Author Topic: Best Compass  (Read 13283 times)

Alan Breck

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Best Compass
« on: November 23, 2011, 11:50:41 AM »
A check of the hillwalking cupboard shows:
1) Two Silva type 4/54
2) Silva type 5. The favourite in view of it's steady needle.
3) Various "cheaper" Silva

Getting older & even more decrepit I'm seriously considering a Suunto M3 as advised by Lyle but I'd appreciate thoughts on the matter.

Reasons for purchase:
1) Possibly easier to read especially in poor light
2) Easier to use with gloves?
3) Can adjust for declination although it's almost automatic to do this
4) Measure slope angle
BUT
Am I paying for something that I don't really need. I.e. I'll only use it in the Northern hemisphere.

Lyle Brotherton

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 939
  • Competent and safe navigation sets you free.
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2011, 01:07:28 PM »
Hi Alan,

Firstly great to have you on-board, welcome :)

Whilst compasses are the most basic and easy to use navigational tool  :) the manufacturers appear to make it as complicated as possible to select the one best suited to your purposes  :(

I learned to navigate on the military Type 54 (Silva) and thereafter always used their Explorer series. However, in latter years I felt that their quality of manufacturing slipped, maybe it was moved out of Sweden, I don’t know, but several of mine developed large bubbles in the capsule, the pivoting of the needle and its settling was less sure and the bezel was not so smooth to rotate.

The first time I was introduced to the Suunto M3 Global was whilst working with a team in North Africa, and I later used the same unit in both of the Arctics. It is in my opinion the best compass available. http://www.shavenraspberry.com/suunto-m3-compass-for-northern-hemisphere
Question: would folk be interested in helping me design an ideal all round compass? Not sure how on earth it could be manufactured but an interesting possible an interesting project.



« Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 07:19:53 AM by Lyle Brotherton »
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Alan Breck

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2011, 10:02:28 PM »
Thanks got one on order..... :) :) :)

Egg

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 105
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2011, 12:15:16 AM »
I've had a Recta DT420 G for a few years. I think it has some good and bad points.
The shape is great. Having a baseplate with a rounded end, it sits in my hand more comfortably than the standard Silva 4/54 shape.
Also like the "chunks" on the bezel ring which make it easy to turn, even with gloves on. The ring and index triangle are also nice and white and luminous.

Having red markings and two rubber stoppers for feet on the baseplate is not so great. The three sticky blobs ala Silva are much better. Markings would be better in black, red can get "lost" amongst the detail on maps. Two red DOT triangles works ok, but black would be better.

In the housing the orienting lines would be better if they were black but the two huge luminous base bars are great. Easy to see and use, night or day.

In use the needle moves very smoothly and settles very quickly, as does the clinometer.

So overall I think it's a very good compass, a few black markings would make it great.

Got me thinking about what makes a perfect compass now Lyle, would be interesting to try and figure that out.
Everyday's a school day...

Alan Breck

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2011, 08:26:24 AM »
Quote
Got me thinking about what makes a perfect compass now Lyle, would be interesting to try and figure that out.

I've started another thread...........if that's OK.........just to see what people want. No doubt Lyle will take all our thoughts & produce the perfect compass for us.......won't he... ;) :) ???




Lyle Brotherton

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 939
  • Competent and safe navigation sets you free.
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 02:23:13 PM »
Alan, had to be out this moring, testing some satnav kit and needed to be high so as to gain full 180/360 view of sky, sleet, occaisional snow flurry, driving wind and topped with low cloud - stay indoors!

« Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 07:16:41 AM by Lyle Brotherton »
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Alan Breck

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 09:05:37 AM »
Thanks Lyle. P.M. sent.

Lyle Brotherton

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 939
  • Competent and safe navigation sets you free.
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 10:37:22 AM »
Will post out today Alan :)

I would seriously encourage you to write on your maps.

