User Review: Brunton 8099 PRO Eclipse
Price Paid: $80
I bought the 8099 Pro Eclipse after having owned other more traditional sighting compasses. Always attracted by new ideas, I liked the way the 8099 allows precision sighting to one degree, along its imaginative circle-on-circle 'no-needle' magnet that is easy to align for a bearing. This compass also has a wonderful set of rulers and romer scales for a wide variety of map scales, plus a handy set of additional information cards that make it quite versatile. Unfortunately, I've found the 8099 as currently made has some drawbacks that prevent it from being a truly great compass.
First, there is the compass dial. It seems that to create the no-needle design, Brunton had to use a large black opaque center spot in the center of the capsule, rather than the tiny needle mount utilized on other compasses. This unfortunately blocks out a critical area from view when the compass is used in protractor mode atop a map to measure a bearing.
Second, the compass capsule is not engraved with orienting lines to align with a map meridian (as when orienting a map to north). Only a few short red lines are printed on the outer compass dial. I found that this is not sufficient in many cases for accurate orientation.
Third, the compass dial is not luminous, nor is it engraved and printed with raised degree markings. Instead it is simply printed on a cut piece of cardboard, which is overlaid with the clear plastic. This makes the 8099 much harder to read in low light situations.
Fourth, the declination adjustment and capsule design does not inspire me with a lot of confidence. Rather than using a precise gear/screw mechanism, the 8099 uses only friction to adjust the capsule for declination. On my example this method occasionally fails, and must be re-adjusted.
Although I think it's not all that relevant, some friends that have used my 8099 and know how much it cost gripe a bit about the relatively thin plastic upper housing and mirror. It creaks and squeaks a bit in operation, the mirror is quite small in size, and the raised cover has a bit of wobble to it. If that bothers you, this is not the compass to get.
Last, the compass is quite bulky with its rubber boot. This is not a compass comfortably worn from a neck cord, although it does come with one. One can remove the rubber boot, but then the compass is relatively unprotected from impact and wear. The scale markings on my compass seem to be only printed on, not engraved, and are beginning to wear off.