Compass Recommendations
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What kind of compass should I buy?  Good question.  Ask five people and you'll probably get five different responses concerning the merits of specific compass features and designs.  Nevertheless, there is one basic requirement for a compass to be able to work in tandem with a topographic map:  It must have a base plate.  In other words, it must be an orienteering compass.

The following compasses are the least expensive orienteering compasses that will serve you well. All have the following features:

  •  A baseplate, as mentioned above.
  • Markers on the compass housing in two degree increments.  Cheaper compasses have five degree increments, too far apart for accuracy.
  • Orienteering line and an orienteering arrow in the center of the compass housing (some models have orienteering lines on the outer region of the housing).
  • An index (read bearing here) line.
If you are amendable for spending a little more for a compass, consider purchasing one with:
  • A longer baseplate, which allows you to connect points that are farther apart on the map.
  • A declination adjustment is a feature worth considering.

The following compasses are the least expensive, quality compasses currently on the market.


Brunton TruArc3

  • $10 - $15
  • The large compass housing makes bearings easier to read.
  • Available at REI, Amazon.com and other online vendors.

click on compass for a larger view


Silva Starter Compass

  • $10 - $15
  • Luminescent compass housing makes bearings easier to read in the dark.
  • Available at Dick's Sporting Goods, Amazon.com and other online vendors.

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Silva Polaris Baseplate Compass
  • $15 - $20
  • The longer baseplate is very useful
  • Available from Amazon.com and other online vendors.
click on compass for a larger

Suunto A-10 Field Compass

  • $15 - $20
  • The longer baseplate is very useful
  • Available from Amazon.com and other online vendors.
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I cannot recommend the following compass:

Ultimate Survival Technologies Deluxe Compass

  • May be sold under the Coughlin's brand
  • Found at WalMart, BiMart, etc.
  • While it may be inexpensiv ($10 - 12)e, it lacks a critical feature - an index or 'read bearing here' line - necessary for accurately reading a bearing.

click on compass for a larger view

 
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