Equipment > Compasses

Best Compass

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Alan Breck:
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:
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 donít 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.



Alan Breck:
Thanks got one on order..... :) :) :)

Egg:
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.

Alan Breck:

--- Quote ---Got me thinking about what makes a perfect compass now Lyle, would be interesting to try and figure that out.
--- End quote ---

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... ;) :) ???



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