3 Compasses Selected by Foresters

From Quick Estimates to Transit Accuracy

It seems there is not much debate over which compass is most popular with field foresters. It's the Silva Ranger 15.

In a forestry forum discussion, the Silva Ranger was the overall favorite and the least expensive for quick work needing a cardinal direction and, to a lesser extent, exact degrees. The Suunto KB and Brunton were other desirable compasses mentioned but still way behind the Silva Ranger. It is probably because foresters can buy the Silva for much less and need less accuracy than other users.

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Silva Ranger 15

Silva Ranger compass


The Silva Group of Sweden makes this sturdy compass and advertises it as "the most used compass on expeditions all over the world!" It certainly seems to be the compass of choice for North American foresters. The compass offers a mirror site and a Swedish steel jewel bearing needle with 1 degree of accuracy. It has adjustable declination and accommodates bearing setting or azimuth if needed. The rugged quality of the compass and especially its modest price makes it an excellent buy.

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Suunto KB

Suunto compass


Suunto of Finland makes the KB. You have to have two good eyes as it is an optical sighting compass with no mirror. The housing is made of noncorrosive lightweight alloy which adds to its durability and expense.

You look through a peep-sight with a 360-degree azimuth scale graduated to 1/6th of a degree. Keeping both eyes open, you use one eye to focus on a floating scale while the other eye is on the target. Fuse the two images and follow your Suunto reading to the target.

This compass is well made but a bit pricey. Many users opt for a less expensive brand but the method of using two-eyed targeting make for greater accuracy.

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Brunton Conventional Pocket Transit

Brunton Compass


Brunton was acquired by Silva Production A.B. in 1996, which makes it a Silva product. However, the instrument is still hand-made at the Brunton factory in Riverton, Wyoming. The compass is a combination of surveyor's compass, prismatic compass, clinometer, hand level, and plumb.

The Brunton Pocket Transit can be used as a precise compass or an exacting transit and used on a tripod to measure azimuth, vertical angles, the inclination of objects, percent grade, slopes, height of objects, and can be used to level. This compass is the most expensive of the three but can do engineer level work.

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Your Citation
Nix, Steve. "3 Compasses Selected by Foresters." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/compasses-selected-by-foresters-1343420. Nix, Steve. (2020, August 27). 3 Compasses Selected by Foresters. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/compasses-selected-by-foresters-1343420 Nix, Steve. "3 Compasses Selected by Foresters." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/compasses-selected-by-foresters-1343420 (accessed June 9, 2023).