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Discussion: Narrow or wide needle in thumb compass?

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Mar 28, 2017 1:01 PM # 
Hi guys, I'd like to hear from you what is your opinion by having a thumb compass with a narrow or wide needle. We here in Brazil have many orienteering race that we run in 408 vegetation for long period of the race that need a precise bearing (usually there are low features around it), thus what would be the best needle for this case? I've seen that Moscompass have both models to purchase if you want, so it may have a reason behind it to offer this two options but I'm not sure about the stability of the needle if is going to be different or if there is any other impact in the compass that may affect the performance of the orienteer during his running.

I appreciate if you can share your thoughts about this topic based in your experience by using this two type of needle.
Mar 28, 2017 7:25 PM # 
I think a wide needles tend to be more visible while jostling at a fast running speed and approximating bearings. While a narrow needle would be more suited to slower precision navigation based on azimuths.
Mar 31, 2017 8:52 PM # 
I have one of each. Wide needle Silva, narrow Moscow. The stability is more a matter of construction I would think. As Todd says, the wide one is easier to read running fast, I use it for sprints. The narrow one has the ability to set a bearing, which greatly enhances its accuracy and your ability to read the bearing.
Apr 2, 2017 6:41 PM # 
I've owned Moscow compasses with the wide needle (Model 22) and the narrow needle (primarily Model 3s).

If you look at their online catalog, the Model 22 seems to be a "tourist" model (I'm sure this is a mistranslation to some degree), while the model 3 is a "sport" model. None of the sport models are wide needles.

My experience is if you're running, you want something like the 3, although you do have to level it a second or so before you look at it.

My recommendation is to pick the compass for its stability while running, if you need that. The bearings are pretty much the same, driven primarily by how fussy you are. For what it's worth, I prefer the narrow needle for precision bearings. I like how the lines on the rotating capsule below the needle appear when they're lined up with the needle. But, honestly, it doesn't matter that much for bearing accuracy.

{added later}

One thing I do think matters is the short vs long thumb baseplate. I do not like using the XL (or XR) short version for bearings in the woods. I like the long L (or R) model because it's just easier to maintain a bearing with the longer "direction of travel" indicator. I only do short adventure races, but I tend to pack an actual basepate compass when I think I need "ultimate bearing accuracy" for a long bearing run with a crappy map. The longer visual indication just makes the difference.

However, in 408 (difficult to run / medium green), it's as much your skill as the compass. It's always difficult if you have to divert around obstacles all the time.

This discussion thread is closed.