Silva – Ranger Compass

Review: Silva – Ranger Compass

Silva compass Ranger is a traditional baseplate compass commonly used by hikers, mountaineers, backpackers and hunters. It has all the features you need for your adventure.


Silva is a name that I have known from the very beginnings of my adventures into map reading and navigation at the age of 10. In fact, approximately 75% of the compasses I own are made by Silva. Established in Sweden in 1933, they are a brand built up on a reputation for quality. So I am pleased to have the opportunity to review this model.

As with many other makes of compass, the Silva Ranger is designed to function with the Ordnance Survey 1:25000 and 1:50000 maps. The design of these compasses has not changed much over the past 50 years, as a result the specification is familiar.

  • DryFlex rubber grip for easy handling and great grip
  • Robust material that withstands tough treatment and conditions
  • Detachable distance lanyard (1:25, 1:50), easy to place directly on to the map and plan your route
  • Magnifying lens for precision map work
  • Declination scale inside the capsule; fixed declination correct scale to simplify the calculation required
  • Map measuring scales: 1:25k, 1:50k, mm
  • Luminous marking enables night time navigation
  • Compatible with most maps
  • User Level: Advanced
  • Duke of Edinburgh – recommended
  • Weight: 32g

First Impressions

Before using a new compass in anger, I like to get to know its feel and functionality at home.  As expected, in the case of the Silva Ranger Compass, it feels light and comfortable in my hands. The bezel is easy to turn without feeling slack or jerky.  The bezel numbers are clearly printed and easy to see and luminescent markings allow for night time navigation.

The Base Plate has the 1:50000 romer scale down the full length of the right-hand side and the 1:25000 romer scale down the left-hand side.  A metric ruler occupies the narrow top edge.  Within the bezel are clearly defined orientation lines plus west & east declination scales.

The detachable lanyard has a series of scales down its length to facilitate planning. The scales are 1:25k & 1:50k for use with OS Maps and 1:24k & 1:62.5k for use with US Maps (1:24k = 1″ to 2000′ & 1:62.5 = 1″ to 1 mile). This can cause a little confusion until you realise that if it says miles its the US scale and km is the UK OS scale.

Field Test

The first thing that impressed me was how comfortable the compass felt in the palm of my hand. This is due to the curved-up rear end of the baseplate. The bezel is very easy to use due to the addition of rubber grip making for a smooth action with no sticking or jerkiness.

The compass is easy to read with all the bezel annotations clear and well defined. The compass rose is divided into 2 degree segments thereby not cluttering it up and allowing a bearing to be set to an accuracy of +/- 1 degree.

The clear red and black north/south lines on the capsule bottom facilitate quick and accurate setting of the compass against the map. This is very important when speed and accuracy are vital in a raging storm!

The idea of having mapping scales printed on the lanyard is a very good idea. However, due to the addition of the US Mapping scales to the lanyard, I found this confusing and therefore difficult to use when outdoors. However, I would personally only use it as a planning tool for measuring a route on the desk top.


This is a very straight forward and functional compass and will be ideal for most of your outdoor adventures. It is easy and straight forward to use which allows for speedy and accurate fixes and track bearings to be taken.

The provision of luminescent markings means that the compass can be used at night, though a headlight will be required to set the compass to the required bearing. However, on a good moonlit night I found the compass easy to manipulate without the need of a headlight once my eyes had become accustomed to the low light levels.

I thought the ‘scaled’ lanyard a nice idea unfortunately, spoilt by the confusion of adding the US Mapping scales. I will stick to the ubiquitous piece of string!

The fact that this compass already comes with a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme recommendation makes it ideal as a beginner’s compass. However, as a navigator of some 50 plus years experience, I would have no issues using this as my primary compass.

I highly recommend this compass for all levels of navigation. It performs better than some more expensive models and is not going to break the bank.

Disclaimer: I was supplied with a Silva Ranger Compass by OS Leisure for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

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