Kasper & Richter Alpin
Source: bought it new
The latest version of the K&R Alpin is a very good compass, with excellent manufacturing quality, but does have a few glitches.
- Well made
- Unbreakable sighting mirror
- Compass dial rotates a bit too easily
- Dial uses small-print numerals and tic marks
- Needle is somewhat 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 aren't as large as some others, and numerals are printed only every 30 degrees. The newest version of the Alpin uses a two-piece plastic dial for setting declination. 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.)
Another minor criticism is that the needle is a bit more wobbly than the Suunto Global compass models, and takes longer to settle.
The newest version of the Alpin has a two-piece dial for setting declination, and a plastic 'gate' for capturing the magnetized needle. This seems to work well, as long as you don't allow your fingers to touch the printed top of the dial and wear off the printed numerals and tic marks.
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.
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
Kasper and Richter and the BRK Mountain Rescue Service give you a super durable sighting compass that you can take on wilderness explorations and ski tours--the Alpin Sighting Compass. Along with adjustable declination and a triple sighting system, the Alpin Sighting Compass has an unbreakable polished aluminum sighting mirror and a thermo-elastic, fluid-filled capsule. The Alpin Compass' flexible capsule prevents bubbles that often occur with temperature changes and hairline cracks that appear after an accidental drop. The sighting mirror's solid metal housing and a durable ABS lid put up with trail abuse, while the built-in clinometer takes the guesswork out of slope measurement on ski tours. A luminous bezel makes readings easy on the eyes.