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.
Suunto A-10 Compass
The Suunto A-10 Compass is a baseplate type compass created for the walker who requires a reliable navigational tool to both plan a route and use on the move.
The A-10 baseplate
The A-10’s baseplate is constructed from 3mm tough clear acrylic and measures 105mm x 55mm making it a perfect fit for jacket pockets and map cases.
The baseplate markings are very clear to read thanks to them being produced in a very bright red which stand out well when used with a map.
The rule/roamer marked along the left edge is marked in cm/mm and has distance indicators for 1:10k 1:50k and 1:25k map scales. Along the right edge the marking are in inches and again distance indicators are marked for 1:50k and 1:24k map scales. I have found that these markings work really well even in low light conditions which, when you live in Scotland, is a bonus.
There is a clear and large red direction of travel arrow in the middle of the end of the baseplate. At the opposite end of the baseplate there is a clip-on removable lanyard. The lanyard which is supplied is of good quality and can be attached directly to the baseplate instead of using the black plastic clip which is handy if you loose the clip.
There are no roamers marked onto the baseplate to aid in the creation of grid references but the side rules can assist you in doing that.
The A-10 bezel /capsule
The bezel on the A-10 moves very smoothly and holds a bearing well and can be used while wearing gloves. The degree markings on the face of the bezel are clearly printed in white in 2º intervals with highlights at 10º and 20º over the black inner part of the bezel.
The liquid filled capsule has a very fast reacting and balanced needle which is thanks to it being mounted on a jewel bearing. The needle is marked in red (N) and black (S). The clear base of the capsule has a fixed declination correction scale and clear meridian lines for orienting your map.
The reverse side of the bezel/capsule assembly is a little open and can gather dirt and pocket lint in the gap around the edge and if it is left to build up it could make the bezel stiff to operate so make sure you store it carefully.
The A-10 does not have any luminous markings on it which means that this compass really is intended for the day walker and is not intended for night use without a external light source. This minor issue doesn’t detract from the performance of the compass but it something you should be aware of before buying.
I have found the Suunto A-10 Compass to be simple to use and very accurate. It is restricted in some ways by not having any roamers marked on the baseplate and there is also the absence of luminous marking for use at night but this hasn’t prevented me from doing my normal navigational tasks.
The Suunto A-10 Compass is ideal for map and compass navigation in ordinary conditions and perfect for those new to this form of navigation.