A compass is an essential and must have piece of equipment for the walker.
Technology allows you to have a GPS device filled with maps or a similarly kitted smart phone providing you with accurate readings of your location.
Unfortunately these gadgets are powered and sometimes require some form of connectivity in order to function and when these elements fail, then you can quickly find yourself unstuck.
A compass isn’t going to run out of power, need to find a 4G signal, have trouble in bad weather or struggle underneath a tree canopy and they are just some of the reasons why a compass is more reliable than a modern gadget when out in the wilds.
Earlier this year we gathered together a number of different compasses and tested them over several walks to hopefully provide you with some guidance to which ones we think are ideal for the walker or the ones we think you should perhaps avoid over a series of reviews.
Highlander Orienteering Compass
The Highlander Orienteering Compass is a small pocket compass created for use by the orienteering community but still offers plenty of features for the walker.
Brightly coloured baseplate
The baseplate of the compass measures 90mm x 65mm and is made from 1.5mm thick bright yellow clear acrylic with clearly printed markings. The bright colour certainly keeps it visible and provides a nice contrast between the markings and the background.
The rule marked along the right edge are in cm/mm and the left edge is marked in inches to allow you to use the baseplate with your map. Along the top edge is a 45º protractor which again aids you in working with your map. The direction of travel arrow is well sized and clearly visible.
The end of the baseplate has a lanyard attachment point and there is a basic lanyard provided with the compass which is a little short in length but can easily be replaced.
The bezel is fairly chunky making it easy to rotate when wearing gloves or by people who have limited movement in their hands. The movement is smooth and stiff enough to hold your bearing while being not too stiff to prevent you from setting a bearing accurately.
The bezel markings are clear and the 4 major cardinal points are given further prominence by being printed in light blue large type behind the graduation markings. This is something I imagine useful for the runner doing a quick reference check on a orienteering course. The graduations themselves are marked in black at 2º intervals with highlights at 10º and 20º.
The liquid filled housing is bubble free and the magnetic needle is fairly responsive and quickly orientates itself to point North. The base of the needle housing is made from clear acrylic and has a number of orienting lines marked for use with your map. The orienting arrow within the housing is again big and clearly printed.
This is a fairly good budget compass. Where I see this compass being useful for the walker is as a tool to use to help quickly orientate yourself and your map while checking your position. It isn’t something I suggest you use when planning and walking a long and complicated route but it is perfect for using when walking well established trails such the ones crossing the Lomond Hills and you need to check your progress.
The Highlander Orienteering Compass is well made, very affordable and overall a good little compass especially for the beginner and light user.