Become a Hiker

hiking is something that is healthy for our bodies. It helps us to keep our bodies in good shape, and it is also a break from the hectic city life. Hikes expose us to fresh air as we adventure over new terrains. In this article, we are going to go through some useful tips for those that would like to take up the sport. One can start off with hikes that are not difficult and tiring and then as they get used and more experienced, they can advance to the more complex ones. Below are the tips to get you started.

Become a Hiker

Join a Group or Club

Hiking along with other hikers is the best way for you to quickly become a good hiker because it is fun and motivating. You can locate a hiking club near you to get you started, and meetup.com is one of the places that you can find a hiking club in your area. Create a network and then plan your hikes with them.

Hike at Least Once a Week at a Local Park

In order to move on to the more strenuous and challenging hikes, it takes practice and conditioning, and that is where hiking at least once a week at a local park comes in handy. You can do this alone or as part of a group.

This helps one to develop their footwork skills, get practice planning hikes, test out new gear, and build up their physical endurance. It doesn’t matter where one hikes, just make sure to hike. The nearer that the park is to ones home, the more likely that one is bound to go hiking.

Learn to Hydrate Properly

It’s important to carry enough water on hikes, with 1 liter catering for every two hours, although this can vary based on time of year, weather conditions, the pace, body weight, and the difficulty of a hike. Learning how much water you need in these conditions is an important skill, so pay attention to what your body needs.

Carry the 10 Essentials

Essentials

Map and Compass – local mall, Suunto A-10 Compass

Sun Protection – billed cap, dermatone tin, sunglasses and a long sleeved synthetic shirt for hikes longer than 4 hours

Insulation – fleece sweater, rain jacket and pants, beanie hat and an insulated jacket {For the longer hikes)

Illumination – spot headlamp, extra lithium batteries

First aid kit –  adventure medical kit

Fire – small box of wooden matches, light my fire steel, Vaseline coated cotton balls

Tools and Repair Kit – Swiss Army classic knife, duct tape, safety pins

Nutrition – nuts, dried fruit, bars, sandwiches

Hydration – 2 liters of water bottles for every two hours of hiking although this varies with the conditions we had mentioned earlier, water purification tablets or a Sawyer water filter

Emergency Shelter – emergency bivy, foam sit pad, tarp and paracord

Other – emergency contact Info, loud whistle, toilet paper and trowel

You need to learn about these essentials, why you need them, how to use them, and start bringing them on your day hikes. The wilderness begins as soon as you leave a trail head: on average it takes emergency responders an additional hour to reach a victim for every 15 minutes of hiking away from a trail head parking lot. Don’t underestimate the need to hike prepared, even in a more urban setting.

Find Comfortable Hiking Footwear

Find boots or shoes that are comfortable and don’t cause blisters. Different types of shoes work for different people because our feet are made differently.

Best Hiking Compass

Next, we are going to look at the compass and then do a review of some of the best hiking compass brands that are available on the market. There are two main types to choose from: a base plate compass or a digital compass. Digital compasses work best for shorter excursions, but they rely on batteries, and those come with their disadvantages. They also can’t be incorporated into map work. Another option you might consider, but should steer away from, are those quarter-sized key-chain compasses or watch compasses. Those are rarely even useful for orienting yourself to north.

Base Plate Compass

It is important for all beginners to learn how to use the base plate compass, and below are some of the features.

​Baseplate

This transparent plate is where the compass gets its name from, and although it comes in a variety of colors, clear is the best since it’s easier to make out the markings, like the ruler for measuring distances on a map, more easily readable. Also, a ruler marked in millimeters will be the most useful, as this scales better with USGS topographical maps.

Magnetized Needle

One end of the compass needle, usually colored red, will always point to the magnetic north pole. Always opt for what is called a “floating needle” compass, which identifies a needle housing that is steadied by either a type of alcohol or oil. The main difference between a floating needle and a dry needle is that a dry needle might get jostled by movement.​

Azimuth Ring

This ring is marked from 0 to 360 degrees at various intervals and the better grade compasses usually have a smaller interval of degrees for more accurate readings.​

Orientation Lines and Arrows

These assist, and the “meridian lines (also called north and south lines)” are crucial to plotting bearings on a map or finding two points from a map out in the field.​

Other features that can be found on compasses but are not necessarily of urgent importance include a magnifying lens and luminescent indicators. Other features to also look at are mentioned below:

Clinometer

This is a useful tool that is used to measure the accurate height or slope of something in comparison to where one is standing. A clinometer helps when assessing the risk of avalanche. Search-and-rescuers also like to carry clinometers.

