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
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.
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