Skip to main content

Silva Ranger compass review: it’s not fancy but it does its job just fine

A compact base plate compass, the Silva Ranger has clear, practical markings and a knurled, rubberised bezel for high grip in all weather

Silva Ranger
(Image: © Silva)

Our Verdict

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.

For

  • Clear, straightforward design
  • Needle settles quickly
  • Knurled, rubberised high-grip bezel

Against

  • Simple base plate markings
  • Lacks 1:40k scale
  • No Romers for easy grid ref finding
  • Limited lume for use in low-light conditions

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.

Specifications

• 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.