Declination Adjustment

The declination adjustment attunes to the secular variation in Earth’s magnetic waves, so you are also headed towards north. According to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), because the difference between “true” north and magnetic “north” varies “anywhere from 0 degrees to 30 degrees or more,” declination adjustment will provide you a better orientation than a compass without it. To know if the compass has a declination adjustment, there is a small dialing screw at the edge of the bezel and some of the premium models are the ones that allow for the feature to be set manually.

Sighting Mirror

A sighting mirror works best for people that like blazing their own trails or who require precision when navigating, since it allows one to both see their target and keep watch over their bearing simultaneously. It folds down over the compass like a clam shell to protect it from weathering. Secondly, a sighting mirror comes in handy during life or death situations, like falling down into a crevice and using the reflection to signal down a rescue helicopter.

Global Needle

This work best for international hikers and backpackers since they can be used anywhere in the world by automatically adjusting to the varying magnetic zones. The other advantage is that the needle tilts up to 20 degrees, meaning as one walks, the compass reading remains level.

The Top 10 Best Compasses for Hiking

TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass

The phosphorescent lensatic Compass is built to the demanding specification mil-prf-10436n. Battle tested through rigorous shock, water, sand proof, and functional from -50 F to +150 F. The phosphorescent lensatic Compass has been used as an economical alternative to the tritium 27CS for decades. It is the same Compass cammenga has been supplying to the us military except that the self-luminous tritium has been replaced with phosphorescent paint. Equipped with a magnifying lens, sight wire, and dial graduations in both degrees and mils to ensure accurate readings. The copper induction damping system slow the rotation of the Magnet without the use of liquids.

Built to last with an aluminum frame and waterproof housing. The cammenga Compass is depended on by fighting Forces, government agencies, and adventurous outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Features- Luminosity: phosphorescent – jewel bearing: sapphire- rotating bezel: bi-directional- climate capacity: -50 F to +150 F- frame materials: cast aluminum- waterproof: YES- accuracy: +/- 0002 mils – dial readings: degrees & mils – casting: aluminum – damping process: induction (no liquid req.)- carrying Pouch: lc-1 w/belt clip included- lanyard: colors (body): Olive drab.

Features

  • Phosphorescent lensatic compass clam pack
  • Waterproof yes
  • Carrying Pouch & belt clip

Pros

  • Highly dependable and durable construction, made from aluminum
  • Built to the specification MIL-PRF-10436N (military grade)
  • High accuracy (+/- 40 mils)
  • Sand, water, and shockproof
  • Luminosity is based off phosphorescent paint, not tritium gas lume like more expensive models
  • Copper-Induction Dampening System slows the rotation of the needle without fluid
  • Needle remains steady and settles quickly
  • Low resistance sapphire jewel bearing
  • Rotating, bi-directional bezel
  • Comes with carrying pouch and belt clip
  • Outer bezel moves independently and has a luminescent azimuth marker
  • Perfect for hunters, as the clamshell has a focuser with a crosswire

Cons

  • Balanced to the northern hemisphere in most cases, the southern hemisphere model costs more

Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass

When venturing out into new territory, these sighting compasses offer precision navigation with a variety of carefully engineered and dependable features for challenging conditions.

Product highlights: Sighting tools for accurate direction. taking rugged construction global balancing system clinometer. Large mirror jewel bearing cm and inch scales, adjustable declination correction scale, additional sighting hole for superior accuracy. It is a baseplate with a magnifying lens and anti-slip rubber pads. luminous two-color bezel ring and a detachable snap-lock in the lanyard. Easy to detach for working with the map wristlock in the lanyard metric scales cm, inch, 1:20 000 km Roamer, 1:25 000 km roamer.

Features

  • Comes with a patented global needle that works anywhere in either hemisphere so you can always find your way. Baseplate features magnifying lens, straight edge and inch markings for accurate map reading. Declination scale is adjustable to account for the difference between magnetic and true North.
  • Easy-grip bezel reads in 2-degree increments and features luminous outer ring for low-light reading.

