A compass is a 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.
Mountain Warehouse Small Compass
The Mountain Warehouse Small Compass is a small pocket compass aimed squarely at the walker who wants a low profile and easy to use compass.
The baseplate / capsule
The baseplate is smaller than most compasses and measures only 88mm x 50mm and is made from 2.5mm thick bright clear tough acrylic.
The markings are printed on to the baseplate in light blue. The markings are clear and well printed but the colour may give some people issues especially when using the compass with a Ordnance Survey map.
The rule/roamer marked along the left edge is marked in the 1:25000 map scale and the left edge is marked in the 1:5000 map scale. Unfortunately because the baseplate is a little too narrow you are prevented from measuring a full 1km on the 1:25000 scale as the bezel restricts your view of the markings.
The top edge is marked in mm to aid in map work and the direction of travel arrow is on the baseplate is well sized and clearly visible. The end of the baseplate has a lanyard attachment point and there is a basic lanyard provided.
The bezel is well marked with the degrees being marked in white at 2º intervals with highlights at 20º over a dark blue inner static bezel. The inner bezel has a well marked indicator marked at North and can be seen easily through the transparent face.
The movement is fairly smooth and stiff enough to hold your bearing while being not too stiff to prevent you from setting a bearing accurately.
The liquid filled capsule is bubble free and the magnetic needle and quickly orientates itself to point North.
The base of the capsule is well marked with grid lines and a clear declination scale and these are printed in red. The orienting arrow is clear to see easily.
The needle and the bezel are not marked with any luminous markings to make night navigation possible but strangely the centre point of the needle is marked with a luminous dot which is useless for the purposes of navigation.
The Mountain Warehouse Small Compass does have a few issues such as the blue coloured markings, the strange luminous marking and the restrictive 1:25000 scale. These issues restrict your full use of the compass and it is therefore not ideal for planning your routes but it will work well to help you quickly orientate your map when on the move making it a good backup to your main compass.
Not bad but could be better.