of position to figure out where the hell I am, if confused. Well, more like when confused!! :D

It is bad advice to insist on learning orienteering on a small Silva orienteering instrument or whatever before doing marine compass work if it is the latter you really want to accomplish.
 
With a marine compass and chart I just use the compass rose.

"North" is just an arbitrary decision. Just think of it as the compass points north and your chart isn't square.

I've been in dense fog with only a hikers compass and found it difficult to maintain a course. The needle swung around so much that I actually found myself questioning if the compass was working (of course it was). I had to place it under a deck bungie to get any bearing that could be followed. The whole time I feared that it would slip free and fall into the drink.

It is necessary to be able to line the compass up with the bow and for that you need a deck mounted compass well forward of the cockpit.

You won't ever get exactly where you want to go following a compass bearing. There are too many factors, wind and current included. The old sailors used to sail to miss. To get to Juan de Fuca they'd sail to deliberately make landfall on the Washington coast and they'd know to sail north. The tricky part was turning east before hitting Vancouver Island.
 
I own a Silva Ranger and also used one almost daily as a wildland firefighter. I dont think you can really go wrong with any of the major brands upper end models. I prefer the Ranger because that is what i'm use to. It's been a while but I think I paid about 60.00 bucks for it. Marine compasses sorry I have nothing...still learning.
 
I think Ken-V 's list of what to look for in a compass is very good.

I have a deck compass on bow, and a digital compass on my watch.

However, I also permanently keep a hikers compass attached to my PFD. I tend to use it much more than my deck compass. Its used mainly for taking ranges off of known points, to ensure my piloting and track progress.

IE: for instance, if I am following a compass bearing (on my bow compass) during a fog crossing I will take ranges off of known locations when they periodically appear to ensure track, and progress.

or: during long slow journeys along straight shorelines, you can take bearings on a range to get an appreciation of progress.

Keeping this compass attached to my PFD means it has been ravaged by the salt, but I have other compasses for land travel.

As others have said.... buy a nice compass!
 
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