Pros

  • Clear base plate
  • Anti-slip rubber pads on the underside
  • Sighted mirror
  • Additional sighted hole for improved bearing accuracy
  • Can be tilted up to 20 degrees and read precisely
  • Long-lasting precision pivot on jewel bearing
  • Global steel needle has an accelerated dampening time
  • Clinometer with a reverse protractor
  • Adjustable declination
  • Luminous two-color bezel and guidance points
  • Inch and centimeter measurements1:24,000 and 1:50,000 map scales
  • Magnifying lens
  • Comes with a red nylon lanyard that also has a wristlock

Cons

  • Lanyard is short
  • Luminous dial dims quickly
  • Dial can be hard to turn, especially when wearing gloves
  • Often requires two hands to use and position correctly

Silva Polaris Compass

The Silva Polaris Base Plate compass is an instrument for the advanced orienteer, as well as novices to map-and-compass work. The slim profile, durability, and excellent accuracy make this compass our choice to include in survival kits. Clear base plate with inch, millimeter and 1:24,000 scales, makes it easy to read a map, set bearings, and plan a trip. It features 2° graduation lines with large numerals at every 20° for easy reading of bearings. Red and black orientation lines facilitate establishing your position on, or setting your course from, a map; scales help determine distances. Large sighting arrow helps you set your course across the land; large bezel and ergonomic design make it easy to hold and use.

Fixed declination scale accommodates quick adjustments of map bearings to field headings. Base plate lanyard hole lets you keep the compass handy around your neck (lanyard not included). Friction-free sapphire bearing allows the tungsten steel needle to swing freely; permanently clear fluid keeps it steady Instructions explain how to find yourself on a map given known landmarks and how to set a bearing across the land using a map.

Features

  • The Silva Polaris Base Plate compass is an instrument for the advanced orienteer, as well as novices to map-and-compass work. The slim profile, durability, and excellent accuracy make this compass our choice to include in survival kits.
  • Clear base plate with inch, millimeter and 1:24,000 scales, makes it easy to read a map, set bearings, and plan a trip
  • Fixed declination scale accommodates quick adjustments of map bearings to field headings
  • Friction-free sapphire bearing allows the tungsten steel needle to swing freely; permanently clear fluid keeps it steady
  • Instructions explain how to find yourself on a map given known landmarks and how to set a bearing across the land using a map Bulk packaged

Pros

  • Clear base plate
  • Base plate lanyard holeInch and millimeter measurements, as well as 1:24,000 scales
  • 2-degree graduation lines
  • Easy to read red and black orientation lines
  • Easy to set bearings, field headings
  • Large bezel
  • Fixed declination scale
  • Ergonomic design
  • Clear fluid-filled casing, sapphire bearing, tungsten needle

Cons

  • Lanyard not included
  • Azimuth ring is not luminescent
  • Bubbles sometimes form in the fluid, keeping the needle from pointing north

Silva Ranger 515 Compass

The Silva Ranger 515 CL and Ranger 515CLQ compass deliver superior accuracy, even in the most demanding conditions. The split-sighting mirror ensures superior accuracy when navigating on distant landmarks. The baseplate has three scales for quick, easy plotting with a topographic map. Silicone feet provide positive grip on a map. The geared declination allows you to set and forget the declination for the area you are in, ensuring constant compensation for this variable when taking bearings.

A clinometer lets you measure angles of inclination.1:24,000 map scale.1:25,000 and 1:50,000 romer scales.Clinometer. Magnifying lens.Luminous markings for use a night.Geared declination adjustment.Silicone feet keep the compass from sliding on a map.Includes lanyard with a screwdriver to set declination.dimensions: 4X2.5″.Weight: 2.4oz.

Features

  • Classic bezel, lid & mirror with more knuling for easier rotation/grip
  • 1-piece mirror with etched sighting line down the center for a precise readout of bearing when sighting
  • New luminous; 4X more intense than watch grade and does not degrade over time
  • 0°-360° dial, 2° graduations with luminous points for night use
  • Clinometer, map magnifier

Pros

  • Clear base plate with 3 measurement scales
  • Enhanced grip and ease of rotation than earlier models
  • Clam-shell mirror that folds over compass when not in use
  • Sighting mirror has etched lines for precision reading
  • Intense luminosity and designed lit points for nighttime reading
  • 0-360 degrees dial
  • 2-degree graduations
  • Magnifying glass and Inclinometer
  • Geared declination – set and forget adjustment
  • Package includes lanyard and screwdriver for setting declination
  • Lightweight and Waterproof
  • Liquid-filled casing

Cons

  • Comprised entirely out of plastic (aside from the compass casing)
  • Have to turn the compass in your hands to open it, so it can get clumsy with gloves
  • Silicone feet on base plate may be uneven
  • Purchase a protective case for this compass, as it is not entirely durable or cold temperature resistant
  • Black bezel ring can be hard to see at nighttime

SUUNTO M-3 G Compass

A premium quality precision compass for convenient direction taking globally even in demanding conditions. The baseplate compass for globetrotters. The adventure compass. A reliable compass is essential for navigating and surviving in extreme conditions. These hardy baseplate compasses are ready for the challenge.

