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Brunton 8096-AR

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Brunton 8096-AR handheld compass

Well I'm not an adventure racer, just an ordinary hiker. But I do know this: there's a big difference between equipment suited for people competing in a specialized event, where broken equipment is just a bummer, not something that can cost your your life, and hikers who need reliable equipment for day-to-day navigation in remote wilderness.

My 8096 may be suited for a race, but I don't trust it for remote wilderness. For one thing, the compass seems definitely more prone to developing a bubble at cold, high elevations than other similar-price compasses I own (Silva 4, Suunto M-3 Leader). For another, the compass declination adjustment is not that positive on mine and I have to keep double-checking it to make sure it hasn't moved. Also, where are the alignment lines on the bottom of the capsule for use on a map like every other baseplate compass? All you get are a couple of red lines on the outside of the dial that are really hard to line up with a map meridian. The curved 'ergonomic' baseplate isn't of any use in drawing a course on the map, so for west-to-east routes you must remove and reverse the compass on the map, or else use a separate straightedge which is a pain (the 8096 does have a removable, too-short 'ruler' edge that can be used, but it quickly loosens up with such behavior, and then is lost). Whoever designed that curved edge obviously didn't use map and compass together in the field.

The circle-over-circle design 'needle' seems an answer to a problem that doesn't exist. Compared to a normal arrow-style magnetic needle, the circle design floats quite a bit, is more sensitive to small movements, and doesn't come to rest as quickly. The thin acrylic baseplate has printed markings that quickly wear off in use, because they're not engraved into the baseplate.

As to 'lifetime warranties', all name-brand compass companies offer this type of service. Thing is, one shouldn't have any problems to begin with with any reputable compass costing $20 or more. This is the difference between needing a compass for a race versus one that works when hiking remote country. Remember, you can't exchange a sticking compass with a bubble while atop a mountain or deep in wilderness!

I’m an adventure racer and an adventure race director. As a racer this is the compass I have settled on after trying many. As a race director I often hold navigation clinics in conjunction with our events. Therefore I wanted a compass that worked for everyone. This compass is ideal.

It has the standard declination adjustment so there is no need to remember if I need to add or subtract when I’m in a sleep deprived race state. It has the baseplate scales to allow you to recheck plots in the field. It has the circle in the circle system so you can’t confuse which end of the needle points north.

But what I think is best about the compass is the awesome support from Brunton. The compass has a lifetime warrantee so if there is ever a problem, just send it back. I’ve never had any problems with anyone at Brunton. (I've posted this review in several locations so I apologize if you've read it elsewhere - I love the compass and am happy to say so in any review forum).

Price Paid: $40

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Price MSRP: $38.00
Historic Range: $19.93-$39.95
Reviewers Paid: $40.00
Weight 1.7 oz
Overall dimensions 5.2 in x 2.8 in x 0.5 in
Baseplate scales Inch, mm
Map scales 1:24k, 1:25k, 1:50k, 1:62.5k, 1:63.36k
Roamer scales 1:24k, 1:25k, 1:50k, 1:62.5k, 1:63.36 k & 1:250 k UTM
Template tool scales 1:24k, 1:25k, 1:50k, 1:62.5k, 1:63.36k
Lat / Long scales 1:100k
UTM scale 1:100k
Product Details from Brunton »