HOW TO CHOOSE... Compasses

Date Posted: 6 June 2016

From orienteering to kayaking, mountain climbing to adventure racing, compasses are an essential feature for any multisport activity requiring precise navigation. Here's how to choose the best compass for your needs.

Learning how to use a compass effectively can not only raise the bar on your adventure experiences, but could also potentially save your life.

Wildfire Sports has compasses to suit all ranges of navigation activities; from the beginner bushwalker to the expert orienteer, for the casual kayaker to the multi-terrain bike adventurer. We strive to sell only the best compass brands on the market; our current brands are Silva, Moscompass, Suunto and Str8. We now have thumb compasses, baseplate compasses, fast azimuth reading, wrist and bike compasses - a wide variety that should keep you covered for every occasion!



Those just starting out will feel comfortable using the Silva Field baseplate compass. For people who need a bit more in their compass, such as a magnifying lens or use-anywhere declination scale, keep an eye out for the Silva Ranger baseplate compass. Both of these compasses measure in mm and scale 1:150000 and 1:25000 which is compatible with most maps. They also include features such as DryFlex rubber bezel for improved comfort and grip and a detachable safety- release lanyard. 



If you're looking for an elite thumb compass without fuss, try the Str8 Kompakt. With an anti-slip map gripper, adjustable thumb angle, low-resistance technology needle, and sturdy aluminium capsule protector, the Str8 Kompakt comes with all the high-end qualities that you may need.

For the elite orienteer needing exceptional speed and accuracy, the Moscompass 3 thumb compass is a less expensive alternative. This compass features a simple ergonomic thumb design for fast and accurate map reading, as well as second-to-none needle stability at movement. Moscompasses are generally the compass of choice for the experienced orienteer, rogainer or adventure racer.  

Most orienteers place their thumb compasses on their weak hand e.g. their left hand if they are right-handed, so they can thumb the map while on the move. Some orienteers find that they prefer to have their thumb compasses on the same side as their dominant eye.



Currently there are no biking specific compasses made by our compass brands. That said, a lot of our customers have had some success using the DIY approach of attaching a simple plate compass to their mapboard cover.


Most compasses sold by Wildfire Sports are southern hemisphere optimised, however northern hemisphere optimised Silva and Moscow compasses are available in selected models as well. To avoid any confusion, this is clearly specified in the product name as well as description.

Wildfire Sports also supplies compasses designed for military use – just contact us if you would like to put in an order or for more details.