KanPas Compass Review

KanPas MTB-43-F

Sometimes you spend a lot of money on a piece of kit and it turns out to be a piece of junk.  Other times you spend a little bit of money and find some real treasures.  KanPas compass is one of those unknown treasures for orienteers and adventure racers!

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I’ve been considering getting a compass for my bike map board for some time, but I’ve held back due to cost and the fact that I have about 8 compasses already.  Trying to justify an additional compass purchase gets harder each time.  But, when I came across the KanPas Map Board Clip Compass at 38 bucks, I had to give it a try.  In the past, I’ve used a wrist compass to aid in bike navigation, but keeping a firm grip on both handlebars is usually a wise move for me.  Plus, who doesn’t like new gear?

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After 75 hours of solid racing at the Sea to Sea, many of those hours spent intimately connected to a bike seat, I can tell you that the KanPas Map Board Clip Compass quickly became one of my favorite new gear items.  It is fast, stable and very easy to read.

The needle is very powerful and as I rode over a bridge that had small metal plates on the ground, I could watch the needle deflect every time.  Just amazing!

My search for a great MTBO compass is over!  I have no intentions of using anything else while bike orienteering.  The clip felt strong and attached firmly to the map board.  It never felt weak or likely to fall off.  I know some people like to put a baseplate compass in their map case, attached to their map board.  But, I like the freedom of being able to move the compass around when I needed to uncover portions of the map.

I do have one small suggestion on improvements for this compass and I’ll try to illustrate in the picture below.  As you can see, the top clip arm is blunt and can easily catch on the map board, especially if you have multiple maps on the board.

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I think if the top clip arm was extended and beveled (see the red outline) it would make for the perfect map board compass.  While trail riding, I don’t want to fight getting the compass onto the map board.  Also, because there is a slight gap between the base plate and the top clip arm, maps can get caught in between.

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These are relatively minor complaints on an otherwise excellent compass.

KanPas MA-43-FS

The same strong, fast and stable needle used for the bike compass is also used for the thumb compass.  I was able to try out the thumb compass while orienteering with my family at Oak Mountain State Park permanent orienteering course.

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If you’ve never been to Oak Mountain, and live in the area, it is well worth the visit.  The terrain is rugged and the permanent course is a lot of fun.  We’ve recently completed the permanent amateur course and advanced course.  All of the checkpoints are properly marked and still exist.

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During this visit, I wanted my sons to learn more about orienteering, and they both did a great job picking routes and using the compass.

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There are 3 different styles of thumb compass: rainbow, degree, and clear.  I chose the degree style.  As we raced over mountainous terrain, I found the needle to be extremely fast, stable and accurate.  I’ve been using the Moscompass thumb compass, but I like the KanPas thumb compass better because of its quick, high-visibility needle.  The KanPas thumb plate is very durable and fits well in my hand.  I really liked the well-defined markings on the plate, showing 100m increments on a 1:10k scale O-map.

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So far, I’ve been extremely happy with KanPas compasses and currently use the following:

They all use the same compass needle, so you can expect the same high-speed, stable performance.  The cost of the compasses are reasonable, but shipping directly from KanPas can be expensive.

Here’s a quick video showing you the speed and stability of the 43 needle:

KanPas is currently working on a new design, the MA-45-F, and I am very excited to try it out once it’s available.

If you have any questions about KanPas compasses, drop me a comment or email.  Or better yet, stop by any event we’re at and I’ll be more than happy to let you check them out!

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Rogaine Ocala here we come.

ROGAINE OCALA

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Nope, not that kind of Rogaine.  More like the, “pay money to go run and get lost in the woods for 8 hours” Rogaine.  Confused, yeah so are we.  We haven’t done one before but we’re actually pretty excited about it.  We figure it will give us a chance to practice our navigation skills, which are dearly lacking.  Most importantly, it will give us a chance to reconnect with our adventure racing friends that we haven’t seen for a long time.

So, my friend, slick back that comb-over and come get lost with us in the woods.  More info can be found here: Florida Extreme Rogaine Ocala and tell them Team Disoriented referred you…we’ll gladly take the race credits 😉

Primal Quest Returns

One of the biggest, baddest adventure races has returned–Primal Quest.  This 7-day, 400+ mile race was one of the premier races back in the days when Eco-Challenge set the world ablaze with adventure racing.

