With a streamlined feature set that does what you need and nothing more, this compact and lightweight compass is easy to use in the hills and mountains.
Clear, straightforward design
Needle settles quickly
Knurled, rubberised high-grip bezel
Simple base plate markings
Lacks 1:40k scale
No Romers for easy grid ref finding
Limited lume for use in low-light conditions
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Silva Ranger: first impressions
Another popular compass from the famous Swedish brand, the Silva Ranger is a compact base plate compass (see types of compass if you’re unsure what that means) that minimises weight and bulk while giving you all the essentials you need in a navigational tool. This includes 1:25k and 1:50k measuring scales plus ruled mm, a magnifier for use with a paper map, a lumed direction of travel indicator and an easy-to-read bezel with a rubberised, high-grip knurled housing.
There’s a clear bearing indicator and orienting arrow, as well as two-colour orienting lines within the capsule, along with a declination scale. The oil-damped needle is clearly marked and weighted for northern hemisphere use, settling quickly. You also get a useful scale lanyard, which can be placed alongside non-linear paths and tracks on the map to measure distances more accurately – see how to read a map and how to use a compass for more information about these important navigational skills.
• RRP: $40 (US) / £27 (UK)
• Weight: 33g / 1.16oz
• Scales: 1:25k, 1:50k
• Variants: Magnetic Equator / Magnetic South / Magnetic North
In the field
One of the lightest and smallest base plate compasses available, the Ranger slips easily into a trouser pocket or the lid of a backpack. It’s made from the same plastic as other base plate compasses in the Silva range, but has a slightly curved butt end so it nestles easily in the palm of your hand. The bezel is undoubtedly superior to the Silva Type 4 in most conditions, thanks to that rubberised bezel that is easy to grip even with gloves on.
The high-contrast green dial is also easier to read. The only time it doesn’t compare as favourably to the Type 4 is when dusk falls, as the limited lume on the base plate and dial doesn’t lend itself particularly well to navigating at night.
Otherwise, however, the Silva Ranger is very user-friendly. The crisp, clear dial is marked in degrees, showing the four cardinal compass points plus numeric 20-degree increments, with hashing every 2 degrees. This makes it easy to read off an accurate bearing. Orienting lines are marked in two colours, and are clear and true.
There’s also a declination scale marked inside the capsule, which you’ll need to remember to use to allow for magnetic declination where this applies. The scale lanyard is also a great little extra.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.