Outdoor enthusiasts tend to gear away from traditional devices due to modern offerings in the market. You can check out the best outdoor watches as some provide you navigation information.
Nevertheless, an excellent piece of equipment that never gets old is a compass. This device is utilized to navigate hikers or backpackers on unfamiliar territory.
Why learn orienteering with the compass?
The first step in learning how orienteering with a compass is to identify its parts. You can get a bit of understanding with its parts and what its lines mean. This also includes familiarizing yourself with what parts turn and why it does.
Why use a compass?
This simple device may serve as a great introduction to orienteering. This skill is useful for sports activities or any other hobby. We recommend utilizing this device on your first outdoor exploration. It may easily be learned by adults and even kids.
You can start your navigation knowledge with a compass. It is a basic tool that never goes out of style even with modern gadgets.
Another reason to learn how to use a compass is – Orienteering.
Orienteering – is a kind of sports where you navigate through an unknown location with a compass and a map. The goal is to finish the course in the shortest time possible. To be successful in this sport you must learn orienteering with the compass very fast. If you want to learn more about Orienteering please check out our article – Introduction to Orienteering.
Anatomy of the compass
In today’s time, compass designs have become interesting and full of features. Some manufacturers offer unique features such as water resistance and digital display. Despite these innovations, most compasses still utilize the basic parts.
Compasses have a needle that is magnetized to orient itself to magnetic fields on Earth. A basic compass for field use features the simple components found below. As an outdoor enthusiast, we recommend familiarizing yourself how the compass needle works before your next trip.
- Baseplate: This component is a plastic plate with clear canvass. It is in this area where the compass usually is embedded.
- Travel arrow direction: This refers to the around found on the baseplate. The arrow which points in the opposite way of the compass.
- Housing: This clear plastic part, circle-shaped, houses the compass magnetized needle.
- Degree Dial: This twistable dial surrounds the housing of the compass. The housing displays the circle’s full 360 degrees.
- Orienting Arrow: This is an arrow which is non-magnetic found within the housing of the compass.
- Orienting Lines: This refers to the lines inside the housing of the compass. These lines run parallel with the orienting arrow.
- Magnetic Needle: This component refers to the spinning needle within the housing of the compass.
These are the main parts of a compass. It may look like a lot to comprehend. But, as you get more experience in utilizing this device, you can find yourself easily using it. You are now ready to learn how to effectively use a compass.
How to use the compass
Utilizing a compass may sound complex at first. It is daunting to handle a device that runs manually. Moreover, you do not have keys or buttons to click. So, how do you use a compass? Here are the basic steps to help you get started.
Gathering Your Bearings
As you hike in the woods, you can periodically check the bearings. This is to ensure that you are traveling in the correct or intended direction. To complete this, try doing compass bearing exercises. You can move your compass up to the travel arrow direction. If you are heading north, the needle shall spin going to the side.
You can start twisting the compass’ degree dial. Continue twisting up until your orienting arrow is in line with the magnetic needle’s north end.
Then, take off the magnetic variation through twisting your degree dial. It should be in the right degrees going to the right or left, depending on your declination. Make sure that the travel arrow direction lines with your degree dial.
Move Continuously in the Direction
You need to hold your compass in a stable way. Shift your body on the direction where your magnetic needle’s north end aligns with orienting needle. You can then follow the direction of your travel arrow.
You may check the compass periodically. Nevertheless, you must ensure not to twist accidentally the dial’s degree from the current position.
Observe the Points on a Distance
To follow the travel arrow’s direction accurately, you should look down and focus on distant objects. These include but not limited to trees, poles and other landmarks. You can use these as guides as you move.
We recommend not focusing on something that stands very far from you. You must not focus on mountains and other huge objects. These objects are not precise to help you navigate accurately.
If your visibility is unclear, you may use another hiking member. You can ask your companion to walk in front and away from your direction. You can then call them out to correct their way as together you walk. They can wait on a point visible from you until the moment you can catch up. This will be your destination in the right direction to follow.
Tips When Navigating
When transposing the travel direction on your map, you can first place your navigational map onto a flat surface. You can then put the compass directly on top of the map. The orienting arrow should point on the true north of the map.
You may proceed to slide the compass around your current position with the orienting arrow still pointing to the north. Next, you can draw lines along the edge of the compass and to your current placement. You must maintain this bearing. The path from the position you are in shall be similar to the line you drew.
Holding the compass in your front, the travel arrow’s direction should be pointing away. Utilize this arrow for guidance when navigating to your desired destination. Similar to the previous step, shift your body up until the needle’s north ends align with orienting needle.
As you navigate on your outdoor trip, you may use a trusty compass to find the correct direction. There is also modern equipment that you can consider getting to aid you in navigation. These tools, along with a compass, can help you reach your intended destination in no time.
We recommend learning and getting familiar with the parts of a compass. By learning the basics of using it, you minimize the risk of getting lost in the wilderness.
I remember my first training on how to use a compass when I was in first grade, “put fred in the shed”. Knowing how to use a compass is a great skill. I had to use on on a trail that was suppose to be a short hike and we got lost because the trail wasn’t marked well at all. I got a little scared because it was bear season, getting cold and dark but the compass pointed us in the right direction.