Along the sentier, France, 2005.”
Gear ~ Compass
Suunto Clipper – 5 grams
On my first grande randonnée, I started off with a compass that was inset on top of the grip of my walking stick. Although it was a very small compass, it was all I required to keep track of which direction I was heading. At unmarked trail junctions it was easy to determine which trail was most likely the one shown on the map, and it was very convenient, because it was always out there in front of me. I just stopped, observed the needle, and moved on.
Unfortunately, it proved not to be very robust (cheap, cheesy, and disappointing might be better words), and within a month, the needle began to freeze up. Fortunately, I had reached the city of Limoges (famous for its ceramics), and found a good-sized sporting goods store. They sold me a Recta™ Clipper™, a true liquid-filled micro-compass, with a rotating bezel.
The Clipper is very smooth, stable, and precise and extremely convenient. It has a slot on the back that accommodates a watchband, and it will easily clip on and off as well. I usually wear it clipped on the front strap of my hiking vest. I successfully used the Recta for the rest of my 2005 walk to Santiago de Compostela, and it’s the only compass I’ve carried since (both in 2007 and 2009). In a word – Fantastic!
In the US, it’s sold under the Suunto brand name, as the Suunto™ Clipper™ Luminous Micro Compass. Since I purchased mine, the Clipper has been updated, and now comes with a luminous dial. It’s about an inch across, and at just 5 grams (0.2 ounces), it’s a true featherweight navigational workhorse. It may not be the lodestone you’d want to carry for extensive cross-country orienteering, but on the trails of Europe, it has been terrific.
I love this compass. After 5 years, I’m still expecting to find a little bubble in the dome, but so far, it remains perfect. (In a way, I kind of wish I needed to replace it with the new luminous model, but I don’t.) My Recta effortlessly keeps me oriented North. On my next walk, I’ll definitely navigate with my (Recta) Suunto Clipper Micro Compass. Highly recommended by Longwalking.