Good Compass 2017-09-12T12:10:18+00:00

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  • Stephen Graf
    Member
    Post count: 2177

    I’ve had the same plastic compass since, well lets just say a long time.  Gulp.  It has served me well and led me, kicking and screaming, back to camp many times.  It is a no-name thing that does have “made in Japan” stamped on it.  It was made in Japan back when Japan was what China is today.  It is not liquid filled, but does have a nice face.

    So I said to myself: “self, we’re gonna get a good compass this year.  One that doesn’t wobble around so much, liquid filled, stronger magnet, maybe even glow in the dark!  I mean all the bells and whistles.  I’m worth it!”

    So I commenced on what I thought would be an easy search.  How hard could it be to find a better compass than this old thing?

    Well, hmmmmm. (some decent emoji’s would be handy right about now, I guess they’ve gone the way of a decent compass)

    So I’ve looked around, read reviews, and generally been disappointed by what I saw.  What do I want?  Not sure, but sure I’ll know it when I see it.  Something solid, liquid filled, no bubbles, good magnet, declination adjustment, good needle and face design, good cover,  able to take a spill down a hill (my forte, if truth be known) with grace.  It doesn’t need that global thing to make it work down under, so no worries there mate.

    Anyone have any advice?

  • rgrist
    Member
    Post count: 19

    Some time ago I ran across a compass made by a company in North Dakota. As everyone knows, a quality compass consists of a magnetic needle, an adjustment in degrees for declination, a mirror used for signaling, inclination measuring capability, quadrants clearly marked and scribed in degrees for bearing or azimuth and a bubble for leveling purposes. The makers of the N.D. compass however, felt that all that inclination / declination stuff was way to complicated so it was dispensed of entirely. They did retain the mirror however. The theory behind this model was that it wasn’t of much use in finding ones way back to camp, but it would tell you who was lost.

  • Raymond CoffmanRaymond Coffman
    Member
    Post count: 568

    Steve

    Not sure what degree of sophistication / price range you are looking for ?

    Suunto makes a quality,  handy wrist watch style compass for about 30.00 bucks.

    Rei – Amazon sell them.

    I use mine as a back up / have with me all the time compass – they hold up well. Haven’t broken one yet – misplace them sometimes for awhile – haha – I am over 60 —–

    Cyberscout aka Ray

  • rgrist
    Member
    Post count: 19

    I have used the Silva Ranger for many years. It is used by quite a few Foresters and Surveyors for doing recon work. Very good quality, adjustable, accurate and durable. Seems to me that it was around $50 or so, 30 years ago.

    When I change locations by several hundred miles, I will reset it by taking an observation on Polaris to reset the declination.

    The small el cheapo types like Bear mounted on their bows are pretty much useless. I once saw two Bear bows lying parallel with the two compasses reading 30 degrees different.

    • Charles Ek
      Member
      Post count: 531

      “I have used the Silva Ranger for many years. It is used by quite a few Foresters and Surveyors for doing recon work. Very good quality, adjustable, accurate and durable. ”

       

      This. Forty-five years in my case, which means the bezel on mine is metal, not plastic.

      The sighting mirror is of little use in the East, but the lid surrounding it is worth the extra money.

  • Robin ConradsRobin Conrads
    Admin
    Post count: 824

    We were actually posting a video tomorrow about using a compass and map. In the video he uses a Silva Ranger compass. A quick look online and this compass sells for under $40. Here is the link to the video: http://tradbow.com/use-compass-map/ It’s live now if you want to watch the video.

    • Charles Ek
      Member
      Post count: 531

      (Deleted and reposted properly.)

    • Charles Ek
      Member
      Post count: 531

      Just watched the video. It really needs the addition of at least a short reference to the necessity of accounting for declination. I understand he’s got that covered elsewhere, but people may very likely watch this one and not realize that what they don’t know will get them lost.

  • Stephen Graf
    Member
    Post count: 2177

    Thanks for the suggestions so far…  I watched the video.  I’m more of a wander aimlessly and then use the compass to get back to the trail and know which way to turn to get back to camp sort of compass user…  I’ve looked at the Silva’s but can’t get past their bigness.  A lot of reviews on it say the fluid clouds and bubbles.   I want something that fits easily in the pocket and can come out without too much hassle…

    Been looking at this one :  http://www.thecompassstore.com/compro.html

    They have cheaper models that do the same thing, but are not waterproof.  What good is a compass that isn’t waterproof?  The search goes on…

  • David CoulterDavid Coulter
    Member
    Post count: 2054

    I don’t have a Ranger, but that’s probably my next compass. One  thing I like about the mirror is being able to get bugs outta my eyes. In the meantime I’ll buy a cheap compact mirror to throw in my pack. Dwc

  • RalphRalph
    Member
    Post count: 2353

    I know this ain’t about buying  or a recommendation or maybe the proper use of a compass but last year I ventured into an area on my lease I’m not too familiar with. I was down in the river bottom, heavy foliage, thick salt cedars and a heavy fog and drizzle rolled in.  I had virtually no visual clue of direction more than 10 yds or so.

    Where I mostly hunt I know the terrain well and know that uphill will get me to somewhere familiar.

    In the river bottom I knew if I went north I’d hit a road that’d get me back to my truck but the foliage was so dense and the fog so thick I had no clue of north. I didn’t really go find the river but woulda had I deemed necessary but I thought of my phone.

    You’d maybe think no big deal but 13000 acres is a lot of country. when you’re wondering where the hell am I.

    I was really in no danger but a few years back a feller got turned around in the same  kinda country only west of us 40-50 miles on the Lake Meredith Federal Rec area, public land.  He died of exposure so it’s possible.