Primal Quest cover

https://www.facebook.com/EcoPrimalQuest

Needless to say, I’m super excited for this event and I can only hope that it kindles a resurgence in adventure racing.  I only wish I had $4k to register Ana and myself, oh and the physical ability to survive the race.  But, those are small details.

Slackers

Man, have we been slacking.  We haven’t raced since the Atomic and haven’t really been training either.  I guess everyone needs some down time.  We were supposed to race the Luminescent, and I was really looking forward to it.  But, this thing called work got in the way.  Once I get this money thing figured out, there will be no more excuses for missing races.

Since we couldn’t make the Luminescent, we decided to do some lazy-man training by going to Oak Mountain and hitting their permanent O-course.  On the way, we also decided to go to the Coosa River and try out their Class II rapids.  We called ahead to reserve a canoe from the Coosa Outdoor Center and made the 3.5 hr drive north to Wetumpka, AL.  The last departure time was at 2PM and we were supposed to be there by 1:30PM to sign our paperwork and get our safety briefing.  We were running late, imagine that, and so called to let them know we wouldn’t make it until 2PM.  But they were super cool and told us to come up and they would wait for us, which they did.

We rushed there, signed our paperwork and were whisked off to the launching point.  Along the way, we chickened out with the canoe and decided on a tandem sit on top kayak instead.

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The Coosa River was flowing and it took a little getting use to the eddies and currents pushing the kayak around.  The trip starts off on flat, flowing river and then you hit a couple of small rapids to get you warmed up to the idea.  This is a great first trip for those that have never done any rapids.  The river is very wide and there aren’t any sweepers or hidden trees in the water to be concerned about.  As you approached the rapids, you could definitely hear the water rushing over the rocks and the sound would get us a little worked up thinking we were going into some major whitewater action.   But, we found that our canoeing on Choctawhatchee Bay prepared us well to handle these small rapids.

At one point, we approached a large island just prior to some rapids where a lot of kayakers had stopped.  We also stopped because the rapids looked impressive on the approach.

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From the island, we could decide on how best to approach the rapids.  There was a little deliberation on whether we should take the bigger rapids to the right of the island, or the smaller rapids on the left.  We knew we’d regret not haven taken the bigger ones and the worst that could happen is that we’d dump and get wet–since we’re experts at that, we decided to go big.  We took the line we wanted and ended up making it through without dumping and I think we even got a hoot from the spectators.

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The rapids here are fairly short and the total trip took us about 2-2.5 hrs.  If you’ve never done rapids before, this is the place you want to go.  And if you are looking to rent a canoe or kayak, check out Coosa Outdoor Center, they were really awesome.

After the rapids, we headed up to Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham AL to do their permanent Orienteering Course.  I did  a short write up on it for the first trip we took there (https://teamdisoriented.com/tag/oak-mountain-state-park/).  The park is amazing with tons of bike and hiking trails.  But best of all there are two permanent orienteering courses with maps, which are maintained by the Vulcan Orienteering Club.

Beginner Course Map

Advanced Course Map

This time we found the elusive CP#6.  Oh, and that little stick pointing move, well let me tell you that is no stick but a rather magical wand we found.  With it, we attempted many new spells such as: Eradicus Arachnius; Eradicus Reptilius, and my favorite Eradicus Ursus.  It worked miracles keeping away the snakes and bears, but it didn’t work so well on the spiders.

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I’m going to throw one more picture in here just because it’s so damn pretty, kinda like me…

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We didn’t finish the advanced course due to our leisurely stroll speed, but we did find CP5-CP10 on the advanced course and we already found all of the CPs for the beginner’s course, so we know they are all there.  I think the course organizers did a great job putting the markers in interesting locations that are not the easiest to find.  The posts blend into their surroundings and there is only a small metal placard designating it as the marker, so you have to look closely to see them especially if there is much undergrowth.  Here is one marker they placed in between to very large boulders.  Ana is practicing her Spider Wall Climb so she can be the next American Ninja Warrior.

