Never travel anywhere without a good compass and not learning how to use it. From many centuries ago to this day, a compass has been a traveler’s best friend.
They’re useful, compact, and once understand how to read it, they’re extremely helpful in going about different directions. Before apps like Waze and Google Maps, or even phones altogether, emerged on the scene, compasses were the best tools to have when you’re lost or simply traveling to a new place.
They’re especially vital when you’re going camping, as mountains and forests can easily get you lost. If you have your own and you want to use it on a trip, here’s how to use a compass correctly.
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Differentiate The Types Of Compasses
Firstly, it’s imperative that you differentiate the types of compasses from one another. You’ll never know, but you might bring the wrong type of compass to a specific site by mistake. Certain compasses work in certain areas.
- The first one is your standard Mountaineering compass, also known as the Orienteering compass. This is the type where the neede is always pointing to the Northside. It’s easiest to use when you’re lost so you’ll automatically know where the North is located in your area. In order to find directions, you’ll also need to move the dial. Always note that it’s best to choose a Mountaineering compass when you want to go camping.
- The second type of compass is the Card compass, the ones usually in your car. This kind doesn’t have a needle pointing to the North but has a fixed card that moves whenever you change directions. This is why when you’re driving, the needles of the compasses attached always tend to flutter a little when you swerve or change directions. This isn’t particularly useful when traveling, which makes it an uncommon compass to begin with.
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Understand Its Parts
To use a compass correctly is to fully understand its many parts particularly the four basic elements. The foundation of the compass is called a baseplate, wherein its edges measure the distances seen on the maps.
There’s also the housing, which is full of liquid, that houses the needle. Mounted on the baseplate is the dial is the ring that bears the degrees upon which you’re traveling on. You can rotate it when you’re moving about, especially if you get lost.
The best way to find your way when you get lost is to follow the needle, usually red in color, that always points to the North. Wherever you are in this world, the needle will always point to the Northside.
Always Align Yourself
Always keep yourself aligned if you want to use the compass correctly. Before starting your trip, you have to first align yourself within the points of the map. As accurately as you can, you should match the degreed laid on the map with the ones written on your compass.
Typically, you have to hold it within the middle of the distance between your face and your wrist. Your arm has to be bent slightly and your hand holding it should be as straight and stiff as can be.
Know When To Turn The Bezel
Once you start walking, there will be times when you need to turn the bezel, also known as the ring of the compass. Turning it adds the magnetic variation that helps differentiate between the magnetic north and the grid north.
You usually turn the bezel when you want to change directions, or you find that you’re already lost. Just make sure that you don’t turn it too much as most compasses are marked for only every 2 degrees.
Best Compass Apps To Download On Your Phone
Since everything nowadays has gone digital, you can now use a smartphone as a compass. There are some apps can download that are designed to be as accurate and as helpful with directions as classic compasses are. Here are a few prominent ones.
- Digital Field Compass
If you have an Android as your phone, the best app to download is the Digital Field Compass. It’s extremely legible and the layout is easy to understand and to navigate through. The app is also designed to be used at nighttime, with a special glow to make sure you can still read it amidst the dark. But the best part? You won’t have to pay a single cent for it.
- Smart Phone Compass
If you want an app that’s easier for people who don’t know how to use a compass int he first place, then download Smart Compass. This one is for those who have iPhones. They’re not your typical-looking compasses as every detail you need to understand is listed. It says where you are, your exact coordinates, the degrees in the distance, and many more. while it doesn’t have that classic compass feel, it is, however, as accurate as one.
- Commander Compass
For iOS users, Commander Compass app is the one for you. Out of all the compass apps in this list, this one is the most forward-thinking and futuristic. This app boasts a lot of features, such as recording the exact coordinates of where you are and where you’ve been, navigation through the positioning of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as featuring a ton of different compass formats. Not only is it useful, but it’s also quite fun to navigate with.
- 3D Compass Plus
The 3D Compass Plus app is arguably the most interactive compass app in the market today. Available for iOS and Android users, this app shoes not only the directions and the coordinates of where you’re going but the actual views upon which you’ll be seeing. Through satellite footage, you’ll be able to see the street, road, or even the trees if you’re in the forest. It displays an augmented reality so you can accurately know where you’re going.
Whether you’re using a classic gadget or an app on your phone, using a compass is a nifty and old-school way of finding directions. Learning how to use a compass correctly is not as complicated as you might think. At the same time, navigating through it is not as boring as you thought also, especially if you choose to go digital with your phone.