Lensatic compass question, practical in Maine?

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by MaineFlyfishingGuide, May 27, 2018.

  1. MaineFlyfishingGuide

    MaineFlyfishingGuide Tracker

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    I’m currently debating whether or not to pick up a Cammenga 27. I’ve thoroughly researched them and feel like they are a good investment. However, I’ve seen the Brunton lensatic for around $15 dollars. I’m very familiar with map and compass work, and rely on my Silva baseplate. I’m curious what advantages I’ll gain, and how often I’ll use it,given the heavily wooded terrain here in Maine .
    I realize that quality counts when relying on navigation equipment, but im wondering If I should take my chances on an inexpensive lensatic and check it against my baseplate.

    I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount of knowledge here, I’m wondering what experiences you all have had with lensatic compasses in thick brush mixed hardwoods and how many of you use both a lensatic and baseplate combined? Is an expensive lensatic worth the investment or would I be better off upgrading my baseplate instead?

    I’m particularly interested in @x39 s thoughts on this, as a Maine woodsman.
     
  2. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    @MaineFlyfishingGuide , I'm flattered that you would ask my opinion. I have a couple of sighting/lensatic compasses, and to be completely truthful with you, they don't get much field time. I find a baseplate compass does everything I want it to, and is simpler to use in the bargain. Clearly a good lensatic compass makes accurate work a lot easier, but just how accurate do you need to be? Cammenga makes a beautiful product, first class no doubt. One thing you may want to consider is that the markings on the housing of military compasses are metric and don't readily shake hands with a 1:24000 USGS map or the DeLorme Atlas for that matter. My favorite baseplate compass is my Suunto M-3, but I don't feel bad about carrying a Silva Polaris either. Hope this helps.
     
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  3. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Bushmaster

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    Unless you spend a lot of your time up in the county where there's a lot of open land you won't have much to site on unless your near and in sight of any remaining fire towers or wind turbines. Of course if you do a lot of coastal kayak, canoe or sail camping it's another ball of wax.
     
  4. MaineFlyfishingGuide

    MaineFlyfishingGuide Tracker

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    @x39, @Seacapt. . Didn’t want to leave anyone out of the conversation. For local stuff, I’m often just taking my bearings and back azimuth. I spend a fair amount of time in the Western Mountains of Maine, often fishing the upper stretches and headwaters/tributaries of rivers in those areas. GPS is great, but I don’t depend on it. Batteries run out of juice, Map and compass doesn’t, plus it keeps your mind sharp and is a skill far too many don’t know or use.
    I learned orienteering as a kid, polished it on charts, dead reckoning, using alidades, plotting, (loran c too) etc as a boatswains mate, and got back to maps and land nav after that.
    As far as a lensatic is concerned, I’m thinking I would use it primarily to fix a rough position while on the logging roads and Spurs of the aforementioned western mountains. More or less to keep my skills honed and to make better use of my maps, and to not rely as much on GPS.
    I guess it really boils down to how much I would depend on fixed positions to start a trek into new waters, ponds etc. or to take a chance on getting a decent knock off version to use as a tool to hone skills, but not rely on for navigation.

    My follow up question would be has anyone had experience with both a Cammenga and a knock off version, and if so, what are your thoughts?
     
  5. southron

    southron Guide

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    I still use my Marine military compass and topo maps. have some silva ones also.

    At this point in my life I know my stomping grounds as well as my living room in the dark so don't much need em, but I remember how to use em.

    I think that there are some pdf's of the map reading field manual floating around, may be in the BCUSA downloads section. That will teach ya all you may ever want to know about getting the good out of a compass and map.

    I still have my old surveying stuff (Engineer is me) and I can still survey, but don't have a license to do it as a business anymore.

    I like lensatic type compasses. That was what I started out with and it fits me like a old broken in pair of boots that just feel right.
     
  6. JAY

    JAY Guide

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    I have a military camminga, but use a base plate suunto, as here in the mountains any line of sight usage is not possible.
     
  7. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Bushmaster

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  8. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter

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    I carry a Cammenga daily. I don't use it often, but it's with me everywhere I go. I have had a couple of the import lensatics, and would not buy another. If you are basing your trips off of taking a bearing on certain points, you want the best there is.

    I don't often use topo maps anymore, but I always take note of road directions and such when I head out so I know how to get back to where I started from.
     
  9. Sandcut

    Sandcut Sed ego sum homo indomitus Vendor

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    I'll throw in my $0.02, for what it's worth, since I just recently went on a compass buying kick to be able to show style differences in some of my classes. I did, finally, break down and got myself a Cammenga after hearing all youse folks talking them up.

    To begin with, I'm a firm believer that the majority of us go around on a daily basis being highly "over compassed", having compasses that are set up to more stuff than we really need, in addition to doing more stuff than we understand how to perform. I am outside regularly for both work and play and my compass of choice is a Suunto Clipper on my watch band. That satisfies 98%+ of my navigational needs. Before that it was a $5 Coghlan's pocket compass.

    The majority of the navigation that you'll be doing in your woods, much like here in PA, will be based on terrain association and dead reckoning. Your compass needs to do little more than point north. Having said that, from your posts, you sound like you have a very good understanding of hohoew to extract the full potential out of a compass based on your experience. In that case, a high quality compass may not be a vase of "overcompassing" for you.