Background: I was brought up where printed maps were seen as expensive and revered. The plus side of this was that you cared well for them, the downside was that they were static, locked in time and seen by me as an object I used.

I genuinely remember my shock when the fearsome Kenny Wilcox drew, with a massive black indelible felt pen, where we were, our RV and various points to be avoided. When he then proceeded to hand it to me I remember thinking ‘How do I explain this defacing of the map when I hand it back in!’

Some years later, a truly exceptional navigational instructor, Scott McDonald, showed me his technique for continually marking his location, effectively creating a TrakBack, record of the route and a lot more secure than thumbing the map.

I guess these lessons changed my relationships with maps, where I see them as interactive sources of information to help me navigate. Over the years this has become both so familiar and useful that I think it would be difficult to no longer mark the map.

The data I add ranges from the obvious, such as features that are missing from the map:

-   An area of scree
-   A knowle
-   A stream that has been created in flash rain

To the less obvious, yet as essential, items such as:

-   Sunrise/Sunset
-   The mobile telephone numbers of every member of the party
-   My name, address &mobile number (should I lose the map).

This is a valuable procedure, it has really helped me navigate more proficiently and added another domension of safety.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 01:47:39 PM by Lyle Brotherton »
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

sniperkona

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 53
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 07:47:35 PM »
what was  Scott McDonald's way of marking his route please ?

Alan Breck

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 10:27:39 PM »
Was that the GPS expert who worked for Stuart for a while?

Pete McK

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 10:20:01 AM »
We have been using the Suunto M3 and the Silva Explorer now for 2 months and overall very comfortable with both. Emma has been using the Silva and I have mainly used the Suunto.

Comparisons
Whilst I personally prefer the Suunto, Emma prefers the Silva and we think this is down to familiarity.

Both compasses have a similar drawback: beneath the hole for the lanyard to pass through the recess is only 2.5mm deep, and when the 5mm paracord is attached it protrudes beneath the face of the baseplate. Consequently when working with the compass on a flat surface it does not sit flush.

Silva +ves vs Suunto
We both prefer the black type used on the Silva, especially when using our head torches.

Also the slight extra length of the straight edge on the Silva, 110mm, compared to the 90mm on the Suunto makes it easier for taking bearings from the map when the features are further apart.

Suunto +ves vs Silva
The Suunto luminous dial is brighter and lasts longer than on the Silva

The Suunto orienting lines in solid black as compared to red/black on the Silva are again easier to read, especially when using a head torch.

The larger bezel and lass cluttered degree markings/numbers are easier to use on the Suunto.

Observation
Contrary to Lyle’s general advice in his book, I have changed the adjustable plate on the compass base to reflect the magnetic declination in the area we spend most of our time and find it very useful, yet interestingly sometimes forget to adjust for it if I have to use the Silva.


Lyle Brotherton

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 939
  • Competent and safe navigation sets you free.
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2011, 11:47:23 AM »
what was  Scott McDonald's way of marking his route please ?

Everytime he stopped he simply put a small red mark for his location using his Chinagraph onto his map.
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Lyle Brotherton

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 939
  • Competent and safe navigation sets you free.
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 11:49:34 AM »
Was that the GPS expert who worked for Stuart for a while?

The one and same guy Alan, a really dedicated and good navigator, good guy too. Have not heard from him for years.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 06:07:58 PM by Lyle Brotherton »
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Pete McK

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2012, 12:22:00 PM »
Update
The Silva compass has developed a small bubble inside the capsule and it is only 4 months old.
Also the acrylic appears to scratch more easily on the Silva that the Suunto.

My current preference is the Suunto, as I get the feeling that it is better constructed and more robust.

sniperkona

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 53
    • View Profile
Re: Best Compass
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2012, 11:08:51 PM »
i have had 2 silvas develop bubbles now,
only on cold days, bring them back inside and its away, so when you go to stores to get it exchanged,,,,well you can guess