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When you are heading into the great outdoors for a day of orienteering or to hike through the wilderness, it is always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality.

In terms of making sure you find your way through any environment, you will want to make sure you are equipped with the correct compass to make it easy for you to find your way.

When you are looking for the best way of reading a map while using a compass you will want to choose Orienteering vs. Lensatic compass.

Both these compasses have been created to help you find your way through the outdoors with their accuracy required to keep you safe when traversing an unfriendly terrain.

What is an orienteering compass?

An orienteering compass is often referred to as a base plate because it is usually made from a clear plastic material that allows it to be used as a simple way of keeping your eyes on both a map and compass at the same time.

The basic use of an orienteering compass is with a map as you navigate your way around a course using your navigation skills and a map of different levels of complexity.

An orienteering compass is a popular option because it has been designed to make its use as easy as possible with an affordable group of materials lowering its cost.

When you are not a skilled survivalist you will usually find the use of a base plate compass is the best option because it has several markings designed to help you navigate easily.

The design of an orienteering compass

A base plate compass is one of the easiest to identify because of its impressive and functional design.

The usual design of the base plate is a rectangle that is made of some form of transparent plastic.

The main reason for the use of a transparent material is for the compass to be placed over the top of a map to allow you to identify landmarks and topographic lines while keeping an eye on your location and direction.

The transparent nature of the orienteering compass allows several lines to be inserted on the plastic case of the base plate.

These lines and design of the orienteering compass are designed to give you all the options you need to navigate a course safely and easily.

Included on most orienteering compasses is a ruler running down one of the straight edges of the base plate.

This is a vital piece of equipment because it provides you with the chance to measure distances using the scale key on the map and estimate the distance between certain points on the map.

It is common for orienteering compasses to include a magnifying glass that can be used to help identify items that may be marked on the map you are following.

One of the most important aspects of the design of your orienteering compass is the moving dial that sits around the compass with a magnetic needle.

This allows you to mark north at all times when you may not be traveling in a northerly direction.

The direction you are traveling in is usually marked with arrows that allow you to mark your journey with ease.

One of the keys to the success of the orienteering compass is the lanyard hole that allows you to wear it around your neck to keep it safe and easy to access.

What is a lensatic compass?

If you have watched a war movie, there is a chance you have seen a Lensatic compass that was developed for military use during the 20th-century.

These military compasses have caused much debate over the years because they use a pivot allowing them to appear to float as the compass is raised and lowered to and from eye level.

The science behind the Lensatic compass states this device can be among the most accurate of all.

However, if you attend an orienteering event you will find yourself in the middle of an intense debate about whether the investment in a Lensatic compass is worth the money.

The design of a Lensatic compass

Unlike the orienteering compass, the Lensatic is usually held in a metal case that is designed to provide more protection due to the floating nature of the compass.

When you unclip the cover of the Lensatic compass, you will find yourself facing a dial that can move from side to side and up and down as you try and bring it to level in front of you.

In the center of the face of the compass, there are two letters for east and west in the center of the dial.

The outer area of the dial is designed to show the degrees in red that can be judged using the moving outer ring of the compass that moves with each click standing for three degrees.

One of the main benefits of the Lensatic compass is the front and rear sights that allow you to use your eye to accurately determine your location with this compass.

Orienteering vs. Lensatic Compass: How do they compare?


When you compare orienteering vs. Lensatic compass benefits you will find yourself exploring two very different options that have there own benefits and drawbacks.

The main reason you will want to invest in the far more expensive Lensatic compass is the perceived accuracy you may believe you will enjoy.

In contrast, investing in a high-quality orienteering compass can bring you many benefits because it has been designed for its ease of use and lightweight nature.

An orienteering compass is easy to use when you are trying to follow a map because you can place it over the image while still being able to see the points on the map.

If you are more experienced, you will find yourself looking for a smaller baseplate compass that will be easier to carry and provide you with more space to move easily around any outdoor course.


The lightweight nature of the orienteering compass is one of its major benefits, but it can be a drawback at times.

When you are moving across rough terrain, a cheaper orienteering compass is open to damage that its plastic base can sustain with ease.

The lanyard hole that can be used by the orienteering compass user can limit access to the compass if not enough space is available to move the compass across your map.

The Lensatic compass also has a large number of drawbacks, including the use of a large case that can make this a cumbersome and heavy option.

When you are trying to travel light as you move across an outdoor environment you will not be able to use a map in conjunction with your compass making it less accurate.

Although the Lensatic compass is described as among the most accurate, the issues that can be faced include the need for a sight to be used which means some landmarks are needed for the compass to really come into its own.

Overall, the orienteering compass is a cheaper and more efficient option when you are using your compass regularly.

The Lensatic Compass is one of the most impressive in its appearance but does not have the same ease of use and costs far more than the majority of base plate compasses.

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