On the Mountains Mistakes are Fatal. — Mark Udall
Improve Your Use of a Magnetic Compass
To become a Good Wilderness Navigator you must learn to always Trust Your Compass. Everyone in a Group or Party Must Carry a Compass to ensure that if separated each Member of the Group can still Navigate. The Compass is not only a Critical Survival Item but is also a Critical Navigation Tool in the Navigators Tool Belt.
Would you Trust your Life to a poor quality Rope? Not very likely, so Purchase a Quality Liquid-filled, clear base plated Sighting Compass with adjustable Declination. A Romer on the base plate is also a good idea and comes with nearly all quality compasses. Quality compass is manufactured for a particular region of the world, make sure you only a compass made for the region you are in.
If you are looking for a quality Magnetic Compass in Canada today you have two choices: 1) Suunto MC2 360 which is a decent quality compass and balanced for anywhere in the world. It is also available nearly everywhere compasses are sold. 2) Silva Expedition 15 TDCL 360 which is not sold in Canada and you will need to order one from the UK or Ireland. The Silva Compasses sold in North America are not manufactured by the actual Silva, AG from Sweden, but by Johnson Outdoors and are pale cousins of the real thing. The real Silva Type 15 Compass is the Compass I highly recommend and use every day in the Wilderness of Canada, even if ordering it is a bit of a pain.
Hints for Using a Magnetic Compass
- Trust Your Compass
- Hold Your Compass Level
- Give Your Compass Time to Settle, up to 30 Seconds, Minimum 5 Seconds
- Compass have an Individual Error, Quality Compasses have Smaller Errors
- Do not take Bearing near Metal Objects or Power Lines (i.e. power poles, power lines, cars, buildings, pipelines, fence posts, etc.)
- Most Compasses are Balanced for the Magnetic Region (Magnetic Inclination) you Buy it in
- Use the Sighting Mirror Correctly
- Set the Declination for the Compass each time you move to another Area