Which Compass?

Steve Ellis Gear Review, News

For many years I have used the same Silva Expedition 4 Compass , albeit many of the same type, primarily as either the numbers on the bezel have worn away through use on many great adventures; or the liquid within the bezel housing has leaked, thus rendering the device unusable…

My 'Go-To' Silva Compasses

My ‘Go-To’ Silva Compasses

All of my personal ‘go-to’ compass’ have been manufactured by the Swedish company, Silva; and readily available at all good outdoor shops and online. I have used other types; particularly more cost effective versions when I was Leading the Outdoor Education programme at Wiltshire College. They were suitable for the work we were doing with students; however, when replacing through being broken or lost it would have become an expensive undertaking had we used Silva devices.

In my humble opinion, when looking for a compass that will last you for a long time (if you look after them!), should have, in addition to many personal choices, the following characteristics:

  • Good firm base plate that fits nicely into your hand…
  • Clear scales, on both the romers and compass housing…
  • Magnifying glass, to see all those small features on your map…
  • Grippers on the base plate, so your map doesn’t slide around…
  • A device that you can use in confidence when you really need to!
Anatomy of a Compass

Anatomy of a Compass

Until recently, I have always used the Silva Expedition 4 Compass (left hand ‘Go-To’ compass) which has all the great features mentioned above; however, the new version of the Silva Expedition 4-360 Compass also has the added advantage of a 1:40k romer scale which is great for those of you that use the fabulously detailed maps produced by Harvey.

My new compass of choice (right hand ‘Go-To’ compass) is also a Silva; which has a good sized magnifying glass almost twice the size of the Silva Expedition 4-360 Compass series of devices.

Compass Pouch

Compass Pouch

Looking after your compass is vital to ensure that it works correctly every time. To help you it is worth investing in a protective compass pouch.

In summary, you get what you pay for with a compass. It has to work when you really need it…eg. get yourself out of the clag!. Make sure it is comfortable to use, has all the features you need; and with careful use and stowage, it will last you for years of great adventures.


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