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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Awhile back we talked about a 50 cent pocket compass I ordered off Ebay. Rather than buying the compass from an online store, just go straight to the source and cut out the middle man.

Paracord zipper pulls were added to my packs, and then the compass was attached to the paracord. Is the pocket compass a primary land navigation aid? Of course not. The pocket compass is used in conjunction with other navigation aids.

For example, while on a recent hiking trip with the dogs we stopped next to a nice pool of water to take a break. While the dogs were playing, I looked at the pocket compass to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

I know the area and there was no way we could have become lost. A pipeline passes through the forest just a few hundred yards from where the dogs and I stopped. Then there is a dirt road that bisects the pipeline. No matter which way we headed, we would hit either the road or the pipeline, as long as we traveled in a straight line.

Using a Pocket Compass

To affirm the compass, I looked at the tree shadows then checked the time. The compass was pointing north, as was confirmed by the tree shadows. The dogs and I needed to travel east.

If there was any doubt as to what my heading was, my primary land navigational gear was in my backpack. This included a TOPO map of the area, map compass, lensatic compass and Garmin Etrex GPS.

Having the pocket compass on a paracord zipper pull keeps it close at hand. I may put one on the shoulder straps of the pack, but am still undecided on that.

Drop the pack, get the canteen out, swig some water, look at the compass, load back up and head out.

I would only use a pocket compass for short trips, and only when I am not worried about getting lost. If the dogs and I had been on a trip where we could have gotten turned around, then I would have used the map compass.

Love of Nature

I love walking with the dogs through the woods. This is about as close to nature as someone can get. Dogs get the opportunity to enjoy life as nature meant, and I get to see it all.

While the dogs and I were stopped at the pool of water, Beau was the first to jump in. He loves the water and jumps in every chance he gets.

The new puppy, Bubba, was having a panic attack trying to get down to the other dogs. The bank was just a little too steep for him. So I picked Bubba and brought him over to a washed out area where he could get down the water and the other dogs.

From there, the dogs had a great playing in the water, and running up and down the bank.

When Buster went missing, Zoey and I went back to the watering hole to look for him, but he was nowhere to be found. I sat on the edge of the bank, held Zoey and cried. Thankfully Buster came home two days later.

Final Thoughts

The dogs and I have another trip planned in the next couple of days. So check back soon for that story.

20 Posts
Sounds like a decent day.

I have a small compass clipped to my backpack that serves the same purpose.

I often do overnighters in some of the local state forests and hike in at night. I'm very familiar with the trails. One of the trail intersections follows a multi use trail. Horses tend to turn it into a mud wallow.

Where the higher grass grows by the side of the trail there was some that looked broken and turned. Thinking it was some clever hiker running a parallel path to the trail instead of being knee deep in mud, I followed it as it got further and further from the main path until it eventually dawned on me that I was following a deer trail. Failing to admit I was lost (I was out of the high grass and into dense eye-level mountain laurel) I lost track of the deer trail. I'm pretty comfortable by myself in the woods, but in the pitch black with a headlamp reflecting off of undergrowth, unable to find the moon through the mountain laurel I could see about 2 feet ahead of me and I did not know where I was. I was stumped and lost in a place I'd been a hundred times before. Then I remembered the compass clipped to my pack.

I knew from the map I had started out going north on the multiuse trail and the deer path had veered me west. The multi use trail shared a service road I knew I'd hit if I just went south. Quick look at the compass and a 30 minute slog took me back to the service road, where another 20 minutes were spent wading through the mud I originally thought I had avoided.

Always have a compass, and there are no shortcuts.

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