Kasper & Richter Alpin
The latest version of the K&R Alpin is a very…
Source: bought it new
The latest version of the K&R Alpin is a very good compass, with excellent manufacturing quality, but has a few annoying glitches that keep it from being competitive with the best mirror-sight baseplate compasses from Suunto and Silva of Sweden.
- Well made
- Unbreakable sighting mirror
- Compass dial rotates a bit too easily
- Dial uses small-print numerals and tic marks
- Needle is wobbly and slow to settle
The K&R Alpin is a very good compass, with excellent manufacturing quality. Like many mountaineering compasses such as the Silva 15T Expedition and the Suunto MC-2G, the Alpin uses a mirror sighting mechanism, but the mirror is made of unbreakable polished aluminum.
Unfortunately, there are a few glitches. The numerals and tic marks on the dial are hard to see and aren't as large as competitive models from Silva and Suunto, and numerals are printed only every 30 degrees. The newest version of the Alpin uses a two-piece plastic dial for setting declination and a plastic gate for capturing the magnetic needle.
I found this dial to rotate just a bit too easily, and wondered if the setting could be jarred loose, but it seems to work alright (closing the cover prevents contact with the dial, of course.) You must be careful not to touch the top of the dial and wear the black paint off those tiny tic marks, or you won't be able to read your heading at all.
I'll admit right off, most people don't need a sighting…
Price Paid: $63
I'll admit right off, most people don't need a sighting compass as nice as this one for regular wilderness travel. I got this one more or less out of nostalgia — and frustration. I lost my old reliable Swedish-made Silva Ranger in a move and was very unhappy with the quality of its replacement, a Silva Ranger from Johnson Outdoors made somewhere else. It had a split mirror stuck on with double-sided tape, which promptly fell off, among other issues.
So I bought this. The K&R Alpin uses a polished metal mirror securely fastened into the cover, so that eliminated one problem. Made in Germany, which has a lot of mountains, K&R designed the Alpin to be used regularly at high altitudes and cold weather. So it has a capsule designed to resist the formation of bubbles in the damping fluid with rapidly changing elevation.
The needle settles fast for a regular (non-global) design, better than the Silva Ranger or the regular Suunto MC-2 mirror compass types, though not as fast as a friend's Suunto MC-2G (his Suunto has a 'global' needle that seems to lock down in about 10 milliseconds). The Alpin is easy to read in poor light, as K&R used plenty of luminous treatments on the needle, sights, and dial (the whole compass dial ring is luminous).
I also like the quality of the metals and plastics used. The compass dial can be turned readily without being easily bumped off course, the cover stays up without flopping down, etc, etc. It has all the features my old Silva Ranger did, clinometer, scales, etc.
A minor complaint is that all the printed romer scales are for metric European maps, not U.S. (1:24K), but I carry those on cards in the compass pouch anyway.
K&R says the Alpin is used by the German mountain rescue teams. If that's the case, they certainly picked a good quality compass. IMHO, it's the Silva Ranger that Silva SHOULD have made, but didn't.