Features to Look for While Buying a Compass

The ability to use a compass is an extremely useful skill especially when you are lost in the wilderness during your camping trip. A compass and map can also tell your exact location, what’s around you and the nearest way to get there. Therefore, a map and a compass are among the ten essentials you need while camping. While various cell phone apps and GPS receivers are wonderful tools, they can’t be totally relied upon because they are battery-operated.

What to Look at While Choosing a Compass?

You should look at 4 main features:

  1. Declination Adjustment: This is essential for hikers and other trail users
  2. Sighting Mirror: If you want to travel off trail and need more accurate navigation, sighting mirror and declination adjustment are necessary features
  3. Clinometers: A compass having clinometers helps while mountaineering to judge avalanche hazards
  4. Global Needle: This is a feature to look for, for world travelers or those who are just going on the south of the Equator

Basic Features You Should Look For

  • Magnetized Needle: Normally the red tip of a pivoting compass needle points to the magnetic pole. The needles usually float in a damping fluid which won’t freeze; however, sometimes bubbles are formed in it which usually don’t affect the needle movement.
  • Azimuth Ring (Rotating Bezel): This ring is marked with 0° to 360° and surrounds the outer edge of the needle capsule. The smaller the gap between the degrees, the more accurate is the navigation.
  • Baseplate: This is a flat transparent plate with a variety of navigational markings like a ruler to measure distances on maps.
  • Arrows and Lines for Orientation: These are the markings inside the housing of the needle and on the baseplate that are utilized for various basic navigational tasks.

Additional Features to Look For

  • Magnifying Lens: Some compasses have a set of magnifying lenses in the baseplate. They are useful for reading map details.
  • Luminescent Indicators: If you have to learn the compass in the dark (before sunrise or after sunset), you will feel relieved to have this feature.

Tips for Using a Compass

  • Learn How to Read a Compass: Join an online or local outdoor organization and learn to read a compass.
  • Use it Away from Metal Objects: This is because metals can distort your compass readings. Even if you are on a lava field, the iron level in the field can affect the readings. Electrical fields, e.g. one created by a running car engine, can disrupt the accuracy of the compass.
  • Store it Away from an Electric or Magnetic Field: Continuous exposure to electric or magnetic field can demagnetize the needle. Hence do not store the compass in your pocket near your mobile phone.

Read comprehensive compass reviews on Roam Outdoor. Here you will also get useful information on what to look for while buying a compass, so that you can take an educated decision.

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