Very good compass
Now I have a Silva type compass that I’ve used for many years with no problems (and will continue to do so!) but I wanted to try a decent ‘top end’ type compass. So I had a search around and came across the Firefly Navigator compass. It’s based around the Plastimo IRIS 50 Hand-Bearing compass sealed cell.
Now this is a prismatic compass, so it’s designed to allow you to take quick and accurate bearings both in daylight and at night.
It’s not a cheap item either and for cadets it’s well within the ‘nice to have’ bracket and possibly even the ‘do I really need one’ bracket! But I took the view that as an instructor, investing in good quality kit that would see me through many years of navigation lessons and Fieldcraft weekends would be a good idea!
The whole compass will fit in the palm of your hand and weighs about 95 grams. Its water resistant up to 10 meters, I’ve not tried this as I’ve never needed to take a bearing underwater!! it can also be used in temperatures as low as -20°C and as high as +60°C. Again I’ve never used it in these extremes but you never know (the British weather can be a bit up & down!)
The outer case is made of an impact resistant plastic, mine is in olive green. You can also get them in degrees or mills; I went for degrees as that’s what’s used in cadets.
It comes with a built in lanyard that is long enough to allow the whole compass to be easily worn around the neck.
During the day the dial is easy to read, moves around smoothly and settles down to allow you to take a bearing very quickly.
But it’s at night that this compass comes into its own, it has two built in self illuminating tritium light sources. These glow green, a similar colour to a glow stick and last for at least 10 years according to the manufacturer. One is under the main dial, so when you look down on the compass you can easily read it and the other positioned to illuminate the small lens used when looking along the compass to take a bearing.
Is it accurate? Yes it is. I’ve compared it to my Silva compass and it settles down quicker and gives a ‘better’ bearing. I’ve also seen how it compares to the compass on my iphone and against my wrist GPS and it is as good as either with the massive advantage that it doesn’t need batteries and is happy to work once it’s been soaked or dropped in a puddle.
Would I recommend it to others? I would, but the high cost is a barrier and disincentive. But if you are the sort who doesn’t mind investing in kit that will last years, put up with a bit of abuse and, most importantly, do what it’s made to do over & over again then I would recommend getting one. I’m glad I did and always keep it in my pocket when in the field.
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