    Anyway, back to the subject on hand, the compass feature on my phone pointed out north to me and I let it guide me to the road and all was cool.

    Kinda literally cool, the fog and drizzle weren’t expected and I got soaked.

    The compass feature on a smartphone  might be a big help sometime or another…  I know batteries and such may be dead on phone, all kinds of problems may exist’ but the phone is always a possibility to line one out.

     

  • rgrist
    Member
    Post count: 19

    There is also the sun and moon which rise in the east and set in the west. This of course varies with the time of the year and latitude. At night there is Polaris which is located between Ursa Major and Cassiopeia. The ultimate navigation device is a hand held GPS that us Trad guys keep hidden in a backpack, along with spare batteries.

  • grumpygrumpy
    Member
    Post count: 946

    When I lost the plastic liquid filled compass that I bought for less than $10 and has been guiding me for almost 50 years I looked at the less than $10 compasses in the local dept store and found all I could get was a plastic  ball with a safety pin on it.  It works.

    Like r2, I hunt a patch of woods thats flat, and covered with brush just over my head.  Its nice to have the pin-on available for constant reference. I also explored an alder swamp last August.  Couldn’t see more than 10 ft, but the compass kept me in the same direction.  There is a lot to say about constant reference.  No, can’t get really lost here, follow a stream for 3 miles and you will find a road, but its kinda nice to come out somewhere near your truck instead of somebody’s backyard barbecue.

  • David CoulterDavid Coulter
    Member
    Post count: 2054

    Reading these posts illustrates how we need different tools for specific tasks. Where I hunt a button on compass would work just fine. The ranger compass just looks neat and probably wouldn’t serve me any better than my old scout baseplate compass I’ve had for 45 years. I also have two pocket transits, one a Bruton I got for a buck at a yard sale and another was said to be part of a mortor site. It had 300 degrees and I had that converted to 360. I still don’t know how to use those!  Best, dc

  • William WarrenWilliam Warren
    Member
    Post count: 1369

    Steve,

    Like you, I have used the same plastic compass(mine is a Normark)for maybe 30 years. I would still use it in an instant as it is in good condition. A couple of years ago I decided to get an lensatic compass and ended up with a very nice Army model. It is a Cammenga Model 27. I mainly got it to use at work when I needed to lay off proposed station sites so my survey contractor could see where I wanted them to do a survey. But it would be great for finding your way in conjunction with a map in the backcountry. I would not call it lightweight but it is very well made and nice to use.

    Duncan

  • Stephen Graf
    Member
    Post count: 2177

    Why That looks like just the thing! Thanks Duncan.

  • Dave Wallick
    Member
    Post count: 4

    Ditto on Silva compasses.  Their customer service is very good, and the free replacement warranty works just like you’d want it to (I tried it).  We use Silva Ranger CL compasses in our Search and Rescue work; I own two for that, and about four others (Silva Ranger and Silva Explorer plate compasses) for hunting and hiking.  I have seen Suunto and Brunton compasses, but Silva meets my needs and perform well.

    I have pin-on ball compasses on every hunting coat/jacket I own.  They are used every time I go out, sometimes just to make sure that my read on wind direction hasn’t changed from when I started.  Other times, like last year’s Opening Day here in Michigan, with a thick fog that eliminated looking for Polaris, I ended up walking west in the dark fog when I should have been headed east.  My ball compass got he straightened out pretty quickly.  I was amazed that I could get that turned around that quickly on land I have hunted for 30 years (the appearance of the woods & fields seem to change by the year anymore).  Just two days ago, I used my ball compass to walk the property line on my property.  Easy.

    I have actually used a mirror for signalling on a lake in Canada to signal another canoe party as to where I was camped.

    A map and compass beats a GPS any day, but they work together really well.  Strengths matched with strengths of each make a formidable navigation system.

    Practice with your plate compasses often enough to make sure that you know to follow the red needle pointer and not the white.  Don’t ask …

    Michigan Dave

  • RalphRalph
    Member
    Post count: 2353

    I once had a compass that I woulda bet the bank that it pointed south instead of north………………….

  • Stephen Graf
    Member
    Post count: 2177

    I got my cammenga model 27 today.  Nice compass!  I really like the inductive damping for the needle.  Brings it to a stop really fast.  The instructions say it will steady in under 6 seconds.  To me it looked more like under 1 second.

    Thanks for the heads up Duncan.  I can’t wait to get lost now 😜

  • Dave Wallick
    Member
    Post count: 4

    Interesting observation, R2.  Both de-magnetization and reverse-magnetization (both partial- and full-reversal) can contribute to a compass needle getting out of whack, or even, as you point out, pointing south instead of north.

    See this link: https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/6941/can-a-compass-needle-become-de-magnetized-over-time

    This forum piece, especially answer #2, has some information on symptoms, causes, and fixes for reverse-magnetization.  The predominant cause seems to be storing a compass for a length of time near magnetic fields, such as near auto sound systems, mobile phones and laptop computers, car keys, magnetic closures on clothing and watch straps, radios, magnets in seat belt buckles, and GPS units.

    From this link, “According to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, reversed polarity in compass needles is becoming a significant source of navigation error.”  Maybe it is something we all need to be aware of.

    The forum piece offers:

    “According to respected manufacturer Silva:  Quickly flick the ‘South’ pole of a strong magnet outwards along the ‘North’ end of the needle. Repeat vice-versa. Compare with a compass that is known to be correct.”

    How would you check your compass needle to make sure it is indeed pointing north?  I’ll opt for the North Star.

    Michigan Dave

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