Purpose of a Compass

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The compass is a vital component of camping gear, hiking gear or any activity where you spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, especially alone. This instrument remains steadfast through poor weather conditions, and it is easily packable. The compass is a reliable safety precaution for people of all ages.

Purpose of a Compass

A compass's singular purpose is to tell you what direction you are heading in at all times, which prevents you from getting lost. Typically, hikers and backpack travelers rely on compasses to get them to their destinations. However, a single wrong turn can be disastrous, even life-threatening. But, by always knowing where north is located with your compass, finding your way accurately is simple.

Using a Compass

Locating the directions North, East, South and West on the compass is most vital. Make sure you understand how a compass's needle works before you set out on an adventure alone. Also, compasses work more efficiently with maps, because you can point to the direction of your destination by relying on the map first. If you find yourself without written directions, anticipate some uncertainty using a compass alone, especially if you hike through dense woods, fog or very high winds that may slightly alter the compass's needle.

Compass Features

Compasses offer many distinct features.
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Depending on the type of compass you purchase, basic compasses all contain similar features for survival skills. Mountaineering compasses offer additional yet optional features. The magnetic needle of a compass consistently points North, which you see on all compasses. Base plates located at the bottom of compasses record visual bearings, and some basic and intermediate compasses offer a magnifying lens to enhance accuracy. Optical compasses have features used without maps, and the military often uses heavy, perdurable cases for their compasses.

Types of Compasses

Basic compasses are used for the normal hiker or camper. The basic compass is meant to maintain accuracy as you travel. Advanced compasses sometimes include a global compass you can use anywhere in the world, even with varying magnetic balance zones, for the experienced hiker. Other advanced compass types are the wrist and competition compasses. The wrist compass is worn on the wrist for quick directional references, and the competition compass stays on the thumb, while you hold a map. The military and forestry technicians use specialized-purpose compasses specific to their needs.


About the Author

Texas-based Elaine Harper has been writing since 2011. She has reviewed books for "The Concho River Review." As a university instructor, she has experience teaching students how to write and conduct research for various situations. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Angelo State University.

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