Cheap compass recommendations please.

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Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
1,073
575
Just out of range
Hi All,

Now I know that you tend to get what you pay for with compasses as with much in life but I'd be after recommendations for some cheap, no frills compasses that I can lend to people to do short walks around the area I live which won't be the end of the world if they forget to return them.

I only really want something to let someone with very basic navigation skills orientate a map and be able to know which way north and south are (in practice E and W are more relevant).

I've already lost one old Suunto "beater" compass and while I'm sure it will find its way back, I don't want to lend out my Silva 4/54 or 15TDCL.

A quick look on the usual sites has come up with this from Highlander for less than £4 in a colour that no one is going easily forget they have. I know the QC on some of these budget brands can be a bit hit or miss but I guess if it points north when it arrives, it should do the job.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highlander-COM024-Orienteering-Compass-Yellow/dp/B002F2PTM0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496571286&sr=8-1&keywords=highlander+orienteering

Any thoughts or any alternative suggestions please.

Many thanks,

J
 

Jaeger

Full Member
Dec 3, 2014
670
17
United Kingdom
Aye Up Nomad 64,

If I am reading your post correctly there is an inference that there is some kind of 'organised' element to your intentions and potentially therefore potential liability not just from a safety aspect but from a quality of service aspect too and so the answer to your question is that you should be supplying a compass that meets the criteria of the 'exercise' that those to whom you will be supplying one are going to need.

IMHO a fundamental part of any navigation training/practice is the ability to know where you are on the map/on the ground and to be able to tell someone else where you are if required to do so (i.e. emergency) and so ability re the OS national grid reference system can be critical.

That thought process informs just some of the features that a compass might have - i.e. romas and rules

As a trainer of overland navigation for decades I personally wouldn't choose or supply to others anything less than a Sylva type four with the exception of the small ref compasses that I use when GPS training/navi'ing. (And there is still a type 4 or higher in my ruck).

And you are right - loss is a potential feature during nav training/practice - but which type of 'loss' would you least like to suffer!!!!

A quick search on amazon has just turned up a type 4 in a sale at 12 quid a throw - :)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/slredir...&widgetName=click_within_right&qid=1496574494
 

Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
1,073
575
Just out of range
Aye Up Nomad 64,

If I am reading your post correctly there is an inference that there is some kind of 'organised' element to your intentions and potentially therefore potential liability not just from a safety aspect but from a quality of service aspect too and so the answer to your question is that you should be supplying a compass that meets the criteria of the 'exercise' that those to whom you will be supplying one are going to need.

IMHO a fundamental part of any navigation training/practice is the ability to know where you are on the map/on the ground and to be able to tell someone else where you are if required to do so (i.e. emergency) and so ability re the OS national grid reference system can be critical.

That thought process informs just some of the features that a compass might have - i.e. romas and rules

As a trainer of overland navigation for decades I personally wouldn't choose or supply to others anything less than a Sylva type four with the exception of the small ref compasses that I use when GPS training/navi'ing. (And there is still a type 4 or higher in my ruck).

And you are right - loss is a potential feature during nav training/practice - but which type of 'loss' would you least like to suffer!!!!

A quick search on amazon has just turned up a type 4 in a sale at 12 quid a throw - :)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/slredir...&widgetName=click_within_right&qid=1496574494
Thanks Jaeger,

Although its not strictly speaking "organised", I am conscious of the potential liability issues.

All I'm really doing is giving guests access to a pile of maps, guide books and laminated extracts of maps for them to do their own thing. There is one popular walk of just over a mile across open moorland where if the weather closes in and you lose the horizon you can easily get "turned around" but walking roughly west will take you to a fence line and home.

My inclination is always to err on the side of tried and tested but as I will be after a few and have already lost one, I was interested in whether any of the budget offerings could be trusted.

I might order one of the Highlanders to see what it is like but if I don't feel confident that it will point consistently North will go for the scouts/cadets old favourite.

Cheers.
 

garyc

Tenderfoot
May 4, 2016
64
0
Hampshire
What about the Silva Micro 28 for £6.80?

It is very basic (no turning bevel etc.) but solid construction and the carabiner makes it useful for not losing! I've just bought one as a lightweight backup/easily accessible alternative to my main compass. I've not used it in the field yet as I've only had it a few days, but I'm impressed with the quality of the build, I reckon it could withstand a fair bit of abuse.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silva-30-0000036694-Micro-28-Carabiner/dp/B000MMBJG0/ref=sr_1_1
 
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Jaeger

Full Member
Dec 3, 2014
670
17
United Kingdom
Aye Up,

Robson - good call - that is the very compass that I use for my GPS check ref compasses. BUT - ditch the mini (fake) karabiner - they always fail (some very quickly) and you may suffer the loss issue that Nomad is trying to avoid!

I have them sewn to the inside of the loose belt end on my ruck waist straps, keeping them secure, readily accessible and able to be held out in front/away from the body when required for use. (image 1)
IMG_4788.jpg


I have been using (and abusing!) them for about 5 years, maybe more and they have proven very reliable. Out of a dozen I have had only one develop an air bubble (image 2) and they have been subjected to many bumps and crunches and variations in temp either during deployment and/or storage. (Unlike the yet smaller Sylva wrist strap ref compass (image 3) which have mostly failed miserably - not recommended).

