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Old 04-07-2012, 10:26   #1
Deputydave
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Quality compass?

I'd like to get a quality compass for camping/BOB. Looking around Amazon I see lots of them that 'look' good but many of the reviews tell a different story i.e. Chinese made POS.

Can anyone recommend a solid, quality compass? I know you often get what you pay for, but is there a recommendation that is also on the economical side?

Appreciate it.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:31   #2
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Cabela's carries a military style lens attic compass. I'm not sure if it is the military issue, but I can't see a difference. I think it was about $100.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:29   #3
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I think there are many that will do the trick that are cost effective.

The question I have for you is, how accurate does it really need to be?

I have a military compass, and several less accurate compasses. For the most part I can be happy with a bubble compass. I just need to verify that north is the direction I think it should be.

For precision work I am using a GPS.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:35   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deputydave View Post
I'd like to get a quality compass for camping/BOB. Looking around Amazon I see lots of them that 'look' good but many of the reviews tell a different story i.e. Chinese made POS.

Can anyone recommend a solid, quality compass? I know you often get what you pay for, but is there a recommendation that is also on the economical side?

Appreciate it.
silva and burton both make good compasses. if not fork out the extra $$ for a REAL - not a knock off USGI compass
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:43   #5
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The tritium on mine has finally died and before the next hunting season I WILL order another

http://www.armysurplus.com/lenscomp-1.aspx

There are compasses and then there is THE compass!
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:43   #6
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silva and burton both make good compasses.
Brunton.
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Old 04-07-2012, 13:17   #7
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The Silva "Ranger" was the standard for civilians for quite a while IIRC.
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Old 04-07-2012, 15:18   #8
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Brunton.
would you like a grammer nazi merit badge..

you know what company i mean....
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Old 04-07-2012, 22:11   #9
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Although you can simply buy an inexpensive compass from almost any outdoor section of a big box store, you asked about quality compasses. My recommendations (after about 40 years of getting lost while hiking, ski touring, mountaineering, and running around various parts of the world with a compass while playing Army):

1. Brunton 15TDCL (Silva Ranger): For many decades, the Silva "Ranger" was the gold standard in modern orienteering compasses; used by outdoorsmen the world over.

Due to a bunch of compass company buyouts some years ago, there are actually TWO Silva companies in existence today. One is Silva USA, which today makes a decent but arguably lesser quality Ranger in comparison to the original version made in Sweden. There have been some complaints that the current US version possesses frankly lesser precision and durability than the legend of old. Not to worry....Silva of Sweden is now owned by Brunton. The Brunton 15TDCL is the original Ranger, which is still sold everywhere but in the USA as the Silva Ranger.



- $33 on Amazon BEST VALUE for COST and PERFORMANCE

Liquid filled, clear plastic base plate marked with scale and orientation marks (functions as integral protractor for plotting directly on map), and adjustable declination screw (so you don't have to add or subtract declination angles). Folds flat for storage in pocket, includes built in sighting mirror for ease of reading, signalling, or just admiring your mug. Also a built in magnifying lens. Easily the best civilian design going. Classic design utilized by hikers, mountaineers, orienteering competitors, forest service personnel, and lots of military.

If all you can find is a Silva USA Ranger (or a comparable clone version from Suunto)...you will still have a good compass.

2. Cammenga Tritium Military Lensatic Compass - $80 - $90 new from most Army/Navy or military gear vendors. A little higher directly from Cammenga, but you are assured of a new compass with fresh Tritium. Tritium (also used in firearm night sights) has a radioactive half life of about 10 years, meaning that new Tritium compass marker ampules will glow half as brightly after about 10-12 years. That's still plenty to see by, just not as bright as when first purchased. You'd probably consider replacement of a Tritium compass after about 15-20 years.

http://www.cammenga.com/product_p/3h.htm

This is the actual military compass and vendor used by the entire US military. The advantages to this model are 1) all-metal case toughness and 2) the Tritium illuminated dial allows you to read and set the compass in the dark.

Numbered azimuths can also be changed in the dark by touch, using a click bezel ring. The face of the compass is self-illuminated...allowing you to read the compass even in a pitch black forest, back alley, or dark neighborhood...all without having to break out a flashlight or use batteries. That might be important in a SHTF situation where you are trying to move undetected. Which is exactly why the US military uses it...duh. The glowing compass face itself can be used as a visible signalling device when crossing danger areas or as a near recognition signal when folks are attempting to linkup in the dark.

