How to Use a Suunto MCA Compass

How to Use a Suunto MCA Compass
A compass and map are good to have when hiking through the wilderness to avoid getting lost, but you need to know how to use them. The Suunto MCA Compass has a sighting mirror that locks open at various angles: 60, 120 and 180 degrees. The sighting mirror will help you target your bearing with greater accuracy by allowing you to read the compass while simultaneously observing the surrounding landmarks. Suunto compasses also have a "two zone system" for precise measurement anywhere in the northern hemisphere.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Suunto MCA compass
  • Map
Step 1
Set the compass to north. Do this by holding the compass level to the ground (either on a table or on the flat of your hand) and twist the dial until the arrow points at the "N" marking on the compass.
Step 2
Turn to face north. Physically turn yourself around until you are facing the same direction as north on the compass.
Step 3
Align the compass with the map. Place the compass on the map (still keeping everything level to the ground) and line up the north arrow on the map with the north arrow on the compass. Now everything should be facing north--you, the compass and the map. You are now properly oriented with the map and can use it to plot your course.
Step 4
Rotate the Suunto's compass bezel until it aligns with the direction that you would like to travel.
Step 5
Use the sighting mirror to help align the compass with a distant landmark in the direction you are traveling. Hold the compass in your hand and observe the face of the compass in the mirror's reflection while you align the vertical line on the mirror with a landmark, like a big tree or mountain peak. Proceed towards the landmark.

Tips & Warnings

The Suunto's sighting mirror could also be used for emergency signaling.
A compass can only tell you which direction north is--you need to align the compass with a map to truly find your way around the wilderness without getting lost.


Article Written By Denise Bertacchi

Denise Bertacchi is a freelance writer with a degree in journalism from Southeast Missouri State University. She is a St. Louis suburbanite who has written for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boys' Life, Wisconsin Trails, and Missouri Life.

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