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Top 3 Compasses Picked by Foresters


I've used both Silva Ranger and Suunto KB compasses over my 32-year forestry career. So, I was naturally curious about what instrument type and brand other foresters use. Boy did I find out! 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. The Suunto KB and Brunton were other desirable compasses mentioned but way behind the Silva Ranger.

1. Silva Ranger 15

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 it's modest price makes it an excellent buy.
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2. Suunto KB

Suunto of Finland makes the KB. You have to have two good eyes as it is an optical sighting compass. The housing is made of noncorrosive light-weight alloy. You look through a peep with a 360 degree azimuth scale graduated to 1/6th of a degree. Keeping both eyes open, you use one eye to focus on the scale while the other eye is on a target. Fuse the two images and follow your Suunto reading to the target. The compass is well made but a bit pricy. Many users opt for a less expensive brand.
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3. Brunton Conventional Pocket Transit

Brunton was aquired 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 surveyor's compass, prismatic compass, clinometer, hand level and plumb. The Brunton Pocket Transit is used to measure azimuth, vertical angles, inclination of objects, percent grade, slopes, height of objects and used to level. This compass is the most expensive of the three.
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