Is it stil worth carrying a compass?

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fenix

Forager
Jul 8, 2008
110
68
Kent
I carry one when out and about, mainly so I don't have to keep getting a phone out and fiddling with it, but also because I like using them. Map wise, yes I tend to get a paper map of places I am going (wife likes them as well), I can also print OS maps from my OS maps subscription.

Because I like compasses I have a few, mainly Silvas, I also have a Francis Barker (worked for a company that made them), and just picked this up for £10 on ebay. Which is a rather nice bit of kit.
IMG-20210110-214543.jpg
 

SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
2,248
286
50
Perthshire
not sure if that's still the case but i was told 20years ago (whilst wearing camouflage and lugging an assault rifle) that the owner of gsp can change the satellite position in case of a military conflict...
and given how many times the satellite navigation sent us wrong during my time in Darwin we finally binned the crap and went back to our road maps....
Definitely can from jamming, very easy for anyone with some electronic skills, to deliberate offsetting of the 3D data by the controller. There are alternatives to GPS controlled by Russia and I think China. GPS jamming is regularly exercised in NW Scotland for the naval exercise.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,394
3,600
Mid Wales
not sure if that's still the case but i was told 20years ago (whilst wearing camouflage and lugging an assault rifle) that the owner of gsp can change the satellite position in case of a military conflict...
and given how many times the satellite navigation sent us wrong during my time in Darwin we finally binned the crap and went back to our road maps....

They can certainly change the level of accuracy that is provided.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,368
900
Berlin
I am traveling a lot by car and often enough I didn't get a GPS signal in TWO Smartphones, in the middle of France or Germany.

I use the smartphone navigation always and everywhere, on roads, in towns, in cars, riding the bike and walking. I moved a lot everywhere in Europe before the Corona virus crises, usually every third day in another town all year round.

And that's why I don't trust such electronic systems. Before I disappear in a forest I buy a paper map, in France and Germany I can get it in every book shop and often enough for free in the tourist office.

I always carry the very small and incredible light Silva Ranger SL in the rucksack, always.

I am pretty good with orientation, so I don't use the compass very often.
But especially in the night I really appreciate to have it. And a couple of times a year I need it also in the day.

The magnetic compass will always work.
The electronic navigation systems are nice to have. But I absolutely don't want to depend on them.
 
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BigMonster

Full Member
Sep 6, 2011
1,110
96
Manchester
I am traveling a lot by car and often enough I didn't get a GPS signal in TWO Smartphones, in the middle of France or Germany.

I use the smartphone navigation always and everywhere, on roads, in towns, in cars, riding the bike and walking. I moved a lot everywhere in Europe before the Corona virus crises, usually every third day in another town all year round.

And that's why I don't trust such electronic systems. Before I disappear in a forest I buy a paper map, in France and Germany I can get it in every book shop and often enough for free in the tourist office.

I always carry the very small and incredible light Silva Ranger SL in the rucksack, always.

I am pretty good with orientation, so I don't use the compass very often.
But especially in the night I really appreciate to have it. And a couple of times a year I need it also in the day.

The magnetic compass will always work.
The electronic navigation systems are nice to have. But I absolutely don't want to depend on them.
Love my Silva Ranger SL, not only a perfect addition to my urban EDC but it's so well made that it makes an awesome fidget to play :)
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,494
646
Vantaa, Finland
The magnetic compass will always work.
Errr ... no, in Finland and Sweden there are large areas where compass readings are very erratic, iron ores are the reason.

There are actually 4 different SatNav systems up there first one was US GPS then Russia; China and the EU followed. The Russian and Chinese apparently do not have full global coverage at the moment and EU's Galileo not yet but catching fast. The newest set of receiver chips can utilize all four or just the one defined.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,368
900
Berlin
The Silva Ranger SL is just a bit stressful to use as a shaving mirror.
But it's possible too.

But would I shave myself regularly with the compass mirror I would buy additional a larger one and keep the Silva Ranger SL as backup.

I usually don't say something would weight next to nothing, because who thinks like this gets in the end an unnecessary heavy rucksack.

But the Silva Ranger SL really weighs next to nothing: Just 24g !​

 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,368
900
Berlin
@TLM
If you are lost in the swamp you are lost in the swamp. It surely doesn't matter so much whether you know where you are exactly or not....

:biggrin:

I never noticed that phenomenon. Are such areas marked in the maps somehow?

Does the compass circle around or does it point into a wrong direction without warning?
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,494
646
Vantaa, Finland
I never noticed that phenomenon. Are such areas marked in the maps somehow?

