Timex Expedition Trail Compass Watch
I think it goes without saying that a good watch is a critical piece of gear for an Emergency and Everyday Kit. Yet very few people include it in their "Bug Out" lists. Big mistake. One of the first things I knew we needed when we started building our kits was a durable watch that was waterproof and had a built-in compass. Enter the Timex Expedition Trail Compass Watch...I think it should be mentioned here that I don't like to wear watches. They get in the way when I'm working on the computer and often just feel constraining. But that doesn't stop me from using one when we're out and about. Especially when we are hiking - I always check the time when we start so I know how long it will take us to return.
But the Expedition Trail Compass doesn't bother me too much. It's not small, and it's rubbery, but it's not uncomfortable for long periods. It will get caught on your shoulder strap when putting on a backpack (put the watch arm in first) and sometimes when putting on a jacket or long-sleeve shirt.It has a nice easy-to-read watch face, and the indigo lighting works great. Not so bright as to ruin your night-vision and easy to see at arms length. The strap feels solid, although it might not be possible to replace should it should it break. So far it's been great and unless the material itself starts to degenerate I don't think any external forces will ruin it during normal use.
I bought the watch sight-unseen on Amazon. I don't normally do that for apparel items but with 550 reviews and a 4.5 star rating I figured there had to be something to the hype. The reviews were glowing: from lots of serious folks who put theirs through the proverbial "wringer" and still loved them. Well I'm here to add to that list. After one year of abuse mine still looks the same as the day I got it.The main attraction to me was the built-in compass. After the time keeping and water-proof functionality this was my top priority. We have dedicated compasses which we keep in our BOBs and Bushcrafting kits, like the Cammenga Lensatic Compass but we don't carry those around with us all the time and you know the old adage "one is none, and two is one" so a backup compass is common sense planning.
There is a process for getting the compass setup. You need to program in the declination. Declination is the difference in angle between true north and magnetic north. It can get you off course if you don't calculate it properly. Here are the directions from the Expeditions owners manual on how to do program the watches:
Since a compass uses the earth's magnetic field, be aware of large metallic objects, such as vehicles or bridges, or objects that give off electromagnetic radiation, such as TVs or PCs, which could affect the magnetic field around the watch. If compass is calibrated near such objects, it will only work properly in that location. If compass is calibrated away from such objects, it will not work properly near them. For best results, calibrate in area of intended use. Also avoid areas that may exhibit higher than normal concentrations of hard and soft iron, as they may cause inaccurate headings.
Whenever a heading is suspect, recalibrate. In calibrating and taking headings, it is important, as with all compasses, to keep compass level. Calibrating or taking a heading when watch is not level can result in large errors.To keep watch level, hold watch so that bubble is centered in bubble level window. Do not store watch near any source of magnetism, such as computers, appliances, or TVs, as watch can take on a magnetic charge, yielding inaccurate headings. To calibrate compass, keep watch level or place on level surface (if band interferes, place on inverted cup) for entire procedure. Watch may be face down, but take care to protect watch face.
Go to Compass mode and then press and hold SET. While level, SLOWLY rotate watch two revolutions, taking at least 15 seconds per revolution. This is critical in achieving proper calibration. To help you rotate watch at proper speed, a block is shown at perimeter of display; rotate watch at a speed to keep block pointed in same direction. When done, press MODE, keeping watch level. Watch displays current declination angle setting. If you do not wish to set declination angle, press DONE. Otherwise, press + or - to select declination angle and then press DONE.
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There are a lot of options out there for good watches. The most important thing is to have one in your Bug Out kit. Many of us have become used to checking our phones for the time, and if you are trying to save your battery, turning the screen on and off to do so isn't a smart idea.
Also having something that is weather and impact resistant is a good idea. That way you know the watch will still work after getting stuck in a storm or taking an unintended swim. The Expedition has excellent resistance up to 660 feet. That's more than most non-diving watches, but probably deeper than you'd want to go anyway! Just remember, you can't use the buttons while underwater or you may get water into the casing.