My trusty compass. A Silva Ranger Type 15. You can spend more but you can’t do much better than this. If you don’t have a good base plate style compass and know how to use it, then you should probably just stay close to the truck.
Silva has newer model Rangers now of course but this one has what you really need. Note the adjustable declination key on the end of the lanyard.
I am no world class orienteer, but I am a big believer in carrying a map and compass in addition to a GPS unit. If I have to explain that to you then you have not been paying attention. Most of the time, usually when I have at least a working knowledge of the area I am in, I wear a Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass. However, when I am in a new area or covering lots of ground off trail from one point to another then I use a standard base plate compass like the Silva Ranger Type 15 pictured above.
When using a compass in combination with a map I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles but I do need the basics and the Silva Ranger has them in a package that is relatively small, light and durable. I have used this particular compass for nearly 20 years and as you can see it shows some wear but it still does the job. Why switch just for the sake of switching, right?
What are the basics? A clear base plate with the appropriate measurement scales and graduations, a straight edge, a smooth direction bezel, luminous points and needles, adjustable declination, a good backsighting mirror (also doubles as a signal mirror) and sight, and a built in protective cover. Thats about it for me.
Oh, one other extremely important thing. Get some training and learn how to use it, then practice and be proficient with it. Please don’t be that guy. Good m&c skills will make you a better GPS operator too.
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