Held in the hand with the luminous face towards whomever you are signalling:

Moved Left to Right (horizontally) = "Negative", "Not Safe", "Danger", "Wait"
Moved Up and Down (vertically) = "Affirmative, "Safe", "Clear", "Proceed"
Moved in a Circular Motion = "Assemble/Rally On Me", "Here I Am for Linkup"

When bad things happen in the world, realize that half of that badness will be occurring at night. It's a ***** when your planned day trip turns into a night time struggle to get back to camp after someone sprains an ankle. Have the right compass for moving in the dark.

If I were going to carry just one compass into the wilderness or a troubled landscape...and to cover contingencies in the night...it would be this one.


3. Damn near any wrist compass by Silva, Suunto, Brunton, or Cammenga. Incredibly useful for general navigation (i.e. "Am I still headed North-West?") by simply glancing down at your wrist. I've been wearing either a Silva or a Suunto M9 on my wrist for over 35 years (continuously). Changed out the bands once or twice. Bombproof. My Suunto still requires a small light to see it in the dark. It glows for a few minutes after exposure to direct light (small key fob LED flashlight, campfire, car headlight), but fades pretty quickly.

The Cammenga version can be had with self illuminating Tritium. What you'd want if you were escaping from Stalag 17.

http://www.rei.com/product/408083/su...-wrist-compass - $28

http://www.cammenga.com/product_p/j582t.htm - $41

Hope this helps...

Last edited by Chindo18Z; 04-08-2012 at 00:20..
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Old 04-07-2012, 22:25   #10
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Larue just released one: http://www.laruetactical.com/compass...itium-od-green
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Old 04-07-2012, 23:02   #11
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would you like a grammer nazi merit badge.. you know what company i mean....
Sure, I'll take the badge, but technically it would be the Spelling Nazi badge, not the Grammar Nazi badge. Although I'd like a chance to compete for both.

Kidding aside, I made the correction on the chance someone was searching for the name and needed the spelling, it wasn't a slap. I was trying to be helpful, honest.

Heil!! (Or is it Hiel?)

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Old 04-08-2012, 06:37   #12
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I will never use anything less than a real military lensatic.

Anything as important as navigation is important enough to be reliable , durable and accurate.

But thats just me.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:54   #13
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I really appreciate the suggestions and links, it has been both helpful and educational. Gives me quite a bit to take a look at now.

Thanks!
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:27   #14
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i have one of these http://us.wholesalesports.com/storef...rod103007.html

$6

works rather well. have not had any problems with it yet.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:35   #15
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Brunton.
This, I've got one I got very cheap ($20) at a swap meet, it goes with me everywhere.

And it was this one

http://www.thecompassstore.com/5005lm.html

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Old 04-08-2012, 10:50   #16
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i have one of these http://us.wholesalesports.com/storef...rod103007.html

$6

works rather well. have not had any problems with it yet.
I bought something like this one years ago for hunting. It still works fine. However, I am sure it would not take being dropped to many times very well. Stuff does happens.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:53   #17
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Thank you for posting this link. I may buy one. Since it has the Larue name on it, I would think it might be a desent quality compass for the price.
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Old 04-08-2012, 13:33   #18
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Larue is simply selling the standard military issue lensatic compass made by Cammenga...

Definitely a great compass regardless of where purchased.
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Old 04-08-2012, 14:27   #19
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Larue is simply selling the standard military issue lensatic compass made by Cammenga...

Definitely a great compass regardless of where purchased.
yip. If i didnt run map reading compasses (silva's ) i would have the one linked.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:45   #20
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Originally Posted by Deputydave View Post
I'd like to get a quality compass for camping/BOB. Looking around Amazon I see lots of them that 'look' good but many of the reviews tell a different story i.e. Chinese made POS.

Can anyone recommend a solid, quality compass? I know you often get what you pay for, but is there a recommendation that is also on the economical side?

Appreciate it.
Get a Cammenga Tritium Military Lensatic Compass if you know how to read and navigate useing a topo. map. As far as things made in China? What don't we have imported from China?
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:33   #21
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Again I appreciate the responses everyone. Few more questions to toss out in regards to compasses;

What is it that separates a quality compass from one that you wouldn't trust?


How about the digital compasses I see from makers like Timex or Casio? I see mixed reviews from 'greatest thing since sliced bread' to 'compass never works'. I see some nice ones on Amazon in the $40-$60 price range. Anyone here have one? How is it? The reason I ask is that my everyday watch is a Bulova Carvelle divers watch I bought while still in the military back in the 80's. It has served well for about 24 years but thinking about getting something else for outdoors/everyday use. So this got me thinking about the compass option as well.

