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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Mo’ Pain…Rogaine!

Our first Florida Xtreme Adventures event was the Rogaine Ocala , an 8-hour race that had us on foot for over 26.7 miles.  Some of those miles were ran a couple of times because I got a little disoriented, but what’s new.  Click on the map below to follow the action

Rogaine Map Small

Check in started at 7AM, we were handed our map, passport, and I committed my first mistake almost instantly.  Ana and I have never done a Rogaine before, so before the race I checked out a few blogs to get an idea of what to expect.  A rogaine is basically the foot/nav section of an adventure race.  You’re given a list of checkpoints, a map, and a finish time.  You’re job is to collect as many checkpoints in an alloted time as possible.  The order of collection and path is up to you.

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Pre-race planning time is always nerve-racking for me.  I never feel like I know what I’m doing, unlike the guys below.  Look at the Canyoneros, just chillin’ before the race.  They’ve got chairs, a lantern, even a floor mat.  They probably have coffee brewing somewhere too.

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So, I get the map and the first thing I do is highlight all the CPs so I don’t miss one.  What I didn’t realize though is that there were more CPs on the map than on the passport. Come to find out, it’s a two-stage race where after completing the first stage, we return to the Start/Finish and grab a second passport.  Once I figure this out, I try to “erase” the highlighter marks on the CPs that are not on the first stage and come up with a path plan.

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At 8AM Ron yells out, Go! and people start dashing off into the woods.  We’re rushing to not get left behind and start bushwhacking to catch up with the other racers that I assumed were on the trail we want.  Come to find out, they weren’t on any trail at all, they were bushwhacking to their first checkpoint (probably 31).  I realize the mistake I’ve made and we start heading east to CP33.  Of course, I’m ticked at myself for feeling pressured to keep up with other teams.  We had come out to practice navigation and right out the gate I want to start following others.  Race starts always put me in a frenzy until I truly get my bearing and find the first CP or two.  It’s hard, being an amateur, to not follow the more experienced teams.

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We find CP33 with little trouble and then realize that CP33 is not a checkpoint on the first stage.  I had forgotten to erase it and now we had wasted time trying to find it.  Three mistakes right off the bat and we hadn’t found our first CP yet.  Not a good start at all.  The good news is that after the bad start, we actually did pretty well for the rest of the first stage.  We found all of the checkpoints with little trouble.  What was really fun was that we didn’t end up running into another team that was looking for the same CPs as us.  We’ve been in races were lots of teams were looking for the same CPs at the same time, and it gets pretty boring.  We cleared the first stage in 5Hrs and 13 minutes.  I have no idea if that is a good time or not.

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Back at the S/F, we get our second stage passport and start route planning.  Then I see Team Night Owls, who came in after us, leaving to go out.  Well, if they’re just going to grab their map and head out, then so will we.  And look, CP33 is on this stage and we know where it is, right?  As we head off to CP33, Ron Eaglin comes up from behind and takes a few photos before heading out to CP33 to get some pics of teams locating that checkpoint.  We see where Ron goes in, but it isn’t where we decided to attack the CP from and so we keep going.  When we get to our attack point, we take a bearing and head in.  I can see Ron sitting behind palmettos but for some reason I don’t go over there.  I don’t know if he’s being tricky or if he’s sitting on the CP.  Of course, he’s sitting on the CP and I feel like a dumb ass for not just going over there.  In the end, he got a good laugh at our inexperience and we got a good team photo 🙂

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We knew we were running short on time so we made an abbreviated plan, trying to pick up CP33, 34, 54, 76, and a few more that I can’t remember.   Since I seem to have misplaced my map I can’t recall what our original plan was, but I’m sure it was stupendous.  It doesn’t really matter because after getting 54, we crashed and burned trying to get 76.  I lost my bearing when we hit on a trail while bushwhacking south, and I then spent 40 minutes trying to regain it.  I couldn’t figure out what trail we were on, which is pretty stupid in hindsight.  Oh well, we had to ditch 76 and could only pick up CP55 before heading back.

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We ended up finishing the Rogaine Ocala in 11th out of 18 teams, collected 19 out of 28 CPs and covered 26.7 miles in 7 hours and 39 minutes.  More importantly we had a blast and discovered a new event that we definitely look forward to doing in the future.  If you haven’t tried a rogaine yet, go do it.  You’ll have a great time and meet some truly awesome people.

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Rogaine Ocala here we come.

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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 😉