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  1. #1

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    Proper use of a compass

    I'm not sure if this is the right place to post it but I'm going out on a limb here and hoping that since hammock camping will allow you to get pretty remote w/o as much worry about a good site to setup when compared to a tent, that you guys might know, or have a resource, to explain using a compass behind "the needle points north".

    The more I read the more I get confused, maybe I'm just over thinking it. I've been reading about declination and I understand what it is and why you need to compensate for it, but what I don't understand is exactly how. I understand that true north varies from magnetic north by a set amount of degrees that adjust over time and that you need to compensate in the opposite direction. I don't understand how & I don't understand the "bubble over bubble" thing people keep talking about. Help? I bought the Brunton 8099 Eclipse.

  2. #2
    ftroop94's Avatar
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    Boy Scout Orienteering Merit Badge Pamphlet. Simple, tried and true and can teach an 11 year old the basics.

    KISS method.
    Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
    Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

  3. #3
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    I was taught hands-on, and that's the best way to learn it, I think. There's very little that can compare to a real person being there to ask silly questions of and get clarification on skills from. If you know someone who knows how to navigate with a compass and map, it would be best to spend a weekend learning how.

    If not, there are a couple of groups in Virginia that teach orienteering and sponsor events associated with it. Now, I have no personal experience with either of those; they both came up with a thirty-second Google search. So, take that with a grain of salt.

    But, it shows that there are groups in your area that would be willing to teach someone new to the navigation portion of the outdoors. It might be worth going out for a weekend to learn the basics.

  4. #4
    kayak karl's Avatar
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    this is 7 parts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p584I...feature=relmfu
    i knew most, but filled in some gaps for me.
    It's not procrastinating, its proactively delaying the implementation of the energy-intensive phase of the project until the enthusiasm factor is at its maximum effectiveness.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ftroop94 View Post
    Boy Scout Orienteering Merit Badge Pamphlet. Simple, tried and true and can teach an 11 year old the basics.

    KISS method.
    Just ordered it on amazon for 13 cents... even if it's a wash, I can't complain about that cost!

    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
    I was taught hands-on, and that's the best way to learn it, I think. There's very little that can compare to a real person being there to ask silly questions of and get clarification on skills from. If you know someone who knows how to navigate with a compass and map, it would be best to spend a weekend learning how.

    If not, there are a couple of groups in Virginia that teach orienteering and sponsor events associated with it. Now, I have no personal experience with either of those; they both came up with a thirty-second Google search. So, take that with a grain of salt.

    But, it shows that there are groups in your area that would be willing to teach someone new to the navigation portion of the outdoors. It might be worth going out for a weekend to learn the basics.
    I'm actually still in Tampa, FL for right now, but "home" is Virginia. I'll be moving back up there near the end of the summer and if I haven't figured this stuff out by then, I'll look them up thanks

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by kayak karl View Post
    this is 7 parts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p584I...feature=relmfu
    i knew most, but filled in some gaps for me.
    excellent! I'm watching right now.

  7. #7
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rottenpossum View Post
    Just ordered it on amazon for 13 cents... even if it's a wash, I can't complain about that cost!



    I'm actually still in Tampa, FL for right now, but "home" is Virginia. I'll be moving back up there near the end of the summer and if I haven't figured this stuff out by then, I'll look them up thanks
    Well, since you're in the area, I can teach the basics...if you want...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
    Well, since you're in the area, I can teach the basics...if you want...
    Possibly. I'm visiting family in July for a week and then will be pretty busy on the weekends with work until I move hopefully in August. If I end up having free time, I'll PM you if that would be ok with you?

  9. #9
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    I was self taught from this 30 years ago:
    http://www.amazon.com/Be-Expert-Map-.../dp/0020292651

    Once every 5 or 10 years I will review, but most of it is long since ingrained. It gives you some exercises/games to use at a city park or in your backyard to safely make technique 2nd nature. There may be better books out there, but this one definitely gets the job done.

    As for declination, I normally use compasses that have a dec adjustment on them. If I am in WY or some place where the dec is 13-15* east, I make the adjustment on the compass and forget about it. Barring that, it is best to draw lines with a pencil on your map going off of the declination pointer at the bottom of your map, then use those lines rather than the north-south lines on your map.

    But, what is your declination where you are hiking? It is only a couple of degrees or less where I do most of my hiking. With that amount of error, I ignore it, maybe taking some new settings after a couple of miles of hiking through the deep woods. This has never caused me any problems whatsoever. Try this: set a compass course for 45*, and face that direction. Then set one for 47* and face that direction. How much difference do you see in the direction you are going to walk? Not much. Miniscule. If you are hiking on trail, all you need is the overall direction of the trail, because the trail is not going in a straight line for very long. If you are off trail, you are going to be zigging and zagging constantly to get around obstacles ( big fallen trees/finding places to cross the creeks etc ), and your huge challenge will be staying on a course within 5 or 10 degrees anyway. Thats why if less than a few degrees of declination error, I ignore it.

    If you are hiking in an area with 15-20* dec, you probably better pay attention to that. But even with that much error, if you only hike a "short" distance to a landmark on your map, and when you get to that landmark reset the compass to the next LM not too far away, it is probably still not going to cause you much grief. ( But don't try to follow a course off trail for several miles in thick woods with that much error, or you will find your self maybe too far from your objective to see it. )

    You will still be OK even with a lot of dec error especially if you are always paying close attention to your map and any landmarks like lake shores and rivers/creeks/major ridges or drainages, etc. It is probably at least as ( or more ) important to learn to read your topo map as it is to learn to use your compass and adjust for declination error. Think about it: declination is a non-issue unless you are fully depending on a magnetic compass which has a needle that always points to magnetic north instead of the true north shown on your map- IOW any compass wihtout a dec adjustment. If you orient/align your map with (for example) an obvious creek inlet into a lake or where a road/trail crosses a creek or some other excellent landmark, you won't have any dec errors. The map will be aligned with the landscape and will be correct. You can still use your compass with it's 20* of error to orient your map to "in the ball park" quality, then fine tune the maps orientation by aligning it exactly with what you see around you. This will erase all dec errors.

    Then once correctly oriented, if you face in the direction of your objective as it shows on this correctly aligned map, you know which way you need to go. And if you then set a compass course for this direction you are facing ( not off the map, but just point the compass towards where you are facing and box the needle), you will have a correct course to follow no matter how much dec error there is in your area. If you are not trying to line the compass north/south lines up with the maps NS lines, dec will not be a factor.

    But it is safest, and fun, to practice all of this in a place where you can not get lost, until it is all 2nd nature. Have fun! ( It is all a lot of fun to me, more fun than a GPS)

    Get with Flrider for some lessons. If you were in this area we could take some practice hikes through some serious jungle!
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 06-30-2012 at 13:15.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  10. #10
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rottenpossum View Post
    Possibly. I'm visiting family in July for a week and then will be pretty busy on the weekends with work until I move hopefully in August. If I end up having free time, I'll PM you if that would be ok with you?
    Not a problem. I'm free most Sundays and Mondays (though I could go early in the day pretty much any day; I work at night). PM me if you want!

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