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Review: Suunto MC-2G (Global) Compass

 

 

Click to enlarge.

 

The Suunto MC-2 is a compass that is widely considered one of the finest mirrored sighting compasses available. It is similar in many ways to the venerable Silva Ranger (type 15). For the MC-2G, sometimes called the MC-2 Global, Suunto started with the MC-2 and took it to the next level with the addition of their revolutionary global needle. The result is a truly excellent compass – a modern classic.

Features:

  • Adjustable declination
  • Clinometer
  • Jeweled bearing
  • Additional sighting hole
  • Luminous points
  • Global needle
  • 1:24,000 and 1:62,500 map scales
  • Magnifier

What Makes It Great?

Many of the above features are common to most premium compasses. However, there are two features that really set the MC-2G apart.

Additional Sighting Hole

The additional sighting hole is genius. With most compasses, the user must align the compass and then look through the sights on the top of the mirror. It is common to move slightly during this operation which takes the compass out of alignment and introduces a small margin of error in your azimuth. The Mc-2G has a second sighting notch at the bottom of the mirror. This notch sits in the center of a large viewing window. It is much easier to align the compass and sight through the lower notch without lifting your head at all. I find it much easier to use than the higher notch on most compasses.

 

 

The MC-2G features an additional sighting hole below the mirror. Click to enlarge.

 

Suunto Global Needle

The global needle is what makes this compass truly excellent. Most compasses use a needle that is balanced for specific geographical  zones on the Earth. A compass that is balanced for North America will not work optimally in Australia. The Suunto global needle is a needle that has been optimized to work anywhere on Earth.

In order to achieve this, the needle itself is vastly different than most. The needle is not magnetized. Instead, the needle is attached to a small metal object that looks like a disk or bearing. This “disk” is what is magnetized. The needle is attached in such a way that it can tilt but there are small “wings” on the needle that will prevent it from tilting too far. The net result is a needle that works anywhere, dampens faster than any compass I have ever used, and can be used to take an accurate bearing even when tilted at angles as much as 20 degrees! Even if you never leave North America, you will love this compass because of how quickly it dampens and how forgiving it is.

 

 

The Suunto global needle is ingenious. Click to enlarge.

 

In Use

I have found the MC-2G to be very accurate. The bezel is easy to read, spins smoothly, and stays in place reliably. The bezel is also works better with winter gloves than any other that I have used. The sighting mirror is large, clear, and seems to be mounted very straight.

Map work is a breeze thanks to the red colored map scales. These stand out well against most topo maps. The MC-2G also features 3 rubber “feet” that help the compass stay in place on the map. They stick especially well to the vinyl on map cases.

The adjustable declination is very easy to adjust with the provided tool. The adjustment tool rides unobtrusively on the lanyard until you need it. I should also note that the markings on the compass module make it very easy to return the declination to neutral, which is not the case on all compasses.

 

 

The red map scales stand out against your map. Click to enlarge.

 

What Could Be Better?

The map scales and other markings on the base plate are not as deeply inset as they are on some compasses I have owned. Deeply inset markings help keep the base plate markings readable longer.

The luminous points on the compass do not glow as brightly or as long as some other compasses that I have used. They are really only usable for a short time after charging.

Overall

This is, without a doubt, the finest compass I have ever owned. Most of my experience is on Camennga lensatic compasses and with an old Silva Ranger that I lost years ago. While both of these compasses are great, the MC-2G’s combination of features helps it stand out in the crowd.

 

 

Click to enlarge.

 

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DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer

I like to have detailed maps on hand but it isn’t always practical to have USGS Quads for every place that I might find myself. That is where the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer comes in.

The Atlas & Gazetteer is a soft cover book of topo maps that cover an entire state. The topographic detail is minimal but it is useful. It also has excellent detail on smaller country roads that don’t appear on road maps. The books are quite large which makes them very easy to read but still very portable. They won’t quite fit in a smaller hydration type pack but should fit most multi-day hiking packs or briefcases.

These are money well spent.

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DPx H•E•S•T/F Concept Pictures

We recently mentioned the highly anticipated DPx H•E•S•T/F. Now we have pictures of this exciting new folder from the folks at ESEE and DPx. This is going to be one heck of a knife.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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Patch Collecting: RAT Pack Patch

The folks at ESEE Knives started the RAT Pack as a way to promote participation in their forum. It has grown into an excellent resource for survival related topics and a fun place to hang out. Having cool patches doesn’t hurt either.

The RAT Pack Patch is available to RAT Pack members from Double Barrel Sheaths.

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ESEE Pack Kit – A Knife Based Survival Pouch

Adding a pouch to a knife sheath is nothing new. Leave it to the survival savvy minds at ESEE Knives to add a knife sheath to a pouch! The ESEE Pack Kit is basically a small, well thought out organizer bag that allows you to carry essential survival gear. The unique feature is that the sheaths that come with ESEE Knives can be integrated into the pouch.

The ESEE Pack Kit is the second generation of this concept. This new version incorporates several improvements that were suggested by ESEE Knife users and still manages to cost less than the original. It will come in two sizes and multiple colors. It can be carried via a shoulder strap, on your belt, or by attaching it to your MOLLE/PALs gear.

