Suunto M-3 Global
Current Retail: $50.95-$57.79
Historic Range: $29.95-$80.00
Reviewers Paid: $32.00
Now this is a compass. I think the Suunto M-3 G with…
Price Paid: $32
Now this is a compass. I think the Suunto M-3 G with the Global Needle is perhaps the best orienteering or baseplate compass on the market.
Most people who've used magnetic compasses long enough in a wide variety of environments realized that a standard baseplate compass is more than adequate for map-and-compass navigation. A $20 compass will work just fine for most people and most recreational navigation, no question about it.
But then you may be like me, who wanted something a bit better. I longed for a compass with 1) a baseplate long enough for drawing a decent track or bearing line;
2) sufficiently numerous and bright luminous markings for low light or in case of emergency hike-out;
3) adjustable declination, using a proper GEARED key-operated design that doesn't require you to grip the capsule so hard you pop the seal (or have to reset the adjustment to zero each time you use the compass with a map!);
4) a compass dial/capsule with printed meridian lines that's fairly easy to turn, but DOESN'T get bumped loose by casual contact
5) a fast-settling, easy-to-orient non-wobbly needle,
6) excellent quality and durability; and
7) a practical ergonomic design (by this I mean a design with at least one curved end so it fits your hand, and doesn't eat through your pocket stitching, but without sacrificing two useful straight edges for scales and drawing lines). The Suunto M-3G (Global Needle) has ALL these features.
The Global Needle System - why would anyone not traveling around the world need to pay for THAT?? Because you'll LOVE the global needle for its other great qualities. What many people don't realize is that the global needle is one FAST-settling design, much faster than the standard Silva or Suunto needle compasses, and about as fast as an expensive orienteering compass like the Silva Jet. Nor do you have to hold the compass perfectly level to keep the needle or disc from grounding out or giving an incorrect reading!. As it's nice and wide, the global needle is also easier to box inside the orienting bars. Plus, it carries more luminous paint than most other needles (and the Brunton disc, which has nothing at all), so you can even follow it at night if you have to do so.
It's no accident that the U.S. Forest Service and most mountaineering organizations either have adopted or recommend the Suunto M-3 Leader. The G version (Global Needle) makes an already very good compass a great one! By all means try this model out before you purchase any other baseplate compass.