Need a good ultralite compass

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    Craig S Stewart


    Locale: Southwest Germany

    Can anyone suggest a good ultralite, compact compass preferably suitable for use w/ a map. The couple I have seen appear cheap and do not work very well. Any help would be appreciated.

    Rick Dreher
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northernish California

    I like this little guy, the Brunton Nexus 26DNL:

    I think it was once called the Silva Hunter. The only shortcoming I see is that it has a declination scale, but not presettable declination adjustment, which I prefer.

    Mike Storesund


    Generally any compass to be used with a map would be a “Baseplate Compass”. You would also want one with a minimum of 2 degree intervals, so you can get to within a 1 degree accuracy. If the compass has 1 degree intervals, your accuracy would be within 1/2 a degree.
    While the Nexus mentioned is light, I seriously consider the “no hinge pin” as a potential break point in the future. Also the declination scale is not the same as a declination adjustment. Having taught orienteering for many years, I find that for an ounce or ounce and a half more, a better quality compass a more durable and useful tool.

    The Suunto M-3G offers a global needle (so it is good for both northern and southern hemispheres), glow in dark dial and needle, magnifying glass, adjustable declination and a clinometer for a mere 44 grams.
    If you intend to use a GPS in addition to the map and compass, Brunton makes their 8096 GPS Eclipse with 1 degree increments, UTM scales, “Circle-over-Circle” needle for 48 grams.

    If you like the idea of multiple use compass, then you would look for a “Sighting Compass” which has an attached mirror of sighting in a target/landmark, also used for emergency signalling, shaving, putting in contact lenses, etc.
    The Suunto MC-2G offers everything the Suunto M-3G has with the added mirror at a weight of 76 grams.
    The Silva Ranger Ultra offers everything the Suunto MC-2G does except the global needle for 8 grams less.

    I do own all four of these and I prefer the sighting compasses I mentioned. (I use one my son uses the other).
    A lot depends on your personal preference and the amount of money you plan to spend. You can get a very functional compass for as little at $15 and go as high at $70 or more.

    You may want to look at
    The Compass Store
    for more ideas.

    Craig S Stewart


    Locale: Southwest Germany

    Thank you, Rick and Mike. Some good points to consider as I am shopping. I like the idea of a mirror and can leave the signal mirror at home.

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