How To Use A Compass For Directions When Camping?

How To Use A Compass For Directions When Camping

Are you wondering how to use a compass? How is magnetic north different from true north? How people find directions through compass? These are some questions that can bother you while you are on a camping trip.

Back when satellites and space didn't orbit the earth and when Google and Uber Maps were not there to help, people used to get confused in finding directions, but they found their way back to the campsite with the help of a compass. People started learning how to use a compass and find out the right directions, and it becomes the best tool in finding the directions.

When you are traveling to woods or going camping, the compass is one of the most important parts of gear. A map without a compass is virtually worthless. While GPS has its benefits for hiking, it's not a good idea to rely alone on GPS. The battery of the device can get drained, and without any compass and map abilities, you can be left and stuck alone. It can take hours to relocate direction to the campsite.

Compass reading skill is important as it is a must for the survival of go for hiking or camping.

What is a compass?

Mainly, the compass is a device used to point you towards the right direction. It is a navigation device that shows directions using cardinal points (cardinal directions).

There are four main directions: north, south, east and west on the compass. Directions which fall in between these are described by two directions in which they fall in between. For instance - direction between north and west would be called as northwest.

Why the compass is important?

In this world, full of advanced technology and Smartphones, why would we at any point need an old-fashioned compass?

As it comes to light our all highly advanced technology has a battery, which is limited.

For instance, if you happen to be camping in the middle of wildwoods, like nowhere, and your highly advanced map and GPS devices fail, you have no idea how happy you will be to have that old-fashioned compass with you. You can use that compass in figuring out your location, what is near you and directions to the place where you want to go.

Maybe your battery lives on, or you have brought along portable charges, which is the possibility that you will get network and have served in the center of wildwoods.

Above that, you can get your phone lost or broken. Many people who go camping won't even take their phone with themselves for the only reason that they don't want to drop their phone into the river, lose it or smash it on the rock. So there is no reason to rely solely on the phone to get you to the location where you desire to go camping.

Basic Parts of Compass

Nowadays, there are various types of compass available in the market, but they serve the same purpose. And that is, allowing you to locate north and find your way in the wildwoods. Although compasses point towards the north, several of them come with additional features and items.

  • Magnetized needle - usually red colored division of the magnetized needle always points towards the magnetic north. It's not the true north; more will be explained in a few moments.
  • Rotating bezel - it has markings on its external border, named as azimuth ring, from 00 to 3600 with four directions. This bezel spins around the needle of a compass.
  • Baseplate - it is a transparent plate with various lines and markings. It has the direction of travel arrow and a ruler to calculate distance on the map.  
  • Orienting arrows and lines - the orienting lines are the indications marked in and under the compass. They spin with the bezel while the needle continues to point towards north. Orienting arrows are situated in the center of orienting lines and the bezel. It points towards the azimuth ring's north.

How to read a compass?

Reading compass is quite simple. If you want to read a compass, you are only required to know one single thing - the one tip of the needle always points towards the North Pole. The north-pointing tip is near all the time red while the other tip of the needle can be of any color.

The compass can get you to any location easily. For instance, you were told the best location of camping was on the west end of the lake.

The first and foremost thing you have to do is to locate west on the compass. Turn the compass till you see that the west lines are exactly aligned with the direction of travel arrow. See how simple it is to find the direction you want.

You can do this to find any direction. But always remember that the direction of travel should be straight and directly in front of you, and whatsoever direction is aligned with that arrow is the direction in which you are moving.

Always, before start moving, check twice that the red end of the needle is pointing towards the North Pole on the compass. If not, something might not be right.

While you walk, repeatedly look down at your compass. It will keep you on the straight path, and you will not deviate to left or right. One more pro tip is to keep an eye on the sun. Most of us possibly acknowledge the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Moreover, during noon the sun is hardly in the south when you travel in the northern hemisphere.

Magnetic North vs. True North

Always, the needle of the compass points towards the magnetic north pole, which is not the true North Pole. Topographic maps turn out to be aligned towards the true North Pole. So, this is an important thing which should be given attention.

Declination - the difference between the angle of true north and magnetic north. This difference can be high depending upon your location in the world. When you use topographic map and compass, ensure that you take account of this difference. You can carry out this by using the degrees marked on the external edge of the rotating bezel.

Point the declination degree with tape or marker, or write it so that you don't forget. When pointing the direction and aligning the needle with the arrow, this is the point you need to consider the difference. As you find your way, make sure that the needle always points towards the true North Pole.

How To Use A Compass For Directions When Camping?
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About the author

Michael Everett

I am Michael, I like camping and have camped many times over the place. I'm the creator of blog rainycamping.com, through my blog I want to share my camping and travel experiences for people, there are explanations, questions and things you need.

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