Don’t have a compass that where declination can be adjusted? Here’s a quick and dirty way to pre-set it!
For proper navigation in the backcountry, a compass is needed.
Note: If these terms I’m about to write sound odd, review this old, but excellent, site first. 🙂
Does not have to be anything fancy. Any base plate compass will work for the general navigation most backpackers will do.
If you would rather not futz with declination, a Suunto M-3 or similar is great. If you backpack in areas spread over a wide geographic area, this type of compass works really well and is versatile. At ~$35, not really that expensive.
But what if you have a compass that does not have the ability to be pre-set for declination? Perhaps it is a compass you were given, or you’d rather adhere more to the KISS principle or perhaps you are simply more frugal.
Have no fear, there is a dirt bagger solution!
- Take a permanent marker or very thin piece of duct tape
- Mark declination on the compass
- Use as appropriate
On my beater compass, I have it set for my north-central Colorado hiking at 10 deg. Actual declination where I normally play is ~9.x degrees The map above is for the Flat Tops and declination is exactly 10.0 degrees. In other words, 10.0 degrees is good enough for govt work! 😉
Obviously this method works best if you are mainly sticking to one area (or enjoy peeling off duct tape). Otherwise you are better off using a compass where the declination can be adjusted or you’ve committed to memory (for Western hiking) the following phrase: First Man Adam 🙂
Happy Trails…and navigation!
Thanks for the tip. You can fix a lot of bad situations with some duct tape and a permanent marker. It’s too easy to hike trails and get rusty with your compass skills. So thanks for the orienteering site share to help me knock that rust loose.