This looks like just the thing for a minimalist survival kit.

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ESEE and DPx

Jeff Randall, co-owner of ESEE Knives and Randall Adventure Training (RAT), has announced that DPx will spawn its own brand in the ESEE Family. DPx is the collaboration of renowned adventurer Robert Young Pelton and ESEE Knives. The DPx Gear H.E.S.T. was the first fruits of this joint venture and now we can look forward to many other items.

 

DPx Gear HEST

 

The new DPx line will feature items that are targeted towards adventurers and a the tactical market while ESEE Knives continues to serve the survival market. You can look forward to a H.E.S.T. Folder, DPx soft goods, and other items. There will also eventually be DPx specific training courses offered.

I am really looking forward to seeing what comes of this collaboration. I will keep you up to date as products are released.

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Free Map Tools at MapTools.com

Recently I found myself 2 days before a hike without a map ruler for 1:24000 scale maps. I didn’t know of any retailers locally that would have what I needed and I didn’t think that an online retailer would be able to get the ruler to me in time for the hike. Sure, I could get by by just using the scale on the map, but those are often scaled in miles and I prefer to have the option to measure things out in yards or meters if possible.

MapTools.com to the rescue! I was already on their site to order some other tools (which will be reviewed in an upcoming article) when I noticed that MapTools.com has a free download section. They have a ton of great tools in .PDF format that can be downloaded for free. I downloaded a 1:24K map ruler and had several printed on overhead transperancy sheets at a local office supply chain. You may also want to consider laminating your ruler since the printing may rub a bit under field conditions. The rulers worked perfectly and I was able to share some spares with others on the hike.

Check out the free tools here.

While you are there, check out their line of unique, very useful, and not free map tools.

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USGI Cammenga Lensatic Compass – Washer and Dryer Test

I recently sent a USGI Cammanga Lensatic Compass through the washing machine and briefly through the dryer in the name of science (or maybe I just forgot to take it out of my pocket). I am am happy to say that it passed the washer and dryer test with flying colors. These are compasses are TOUGH.

The compass displayed no additional paint chipping (it was already quite well worn). No moisture made it into the capsule and there was no fogging. The sighting wire is still straight and intact. All of the tritium elements are still intact and working. The rotating bezel is still in place and clicks positively.

 

USGI Lensatic Compass after going through the washer and dryer.

 

 

There are compasses that are lighter in weight. There are compasses that have more features. There are compasses that require less additional map tools. But there are few compasses as tough as the USGI Lensatic compass and few that make taking relatively precise azimuths as easy. I own other compasses, but I often find myself reaching for one of my old USGI Lensatics because I know them and trust them.

Note: Stay tuned for some upcoming compass and map tool reviews. I hope to take a look at some of the excellent UTM tools from MapTools.com, the venerable Brunton 15TDCL (AKA the real Silva Ranger), and the superb Suunto MC-2 Global.

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BooBoo Kit Versus Blow Out Kit

I hope that you know the importance of having a blow out kit on your person whenever you are at the range. We previously discussed a basic kit that could be contained in the HSGI Bleeder Pouch. Blow out kits are serious gear for serious situations. A blow out kit can literally save your life but how will you handle injuries that are less than life threatening? Build a booboo kit.

A booboo kit is just another name for a first aid kit. It should be compact and comprehensive. Think about all the common little injuries and issues that you deal with when you spend a day (or days) outdoors, at the range, or in training. You will probably deal with things like headaches, cuts, burns, scrapes, stomach aches, blisters and more. These are all things that can ruin a day at the range and can not (and probably should not) be treated with the items in your blow out kit.

You will also find this type of kit to be useful when you are not on the range. You may want to add it to your hiking pack, your hunting pack, your vehicle, or even keep it at the office.

A basic booboo kit should cover the most common injuries you encounter. The following list will not be comprehensive. You will want to consider adding and deleting items as you see fit.

Cut Treatment – Band-aids, gauze, first aid tape, triple antibiotic ointment, butterfly band-aids, medical grade super glue

Medications – Pain relievers, antacids, anti-diarrheal,  cold meds, allergy meds, anti-itch ointment

Sprains and Breaks – Ace bandage, SAM splint, chemical cold compress, triangular bandage (used as a sling), finger splint,

Burns – Burn gel, burn dressings

Sanitation – Hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves, cleansing wipes

Other – Tick removal tool (tweezers or dedicated tool), mole skins for blister treatment, snake bite kit, scalpel blades, glow stick, space blanket

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Orienteering

I did part of an orienteering course on Saturday and it was great fun. I have done them before but it seems I always forget how much I like doing it. Not only is it fun, but it has great training value. Unlike just going for a hike where you stay on trails, with orienteering, there is no trail. You simply have a map and compass. It is up to you to break brush until you find your flags.

The two courses that I have easy access to have some pretty steep terrain (for this part of the country) and heavy underbrush. You will find yourself exercising your brain and your body. It can be very challenging and rewarding to find your flags. It is definitely not just a typical walk in the woods.

If you are lucky enough to have an orienteering course near by, I strongly suggest that you take a buddy and spend an afternoon brushing up on your map and compass skills.

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