How to Use a Compass

A compass is a really useful piece of equipment that is not only used by campers and hikers. In fact, it is also used ships, airplanes, and cars. It’s a simple yet powerful device especially to those who know to use them. A compass will basically tell you where is North and help you figure out the direction in which you are going. We’ll walk you through the basics on how to use a compass so that you can use this tool whenever you might need it.

Understanding Its Basic Parts

The first part of how to use a compass is to understand its parts. The hard surface where all the parts of your compass are mounted on is called the baseplate. The rulers on the side are used to measure distances on maps. You also have different scales on your compass to use on different maps.

The large arrow on the baseplate is called the direction of travel arrow. You point this to the direction in which you are going. The index pointer is the tail end of the direction of travel arrow, which is used for readings.

The actual compass itself will have an arrow printed on it other than the rotating needle. This is called the orienting arrow, which is used to orient your compass to your map. The magnetized needle is the part that always points towards north.

How to Use a Compass

Here’s how to use a compass in relation to a landmark located from a distance. First off, you should hold the baseplate in front of you. Let the needle float around on the compass freely and allow it to point to the magnetic north. Rotate the entire compass so that the needle and the orienting arrow are pointing in the same direction.

Take note that the zero degree mark should align with the needle, which basically means the mark for zero degrees should be aimed at the magnetic north as well. Before moving on to the next step on how to use a compass double check everything and make sure that all these parts are properly aligned.

With the needle and orienting arrow both pointing north, rotate your baseplate and point the direction of travel line towards the landmark you wish to go to. After having pointed this arrow to your desired landmark double check if everything is still aligned.

Take note of the number of degrees on the dial where the direction of travel arrow points. The number of degrees you see will be the direction of the landmark you wish to arrive at. These are the basics on how to use a compass.

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