Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: compass

A Lesson In Having Navigational Gear Close At Hand

Evinrude 30 HP outboard motor on the Neches River near Jasper, Texas

While my son and I were fishing on the Angelina River near Jasper, Texas, I learned a lesson on having navigational gear close at hand. What happened was, we followed a slough until it came to a main waterway.

There were a couple of issues:

  • The waterway was overgrown with lily pads.
  • There were several connecting paths.
  • We needed a certain path to get back to the boat launch.
  • Using Google Earth I knew we needed to head East.
  • The time was 1:00 pm and shadows were straight down.
  • Neither my backpack, or the boat survival kit had a compass.
  • All I needed was a simple compass to know which direction was East.

My son and I were at an intersection with around five routes we could take. Due to the lily pads the boat had limited mobility. The motor had to be pulled up every few minutes to clean the lily pads off.

What we ended up doing was driving the boat in one direction, then checking Google earth with my phone. Eventually I was put on the correct path and back to the boat launch we went.

Navigational Gear

Using A Pocket Compass While Hiking With The Dogs

Dogs on a hiking trip

Awhile back we talked about a 50 cent pocket compass I ordered off Ebay. Rather than buying the compass from an online store, just go straight to the source and cut out the middle man.

Paracord zipper pulls were added to my packs, and then the compass was attached to the paracord. Is the pocket compass a primary land navigation aid? Of course not. The pocket compass is used in conjunction with other navigation aids.

For example, while on a recent hiking trip with the dogs we stopped next to a nice pool of water to take a break. While the dogs were playing, I looked at the pocket compass to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

I know the area and there was no way we could have become lost. A pipeline passes through the forest just a few hundred yards from where the dogs and I stopped. Then there is a dirt road that bisects the pipeline. No matter which way we headed, we would hit either the road or the pipeline, as long as we traveled in a straight line.

Using a Pocket Compass

What To Expect From A 31 Cent Compass

cheap compass

After digging through Ebay I was able to find a 31 cent compass. The pictures looked rather neat. The compass was in a plastic housing which had a cord attached to it. To get the price down 31 cent, I ordered 40 of them.

What would these be used for? A backup compass and nothing more. Just something that can be attached outside the pack so someone can get a quick reference.

Why look at a 31 cent compass? Part of my videos for 2018 are doing reviews of low cost survival gear. I wanted to start with compasses, just because. The first video and article was about a 50 cent compass.

As I was pulling the compasses out of the package, some of compasses fell out of the plastic housing.

Some of them do not point north. Most will point north. Out of 40 of them, just a couple did not point north. Some of them, the compass has to be perfectly flat to rotate. Someone may say, “So what, a compass has to be flat to work.” The compass has to be almost perfectly flat to work. It seemed that any kind of imbalance and the compass would not work.

Cutting Out Middle Man For Prepping Supplies

Pocket Compass

One nice thing about Ebay and international shipping, it lets you cut out the middle man. Rather than going to a store, or even ordering from Amazon, get on Ebay and go straight to the source.

Believe it or not, there was once a time when the internet did not exist. If you wanted something, you either went to a store and bought it, or you ordered it our of a magazine.

In the stores there are these displays where paper magazines are sold. Yes, I know it is difficult to believe, but people use to read stuff printed on paper.

Deer Season Daypack Loadout

Wilderness survival kit

Deer season is here, instead of grabbing a pack, throwing some random gear in and heading out to the woods, lets take a look at some items that should be considered. The way I look at it, your pack needs to contain everything you need to track a wounded deer, find your way back back to the truck after dark or spend an unexpected night in the woods.

Basic Daypack

This could be anything from a school book bag, to a good quality pack like a Maxpedition Sitka or Maxpedition Noatak. You need something that is not going to tear apart when your tracking a deer as the last bit of the sunlight fades away. For my current load out I am using the Maxpedition Noatak.

TOPO Map

When possible, I like to have a TOPO map of the area. A GPS is nice, but electronics can fail, batteries can go dead,,,, a physical map is difficult to beat.

But, in order for everything to come together, you have to know how to use a map, GPS and compass. Having a TOPO map in one hand and a compass in the other hand does not do any good if you do not know how to use them.

Real Map VS Electronic Map

Which do you prefer, a real map or a electronic map? Call me old school, call me old fashioned, call me out of date, or even not keeping up with the times – but give me a real map over an electronic map any day. Heck, I’ll even take a hand drawn map over an electronic map.

Ok, so why the hatred for electronic maps? Its not that I “hate” electronic maps, there are just too many points of failure.

Electronic Maps

Lets take a GPS and has a built in map feature:

  • Require to batteries.
  • May not work well without clear view of the sky.
  • GPS satellites are under government control, and can be turned off at anytime.

I dont know about you, but sometimes I go hiking / camping in places that have a dense tree canopy, which can block the GPS signal. My GPS is a Garmin Etrex. Its a fairly inexpensive model, and a fairly old model – but it gets the job done (most of the time.)

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018