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Suunto M3 Global compass review

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Pete McK:
We have been using this compass for a year now and it has relinquished our Silva Expedition to the store cupboard. This is our assessment:

1. It has a long, transparent plastic base-plate for pointing the compass at objects in the field and for joining points on the map and it has a prominent index mark indicating the direction of travel. (The three little rubber feet help you use the edge of the compass to find and draw your bearing on the paper map.)

2. The big rotating compass needle housing, with ridges to allow easy use when wearing gloves and is marked in two degree increments. The housing has a transparent base which is marked with true north-south meridian lines which, together with the long compass edge, form a protractor for use on the map. With one exception, the base plate compass is a protractor when it lies on the map - the needle is disregarded. The one exception is when the housing is rotated in to true north and the compass is placed on the edge of the map to orient the map in the outdoors, to north and south using the magnetic needle.

3. An adjustable "north indicator arrow", which is set independent of the true north-south indicator lines. Your compass can be adjusted for the Grid Magnetic Angle in your area. You make your adjustment by turning a micro meter screw on the bezel, accurately setting you current declination to one degree using a separate scale marked on the reverse side of the bezel. This virtually eliminates the need to remember mnemonics and perform calculations in the field.
4. The compass needle is designed for global use – which means we can now go to New Zealand ;)
5. The base plate edges are marked with a cm ruler, 1:20,000 and 1:15,000 km scales plus on the main body of the compass there are the more usual 1:50,000 and 1:50,000 scales.

7. It has a magnifying spot, which even for non-glasses wearers is very useful.
8. The base plate is ergonomically rounded at the back end that is held in the hand (to discourage attempts to hold the compass backwards) and an adequate hole provided for a lanyard.

1. The short lanyard
2. The lack of clinometer
3. The direction of travels arrows are not luminous

1. The printing on the underside of the baseplate, which includes the essential ruler, 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scales etc., is wearing off!
2. It has developed a bubble in the compass housing, which if like in our Silva compasses, grew in size and rendered them almost useless to use in cold conditions.


Nice review Pete, I thought the M3 Global had a clinometer - are there different versions of it?

Pete McK:
Thanks Phil :)

That’s interesting about the clinometer, we bought both of these compasses at ‘Hitch n Hike’ in the Peak District, and neither of them have the black clinometer needle, yet the images on their website do ???

I have taken a photo of the compass and added it to my original posting, you can also clearly see the printing that is rubbing off.

Great review Mate :)

Have the bubbles that have appeared occurred on both your and Emma’s Suunto compasses Pete, and was it during your last Alpine ski trip?

My Silva Expedition also develops these bubbles when cold, but they have not as yet interfered with its functionality as far as I am aware. I don’t seem to remember this being a problem with my previous Silva compass, circa 1970’s, or has it always been the case and my Rose Specs for all things better in the past are clouding my judgement

My suspicion is, that like most global firms, they will have moved their manufacturing to countries with much cheaper operating costs, and whilst countries like China can manufacture high quality items, they can also manufacture complete rubbish items.

Pete McK:
 Thanks Cal :)

Yes skiing Glacier d'Argentiere, Chamonix in France. In my compass it was a few small bubbles that then combined to make one I guess around 5mm in diameter and it definitely affected the compass needle. Emma’s story was similar though the final bubble not so large.

If you’re about I can drop it off this weekend. Have PM’d you with a plan ;)


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