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Highgear TrailDrop

rated 1.5 of 5 stars

The TrailDrop has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best handheld compasses for 2024.

photo: Highgear TrailDrop handheld compass

I purchased this product from REI in hopes of having a decent watch/compass. I was elated to find there where additional features like a temp gauge. This temp gauge was not critical to my purposes, but I decided to check its accuracy anyway. To my supprise it did not work at all. That portion of the display had only slashes where numbers should have been. I called the number given with the instructions, and got an immediate response. The person I spoke to said he was in charge of international sales, and was apparently on his way out. Though he was very polite he could not help me. He said that problems with that feature was rare, but that this product is known to have battery issues. In the end he recommended I return the compass.

I set aside the compass and did not return it until a week later. In that time the product had a complete failure. The screen went completely blank, and none of the buttons responded. I am not sure exactly when this happend, but the compass was inside its original packaging, and not disturbed during that time. I am currently using another product from the same manufacturer, and there appears to be no blatent problems, but I'm holding my breath.

I would NOT recommend purchasing the TrailDrop. The product was unreliable in my personal expirence, and condemned by the person I called to help me with it.

Price Paid: $50

Accurate, sturdy. Good backup.


  • Goes anywhere - keychain clip
  • Easy to calibrate and take a bearing


  • Changing the Time & Date is difficult
  • Changing the batteries is even MORE difficult

I've had my Trail Drop for about 3 years now and only JUST needed to change the batteries. I've had it hanging on my bicycle handlebars the last two years or so and it always gives me the time, date and proper temperature all on the face. Taking a bearing is very easy but you just need to make sure it's level (has built in leveling bubble).

I've used it right on the bicycle and it works fine! I have a set of very small caliber flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers so removing the back was no big deal. Getting the batteries out was! You DO NOT need to replace it with the exact same sized watch batteries.  Since they all have about the same power, I replaced it with batteries that were slightly smaller and the unit works great.  

Not as rugged as the HighGear Alti-Tech digital compass but you get what you pay for. I don't think the Trail Drop is worth what many retailers are charging though.

Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I kept it.)

I've found it to be a useful piece of gear.

But the batteries are almost impossible to change and the legend inside the unit for inserting batteries is **WRONG**. Where they tell you to put (+) up, you have to put (+) down and the same on the second battery. YES, this thing has two miniature batteries instead of one like just about every other watch.

So, I've had very mixed sentiments ... I like what it does, but the batteries are an exercise in mis-engineering. Overall, I would not have bought this item.

I would have derived more benefit from this thing if I ate the $35 or the "TrailDrop," which is the right name for it, because it should be dropped after stepping foot on a trail.

It was incredibly inaccurate, impossible to use, and broke after an hour of trying to stand level and still enough to get a reading. The HighDrop people spent too much time looking into the sun trying to figure out the east/west axis when they came up with this ripoff.

Price Paid: too much, Highgear should pay me

The compass kept losing calibration. The thermometer was never within 10 degrees. I carried it as a watch until the batteries ran out and then came the worst surprise: you need a jewelers screwdriver to open the case, you need to destroy the guts to get the old batteries out AND replacement batteries are virtually unobtainable. A waste of money. Never again!

Price Paid: $29

The batteries fail after a few minutes of operation and are unattainable for a reasonable price. I replaced three sets for $4.99 each. I would have saved my money if I had read the reviews before buying!

Price Paid: $39 @ Cabela's

Junk temp and compass way off, adjustment functions do not work per manual. Unit very to use, impossible with gloves. Buttons not labeled. Not the least bit water resistant. Don’t waste your money.

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Price MSRP: $30.00
Historic Range: $17.50-$50.00
Reviewers Paid: $29.00-$50.00

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