What do all good orienteering compasses have?

What do All Good Orienting Compasses Have?

What All Good Orienting Compasses Have

There are a lot of compasses that are in circulation right now. Some of these are quality orienteering compasses, while some of them are just sub-par. Thus, you need to know the difference between an excellent orienting compass and a bad one. Some of the things to look out for are:

  1. Transparent base plate: The base plate of a compass is where all the compass components are found. Think of it as the “foundation” on which producers put other parts of the compass. A fair amount of compasses have opaque base plates in an attempt to look sophisticated. So, when you want to get one, it would be best to get clear and easy to read.
  2. Straight sides: When choosing a compass, you need to look at compasses that have straight sides. These straight sides are used for aligning two coordinates or for sketching lines. If someone is trying to sell you a compass with fancy sides that aren’t straight, politely decline. There are a lot of good orienting compasses that look good and offer straight reliable sides. These straight sides could be a big reason for your success at orienteering competitions.
  3. Fluid-filled needle housing: Have you ever taken a reading on a compass and then seen the magnetic needle continually fluctuate? The reason that happened is that you didn’t use a compass filled with fluid. Fluid-filled needles help the magnetic needles remain balanced when taking readings. This is a vital part of navigation, so you should be on the lookout for compasses with fluid-filled needle housings. The last thing you need is a compass telling you to go East and then pointing towards the North the next moment.

A compass is one of the most important things to have when you are planning on stepping outside. You can use it to navigate through several tough spots, whether you go on a camping trip or you want to find directions to your destination. Since they were invented, they have never gone out of use, with the compass itself being digitalized along with this new digital era. Nowadays, compasses are used for a delightful sport called Orienteering. Since then, people have produced a lot of orienteering compasses.

 But how can you spot some of the best orienteering compasses?  It would help to know a bit of the compass’s history, as well as the mechanics behind them. This information would teach you how to separate orienteering compasses from regular ones.

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History Behind Compasses

Compasses have been around for quite a long time now. The earliest compasses were created tens of thousands of years ago. However, the earliest recorded case of someone making and using a compass was in the 11th century. Back then, they were made of lodestone, which was an ore made from iron. The lodestone was suspended and allowed to move. The compass has always been used for direction, as that is what the people then invented it for during the song dynasty.

A little bit later, people began to use iron needles. These iron needles were magnetized by hitting them with a lodestone. These were more effective than the first model, but unbeknownst to them, they were far from perfect. They later started using dry compasses during medieval and Islamic times. After a while, compasses with liquid-filled compasses were created. People popularly used it until the 20th century.

The latest compasses are now more efficient and save a lot of time and effort. They mainly operate using a magnetized needle or a dial inside a capsule. This capsule will be filled with lamp oil, alcohol, and so on.

How It Works

Although there are now modern compasses, the principle of magnet use has remained almost unchanged. It involves a small magnetic pin suspended in the compass that would respond to the earth’s magnetism. It aligns itself with the world’s electromagnetic field, letting explorers and other uses know where North is. By understanding the North, they would be able to determine where the other cardinal points are.

Not all compasses display the four cardinal points. Some of them only have the North showed. So the user must possess some knowledge before using the compass.

How To Use a Compass

Using a compass is simple enough but requires you to be patient, have very accurate deduction skills, and a detailed understanding of the terminologies associated with map reading. 

  1. Place your compass on the floor, and mark your current coordinates.
  2.  Mark the destination you want to arrive at and draw a line between it and your current position.
  3. Place the edge of the compass on this line you have created so that the direction you want to go is on the travel arrow.
  4. Turn the azimuth ring until the arrow is aligned with the north sign on the compass.
  5. Remove your compass and turn until the arrow and needle are aligned together again. When you do that, you should know that you are in the right direction and walk now.

You should note that when you are reading on a new compass, the compass’s magnetic North is not the same as the actual North Pole, although they are in nearly similar directions. This does not mean that the compass is less accurate. If you want to know the difference between the true North and the magnetic North, it is best to use declination. Declination is simply subtraction of the magnetic North from the true North at any particular region.

Our Verdict

Finding a good orienteering compass is not an easy task. For Orienteering, there would be many people trying to sell their compasses to you, so it is vital to know what orienteering compasses should have before you purchase them. As we said earlier, a bit of history on how compasses came into existence and how they work would help you make the most appropriate choice.

What do all good orienteering compasses have?

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