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Ok so i am pretty inexperienced when it comes to the whole map and compass navigation thing, but i think its a skill worth knowing just in case. So i throw it to the experts, what are the differences and which do you use?
 

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I would learn to use a baseplate compass first. Take a class. Get a book, my recommendation is, Be Expert With Map and Compass, Bjorn Kjelstrom, excellent book, and if you have a compass when you read it you will have a greater understanding when done. Personally, I'm not a fan of lensatic compasses. Could be a lack of knowledge of how to properly use them, but just looking at one baffles me. How do you set declination? How do you set bearings? To me a baseplate is so much easier to use, no math to do, and it becomes second nature once you learn to use it, and use it frequently.

Couple of recommendations: Suunto M2D for a simple baseplate, that is inexpensive, full featured, superior engineering, and lasts a good long time.

Silva Ranger for a full size, mirrored sighting compass. I use this compass on longer trips, because I can fold it open and use it for plotting longer routes, triangulating positions from distant objects, etc. It is full featured, easy to use, lasts a long time, and has won several awards from leading outdoor publications. Just don't get the CLQ model. It is broken into four quadrants, and forces you to make a few adjustments when setting bearings and translating them onto your map. Get the CL model, and eliminate that little headache.
 

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Good post Cragar. I use both as I always have a back up anyway. The SilvaRanger is top notch. This video is a good one on Lensatic and the fellow shoobe01 has quite a few on youtube. I use them in the classes I teach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good stuff Cragar, thanks. i know most people suggest carrying two so should i get different ones or just another cheap baseplate model just to have a backup?
 

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Good post Cragar. I use both as I always have a back up anyway. The SilvaRanger is top notch. This video is a good one on Lensatic and the fellow shoobe01 has quite a few on youtube. I use them in the classes I teach.YouTube - ‪Using the USGI Compass - Part 1‬‏
That's awesome. Those videos are very informative. Just seeing what he is talking about really helps me understand a lot better how to properly use a lensatic compass. I suddenly find myself wanting one of the Tritium compasses now. LOL.

I have taught a navigation class for several years now and we always had folks bring in lensatic compasses, you know because they are cool, but our class focused on parts, usage, and adjustment of the baseplate compass, so I always had to give them a class use compass. Wish I would have had these videos at that time, or knew of them to tell the folks to watch when they got home.

The reason why I suggested the book I did, is because I use that books philosophy in my own navigation practice, and I taught the philosophy in my navigation classes as well. It is however my only exposure to navigation is what I've learned in the field, through teaching, and reading. Simple things like learning what intermediate bearings, hand rails, and catch features are can make your navigation experience so much more enjoyable in my opinion. Now understanding how I can use that philosophy with a lensatic compass will allow me to enjoy using one that much more.

Thanks for posting. He also has a number of excellent videos. I intend to go through his library and check it out. Can't wait to see how he discusses overcoming declination in plotting courses with the lensatic compass.

Also if you guys can suggest any good books on navigating with a lensatic, I would appreciate it. Not trying to hijack, but in my opinion, the more you know about and understand navigation principles, the better navigator you are.
 

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Good stuff Cragar, thanks. i know most people suggest carrying two so should i get different ones or just another cheap baseplate model just to have a backup?
Typically my backup is just a suunto clipper, or similar compass that I always have with my Oh **** Kit, or my FAK. My main compass is either the M2D or the Ranger. But you could carry the ranger, and use the M2D as back up certainly.

One thing is that if you switch to your back up, if your back up is not a full featured compass, you have to remind yourself to do your math for your declination, or you will wind up even more lost. Typically when you get to the point of using a back up compass, it isn't hard to remind yourself, because you know you've already made some mistakes on your trip.
 

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Get a good quality mirrored compass with adjustable declination. The Suunto M3 is a great choice, about $30, or the Suunto M2D with a few more whistles and bells for about $40. Search YouTube "wilderness navigation" there are some great videos there in the first page.
Lensatic compasses are more difficult to learn without hands-on instruction and not recommended for beginners.
 

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Best to learn EVERY standard style compass.
As you never know what you might have available.











 
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Get a good quality mirrored compass with adjustable declination. The Suunto M3 is a great choice, about $30, or the Suunto M2D with a few more whistles and bells for about $40. Search YouTube "wilderness navigation" there are some great videos there in the first page.
Lensatic compasses are more difficult to learn without hands-on instruction and not recommended for beginners.
If the OP is stupid enough not to have figured this out in 5 years time, you're definitely not gonna help him ;).
 

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I prefer mirror, especially vs. baseplate. Being able to sight an exact line gets more important if you're travelling a long bearing. Being off by a degree may not mean much in a short run, but get out a couple of kilometres and you'll be nowhere near your target.
 

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Any good base plate compass and a topo map is all you need to navigate for miles. Your body is calibrated to less than a degree no need for anything more than a good baseplate compass. I teach map and compass and GPS for search and rescue so I do know what I'm taking about. A good inexpensive compass is a Suunto A10 which can be found for less than $20.00
 
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