Features

  • Compact, high-quality professional compass designed for accurate and convenient direction taking
  • Global needle works anywhere on the planet; base plate with anti-slip rubber pads
  • Large, liquid-filled capsule, adjustable declination correction scale, and rounded ergonomic edges
  • Serrated bezel ring turns easily in cold weather; easy-to-read luminous markings
  • This item is not for sale in Catalina Island

Pros

  • Works in both hemispheres (has a global needle), making it ideal for globetrotters
  • Has an inch scale on one side and a cm/mm scale on the other
  • Also included a 1:24,000 and 1:62,000 scale for estimating mileage
  • Clinometer
  • Declination adjustment
  • Compact design, thin (only 5 mm thick), and lightweight
  • High accuracy; except to return within meters of your original starting destination if doing a loop (+/- 10 degree)
  • Baseplate comes with anti-slip gripping
  • Rounded ergonomic edges and serrated bezel rings for easy adjustment in any weather
  • Luminous markings
  • Liquid-filled capsule
  • 22mm magnifying glass

Cons

  • The user manual does not discuss how to use the clinometer

Brunton TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass

Brunton offers a high level of field precision for today’s most demanding outdoor adventurer and the TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass is a great example of this. It’s a scouting compass with modern updates, equipped with the TruArc Global Needle system in the characteristic form outdoorsmen have trusted for generations. Metric and standard scales, and tool-less declination compensation, plus no-frills reliability make this a must for everyone’s outdoor pack.

Features

  • Brunton Product
  • Includes compass
  • Great for camping
  • 2 Degree resolution
  • Inch/CM Scales
  • Global Needle
  • Made in the USA
  • U-Proof Warranty

Pros

  • 2-degree resolution
  • Inch and centimeter scales
  • Declination adjustment via rotating bezel. Simply place and set to your desired degree.
  • Global needle: Previous models were not as ready for global travel as this model, which now features a top-hat construction that allows for the needle to adjust to different magnetic regions without dragging
  • Perfect for backpackers who love no frills
  • Very stable needle that does not bounce when in motion
  • Fluid-filled casing; highly magnetic needle fabricated out of cobalt chrome alloy
  • Comes with a lanyard

Cons

  • No magnifying glass
  • No cardinal points on the degree markings; instead they are located underneath the bezel and can be hard to read
  • Cannot be used at nighttime
  • Decals will peel off in harsh conditions

Multifunction Military Army Sighting Compass

The bubble level of this compass can improve its accuracy and decrease its errors; Special design of fluorescent light allows you to read data in dark environment after absorbing enough sunshine. The waterproof and shake proof compass is suitable for motoring, boating, camping, mountaineering, exploring, hunting and other outdoor activities. Can be used for positioning, orienting on a map, plotting and so on. Eyeskey professional military army geological compass navigator for camping hiking – multifunctional, waterproof, portable, with Inclinometer

Compact size and lightweight make it easy to handle and carry. It is made of high strength engineering metal and covered by army green paint, which is capable of working under extreme weather conditions. Each product enjoys 30 days money back and lifetime worry-free guarantee.

Specifications

  • Compass with Inclinometer.
  • Foldable metal lid. Floating compass dial with 360 scale.
  • Luminous magnet arrow. Adjustable prism lens.
  • Fully sealed design, waterproof.
  • Fine workmanship, attractive appearance, durability.
  • Made of high strength engineering metal.
  • With CM and INCH ruler on each side of the compass.
  • To measure direction, longitude and latitude, horizontal and so on.

Come with: High quality carrying pouch, strap, English manual

Pros

  • Compact, lightweight, and extremely accurate
  • Military-grade engineering for durability
  • Waterproof, shatterproof
  • Rotary lanyard ring that can be used to close the lid on the compass, protecting it from damage
  • Ruler on the side
  • Durable metal casing
  • Luminous marching line and floating luminous dial
  • Liquid-filled casing
  • Global needle
  • Inclinometer
  • Sighting mirror with orientation lines
  • Inch and centimeter ruler; can also be used to measure longitude and latitude
  • 100% Money Back Lifetime Guarantee

Cons

  • Weighs almost a pound (around 308 grams) and is fairly large
  • No declination adjustment
  • Needs to be exposed to enough sunshine in order for the luminous bands to glow brightly
  • Not beginner friendly, as the manual provides little insight on how to use the compass correctly (but for experienced compass users, the manual is great)
  • Be wary of counterfeits.

Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass

The Suunto M-9 wrist compass is designed for maximum usability while keeping your hands free. The large luminous card has 5* increments for navigation and is great for geocaching, hiking, scrambling, or traveling in an unfamiliar city. The compass features a side window for taking bearings and a ratchet mechanism allows you to set a desired direction. The strap features a brass buckle and can be worn over a light jacket. Operating temperature: -22 to +140F (-30 to +60C).

Features

  • Handy and reliable wrist compass for navigating around town or the country
  • Employs Suunto’s two-zone system for reliable readings in northern hemisphere
  • Serrated bezel ring turns easily even when you’re wearing gloves
  • Ratchet mechanism for setting direction; jewel bearing and side reading window

Pros

  • Utilizes Suunto’s “two-zone system” to work within the entire northern hemisphere
  • Adjustable bezel ring has a serrated edge so it can be turned even when wearing gloves
  • Can set your desired direction
  • Side reading window that works like a lensatic, so when you have the numbers strapped to your wrist properly, you get superbly accurate bearings
  • Waterproof
  • Luminates
  • Operates in -30 to +60 degrees Celsius (-22 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Liquid-filled casing
  • Small, lightweight, and non-invasive

Cons

  • Will not function properly in the southern hemisphere
  • No orientation lines; not ideal for mapping
  • Not entirely beginner friendly (see below)
  • In order to use this compass to its fullest potential, you need to wear it correctly and know how to read the pointer (explained in the directions). Otherwise, the numbers will make no sense
  • Included wrist strap is not a one-size deal and wears quickly

Military Grade Sighting Compass

Includes handy necklace (perfect for kids to learn maps & sighting), Foldable metal lid, sighting window with sighting line, north arrow, floating compass dial with 360˚ scale, rotary dial with 360˚ scale, luminous magnet arrow, bezel ring, Inch/ cm scale, adjustable prism lens, liquid-filled, bubble level, and even a reference table to estimate distance and scope! All in One! Never be without these essential navigation tools ever again!

Use the same lightweight and convenient lens sighting compass that top survivalists, guides, scouts, survivalists, emergency rescue teams, military, and special operations teams use, out in the field. The original “Under Control Tactical” military sighting compass features industry-leading, professional-grade and extremely durable construction, made to handle whatever you can throw at it.

Perfect for carrying in your car, truck, or SUV and ideal for packing in your backpack. Lightweight and easy-to-carry. Perfect for every survival/ camping/ emergency situation.

Pros

  • Rugged metal, shockproof casing
  • Adjustable luminous marching line
  • Luminous dial
  • Magnifying viewer
  • Sighting hairline
  • Floating needle in fluid-filled casing for stability
  • Folds up and compacts
  • Super lightweight
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Spot-on accuracy
  • Great for training purposes due to limited features

Cons

  • Printing is a bit small and can be difficult to read at times
  • Minimal scaling and rulers
  • No inclinometer
  • The pivoting lanyard can make placing the compass down flat a bit of a hassle, so it is recommended to switch out the provided lanyard with something else

K&R Alpin Metric Compass

This double-sided map measurer is small, lightweight, and offers a wide range of map scales and distance measurements. Dimensions: 4.7-Inch x 1.9-Inch x 0.4-Inch%3b dial diameter: 1.6-Inch%3b weight: 0.7 ounce.

Features

  • Plastic housing
  • Rotating counter
  • Precise metal measuring wheel
  • Metric scales: 1:15,000, 1:20,000, 1:25,000, 1:50,000, 1:100,000
  • Standard scales: 1:24,000, 1:62,500, 1:250,000, inch ruler
  • New tool less Adjustable declination
  • Unbreakable polished aluminum sighting mirror

Pros

  • 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 metric map scales
  • Built-in clinometer (0-90 degrees, 1 degree resolution)
  • Luminous bezel
  • Modernization declination adjustment that allows the inner ring to be set to the current declination quickly
  • Tested and developed with the BRK Mountain Rescue Service
  • Sighting mirror is enhanced with thermo-elastic fluid to keep it from freezing
  • Mirror is made of polished aluminum for durability
  • Liquid-filled capsule also has thermo-elasticity, meaning the capsule flexes with changes in temperature and will not crack when dropped
  • Comes with a durable ABS lid
  • Triple sighting system
  • Transparent base plate with rubber feet
  • Magnifying lens
  • Wide neck lanyard with built-in release

Cons

  • Not a negative for the compass, but be aware when purchasing that you are not buying a counterfeit model. K&R tends to be counterfeited often.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different types of compasses that come with different features. It all boils down to what you’re looking for in a compass, and also where you’ll be hiking, and under what circumstances. Those are some of the best compasses that are in the market right now.

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