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Cheap compass good enough or waste of money

Discussion in 'Other Every Day Carry Items' started by zenlunatic, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. zenlunatic

    zenlunatic Loaded Pockets

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    I was going to order a compass from DealExtreme, and I was just wondering if these are worth it. I've never used or owned a compass, which is why I ask. I think I remember from school or something that there are "bricked" or "skunked" compasses. Not my area of expertise.
     
  2. molawns

    molawns Loaded Pockets

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    What would you be wanting it for? Just to have as an emergency backup direction-finder?

    If that's the case...I'd pass on the cheap junk from dealextreme. I have at least 10 of these that I got from Sharpdogs over at his store. They're excellent little pieces of kit, that you can put anywhere.

    These are great ones, too! You get a compass, thermometer, and little magnifying glass that you can use for emergency firestarting, or close-up viewing for splinter removal.
     
  3. jojobos

    jojobos Loaded Pockets

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    I wouldn't trust them if your life depends on it.
     
  4. brianwhynot

    brianwhynot Loaded Pockets

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    I'd agree. Cheap compasses are easily remagnetized, if they were even accurate to begin with. Check REI for a good compass. The Brunton Classic 9020G is as close to "cheap" as I'd get. I have this one attached to my backpack, but I only use it as backup.
     
  5. parnass

    parnass Loaded Pockets

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    I would avoid buying a compass unless I could try it first. I tried several compasses in the local stores and many were way off. Had to "hand select" one for purchase.
     
  6. ADK031

    ADK031 Loaded Pockets

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    Like any EDC kit it's not something to cheap out on. If you're going to carry it everyday it had better be nice to look at ;D
     
  7. zenlunatic

    zenlunatic Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks guys.

    Just to clarify I was just going to get one of the cheap ones to learn with, and the vendor above has them cheap w/free shipping, and since funds are low I figured why not, but I think I'll just wait until I have the money for a decent one.
     
  8. twodogknight

    twodogknight Empty Pockets

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    I have one of these and i love it. Not only is it SS, it's made by Timex(reliable) for Maratac(collectable) and comes with an awesome laser-bored nylon strap w/SS rings! At $75 it's not "cheap", but the fully-rotating bezel and Ss casing are quality options generally reserved for more expensive watches. And, it's analog, which will be a big help in more advanced orienteering and for keeping track of distance-travelled. The built-in electronic compass is dead-on, too, compared to my Stocker and Yale mil-spec Tritium compass.

    If you want a compass, it's usually to get you where you're going. Do you really wanna risk getting lost by buying a cheaper type?

    Good luck-tdk
     
  9. Mark123

    Mark123 Empty Pockets

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    Just remember, unless you are trying to locate little orange and white 12" square metal boxes in the middle of the woods, ;) you really only need a compass to give you cardinal directions. For that matter, you also have the sun and stars. (I read once, that because one side of your body is dominant, all things being equal with no navigation guides, you would eventually walk in a complete circle while thinking you are walking in a straight line.

    I once used a clip-on watchband compass, retail $5.99, and terrain features to navigate a military navigation course.

    What am I trying to say? Unless you really need to know the difference between 24 degrees and 26 degrees, don't spend more than $10 on a compass.
     
  10. bruner

    bruner Loaded Pockets

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    To what brand/model are you referring to? I saw no mention of what you describe in any post above yours?

    Dan

    ???
     
  11. Smith357

    Smith357 Empty Pockets

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    It depends on what you want to do with a compass. if you just need a general directions then a cheap button compass will do that but then so will you wristwatch, the stars and the sun. If you want to use one for real land navigation then spend $40-$80 and get a good sighting compass.
     
  12. houdini28

    houdini28 Loaded Pockets

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    I believe he was referring to the Maratac AQC Compass Watch. The Timex and Maratac are essentially the same. The Maratac version has no brand or insignia stamped on it. The Timex version naturally has Timex stamped on it and has a different band, color scheme, etc. The functions of the watch and compass remain the same.
     
  13. zenlunatic

    zenlunatic Loaded Pockets

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    So are the really cheap compasses often dead-on-arrival, as far as basic usefulness?
     
  14. brianwhynot

    brianwhynot Loaded Pockets

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    From my experience the ones from DX were sketchy right out of the package. Some were way off, some just enough to be annoying. I'll agree with Mark123 about 2 degrees not being vital for most navigation, but if it's off by 20 then you have worries. Marbles and Tru Nord both make brass pocket compasses that cost $15 to $25 and are practically indestructible.

    Save up for a few weeks. Eat a little ramen. You'll be happier with a quality product.
     
  15. JonSidneyB
    • Administrator

    JonSidneyB Uber Prepared
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    I think you need to ask yourself several questions before buying a compass.

    Do you belong to any wilderness clubs or organizations. I am guessing no as they would have steered you away from a cheap compass as those people really go to remote areas and not as a group generally. This would involve using it with a map and a sight. A couple of skills would be helpful when using it like this. You are ridge walking looking for a route to take. You find a possible route and not an object as a reference point. This takes you some direction off of the path you would like to take as the crow flies. If this object cannot be discerned on the map you calculate how far off the path line you have traveled. Even when you can tell things on the map the compass with the map will help to keep proper orientation. Topographical maps can get confusing unless you can get the lined up properly with reality. I would not complain if I paid 100.00 for a really good one. GPS has had an affect on this market but even that is limited when on the ground.

    If you are not using a map the sight on a compass can still be useful. Now if you just want to know where N E S W is then a lesser compass will do. I would still want one I knew was not likely to fail.
     
  16. Brangdon

    Brangdon Loaded Pockets

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    I'm not sure what the point of the thermometer is. To tell you when you are cold? I doubt the magnifying glass would be any use for fire-starting as it is too small to collect enough light.
     
  17. houdini28

    houdini28 Loaded Pockets

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    Victorinox produces two models of ruler which has a compass attached to it. One model has just the compass, the other has a compass, magnifying lens, and thermometer. In either case, the compass functions very well and has luminous markings. Obviously you cannot attach it to your watch but it is very accurate, well designed, and durable.

    I know some people really like knowing the temperature; sometimes for the simple sake of curiosity. The magnifying lens on the Victorinox ruler/compass/loupe/thermometer could not start a fire. The lens would be helpful for examining a leaf, bug, or splinter in the finger. The ruler would be beneficial for figuring a distance on a map or drawing a straight three inch line.

    Do you have a preference for Tru Nord or for Marbles?
     
  18. brianwhynot

    brianwhynot Loaded Pockets

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    I prefer the Marbles due to the fact that I travel. I can't justify a different pocket compass for each region, and it would suck if I brought the wrong one on a trip.
     
  19. Mark123

    Mark123 Empty Pockets

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    I little bit off topic, but one compass to NOT rely on is the one in the ToolLogic Wallet Card with the blade, compass, magnifying glass, etc...very cool concept, I carried one for years, but essentially useless item except for the very sharp blade. The compass becomes useless because the blade is stored right next to it. Also the magnifying glass is too small for any practical use, other than looking at bugs. I tried to start a fire with it with rays from the sun and couldn't do it. An easy job with a $1 fresnel lens.

    My apologies to anyone who carries that item-but I was the same way a few years ago.
     
  20. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    How do you test if a compass is accurate?