IMG_4789.jpg ref compass recc1.jpg

With the further info from Nomad the mini baseplate version might be the way to go - compact/simple/robust/accurate/easily stow-able (loose-able though?!)

Nomad - How about sewing them to the map case that you supply - a bigger item to loose and if that fails - a house brick - if they only come back with the brick - throw it at them!! (sorry - there goes my pain related training ethos again :lmao:)
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,282
1,381
McBride, BC
I see this as a hard puzzle to solve because it isn't personal. Even if it's a lanyard permanently attached to the map case. Not a bad fix.
The forest industry here uses Silva in every size, shape and description for block layout as they have always done. GPS is blind.
 

Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
1,073
575
Just out of range
Thanks for suggestions.

I do like the look of that Silva Micro 28 and may get one for myself as an EDC like Jaeger suggests but it is too small and inconspicuous to be lent out as it risks just being overlooked in a pocket and taken away.

A while ago I did order a pack of 10 button compasses direct from China for the princely sum of £1 (for ten not each) including postage with the idea that I would have one in every bag, pocket etc - and unsurprisingly I got exactly what I paid for! If you knew which way North was and gently flicked each of the compasses carefully you could get it to line up but they were not something I would want to rely on myself or give to anyone else.

I've ordered one of the lurid Highlander offerings and if it consistently points north may get a few more.

I don't know who took the last compass and sure it will find its way back when they realise they've got it but I'm trying to avoid the repeat of the circus we had a few weeks ago when Mrs Nomad's teenage niece and friend left a note saying that had gone for a wander over the moor to a local beauty spot neither of them had ever been to (on a hot day without hat, water, map, compass etc. and with marginal mobile phone coverage) and didn't have the sense to let anyone know when she got back.

Having spent a couple of hours out trying to find them, they were located safe and sound in the guest bathroom having spent the afternoon applying a variety of eye wateringly noxious lotions, potions and sprays and with typical teenage indifference to the kerfuffle they had caused.

If the Highlanders don't pass muster, I revert to the basic Silva. :)

PS Highlander arrived today. Pointer points reliably in the same direction as my faithful old Silva 4/54 and doesn't stick. Baseplate feels a bit brittle but the lurid yellow means it's not going to be lost easily. Happy with it for the money and have ordered a couple more.
 
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Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
1,073
575
Just out of range
An update on my quest for a cheap and cheerful compass that works but would not be the end of the world if someone forgot to return it.

Those on here who counselled, "buy cheap, buy twice" and "you get what you pay for" were somewhat inevitably proved right - the second of the two Highlander compasses I got for a little over £3 (from a large river in South America) let go of the damping fluid (paraffin or white spirit?) on its first outing, turning it from a brightly coloured compass into a messy medallion!

You live and learn! :(

IMG_0895.jpg
 

Norm De Plume

Member
Aug 14, 2017
21
0
Suffolk
I've got one of these (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N3QB501/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00) to go along with my Silva Ranger. I've taken the same readings with both and they seem fine, with the added advantage that the Funtalker has adjustable declination. I've not tried it out an about in earnest yet, so I'll be interested to see how it holds up. However, even if it lets go of the fluid, I'll still have a shaving mirror with me :D
 
Apr 8, 2009
1,052
50
Ashdown Forest
I'm interested that people appear to have found options for cheap compasses that are liquid damped. All of the sub £10 compasses i seem to have found before have no liquid damping, so the needles jump all over the place....
 

Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
1,073
575
Just out of range
I'm interested that people appear to have found options for cheap compasses that are liquid damped. All of the sub £10 compasses i seem to have found before have no liquid damping, so the needles jump all over the place....
IME to date the liquid damping on sub £10 compasses seems to be a transitory feature! :lmao:
 

Alan 13~7

Settler
Oct 2, 2014
572
2
Prestwick, Scotland
Silva is a quality brand.
Maybe the OP can inform the participants that if they lose the compass they have to pay for a replacement?
I am with Janne on this one, I don't think a small refundable deposit to cover the cost of replacing not returned more expensive quality compass is a big deal, when you consider it could potentially save your life.

This would also generate respect for borrowed equipment from a care point of view, & also highlight the importance of having reliable equipment from a safety point of view....

& unless you want to buy a second hand compass you are more likely to remember to return it...?

I personally wouldn't mind paying for that piece of mind & it is after all is said only a deposit.... refundable on return?
 
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Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
1,073
575
Just out of range
I am with Janne on this one, I don't think a small refundable deposit to cover the cost of replacing not returned more expensive quality compass is a big deal, when you consider it could potentially save your life.

This would also generate respect for borrowed equipment from a care point of view, & also highlight the importance of having reliable equipment from a safety point of view....

& unless you want to buy a second hand compass you are more likely to remember to return it...?

I personally wouldn't mind paying for that piece of mind & it is after all is said only a deposit.... refundable on return?
I hear what you say but deposits, forms etc are not really an option and TBH, if I have to buy a couple of budget Silva, Suunto or Recta compasses (£9.50 is the cheapest I've seen for a very basic Silva) and maybe lose one a year, I can live with that. I wouldn't expect to be charged for breaking a glass in a pub or a plate in a restaurant.

I bought the lurid yellow Highlanders with eyes wide open - the intended navigation is pretty straightforward (west out, east back) and if they can be pursuaded to hold onto their fluid, they will do the job. I've taken up the offer of a replacement, I'll give it a proper workout before giving it to anyone else.