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So, if you’re feeling lazy but still want to get out and claim a day of fun as adventure race training, go hit up the Coosa River and Oak Mountain State Park, you won’t be disappointed at all.

Oak Mountain State Park Orienteering Course

Team Disoriented and Team Lil’ Disoriented headed out to Oak Mountain State Park, AL for some orienteering practice on their permanent O-courses.  As proven in the last AR, we’re in need of some orienteering practice.  We probably need some canoe practice as well, but that’s another issue.

Lil’ Disoriented with their game faces on!

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There are currently two O-courses maintained by the Vulcan Orienteering Club, the beginner course and the advanced course. Since we’re from Florida and not used to hilly terrain, our first stop was the beginner course. Looking at the beginner course map you can see that the checkpoints are all on major trails and rather easy to find.  But, by doing this course first, we were able to get some practice trying to match the terrain to the map. Surprisingly, there was a lot of variation in terrain.

Alabaster-Helena-20140126-00343In the picture above, you can get a feel for the landscape, open forest with many hills and small creeks.  We hit CP1, 2, and 3 rather quickly by following the trail. But once we hit CP3, we decided to put our nav skills to the test and left the trail and bushwhacked on a bearing straight to CP4.  We came upon CP4 easily so we did the same thing for CP5 and CP6, heading off-trail and bushwhacking straight to their locations.  Again, both were easy to find and it was a lot of fun taking the course at a leisurely pace.  After CP6, there wasn’t much reason to bushwhack so we stayed on trail and finished out the course.

It was getting late in the afternoon so we knew we wouldn’t be able to finish the advanced course, but we wanted to check it out and see if we could find a few CPs before heading home.  So, after a short break on a conveniently placed stump, reading material in hand, we pushed on.

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Taking a look at the Advanced Course Map you can see that these CPs are not on trails, but require a little bushwhacking to get to.  We decided to attempt CP5, 6, and 7 and leave the rest for another day.  CP5 was at the summit of a small but steep hill and we had a lot of fun trying to maintain our footing and not slip on all the leaves covering the forest floor.

We returned to the trail and tried to find CP6, but failed.  I’m sure the marker is there and I would liked to have stayed to find it, but the kids were ready to move on.  When I got home and checked my GPS track, it looks like we were about 50 yards away from it.  Oh well. CP7 was easy to find and by that time we were all starting to feel pretty good about our map reading skills but it was time to start heading back.  We had a 4-hour drive home and I needed some coffee.

Oak Mountain State Park is amazing and a great place to practice for an adventure race.  There are miles of running and mountain biking trails as well as the o-courses.  There is even a nice lake for canoeing.  We plan on coming up here in the next month or two without the boys and having a long training day. I can’t wait!  And now for the fun part, I’m off to check Ana for ticks 😉

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Pangea Resolution AR

ResolutionARI can’t believe that it has been almost a month since the last post.  Guess I haven’t had much to say.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the Pangea Turkey Burn AR due to injuries.  I was a little upset by it all, especially after reading the Canyoneros write-up.  But now I’m over it and we’re about healed so on to more training and more racing.   Our next race will be the Pangea Resolution AR.  That’s right, after a month of fattening up on Christmas eggnog and figgy pudding, we’re going to do an 8-hour Adventure Race.  This time we’ll have Super Stu with us so I know it will be a good time.

One cool development is that we may have picked up another teammate or two.  My 14 year old niece, Taylor, loves this sort of stuff and wants to run some races with us.  Did I mention she is a cross-country track star?  When I found out she runs a sub 7 minute 5k, I had to step up my game and now I have included a sub 7 minute 5k into my weekly training regimen and call it the Taylor Challenge.  For some of you speedsters, this may not be a big deal but for me it’s pretty tough.  Our other new teammate is Coop, who is probably the fastest guy at our daily pick-up Ultimate games.  He’s also a fan of hiking and land navigation, so I’m really excited about having him on the team.  But, he just had his first baby so I’m not sure when he’ll be able to start racing with us.

Lastly, we might attempt a permanent orienteering course this Saturday if the weather holds.  I definitely need some practice before our next race.  Check out the link to find a course or orienteering club near you.