The wilderness is vast, beautiful, and often dangerous. Whether you’re on a short hiking trip to get out of the city, or pitching a tent at a popular camping spot with friends, you should always keep this in mind. Mother nature can be fickle and unforgiving, a fact some of us easily forget.
No matter how safe an area may seem it’s possible to wander off the tracks and find yourself lost. The best way to combat such a situation is to make sure you have the right tools. These days most people rely on the GPS tracker on their phones to track their location. But your cellphone is far from foolproof – it depends on both battery power and a cell signal. If you don’t have both of those things, you’re out of luck. That’s where the handy compass comes in.
Below we’re going to explain how one can be used to help you survive in the worst circumstance, and some of the best compasses you can but to prepare you for any adventures into the great outdoors.
What Is A Compass?
A compass is a device used to determine the direction, in relation to geographical cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West). It is usually identified by a rotating magnetic needle mounted on a rose. This is the printed face that displays cardinal directions and the points between them.
According to the National Geographic Society website, they have been in use in Western Europe since the end of the 12th century, however, it is possible they were being produced by the Chinese as early as the 11th century. Since then these devices have been used as a tool for navigation by different cultures around the world.
It should be noted that magnetic compasses are not the only ones in use. Gyrocompasses (that follow the earth’s axis of rotation) and solar are two popular examples.
What Makes a Good Compass?
The most important quality for a compass is durability. The last thing you want is yours to be cracked by something in your pack, or to be damaged if you drop it. Being in the outdoors can lead to many kinds of situations and you want to know that it will survive them.
There are a surprising amount of features needed for basic navigation. You should be able to identify them before you buy them. Here’s a small list of necessities to look for:
Baseplate: What you use to take bearings on a map. The baseplate is where the scales, direction of travel, and index line are marked.
Scales: Measurements usually found on the side of the baseplate. They are used for measuring distances on a map.
Direction of Travel: The arrow used to show the direction you are moving in, or the bearing you take.
Ruler: Determines distance using the map scale.
Orienting Arrow: A marking fixed within the housing and aligned to the north.
Magnetic Needle: A strip of metal in the center of the housing, usually with a red or white tip that points magnetic north.
Orienting Lines: Lines fixed within the bottom of the housing, that rotate with it and match the grid lines of a map.
Index Line: Where the bearing is read when you rotate the housing.
Many also offer extra features that, while not necessary for accurate navigation, can be helpful.
So what are your options? Below we’re going to suggest 5 of the best compasses for survival that 2020 has to offer.
Suunto MC – 2G
The Suunto MC is suitable for outdoor environments of all kinds, all the way from light trekking to hunting, military use, and yes, survival. It has a sturdy built that offers great shock resistance and includes a multitude of extras such as a clinometer, sighting mirror, and a magnifying lens. It also works in all zones, meaning that the leveling doesn’t have to be adjusted to be more precise. No wonder it’s so popular with outdoor enthusiasts everywhere.
UST Deluxe Map
The UST Deluxe is used for wilderness survival as well as orienteering i.e the sport of navigation, so you know it’s going to be useful if you find yourself in a sticky situation. With a compact and lightweight baseplate, as well as a breakaway lanyard for connecting to your gear, it’s a great device to carry along in any environment.
Sharp Survival Compass
What’s in a name? With the Sharp, its name should be perfect for your needs. With stylish vintage/antique copper casing, it offers a little more in terms of aesthetics if you’re looking to get lost in style. Thankfully it’s more than just a pretty face – with all the necessary features it also offers a glow-in-the-dark ability so that it can be used in any weather and environment. It’s compact size also makes it suitable for both adults and children.
The TruArc 3 is ideal for intermediate to advanced navigators. With a global needle that can be used in both the northern and southern hemispheres and both imperial and metric scales, it can travel with you anywhere. It also helps that Brunton is a trustworthy brand that has been in production for over a century, and known as the “gold standard” for professional compasses. So you know it’s a reliable choice.
Suunto A10 – Field
That’s right, this Finnish company makes two appearances on the list due to their reliable, high-quality products. If you’re a less experienced outdoorsman (or woman) and the MC – 2G is a little out of your price range, with supplies features you may not need, the A10 is a fantastic alternative. With all of the necessary features and durable scratch-resistant plastic, it’s easy to use and thus ideal for beginner navigators.
So there you have it, five of the premium compasses for survival in 2020. Don’t worry about your phone battery or GPS signal – as long as you have one of these by your side, you’ll be prepared for anything that the outdoors throws at you.