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Thread: I need a good compass

  1. #1

    Default I need a good compass

    I'm in the market for a good compass. What brand do you guys like and why? My current compass is a no name clear plastic job but I want to upgrade to something nicer and higher quality however I don't want to break the bank on it. I'm thinking 30-50 bucks or less if it's good.


  2. #2
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Brand names are a misnomer. I'll just let you read post 23 on this page. And it's probably changed since I posted it. But you'll get the idea.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...hlight=compass

    There are a lot of great compasses in that price range. I have a lot of different compasses. The ones I rely on the most are a simple button compass and a Suunto MB6. Here's a thread with a lot listed.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...hlight=compass

  3. #3
    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    I have a military issue lensatic compass that has served me well for over 30 years.
    When all else fails, read the directions, and beware the Chihuahuacabra!

  4. #4

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    The Suunto MB6 is the same compass as the Recta compass issued to Swiss military personnel (my nephew serves with them). A great rugged sighting compass. I don't use or like to promote the use of military lensatics, no civvies need to have mils on a compass, no-one is bringing down artillery on anyone! Plus they aren't very accurate, and the baseplate, on the models that can unfold, for marking azimuths on your map, is …..well…… quite ordinary. A lot of cheap Lensatics, don't even fold down so have no baseplate.!

    I recommend the Silva 4/54 for accuracy in taking bearings, you will get an extremely accurate reading down to .5 degrees, and you also see your back bearing reading at the same time. Some of our SF dudes are issued these. (I have taught survival skills to them, and heard it straight to my face).


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    Silva 4/54

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    Silva 4/54

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    You could just use an analog watch.
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    Super-duper Moderator Sarge47's Avatar
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    Cool +1!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Brand names are a misnomer. I'll just let you read post 23 on this page. And it's probably changed since I posted it. But you'll get the idea.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...hlight=compass

    There are a lot of great compasses in that price range. I have a lot of different compasses. The ones I rely on the most are a simple button compass and a Suunto MB6. Here's a thread with a lot listed.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...hlight=compass
    Like Rick said!...
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    You could just use an analog watch.
    Yeah, lets all start doing everything arse about, as if it's some 'cool' way to practise survival skills.

    use a watch as a compass, and a compass as a watch.

    Like useing a knife as axe, and an axe as a knife.

    whatever!

  8. #8
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enigma View Post
    Yeah, lets all start doing everything arse about, as if it's some 'cool' way to practise survival skills.

    use a watch as a compass, and a compass as a watch.

    Like useing a knife as axe, and an axe as a knife.

    whatever!
    My attempt at humor + Your recognition of said humor = Missed by a mile.
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  9. #9
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Has to be the language barrier. I find an analog watch to be very accurate in direction finding. A digital works well for that matter. I generally use it to tell when it's time to check the map and compass.

  10. #10

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    I like the standard military lensatic compass. I like the silva 4/54 models too, but I have had two of them develop bubbles, so I don't trust them as much.

    So far as price, the lensatic compasses will come in two prices: tritium and non tritium. The function is the same, but the compass with tritium will stay luminated all night long, while the ones without it have to be "recharged" every few hours.

    The non tritium compasses will run around 50 or 60 dollars. The tritium ones can go up to a couple hundred depending on who is selling them, but some times you can find a really good deal on them. Both of them work exactly the same, but I haven't tested the non-military issue compasses for reliability in the field. I own a couple, and they have never failed me, but I have never done any "running and gunning" with them Like I have with the military issue models.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    My attempt at humor + Your recognition of said humor = Missed by a mile.
    I 'got it', hence my answer.

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  12. #12
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Bubbles can form in any non-pressurized compass under the right conditions. Generally cold weather or higher altitude. The bubbles form with the liquid contracts so it's actually a vacuum bubble rather than an air leak. Bubbles do not affect the accuracy of a compass. The liquid simply dampens the needle movement so you can take a reading quicker and there is less shaking of the needle. If a bubble forms it will generally go away when the compass is warmed up or brought back down from a higher altitude. If it doesn't disappear you can try sitting it in a warm location such as a south facing window sill and let it sit for a couple of days. The liquid will usually expand to it's previous volume and the bubble will disappear. Even if it doesn't the compass is still good. If you find a slimy liquid on the compass then it is leaking and I'd discard it.

  13. #13

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    I don't know what all the fuss is about compasses and navigation. I usually go to the woods to get lost, not find my way back !
    Lamewolf
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    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
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    First.... read the posts that Rick put links up for. Those go into some good detail about brand names.

    I have a military issued lensatic. It works great..... but I don't recommend it. My $50 Brunton was money well spent. It can do a lot more. In the military, I was given a compass and a protractor for land nav stuff. My Brunton has protractors built into it, no need to carry more. I used them the other day on a 4 mile hike with the Boy Scouts. I printed a map with the same scale as my compass, used a gps to get the UTM coordinates, and was able to get an exact spot match on the paper map with the protractor on my compass.

    If you are ready to step up your compass to the next level, here are the features you want:
    1. Mirror
    2. A bunch of protractor marks at different ratios
    3. A little screw to set the offset angle (there is a technical term for that, but my mind just went blank, declination?).
    4. An accurate dial

    You are going to pay around $50 for one, at least. If you are in the US, I only recommend Brunton and Suunto. In Europe, I recommend Silva and Suunto. Read the links that Rick posted for the difference between Brunton and Silva. I guess you can add Commenga to the list.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I generally just use the pin-ons inside my jacket or sweat shirt....
    Carry a Military-style Lensatic compasses in the fanny pack and a Timex watch with little button compass on the band.

    Trick is to get them all to agree.
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  16. #16

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    I've been looking at the suunto MG2. The whole reason is just to have a quality compass and work on my land nav skills and maybe play around with orienteering some.

    I to have a watch band compass just for general directions.

  17. #17

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    I do land nav almost entirely through terrain association nowadays. I just want the compass to point north while I am bouncing around, and show me north while I am moving in the dark. The lensatic compasses work pretty well for that. It comes down to how I conduct land nav... I'm usually moving while looking at my compass, so a bubble gets pretty annoying.

    So, my preferences are a bit skewed.

    FinallyMe, there is a method to getting an azimuth with the lensatic compass, without a protractor. and it bypasses th need to convert grid to magnetic.

  18. #18
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamewolf
    I usually go to the woods to get lost


    No, no, no, no, no. As Daniel Boone said, we don't get lost we just get turned around for a few days. We is survivalists.

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    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamewolf View Post
    I don't know what all the fuss is about compasses and navigation. I usually go to the woods to get lost, not find my way back !
    I've never been lost.
    There have been times that my location didn't jive with the map coordinates, but I wasn't lost...
    When all else fails, read the directions, and beware the Chihuahuacabra!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    No, no, no, no, no. As Daniel Boone said, we don't get lost we just get turned around for a few days. We is survivalists. [/COLOR]
    Yeah, I'm never really lost as I happen to be standing exactly where I'm at (most of the time) !
    Lamewolf
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