How to Choose: Compasses

How to Choose: Compasses

Is it time for a new compass? Curious about the different options available? Let us help you determine the best option for you.

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 Model 2Model 3Model 8Model 9Model 8* EliteModel 11Model 22
Speed/StabilityFastStableStableSuper stableSuper stable and fastGoodModerate
Face DisplayCompass degreesCompass degreesRainbow coloursClearRainbow coloursCompass degreesCompass degrees
Special Features  Coloured housing allows for quick rough bearings Coloured housing allows for quick rough bearings  
Available PlatesAll O-Compass Plates
To order    Click hereClick hereClick here  Click here


O-Compass PlatesBaseplateLeft OpenRight OpenLeft ClosedRight ClosedWrist Plate



 Str8 OriginalStr8 KompaktStr8 EvoStr8 First
Face DisplayClearClearClearDark, not over map
Special Features

Adjustable thumb angle

Anti-slip map gripper

Aluminum housing

Adjustable thumb angle

Anti-slip map gripper

Aluminum housing

Adjustable thumb angle

Plastic housing

Worn on hand where
thumb and fingers meet

Available PlatesLeft or right thumbplateLeft or right thumbplateLeft or right thumbplateNo plates, can be used on either hand
To orderClick hereClick hereClick hereClick here

*If price on chart and price on product page are different, price on product page is taken as accurate.


Factors to Consider when Choosing your Compass

Target Audience

We offer the O-Compass Models 11 and 22 and the Str8 First as affordable options for school, cadet, scout, guide, and other groups.  For recreational and competitive orienteers, we recommend O-Compass models 2, 3, 8, or 9, and any of the Silva or Str8 compasses.



When selecting a compass, one of the first things to consider is the type of plate you want.   We generally recommend thumb plates for orienteering.  If you are more familiar with a baseplate, it may take a few tries out in the woods with a map to get comfortable with the thumb, but we think you will learn to love it relatively quickly.

The thumb plate allows you to keep map and compass together and helps you keep in contact with the map.

Left or Right

If you choose a thumb plate, you want your compass in the same hand you like to hold your map.  It is not related to whether you are left- or right-handed.  By the way, if you choose an O-Compass, you can watch this video to learn how to switch a compass from left to right if you ever change your mind or lend it to a friend.

Open or Closed

This is only an option for O-Compass thumb plates, and it is entirely personal preference.  Some people like the open as they feel it gives their thumb a better grip on the map.  Some prefer the closed as it gives them a longer red direction line to point them forward.

Silva compasses come with open thumb plates.  Str8 compasses use the anti slip pad rather than the thumb to grip the map.

Adjustable Thumb Angle

If you feel that you might hold your thumb compass at a bit of angle and your direction line isn’t pointing straight ahead of you, then this feature of the Str8 compass might be right for you!


Reaction Time and Stability

Consider whether you want a quick reaction time of the needle and less stability in pointing your direction, or a bit slower to get there but more stable when it is there.

Face Display

Orienteers tend to NOT look at the degrees on the compass.  The “rainbow” version (available in Silva and O-Compass) allows you a quick glance at your compass for the direction you want to run.