Does the compass circle around or does it point into a wrong direction without warning?
Larger areas are marked, there are smaller ones that might catch you. Usually the needle just does not set on any direction and just wanders around but yes it is not unknown to just point where ever too.

I remember one instance when a guy stopped and claimed that his compass had gone crazy and the needle just followed him, well it did not follow him but his assault rifle carried in front. :D
 
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Ed the Ted

Forager
Dec 13, 2013
144
41
Scotland
Yesterday we drove to a new hilly wooded area for a walk, I lost my bearing whilst we were driving as I was on the phone so my general sense of direction was off, we got out the car and marched off down the road in the wrong direction because we had oriented the map the wrong way round, presuming 'that way' to be north when it was south. Phone gps way off due to steep hills and trees.

The compass that we normally keep with the map was left at home, would have prevented such an error. This was on a road, next to houses, not on some cairngorm plateau.
 

DocG

Full Member
Dec 20, 2013
765
65
Moray
A compass with a mirror is a useful backup for shaving and for First Aid - seeing the bits that are otherwise out of sight. Yes, a mirror dedicated to the job is handy too, but for day out the compass can usually cope.
I have had to help out too many hillwalkers with dead phones, gps or other gizmos to consider heading into the highlands without the aid of OS + compass. I will print off A4 maps and laminate them if I can just for convenience.
My daughter has all the latest stuff, but she also knows how to use a map and compass and usually has them in her pack, even if they are hidden from the sight of her tech savvy friends. I'm proud to say that she has led groups off the hills too when they have become locationally challenged or out of power.
There's a place for everything and I like the new stuff, but I would advise anyone to gain the basics with map and compass.
Just my 2d's worth (2d = dinosaur??)
 
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DocG

Full Member
Dec 20, 2013
765
65
Moray
Larger areas are marked, there are smaller ones that might catch you. Usually the needle just does not set on any direction and just wanders around but yes it is not unknown to just point where ever too.

I remember one instance when a guy stopped and claimed that his compass had gone crazy and the needle just followed him, well it did not follow him but his assault rifle carried in front. :D

Wee areas of Skye and part of the Scafells are also affected in UK. Any others known to the group?
 

Riven

Full Member
Dec 23, 2006
382
96
England
There is one downside to map and compass navigation however. When you lose the compass.
IMG_3206.JPG
Found these 30 years apart in the Peak District. The oldest was in snow and I often wonder what happened to the wanderer that lost it.
 
The Silva Ranger SL is just a bit stressful to use as a shaving mirror.
But it's possible too.
what's wrong with facial hair (for guys :p )?! there's at least 3 famous guys named after their beard + countless other famous guys who have/ had beards...
and in combination with a big stick they tend to provide me with some degree of solitude when i'm out in the woods :cool: :p
 
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There is one downside to map and compass navigation however. When you lose the compass.
in 2005 i found a gsp receiver (=the funny little box used to receive the signal from the satellites) beside a road in the NT which someone obviously lost...(ssoo... looking isn't limited to compasses :p )
it's possible to improvise a compass but unless you're MacGuyver i'd say improvising a gsp gadget might be a challenge...

my grandfather spent a short time after the war as a P.O.W. -- i inherited some of his stuff (although i'm afraid it's lost due to the fact that my "dear" european relatives have likely thrown it out by now... :( ) incl. the compass he smuggled through the controls between his toes (ironically the compass was from an allied escape kit although my grandfather wasn't a member of them...) --- i challenge anyone to smuggle their gsp receiver to the controls (in a prison or similar circumstance) :p

and if it's possible to receive signals from a satellite with an electronic gadget then it's likely possible to track the user, too...
 
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John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
22,046
1,577
63
Pembrokeshire
When I was training as an Orienteering Instructor (many years ago) I recall getting a brand new boxed set of Silva compasses for use in teaching. Box opened - compasses handed out with the maps - pairs of competitors set off at intervals .... one pair set off in totally the wrong direction ... stopped them to find the problem ... the WHITE end of the needle was pointing North!
One in the box - totally reversed magnetism!.
Check all kit is working!
I places - especially on Carn Ingli - in Pembs Nat Park, a compass will actually spin due to magnetic rocks - but I still trust "Old School" nav over electronic gizmos!
 

MrEd

Full Member
Feb 18, 2010
1,695
567
Surrey/Sussex
www.thetimechamber.co.uk
I enjoy it as well, don’t get me wrong I use GPS a fair amount in the car, and I use it to track my walks so I know distance and altitude and can share them with the rest of the family via OS maps (we all use one login) but I quite like the process of point to point navigation and triangulation with map and compass, it makes me look around and see the terrain if that makes sense
 

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