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In just a few days, I’ll be refreshing at an entry level map and compass class, a student of a guest speaker sponsored by an NPO I’m part of, Frontline Preparedness. You can watch great YouTube channels for compass training all day long (I recommend “Corporal’s Corner”), but if you don’t get out and move around in the wild, you won’t capture a thing. Like I’ve told people at my rat-race job a thousand times—I can’t teach you experience. I shared the event on my Facebook page and a friend hit me up a few hours later: “What kind of compass should I get?” That’s a great question, and the answer depends on your intent.
Now, I own several of the cheap, mil-spec knock-offs that are made in Taiwan (like in the free header photo above) and purchased from places like Sportsman’s Guide for like six bucks. I can lay them down side-by-side and get different readings. Yeah…don’t use those unless they’re all you have. You may as well have pulled it out of a box of candied corn.
While I’m sure there are several high-quality manufacturers out there, the “Lexus” of compasses is Suunto, a Finnish compass and watch company. The A-10 [not the flying death machine that goes “BRRRRTTT” on Taliban heads] is a good starter model. Like I told my friend, “This is a good ‘stay-on-the marked-trails’ compass.
“But, Austin???” you protest. “I’m preppin’ to fight ninja-pirates right over those mountains. I NEED something more TURBO!!!”
“Allow me to whip this out…” I say coolly as I quote Blazing Saddles while at the same time dazzle you with Fonzie-like coolness. I show you my MC-2, which comes with a ton of sub-models. The main direction [See what I did there?] you want to go with features is for it to be multi-functional. It should be able to adjust for annual magnetic declination. It should be able to take directional bearings while being readable and held perfectly level at the same time. It should have multiple scales etched into it so it can quickly give you distances on different maps. These models start in the high-30’s and go up from there.
The bottom line is that navigation is a core POSSE function that you shouldn’t skimp on in either training or equipment.
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Remember: Our DUTY is to Be READY.