Choosing a compass....

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arthem

Member
Jun 14, 2021
35
15
18
United Kingdom
Hi everyone,

Have been doing some reading on navigation and looking to get some practice in, hence I am currently looking to purchase a compass.
I was going to get a Silva Expedition 4 as they are highly recommended but it would appear that place of manufactor is no longer in Sweden and some people have had issues with QC on some of the recent products.

Current options are the Suunto M-3G , Suunto A-30, or the Silva Expedition 4.
I know that the Suunto M-3G is probably overkill for use in the UK but I suppose that its the type of compass that you would never need to upgrade.
The Suunto A-30 seems like the sweet spot for price and quality but it doesnt have adjustable declination? Is it worth getting the M-3G for this feature?

What would you choose?

Many thanks in advance!
 

nigelp

Full Member
Hi
A more basic quality handheld compass is fine for navigation - one without a mirror or fancy features. Both the Silva Ranger and Expedition are fine quality wise - those are the ones I use for my navigation courses. Personally I’d use one or the other - usually which ever one I can grab first unless I need the features of EX4.
The main difference between the two is that the Ex4 has the 1:40k scale, rubber feet to grip the map and more luminous markings and is slightly larger. The 1:40k scale can be useful if you are going to use Harvey Maps at that scale otherwise not a deal breaker.
I think the best feature of the two silva compasses is the magnifying glass! In the UK you don’t need adjustable declination because the magnetic difference is pretty much zero!

For a beginner I would suggest the Ranger because the measurement scale down the side goes past 1km and it has all features you will need to get started. If later on you want a more fancy compass the Ranger will make a good back up.

A scale in ‘mm’ is the only ones you will use in the UK or Europe so having inches on the compasses just takes up space. A global compass is only useful if you are

Like any tool you can spend as much as you like but don’t get seduced by features that are not really necessary.

Nigel
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,035
1,189
Berlin
I own a Silva Ranger SL.
It's outstanding light and works well.
I recommended it to others and they got serious problems from the beginning.

Afterwards I found out that they aren't made in Sweden anymore.

I don't recommend bad made Chinese compasses of course. I recommend to forget Silva, if we talk about current production.

There is Suunto with production in Finland and there are German made compasses.
I didn't yet inform myself where we find other traditional compass makers that still make the stuff their own and at home with the own specialists.

Suunto seems to make quality compasses, exclusively 100 % made in Finland, the wristband compass M-9 looks very interesting. It's relatively cheap and light and should be absolutely OK if you usually don't leave the ways anyway.


Breithaupt in Kassel recently changed the army compass. The old one was called Conat 3, the new one is called Conat 4. Both are currently not on the homepage, but they will put the Conat 4 in here pretty soon. Of course you can order it anyway.

This year Breithaupt will deliver 3000 Conat 4 compasses to the German army.
These compasses are 100 % made in Germany.



C. Stockert & Sohn also produces 100 % in Germany.



Several Kasper & Richter compasses are also made in Germany.

They also sell Chinese made advertising gifts but the models Alpin, Sherpa and Meridian Pro for example are 100 % made in Germany.

The Alpin is delivered to the official German mountaineering association DAV, Deutscher Alpen Verein, the Meridian Pro is regularly delivered to the Dutch army.



(Cassens & Plath makes in Germany exclusively high end boat and ship compasses.)

It doesn't seem that there is French or Austrian compass production left. Even highly informed military surplus specialists of these countries can't tell me any national production of hiking compasses. The Austrian army issued Recta DP6 and now the technical identic Suunto MB6, the French army uses old Silva compasses.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,035
1,189
Berlin
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TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
7,634
1,621
47
Exeter
Hi everyone,

Have been doing some reading on navigation and looking to get some practice in, hence I am currently looking to purchase a compass.
I was going to get a Silva Expedition 4 as they are highly recommended but it would appear that place of manufactor is no longer in Sweden and some people have had issues with QC on some of the recent products.

Current options are the Suunto M-3G , Suunto A-30, or the Silva Expedition 4.
I know that the Suunto M-3G is probably overkill for use in the UK but I suppose that its the type of compass that you would never need to upgrade.
The Suunto A-30 seems like the sweet spot for price and quality but it doesnt have adjustable declination? Is it worth getting the M-3G for this feature?

What would you choose?

Many thanks in advance!

All good options and something totally worth getting.

But also consider investing sometime into learning the various basics or Natural navigation - Star navigation.
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,895
870
Vantaa, Finland
I have used maps for so long that I can't remember when I was started on them but very apparently knowing how to read them is not intuitive until one learns it. A good course shortens the learning period considerably.

One can easily be lost in the UK when driving a car, some of the smaller lanes are so deeply dug into the ground that one can barely see the sun or feel the rain.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,035
1,189
Berlin
And that they drive on the wrong side surely also doesn't make it easier.

Do you know which compasses are issued in the Finish army?
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
7,634
1,621
47
Exeter
Is that really needed?

I mean, Britain is an island, they can't get lost anyway...

Good land navigation translates well for aerial navigation , you know for following topographical features from the air , which also then translates well into aerial bombing runs when you encounter those bothersome neighbour nations you need to give an attitude adjustment to.. :)
 

nigelp

Full Member
I have used maps for so long that I can't remember when I was started on them but very apparently knowing how to read them is not intuitive until one learns it. A good course shortens the learning period considerably.

One can easily be lost in the UK when driving a car, some of the smaller lanes are so deeply dug into the ground that one can barely see the sun or feel the rain.
There can also be a tendency for folk to over complicate navigation rather than learning the essentials and consolidating those before moving into the more intermediate or advanced skills.
Navigation is 50% confidence! The intuition and ‘flow’ comes with practice and a course can certainly help to move folk in the right direction.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,035
1,189
Berlin
I agree.
I often gave to my boy scouts just the map if the sun was shining.
 

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