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-30 Compass
The Suunto A-30 Compass is a baseplate type compass designed for the walker who needs a reliable navigational tool to use both for planning a route and when on the move during day or night.
The A-30 baseplate
The A-30’s baseplate is constructed from 3mm tough clear acrylic and measures 110mm x 55mm which is slightly bigger than it’s little brother the A-10 (read our review here).
Like the A-10 the markings on A-30’s baseplate 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. Along the right edge the marking is in the 1:25k map scale and along the top edge is marked the 1:50k scale. The markings are very visible even in low light conditions.
There is a clear and large red direction of travel arrow in the middle of the baseplate just above the magnifying glass element of the baseplate. The magnifying glass allows the user to pick out fine detail in their maps with ease.
At the end of the baseplate there is a clip-on removable lanyard which is common across most of Suunto’s range of compasses. The lanyard which is provided is of good quality and can be attached directly to the baseplate instead of using the supplied black plastic 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. There are two stencils cut through the baseplate, one circular and the other triangular to assist in marking up your map.
The A-30 bezel /capsule
The A-30 bezel holds a bearing well and can be used while wearing gloves and it moves very smoothly. 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 luminous inner part of the bezel.
The luminous bezel is effective at allowing bearings to be easily read and the glow lasts a fair amount time after 3-4 hours of exposure to light. When used with the other luminous markings on the compass (compass, direction of travel and on the base of the capsule), this marking system works exceptionally well.
The liquid filled capsule has a very fast reacting and balanced jewel bearing mounted needle. The needle is marked in red (N) and black (S) with a well sized luminous marking on the Northern segment. The clear base of the capsule has a fixed declination correction scale and clear meridian lines for orienting your map.
Like the A-10, 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 learn and store it carefully.
The Suunto A-30 Compass is a simple to use and very accurate. The compass is ideal for map and compass navigation in both day and night conditions and perfect for those who demand more of their navigation tools.