    While it is true that you will likely need the sighting capacity of a lensatic compass infrequently in the Maine woods, it is also likely that, based on your knowledge of navigation, should the need/opportunity arise you would be experienced enough to recognize that opportunity and make use of it. So that points to "yes", buy a Cammenga. Further still, having purchased both a Cammenga and a Brunton military copy, I've noticed a few things. Both are decent compasses and more compass than most will ever need. Where the Cammenga really shines (sic) is in all of the flourescent components that allow for nighttime navigation. The Brunton has some flourescent markers at places, but not enough to actually navigate with. The Cammenga has awesome nighttime capabilities that won't require constant charging with a flashlight (destroying your night vision). Add to that the knowledge that each click of the bezel rotating the upper luminous markings for "the gate" constitutes a 3° change in azimuth, allows for further easy navigation in the dark. Spending as much time in the woods as it sounds that you do, it is not out of the question that you will be either hiking in or out in the dark and also possibly being turned around and spending a night. The ability to navigate well in the dark may prevent the latter scenario.

    There may be base plate compasses that are equally capable at nighttime. I don't know. But having played around with my Cammenga for about a month or so now, it finds a way into my pack, just in case. Even if it is heavy.

    And, as mentioned upthread, if you do go offshore, the sighting capacity will be extremelh useful.

    I don't think that you will be disappointed on bit if you get one.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
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  10. MaineFlyfishingGuide

    MaineFlyfishingGuide Tracker

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    @Sandcut , great reply. Yes, I carry a compass with me always, and for most trips at a minimum (unless on well used trails in familiar areas) I take a bearing and back azimuth.
    My main interest in the Cammenga is durability and reliability. It’s really a question of having a tool that I will get the most out of, and know with complete confidence that it will be correct.
    I’m trying to reconcile the differences between a baseplate and the Cammenga, The graduation of degrees, meters vs feet etc. , Each type of compass has its likes and dislikes, Simplicity of a baseplate vs reliability of knowing it’s not plastic or liquid filled. I guess it’s a trade off.
    My current compass is getting pretty worn from use/ carry and it’s time to replace it. I’m thinking it’s worth the money to buy both a Cammenga and a good baseplate.
    Being familiar with two different styles of compasses certainly can’t be a bad thing.
     
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  11. wizard

    wizard Guide

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    I spent 20 years in the military, used the Cammenga compasses during training and on a few other occasions, never saw much advantage to them aside from the tritium markings. In real life I found the baseplate compasses to me more useful for most navigation, they are a protractor and a compass combined. The mirrored type provide the same sighting capability as the lensatics, while still providing a protractor function. Many models have the ability to add or subtract declination, which if done correctly saves some time and avoids some possible mistakes.

    I presently carry a Suunto baseplate with the global needle and declination adjustment. I still have a Cammenga that has dead tritium, I only keep it as a souvenir and to remind me how much I actually don't like them. I know many folks think the military compass is the cat's meow, I am not among that group. If you have a good baseplate compass and know how to use it, you are all set IMHO.
     
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  12. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    I've thought about this some and would like to add something. I don't presume to tell folks what to do, but I think it's worth pointing out that cross country navigation by night should be a choice of last resort, especially in an area as thickly wooded as Maine. Great way to get a stick in the eye (ask me how I know...) and have other unpleasant experiences. You mentioned being "over compassed", and I agree completely, perhaps especially in this regard where it could very easily lead an inexperienced person to undertake far more than they're prepared for.
     
  13. mainewoods

    mainewoods Maine Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    @x39 point me to the Suunto MC-2 Compass, does all that I need in the field . Not saying it's the greatest or I'm the Compass / map guy lol it works and I'm very happy . Thanks @x39
     
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  14. MaineFlyfishingGuide

    MaineFlyfishingGuide Tracker

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    I’ve been thinking this over as well. To be entirely honest, the nighttime features really have absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. The biggest factor is the durability, and ability to precisely pick out landmarks and translate them to identify a position. As I mentioned in previous posts, it’s the skill that is being lost to technology that appeals to me.
    I would much prefer a baseplate, but for an equal amount of investment , the Cammenga has them beat on durability for the money.

    When it comes down to it, I guess the Cammenga would be great for occasional use but realistically a baseplate would probably be my everyday compass.
    Wish you could get the rugged durability in a baseplate / sighting combo.
    I have to echo @x39 If you aren’t experienced, don’t think a compass can operate itself. You need to know how to use IT or you will get yourself into a mess. No amount of money spent will help you if you aren’t familiar with what you are doing, or 100% confident in your ability to do it correctly.
     
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  15. pb0201

    pb0201 Tracker

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    Cammenga = not broken in your pocket when you need it!!!
     
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  16. Swampdog

    Swampdog Supporter Supporter

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    You get what you pay for; save up your money and buy the Cammenga (for a back-up compass) and buy a Sunnto M-3 compass (for everyday use.)

    Also, pick up a good watch compass like the "Sunnto Clipper," or better yet the "Cammenga WC10".
     
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  17. Crowe

    Crowe Tracker

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    Liquid filled baseplate compass with a sighting mirror or system. Choice of degrees/ Metres / feet. Look for one with a substantial hinge. Check out Recta matchbox compasses
     
  18. ChawnC

    ChawnC Supporter Supporter

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    Anyone know of a baseplate compass that employs tritium?
     
  19. deckard313

    deckard313 Tracker

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    Cammenga....
     

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