Author Topic: On buying a compass  (Read 570 times)

Agentorange

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On buying a compass
« on: 14:00:07, 08/09/20 »
I've decided to have a go at some basic map reading and compass work. I'm going to do this on local routes I know well so if it all goes horribly wrong I won't be lost in the wilderness  :)

But I don't own a compass. So am looking to buy one. Now there's a whole bunch of them out there. Long explorer style ones, round ones, ones with raisable sections ( for taking bearings I assume ) running from about £5 all the way to £30 +

So any recommendations ?

EDIT Just realised I should have put this in the gear section: Admins/mods please feel free to move


« Last Edit: 14:15:56, 08/09/20 by Agentorange »

Birdman

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #1 on: 14:51:17, 08/09/20 »
I bought a Suunto M3-G global compass many years ago (most compasses don't work worldwide, many people are unaware of this) but it got very little use in this age of GPS. I still carry it as a backup.


For local use, just go for a standard (not globally balanced) one. Flat with transparent base plate.
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pauldawes

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #2 on: 15:10:51, 08/09/20 »
I guess type of compass you buy will depend on which type of navigation you want to practice...assuming you want to do stuff like walk on a precise bearing, you’ll need a base plate model, to establish map bearing to start with.


(I have only used them for fairly “rough and ready” stuff such as walking on an approximate bearing to hit rail features...so compass I’ve used most is a Silva typ19, which cost about a tenner I think.)


I’d stick to one of the established brands like Suunto or Silva...and have got a sinking feeling that a baseplate model from one of those will get you close to 30 quid.

Apache

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #3 on: 15:44:45, 08/09/20 »
A baseplate compass is straightforward to use. Assuming you are in the UK I would recommend a Silva.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silva-Compass-Expedition-4-360/dp/B005CFDWVC


The expedition 4 is a great compass with a Romer engraving for both scales of maps to take grid positions.


Silva is hard to buy in the US so go for an equivalent Suunto there.

GoneWest

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #4 on: 18:17:58, 08/09/20 »
I recently bought a genuine (AFAIK) Silva costing about £30, from an online trader well known on this forum, and was shocked to discover it had a very visible 1.5 degree index error (the index mark on the compass module didn't line up with the direction arrow on the baseplate). Back it went for a full refund, and I bought a Suunto elsewhere, instead.

Interestingly, the Chinese Copy of a similar Silva I bought previously for £7 had no discernible error of this kind* - it's even better, in that respect, than my Suunto, which has an index error approaching a quarter of a degree. Even I can live with that, however! The CC is graduated in mils, though, and I wanted one in degrees, to match my prismatic sighting compass. That is the only reason I upgraded.

* [I did check out my Chinese Copy in the shop (Mountain Warehouse)  before I bought it; other examples might be worse.]

Skip

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #5 on: 18:27:45, 08/09/20 »
The Silva Expedition 4 is probably the most popular baseplate compass in the UK. Nearly everyone I walk with uses one.

Expect to pay about £30 from several online discount outlets such as https://dash4it.co.uk/silva-expedition-4-compass..html
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BuzyG

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #6 on: 21:11:09, 08/09/20 »
I have a couple of Silva compasses at the moment.  O0   

I once bought a cheap copy and it was worse than useless out in the real world, as it took an age to settle, so you had to stop to get even a rough bearing from it. That went in the bin after one winter outing on Dartmoor.

richardh1905

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #7 on: 16:24:15, 09/09/20 »
I've not had a problem with cheapo compasses, and the compass that I currently use I found on top of a hill somewhere over 3 decades ago - still working fine.


A warning though - don't store your compass next to your phone, especially if your phone case has a magnetic clasp! Very effective at demagnetising compass needles, as I found out to my cost on top of a cloud wrapped Ben Hope!
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ninthace

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #8 on: 16:41:28, 09/09/20 »
I know my compass is a Silva type but it has been so long since I looked at it that I have forgotten what it type it is. :)
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archaeoroutes

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #9 on: 07:02:46, 10/09/20 »
If you plan on taking bearings, make sure it is a long nameplate, not a short one. Much easier to use.
If you will only ever be setting the map, then just go nice and compact.
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barewirewalker

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #10 on: 10:11:02, 10/09/20 »
I'm going to do this on local routes I know well so if it all goes horribly wrong I won't be lost in the wilderness  :)
Perhaps you should stray off the Righteous way, for a bit of practice with your new compass. I have a short base plate Silva left over from my mountaineering days, it has served me well over the 20 years or so of retirement. I usually walk with an A4 printout, with a full size map as backup. The A4 is usually up scale from the OS map, I realise that in following Rights of Way the walk furniture provides corrective references but following field margins with no distance reference points can lead to confusion. A matter of 10 to 20 degrees in the line of a hedge can put you right.
Also useful in Maize, elephant grass crops and where oil seed rape has linked and forces field margin alternative routes.
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Eyelet

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #11 on: 21:53:11, 11/09/20 »
A quality compass will last many years and could save your life. I had just one adventure with a cheapo compass and the needle came off its pivot after two outings - a bad batch I was told by Cotswold Outdoors! I have remained faithful to Silva since then - I now have and would also recommend the long base plate Expedition 4.


Incidentally the free OS Locate app has an electronic compass (based on a Silva-type) as one of its features and some basic tips and hints on using it.

Agentorange

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Re: On buying a compass
« Reply #12 on: 19:46:31, 15/09/20 »
Thanks for your input guys. I was inclining to spend a bit more for a Silva, and the comments here would seem to support that. I imagine that'll be the answer.