Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tactical Gear | Lensatic Compass

An important part of everyone's tactical gear, whether you're camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, geocaching, paintballing, or on real-world operations in the lensatic compass. Why? Simple. It doesn't run on batteries, it doesn't need to track 5 geosynchronous satellites, and it won't get fried if it gets wet. Bottom line: of all your tactical gear, it's the one that will get you out of the worst jambs and it's always reliable.

History of the Lensatic Compass

While the exact time and date is for argument, many people credit the earliest lensatic compasses to the Chinese, somewhere around 1040 AD. There's not proof that the "phenomenon" was used for navigation, but it is apparent that the properties of a magnetic draw to the north were noticed. References to navigation with the tactical gear we now know as a lensatic compass are found as early as 1119 AD -- again, to the Chinese.

Modern Tactical Gear | Lensatic Compass

Fast forward ~889 years and we have the modern lensatic compass in everyones' bag of essential tactical gear. They still consist of basically the same thing, all centered around a magnetic compass dial dampened by electromagnetic induction. They're almost fool proof: they contain needle locks to keep the dial from moving around when not actively being used, they are built to be water-proof, shock proof, and are generally operational from -50ºF to 150ºF. Many tactical gear manufacturers also use radioactive tritium and phosphors to allow for easy navigation in darkness. While most tactical compasses come painted olive, they are also available in camouflage.

Other Modern Compasses

A gyrocompass is a compass that operates in a similar manner to a gyroscope – using a fast spinning wheel to determine north relative to the rotation of the earth. The advantage? For one, the find true north, not magnetic north. Magnetic north differs depending on where you are in the world in relation to local geomagnetic fields, not all of which cause the compass to point to the north pole. True, or map north, is just that. Follow the line to true north and you’ll end up at the north pole. Also, gyrocompasses are not affected by ferrous material such as iron, which makes them ideal for use on ships.

Solid state compasses are small electronic sensors that detect magnetic fields in relation to magnetic north. They are usually found in pairs or trios, and simply provide a feedback signal depending on their orientation. That signal must be interpreted by the parent electronic device. These types of compasses are usually found in cell phones.

Regardless what type or brand of compass you buy, put some thought into it. You never know when it will move from the bottom of your bag of tactical gear to your primary means of navigation.

No comments: