How to Use a Silva Compass

How to Use a Silva Compass
While using a satellite navigation system to find your way around the city or while hiking may be convenient, having a compass and map can provide a reliable and inexpensive alternative in case of technical difficulties with electronics. Using a Silva compass and map does require familiarity with maps and basic navigation principles but these can be easily mastered with a little practice.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Silva compass Map
  • Silva compass
  • Map
Step 1
Locate your starting location and destination on the map. Note the declination. The declination is the deviation between north on a map and magnetic north. If you have an adjustable declination compass, adjust the declination of your compass accordingly.
Step 2
Place the compass on the map with the edge of the base plate along your path of travel. The direction of the travel arrow on the base plate should be in the direction of your destination.
Step 3
Turn the dial on the compass so that the orientation lines on the bottom of the dial housing align with the meridian lines on the map.
Step 4
Remove the compass from the map and hold level, ensuring the compass needle can rotate freely within the capsule. Turn the compass and yourself so the red end of the needle aligns with the direction arrow and orientation lines within the dial housing. Do not move the dial when doing this.
Step 5
If you do not have an adjustable declination compass, then you must account for the declination at this point. If your declination is west, then your declination is negative and you will rotate the dial counterclockwise. If your declination is east, then your declination is positive and you will rotate the dial clockwise. Rotate the dial in the direction and degrees indicated by the declination, then realign the needle with the direction arrow and orientation lines by rotating the compass and your body. For example, if the declination is 10 degrees west, rotate the dial 10 degrees counterclockwise. Rotate your body until the needle is aligned again with the direction arrow.
Step 6
Sight a landmark in the direction indicated by the compass. When you reach your landmark, sight a new landmark with the compass and continue until you reach your destination.

Tips & Warnings

 
Declination changes over time. Even the rate of change varies. Make sure you know the current declination for your area, especially if using older maps.
 
Make sure the needle of the compass floats freely within the capsule. Some metal objects and most magnetic sources can cause the compass to give false bearings and permanently damage the compass.
 
Make sure the needle of the compass floats freely within the capsule.
 
Some metal objects and most magnetic sources can cause the compass to give false bearings and permanently damage the compass.

Resources

Article Written By David Chandler

David Chandler has been a freelance writer since 2006 whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A former reconnaissance Marine, he is an active hiker, diver, kayaker, sailor and angler. He has traveled extensively and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida where he was educated in international studies and microbiology.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.