Wanna buy a good compass but will earths magnetic shift ruin it?

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by Anthonysaudiojournal, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Anthonysaudiojournal

    Anthonysaudiojournal Scout

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    I anticipate a good REI dividend this year and want to buy a good compass, either a Silva Ranger Cl or a Suunto MC mirror compass but I am worried that the earths magnetic polar shift will wreck the accuracy. I know the basics of compass navigation but I have to admit I'm a little rusty after relying on my gps for the last ten yrs.

    I hate to waste $75 on an inaccurate compass...any thoughts?
     
  2. central joe

    central joe Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Declination young fellar. joe
     
  3. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    I've always thought it wouldn't be a big deal. It will still be accurate and point to magnetic "north". Just transpose the adjusted points of direction to geographic north.
     
  4. AK Adventurer

    AK Adventurer Scout

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    As Joe said, you need to know about declination. It's the name for that variance, and most modern compasses, good ones anyway have an adjustment to compensate for it.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_declination


    If not an adjustment, then a simple scale, and you do the compensation when reading it.

    You can look up the declination offset for your location, and simply add or subtract the amount of degrees on any compass.

    https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/declination.shtml

    https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/calculators/mobileDeclination

    That's what I do, being this far north it's about 17 deg off, I just add it myself every time.

    From rei;

    https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/compass-declination.html

    :)
     
  5. Unistat76

    Unistat76 Nerd Supporter Bushclass I

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    Depending on who you listen to, the polar shift will either be no big deal or wreck civilization. It will also happen imminently or hundreds of years from now. Also it will take no time to transition or the flip will take hundreds of years.

    The way I see it, in any combination of factors, it either won't matter or it won't matter.

    Go ahead and buy your compass, imo.
     
  6. bushy

    bushy Scout

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    I was going to buy a pair of pants, but what if i gain weight. LOL.
     
  7. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    Agree with the other guys. Most maps are accurate in that hey show north and give an adjustment for magnetic north. If the pole shifts they just need to release a new series of maps and a magnetic adjustment for the existing maps.
     
  8. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    Don't visit Yellowstone, it could blow any minute.
     
  9. bushy

    bushy Scout

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    If it did blow would my compass still work?
     
  10. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    I think you should go ahead and buy the compass. We're overdue for massive, civlization-ending sunspots as well, but you'll still get a new phone whenever you do. Difference is that you may still be able to use your compass if the poles change around.
     
  11. backwoodstrails

    backwoodstrails anatidaephobic Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    The magnetic poles do shift pretty often, every 200,000 to 300,000 years. This is what caused REI to change their return policy from unlimited to 1 year. They just don't
    want to deal with people trying to exchange a compass that often!
     
  12. J. Pierce

    J. Pierce Perpetually Off Topic, Sorry. Supporter

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    I don't know about how everyone else navigates, but I don't ever deal with highly accurate details.

    As long as I'm not 180 degrees off I'll end up getting where I'm going.

    Buy it or any other half way decent compass and you'll make it back where you started from just fine.
     
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  13. Simplejack

    Simplejack Scout

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    Im gonna hold my breath because of polution
     
  14. Gruxxx

    Gruxxx Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    If you're talking about polar drift (aka; the wandering of magnetic north), you can easily adjust your compass's declination to account for that. You'll always have to accout for that, in fact, either by adjusting your compass or taking mental note. If you're talking about polar reversal, the duration over which that transition occurs would render compasses useless over the course of your (and many) lifetimes. But should you live long enough for it to settle in, magnetic north will simply be south. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  15. backwoodstrails

    backwoodstrails anatidaephobic Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  16. bushy

    bushy Scout

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  17. J. Pierce

    J. Pierce Perpetually Off Topic, Sorry. Supporter

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    My moral compass has suffered from polar shifts occasionally over the years.
    I then found myself socially adrift.
     
  18. Swampdog

    Swampdog Supporter Supporter

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    Buy the Suunto Mirror Compass and read the directions that come with it.

    Page 5. DECLINATION CORRECTION:

    1) Turn the compass over.

    2) Insert the metal key into the adjustment screw.

    3) Turn the key until the declination indicator is the correct number of degrees east or west of 0 degrees.

    You can go to the NOAA website to check your local magnetic declination; I'm sure they will update it if Polar Shift occurs.
     
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  19. huntinguy

    huntinguy Scout

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    Celestial Navigation, if the sun, moon and stars go way, then... there will be no need for navigation.
    In all seriousness, the poles are just a fixed point. As long as you know where that point is, where that point is doesn't matter.
    You will get into more trouble with iron deposits under ground and metal gear on your person that a magnetic polar shift. Don't ask how I know....
     
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  20. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    I'm trying to understand why you're worried... If either of those two compasses has declination "built in", they're only useful in a certain area of the world, for which reason I would not buy one.

    If they are not of such type, you can correct for declination in your head while using them.
     
