Orienteering Compass – Must Have and Nice to Have Features

In any SHTF scenario the need for map reading skills and an orienteering compass is absolutely necessary.

The tools needed are a good quality map and a good quality orienteering compass.

Now you might say, forget all that I’ve got a GPS receiver and Siri. Not so when the batteries are flat. Remember the rule of survival – never trust your life to a battery, right?

And the orienteering compass you do buy, make sure it’s fit for purpose. Small compasses on keyring, attached to paracord bracelets, on zipper pulls – waste of space.

Compasses on smartphones and multi-function watches may look good, but not when the battery is flat.

There are some very good analogue orienteering compasses on the market today and some come full packed with features. My advice: most of the features are a nice-to-have, so apply the KISS principle, Keep It Super Simple.

Must Have Features of a Orienteering Compass

Magnetised Needle: The red end of a pivoting needle will always point to the magnetic North Pole. Most needles float in a damping fluid.

Rotating Bezel or Azimuth Ring: Marked in degrees from 0 deg to 360 deg. Encircles the outer edge of the compass needle capsule.

Baseplate: Flat transparent base with navigational markings including a ruler in mm and inches

Orienting Arrows and Lines: Inside the compass needle capsule and on the baseplate to aid in navigation.

Nice to Have Features of a Orienteering Compass

Magnifying Lens: Set into the transparent baseplate can be used to read the fine details on a map.

Luminescent Indicators: The major markings on the compass. For navigating in the dark.

Declination Adjustment: “Declination” is the difference between Magnetic North and True North. It’s measured in degrees and will vary depending on where you are. It’s only necessary to set this once unless you move to a far away location.

Lanyard: A cord attached to the compass so that you can hang the compass around your neck or tie to your belt. It’s a convenience thing.


Orienteering Compass Comparison

Magnetised NeedleYYYY
Rotating BezelYYYY
Magnifying LensNNYY
Luminescent IndicatorsYYY
Declination AdjustmentNNNY
Dimensions (mm)150 X 70180 X 90120 X 60180 X 100
Weight (gms)658241




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