Sparky has decided to write his own outdoor column called “Sparky’s Tip of the Week”. He hopes you enjoy some of his insights
Sparky’s Tip of the Week #1 – Compasses
If you are heading off to the forest without a guide, you need a good compass—your life may depend on it. Walking through the forest is not the same as walking down the street in a city. There are no signposts and often no trails. If it is cloudy or raining, direction becomes difficult to impossible to figure out. Your only means of direction is using your compass. Wear your compass on a lanyard around your neck so it is easy to find and use. Lanyards are easy to find at an outdoor store.
Compass—What to look for:
- Bezel degree intervals—compasses with needle use a magnetized needle that aligns with the earth’s magnetic field. The bezel outer ring is mark in degrees from 0 °-360 ° degrees.
- Liquid filled—for a steady needle to allow precise compass readings.
- There are other optional features to get with your compass depending upon your budget.
- Declination adjustment
- Map scales
- Luminous needle and bezel ring
- Sighting mirror
- Global needle—for use in the Southern Hemisphere
Compass—What you do not need:
- Combination compasses with whistle and mirrors or any other accessory are useless – unless you want to explore your fenced backyard. These compasses are too small to be practicable and the whistles are not loud enough to hear unless you are standing next to the person who is blowing it. If you want a compass and whistle, purchase them separately and get good quality. Your life may depend upon them.
What do you really need?
Sparky says you need a big enough baseplate compass that has large readable Bezel degree intervals and a directional arrow. Liquid filled is a bonus. All the other option, bell & whistles are wonderful but not necessary. My Boy Scout compass that I have used for over 50 years is not liquid filled and works great. Expect to pay $14 and up. Any good outdoor store like REI, Cabella’s, L. L. Bean
Take a basic navigation class, too. Having a compass on you will do you no good if you do not know how to use it. You are just as lost as if you did not have one. In addition, you can get your 15 minutes of fame on local TV News when the Search & Rescue people have to find you.