Thursday, August 16, 2012

What kind of compass? Suunto M-3D Leader

I've been wanting to buy a compass for the past year, but I haven't felt it was 100 percent necessary for my kind of hiking. I use a variety of maps - as many and as detailed as I can find for each of the hikes I do. And I have excellent bearings. It's difficult for me to get lost, and when I do I can usually depend on my observation skills and mindfulness of detail to get me back on track in short order. So, it feels like a bit of a waste of money.

Still, I want one. I feel like if I'm not good at using a compass I couldn't really call myself a good navigator, or at least not a very reputable one. So tonight I've made up my mind to buy one.

Suunto M-3D Leader Compass
I've chosen the Suunto M-3D Leader. I've seen it at REI for $34, and I've read their comprehensive literature on all of the compasses they carry. It's a fairly inexpensive, decent choice for someone who takes learning compass skills seriously but isn't seriously sure how important of a purchase it is as he looks to move from New Mexico to Southern California in less than two weeks.

Still, learning things like navigation skills are part of my blog Man of Merit; and even though mine may be sufficient for the time being, the thought of hiking without a map, just the memory of the trail and topography and a set of coordinates.

I checked out the REI website tonight to read the reviews, and I have to say I was impressed. The two top reviews were very different but equally supportive of buying the middle-priced Suunto Leader. One was quite technical, way above my head, and the other was emotional, citing how the model helped him lead his friends to safety after smoking pot at a sunset overlook. (I added the smoking pot part to see if you were paying attention.)

Anyway, the Suunto M-3D Leader won me over because of price, but I wouldn't be compelled to run out to REI right this very moment to buy it if I didn't love the reviews and place myself into both of them - being myself someone who longs to understand the technical aspect of all things navigation as well as a person who wants to be prepared to lead my friends away from the zombie apocalypse. (No, I'm not serious.)

So here I go...REI here I come! I'll report on learning to use the Suunto M-3D leader as part of my blog Man of Merit and post a product view later, here on HikeyHikey!

NOTE: The Albuquerque REI was out of the Suunto M-3D Leader when I went to go purchase it, and while I had two options - purchase a different compass or order the Suunto M-3D Leader online - I decided to wait. I'm still in the market for a compass, so if you have information on the Suunto M-3D Leader or any other compass you may think would be suitable for the uses I described, feel free to let me know in the comments section below. Thanks!