compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter

Posted by: edfardos

compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/19/17 09:54 PM

What are you using for an ultra-light compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter? I peeked at the watches, also looked into low-tech non-electronic versions. Some were light weight, all were junk.

Posted by: balzaccom

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/20/17 12:09 AM

Hmmm. I use a casio solar powered watch that has all of those functions. But I only use the altimeter. The thermometer is too close to my arm, and picks up too much body temperature. And I don't use the barometer at all...
Posted by: Pika

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/20/17 07:53 AM

I carry a Silvia mirror sighting compass. It is lightweight (about an ounce) and pretty accurate. It is liquid damped and prone to bubbles at altitude but still works. I don't recall the model number but REI carries them. I also carry a spirit-in-glass thermometer that I bought 40 years ago when I was doing field research. It is accurate to the nearest degree, has a protective aluminum cover and it weighs 0.7 oz. i bought it at VanWaters and Rogers and they still stock them. I usually rely on my map if I need to know the altitude although I can read altitude from my Inreach if I need to. The barometer I class in the "too much information" category. I've never felt the need for a barometer while backpacking even though I have a Thommen Everest I used for field work that had a barometer function.
Posted by: edfardos

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/20/17 08:20 AM

thanks guys, so on the casio watch, they get mixed reviews. any complaints? model? I'd like to keep all these things under 2oz too. The crackerjack compass you see everywhere is draggy, and off by as much as 90 degrees. I suspect a real needle compass is required, unless the watch is accurate. The watch solution woukd stay in my bag and get temp readings away from my wrist. The barometer would need to provide trends on the lake, helping us decide if we can make it to the other side and back in our kayaks w/o rain wind. Altitude is nice to know, but i suspect its inaccurate as the weather changes.
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/21/17 01:15 PM

I take a separate compass as part of our navigation equipment--a nice brunton.

The watch is a Casio Pathfinder 3143. Solar powered, so it needs no attention. The Altimeter works quite well, if you understand how it functions. It does not read out every time your elevation changes. It gives a new reading about every five minutes. As I drive to the mountains in the car, it is always a bit behind the elevation signs on the highway for that reason. On the trail, that's less of an issue.

I reset/recalibrate the elevation every morning on the trail, so that at least any change in weather overnight is accounted for. And any change in elevation overnight would obviously indicate a change in barometric pressure.

Not sure why you would need an altimeter on a lake. And the compass on this watch is silly--only given rough indications of direction, rather than the kind of precision you need to navigate. Then again, I learned navigation on a sailboat, so I take compass precision seriously.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/21/17 05:03 PM

I would never trust so vital a navigation instrument as a compass to anything requiring batteries, and especially not to something as difficult to use (those tiny buttons are hard to push and don't always work) or as prone to malfunction as a wrist watch. My Silva Starter Compass, which I've found quite adequate for navigation, even off-trail, weighs 0.8 oz., costs under $10, and is carried on a cord around my neck, along with my whistle and Photon microlight. It's a basic compass, but does have a (short) ruler and adjustment for declination.

I dont take an altimeter/barometer since I can get the approximate altitude from the detailed contour map(s) I always carry. I've learned to read weather signs, so my prediction success has been pretty accurate. If I wanted one, I'd get one that was more durable and easier to use than a wrist watch, or I'd go whole hog and get a regular GPS (not the wrist watch kind). Again, even if you get one of those fancy watches or a GPS, you still should have the manual compass.

In 70 years of backpacking, I've never felt the need of a thermometer. If there's ice in my water bottle in the morning, I know it has been below freezing. The one time I deided to take a zipper pull thermometer. it got down to 15* F. The only thing that knowledge did was to make me feel colder! lol

Posted by: balzaccom

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/21/17 07:46 PM

Great post, OM! I know what you mean. We usually only check the thermometer to see how close we came to having the water bottles freeze. After all, it's cold---you put on more clothes. It's warm, put on fewer clothes. It's not like you have a choice to make about what temperature it is!
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/21/17 08:51 PM

And there’s the old rule about attaching a short length of light line to a zipper pull on your pack: when it’s wet, it’s raining; when it’s stiff, it’s cold and raining; when it is sticking straight out, it’s windy; when you can’t see it, it’s dark. And so on.

Kidding aside, I carry a Brunton TruArc 3 compass now; it was what the store stocked after I gave my Silva Starter to a young Scout. Being the belt-and-suspenders type, I also have a small Brunton zipper pull compass attached to my pack, for the routine quick-check, non-precision route finding on the fly (i.e., the trail should be heading generally south), and a backup in case I lose my “real” compass. (The Silva Companion went with the Starter.)

A thermometer just quantifies pain. I used to carry those compass-and-thermometer zipper pull toys, but it was always 56 degrees. (Which meant that water froze at 56 degrees, evidently.)

In the Ohio River valley, where I hike, barometers/altimeters are meaningless. I can eyeball the elevations (“That’s a really tall tree, huh, Dave?”)

Happy Thanksgiving, all.
Posted by: edfardos

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/22/17 08:47 PM

i appreciate all the experience and advice!

i have a garmin gps, and a gps on my ameture radio, which privides compass as well. i guess i'mm looking for a backup, and/or something lighter than those things.

I'm leaning towards a casio prg300 at the moment. in the sierra nevada, weather can get bad quicker than you can paddle off the lake, so the barometer would be the 'new' instrument in all this.

the thermometer is mostly about settling bets on how cold it got last night.

I'd still like to find a non battery powered object that has all altitude/barometer/compass that weighs an ounce or two. A non chinese garbage version doesn't seem to exist... yet.
Posted by: aimless

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/22/17 09:34 PM

In 70 years of backpacking, I've never felt the need of a thermometer.

Colin Fletcher always took one with him. Thermometers are given a short section in The Complete Walker and are mentioned in passing in his other books. He seemed to enjoy running about measuring the temperature of things, such as the interior of his boots after walking in the desert. He never suggests he thought it was a necessary or practical item.

I've taken a thermometer with me on occasion, but in the same spirit as Colin Fletcher. It was entertainment, not critical gear. smile
Posted by: Dryer

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/25/17 09:03 AM

Compass...neck lanyard Silva whistle compass. Simple and light, hard to find these days. Learn orienteering. If you have a map, you only need to know where mag north is.
Thermometer...which I find useful, simple zipper pull that stays on my pack.
Altimeter/barometer....I used to carry a Thommen Everest. Best mechanical hiking barometer made. Now, barometers show up everywhere. Watches, phones, walkie talkies, gps. I've got a Brunton Weather station thingy that does wind speed, temp, baro, altitude, all in one tiny package. Many watches have all that. Barometers/altimeters are useful for hiking in the mountains and finding yourself on the map if you don't have gps or visible landmarks. Predicting weather is very tricky with one, especially when moving around. Barometers usually stay home.
Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/26/17 04:59 PM

I use my analog watch all of the time as a rough compass. Point the hour hand at the sun and half way between the hour hand and 12 is south. Very useful in Michigan when the woodland trails wander around a LOT. If I need more accuracy I have a compass around my neck. It also tells me time so that I know things like how long until sunset, how long I have been traveling and can I make it to the next water source yet today etc.
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/26/17 09:13 PM

That trick with your watch doesn't work very well in cloudy weather, fog, or at night, btw!
Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: compass, thermometer, baro/altimeter - 11/26/17 09:22 PM

Originally Posted By balzaccom
That trick with your watch doesn't work very well in cloudy weather, fog, or at night, btw!

That is why I have a compass on a string around my neck.