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  21. backwoodstrails

    backwoodstrails anatidaephobic Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I just realized - I recently purchased a Jeep that displays direction on the dash panel. If the poles shift (which we are overdue for), I will either have to purchase a new Jeep or
    drive everywhere in reverse!
     
  22. wrath0r

    wrath0r Supporter Supporter

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    What a great excuse to get a new Jeep! :D
     
  23. Rusticeddie

    Rusticeddie Tracker

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    Well ... thanks for clearing is up for us. I certainly couldn't have put it better.
     
  24. bosque bob

    bosque bob Scout

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    That's why it's called the "backwoods"? Sorry.

    Appreciate the LOL comments. I needed that today.
     
  25. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue Graybeard Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Well, if the pole shifts enough to matter, you don't need a compass. You need Jesus! Seriously... the pole shifts aren't a worry.
     
  26. weedeater64

    weedeater64 Tracker

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    It won't matter if there is an accompanying geologic shift, as some say would be the case. You'll be dead.

    Even without a geologic shift things could get pretty ugly with cosmic rays and such bombarding us.

    This seems like one of those things where the so called experts are simply speculating as much as any layman. Including whether or not such a thing has ever or will ever happened.

    I file this in the same drawer with cancer causing peanut butter.
     
  27. thegman

    thegman BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    Almost all good navigation compasses have adjustable magnetic north adjustments. There are two North's.
    • True North: (also known as Geographic North or Map North) - is the geographic north pole where all longitude lines meet. All maps are laid out with true north directly at the top. Unfortunately for the wilderness traveler, true north is not at the same point on the earth as the magnetic north Pole which is where your compass points.
    • Magnetic North: Think of the earth as a giant magnet (it is actually). The shape of the earth's magnetic field is roughly the same shape as the field of a bar magnet. However, the earth's magnetic field is inclined at about 11 degrees from the axis of rotation of the earth, so this means that the earth's magnetic pole doesn't correspond to the Geographic North Pole and because the earth's core is molten, the magnetic field is always shifting slightly. The red end of your compass needle is magnetized and wherever you are, the earth's magnetic field causes the needle to rotate until it lies in the same direction as the earth's magnetic field. This is magnetic north (marked as MN on most topographic maps). If you locate yourself at any point in the U.S., your compass will orient itself parallel to the lines of magnetic force in that area.
     
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  28. perdidochas

    perdidochas Guide

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    Magnetic polar shift just changes the direction of north, it wouldn't effect the compass. The Earth's poles shift all the time anyway. It's been moving about a degree every five years.
     
  29. backwoodstrails

    backwoodstrails anatidaephobic Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I think the OP is talking about the magnetic shift where the southern pole becomes magnetic and the compass needle will now point south (or magnetic south) - Remember this has occurred every 200,000 to 300,000 years...remember.
    If not, I must be older than you;)
     
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  30. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Like I said, transpose what the compass tells you is north to geographic "north". The shift may wobble a bit, but should become stable.

    If it happens with in our lifetimes, just use the GPS app on your phone to "calibrate" the compass to point geographic "north".
    :)

    YMMV........
     
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  31. Afterburner

    Afterburner Name: Jon - Ham Radio Callsign: KK6IQK Supporter

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    I learned astronomy and to navigate by the stars as a secondary method just to have more than one method of telling direction in my bag of tricks ;>) I do think the compass will still work in a pole shift and it is just transposing what was formally north pointing to instead point to south.
     
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  32. aaronu

    aaronu Armchair Bushcrafter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    MC2 Global. Adjustable declination and the needle balances properly in all five compass zones.

    Declination changes over time. Check https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/declination.shtml now and then.

    I don't think the possibility of polar shift is something that should prevent someone from owning a compass.
     
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  33. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    In the unlikely event of a total "pole shift", compasses will continue to point magnetic "north". The difference will be that magnetic "north" isn't where it used to be, as the direction of the magnetic field will have changed.
     
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  34. AntonyRaison

    AntonyRaison Tracker

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    Only 2 concerns I have seen with compass
    One is declanation as stated (this changes often, So you can manually add or subtract that difference in on your bearings from map to compass.. or use the screw to set that.. this you would need to change depending on area and time of year etc etc.. so just check up the declination of the area and factor that in
    The other is I seen some compasses weighted for northern hemisphere that simply don't work Well in the southern one at all.. So that can also be a concern.
    other than that as long as its pointing north (magnetic) very accurately and you can pull bearings of it you should be good to go..
    I like base plate compasses.. just what I was taught to use.
     
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  35. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    A polar magnetic shift will not damage an analogue compass. You will merely have to calibrate or transpose mag. N to polar N.
     
  36. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Only for a moment. The magnetic masses within the compass were not designed to react to the global magnetosphere at those extreme temperatures.

    You will cease to operate well before the compass.
     
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