Compass Navigation – Everyone that knows me, knows that my happy place is in the wilderness! I am that girl who lives to “get away” from it all! But, I do love my life, and the people in it, so when I have breathed in massive amounts fresh air, taken in enough incredible views, and exhausted my body to the point of being wonderfully miserable, I want to find my way home! I will be completely honest, and tell you,
there have been a few adventures where I almost started crying when my car was finally in sight! Learning compass navigation is an imperative skill for me to learn. While, yes, I have my electronics that help with navigation, I can think of countless times that those electronics failed for one reason or another. I want the comfort of knowing if I have no cell service, etc., that I will still be able to navigate my way to and from my destination, with confidence, without being lost. I want to be immersed 100% in my adventures, and not have to be stressing and having that underlying “yucky” feeling of “where the %$#^ am I?”.
I have talked to other adventurers about this, and while it did not help me learn the skill, it did help me to not feel so illiterate when I continually struggled with learning compass navigation. I know several people who want to know how, but have really struggled to understand.
This post on compass navigation is going to be the first in a series. For me, the only way I was able to grasp a solid understanding of how to use a compass and map to navigate around the wilderness, was to break the learning up into sections, and just keep studying each section, one at a time, until I had a full comprehension of that section.
With the goal of simplicity, each post will be relatively short. I feel like this will give you time to think and do your own studying on each area, and make it easier to build your understanding and skill. With each topic presented, I will try to get you started with understanding that topic. At times, I will also link to videos and articles that have helped me. Read my posts, follow links, and do your own search on each topic. When you have exhausted your study, and feel you completely grasp each topic, then move to the next post and repeat. I will do my best to load a new post at least week
Today’s topic is Compass Selection. I want to encourage you to stay on topic. When you are studying each step, you will see words and terms that have not yet been covered in this series of posts. If you don’t understand something, as long as you are learning about the topic at hand, don’t worry about anything else. We will get to them, and I believe you will have a complete understanding of all of it, when this series is complete.
If you do not have a compass already, or do not like the one you have, it is best to have one you are satisfied with. There are many options to choose from. A compass that will work just fine does not have to cost a fortune.
This is the first compass that I bought. I thought that it looked super cool and had all the bells and whistles for a great price. All those things are still true about this compass, however, is overwhelming to me. It also feels heavy at 3.7 ounces. I also prefer a transparent base plate, and this compass does not have that feature. While I play with this compass some, it is a bit out dated. This compass can be found here. (Affiliate link) .
The next compass I got was from Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST), in exchange for telling you all about it. My honest and true thoughts are that it is my favorite and I love it! The picture at the top of this post is the compass I am referring to. I love it for a several reasons.
1) It is easy to read with my not-as-young-as-I-use-to-be eyes.
2 ) The neon plate that makes the lines on a map easier to read. The neon color also makes it easy to find in my pack.
3) While not sure about using the mirror, as I am still working on that skill, I like having the mirror for when something gets in my eye. 🙂 While you can get a compass base plate that is even lighter and/or smaller, this one works great for me! You can buy it here. (Affiliate link) As your skills increase, and you find that you will actually use a compass often, then you might want a more high-end compass.
4) While it is a bit “chunky”, I like that as it is easier to hold and manipulate.
So, there are just a two things that I do suggest when you are choosing your compass. Again, if you don’t understand certain terms, relax and know that we will cover it all during this series. Try and choose a compass that has a clear base plate and that has the ability to adjust the declination. Don’t try to understand declination yet, if it confuses you. We will get to that later, as one of the more difficult concepts to grasp. For now, try to just choose a compass that has the capability and we will talk about declination a few posts into this series. As for the rest of the features good to have on a compass, almost all of them will have, so I don’t need to list them.
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