BTW, I have one of those little compasses for that watch that come with the wristband. It is probably 17 years old or more and though it sticks a bit and has to be 'bumped' a bit, still does point north. No, I wouldn't trust it but thought it interesting that it still 'generally' works after all this time.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:25   #22
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Nothing new to add to what's already been said above, other than 'define your needs'. Basically, do you want/need true, fine, map navigation, or just direction-finding.

Brunton, silva or suunto are safe bets; silva and suunto are what I own. Others beyond those three brands will probably work fine - may be some even better for all I know - but a compass is one of those things to me personally where "probably" just isn't enough. Simple rough direction finding is more forgiving than true azimuth navigating, but fact is (imo) rough direction finding is all most people are good with (or needful of) anyway.

You mention the one on your dive-watch band - if your watch is analog (most dive watches are), it can serve as a simple, rough backup to your compass; as long as it's close to accurate and you're in the northern hemisphere. Simply point the hour hand at the sun, and halfway between the sun (hour hand) and the 12-o'clock marker is south. May be off by a few degrees depending on season, daylight savings, etc, but very close to due south.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:30   #23
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How about the digital compasses I see from makers like Timex or Casio? I see mixed reviews from 'greatest thing since sliced bread' to 'compass never works'.
My not so favorable experience goes back to the first models (Casio in my case) that were offered on the market back in the 80's.

Once upon a time, I was a map & compass navigating fool. I started out in the military working in a Ranger Battalion mortar section. Absolute land navigation skills were imperative for all unit members and even more critical for accurately laying in a gun section and plotting accurate explosive indirect fire. I simply had to know exactly where I was (to within a meter or so). I later moved on to even more interesting military work that also required precision map work on a routine basis.

Naturally, when the first digital compass models came out...I had to have one. I found that they were not up to the precision I required and ate up watch batteries as I constantly needed to make navigation checks (especially at night when I needed to use the watch's lighting function to see the digital display).

Two different digital models I purchased were not precise enough for me to function using 8 or 10 digit GMRS grids off of military maps. General navigation? Yes. Precision? No. And it was handier to just use a standard analog wrist compass for general navigation.

In other words, my novelty digital model was about as useful as a wrist compass but more tedious to use due to small buttons, menu, and battery use, especially in very cold weather.

I just stuck to magnetic needles after that experience.

A modern GPS unit will do a lot more for you (and give you your location to boot).

I'd recommend not wasting the money on a digital compass, unless you just like the watch and its other functions. I'd never deliberately rely on one as my primary compass.

Quote:
What is it that separates a quality compass from one that you wouldn't trust?
First indicator is price and brand name (or lack thereof). As with most things, you get what you pay for.

A lot of that has to do with what you can't see...jewel needle bearing, well designed and durable oil-filled case to dampen the needle's movement, quality made durable hinges, precise screw or bezel adjustments/travel, and precision molded and marked base plates. A lot more has to do with what you can see. Compasses with declination adjustment screws are generally designed for folks that need accuracy and fast map work. Inclusion of Tritium is usually an indicator of a serious use compass.

A cheap $10 Chinese knock-off of a military lensatic may look the same, but will be less accurate (by several degrees) and subject to falling apart...because it's made of cheap plastic and pot metal hinges...not the indestructible metal casing of the genuine article. It's simply not a precision instrument. Like the difference between a real sword and some $50 decorative sword-like object.

Silva, Suunto, Cammenga, and Brunton are the quality manufacturers of the compass world. They all offer an extreme range of compasses in terms of pricing and features and everyone has their favorite...but it's hard to go wrong with any of their higher end compasses. Toyota, Ford, Chevy, etc.

Wrist compasses are hard for anyone to screw up, but the name manufacturers make the best ones...and for not much money.

Last edited by Chindo18Z; 04-10-2012 at 12:46..
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Old 04-10-2012, 13:02   #24
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They all offer an extreme range of compasses in terms of pricing and features and everyone has their favorite...but it's hard to go wrong with any of their higher end compasses. Toyota, Ford, Chevy, etc.

.[/QUOTE]

Jeep makes a Compass, stay away from it.
I understand the water-dampened transdeclinator catches fire.
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Old 04-10-2012, 18:50   #25
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Originally Posted by kenpoprofessor View Post
This, I've got one I got very cheap ($20) at a swap meet, it goes with me everywhere.

And it was this one

http://www.thecompassstore.com/5005lm.html

Survival/Preparedness Forum

Have a great gun carryin' Kenpo day

Clyde
You stole that one. I paid 150 in the mid 70's for a new one for professional use.

OP, any compass made by Brunton, Silva, or Suunto is your answer. Find a model that fits your individual needs/preferences.
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