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Silva NOR Thumb Compass

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
photo: Silva NOR Thumb Compass handheld compass

A completely clear thumb compass that's great for orienteering and adventure racing. Good for someone just getting into orienteering, an experienced orienteer may prefer a more stable needle.


  • Transparent
  • Great visibility of the map under the compass
  • Comfortable to wear on the thumb
  • Wide, visible needle


  • Wobbly needle
  • Forms bubble in 50s and below
  • Doesn't have any scale on the direction of travel arrow.

Ease of Use: Thumb compasses in general simplify and speed up navigation. Place it on your thumb, the direction of travel arrow is already set for you. Place the compass on the map with the direction of travel going from where you are to where you want to go. Turn around until the needle lines up with north on the map. 

Note that I'm facing  the wrong way, North on the compass is facing towards South on the map.

Features: Clear compass that can be worn on the thumb. It has a comfortable, adjustable, elastic strap to hold it in place. The top of the compass is open to facilitate "thumbing" the map. Has two rubber feet to help keep the compass in place on the map. It's available in both right and left handed, I hold my map in my left hand so got a left handed compass.


Construction and Durability: Simple construction with no dial to fall out. Feels solid and well-made, though the needle looks a little cheap. It looks to be a piece of plastic glued to a piece of metal. It has formed bubbles in colder weather, but they disappeared once the temperature warmed up.


Here is the plastic 'needle' attached to a piece of metal with what looks to be a tiny weight glued on


Conditions: I've used it on forest orienteering courses and occasionally take it with me on hikes. Temperature has ranged from 30s to 80s. I've gotten soaked while wearing it crossing streams and used it in rain without any issues. Colder temps cause a bubble to form, though.


Competition: Compared to other thumb compasses, it feels lower middle of the pack. I've used a Kanpass basic thumb compass, which does have a scale, is possibly a drop more stable than this, but less visibility with more markings on it and a rotating housing for taking bearings in degrees, etc. The Kanpass does have a scale on the direction of travel arrow. 

There are also higher end compasses, which I've looked at, but hadn't tried. Moscompass makes several higher end compasses with more stable needles. You can pretty much build your compass with a choice of base plate, needle type, housing style, plus add-ons like a magnifier. Silva makes a higher end Arc Jet. There are also Str8 and Suunto options.
I prefer the Nor to the Kanpass due to the better visibility, but am strongly considering getting a more stable compass, probably the Arc Jet or the Str8.



As an orienteer, geocacher, and Scoutmaster, I find myself in forests at least once a week. I've gotten more into orienteering recently, taking part in 9 races over the past year plus a lot of orienteering training runs. This has been my go-to compass since I purchased it in January 2023 and it's my second thumb compass.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 24.59 on Amazon

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Price Current Retail: $40.49-$49.49
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