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on March 31, 2006
I love compasses. I don't go anywhere without one. In my car, in my backpack, on a plane, If I'm going out...a compasses is going with me.

I bought a Brunton 8099 a while back. I wasn't sure I liked the Brunton's circle in circle idea so I was hesitant to buy one. I finally decided to give it a shot and purchased one. After playing with the compass for an hour I decided I really liked it. I love the design of the compass although the rubber base gets in the way of opening up the entire top. But the 8099 has all the features you could want in a compass and then some. I liked it so much that I decided to buy a 2nd one a month later to have one in my camping stuff and one for local use.

After having these compasses for a while now, I am very sad to say that I will not recommend it to anyone. There are two huge reasons why I cannot.

1st. The circle in circle idea. On the surface it sounds great. And when you see it in action, as a quick once over, it comes across as great an innovation as Brunton pitches it. And there pitch is that it is more accurate then the line compasses. However, if really put to the test it doesn't hold up. Why? This is a bit hard to explain in words but if you go to your local outdoors supplier and check it out, hopefully you can see what I am trying to get at. If you look straight down on the compass and align the circles all is fine and dandy. However, if you view the compass by the mirror or from a large angle (yes I know the center line down the mirror is so you are not looking at it from a left and right angle but bare with me), the accuracy comes into question.

To see this in action, place the compass on the edge of something solid and view the compass through the mirror set at the 45 degree position. Now if you change your view higher or lower you will see the circles start to appear misaligned. So of course your reaction is to turn the compass to align them. But if you were to look straight down at the compass you would see they are in fact not aligned now. And that viewing problem becomes more pronounced the closer to left and right the N and the blue circle are pointing. Just viewing the compass straight down and moving your head around a bit will show the same thing.

When you are out in the field and holding it by hand, you cannot guarantee that you are going to hold the compass at the exact same eye level every single time when viewing through the mirror. So the question becomes how do you really know when the compass is reading true.

So, the circle in circle sounds great, but it is flawed. I would prefer Brunton go back to the standard parallel lines. With the lines, even if you view the compass from an extreme angle, or the mirror isn't in the exact same position, you know when the compass is aligned right. How? Even if the needle doesn't `appear' to be centered with the guide lines, when viewing from an extreme angle, if the needle and the guide lines are parallel with other, then you know your compass is reading true.

2nd. As I stated above I bought two of these. Both formed bubbles in them without going to any extreme temperature or elevation. I sent both back and paid the $5 per compass fee for repair. One of them has once again formed a bubble. I don't even plan to send it back for repair.

I really really want to love these compasses. There is so much to them. But these two huge issues are keeping it down.
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on November 17, 2009
First off, I wouldn't take any of the 1-Star reviews for this compass seriously. One of the "1 star reviewers" proposed a test supposedly proving that the circle on circle eclipse system doesn't work. I tried it and have no idea what his point is, as everything checked out fine for me. Other "1-star" reviewers complained of stuff that is easily resolved if you take a little time getting familiar with the 8099. There were also complaints about some petty things; things that should NOT justify a 1-star rating - more later.

This compass is intelligently designed and innovative. It is also full featured. The hard plastic casing and rubber boot offer superb protection for the the compass dial and transparent base-plate, which has all of the most commonly needed map scales. The Eclipse 8099 has a 1-degree graduated dial, marked for both forward and reverse sighting. It has a magnifying lens over the graduations that allows for easy reading. A separate magnifying lens (larger than on many other base-plate map compasses) allows you to check out map details more easily. The rubber boot serves also as an eraser for pencil lines on your map. There is a magnetic declination adjustment, of course, and a clinometer for measuring heights and slopes. Contained within the boot are a set of quick reference cards that thoroughly explain how to use all of the map, compass and clinometer techniques. There is a tangent conversion table (Card 8). There are map and roamer scales (Card #6) Cards 9-11 even provide some basic survival and first aid reminders. I don't know of any other compass that gives you all of that in a self contained package.

Prospective buyers might be interested to know that my son was a high speed US Special Forces guy, by necessity an expert in land-navigation. He is very familiar with use of the classic USMC Cammenga Lensatic compass and he says he'd much rather use my 8099.

Now for some of the complaints that supposedly get this item a 1-star rating:

"The circle over circle alignment system doesn't really work" - This is bogus nonsense or - if you prefer - BS. As I said above, I tested the fellow's theory and the compass checked out fine. If it didn't work out for him, he apparently was not using the mirror sighting lens correctly.

"It's hard to open the case completely" - The protective rubber shoe should be thumbed off first, which is easy enough. If the opening the case completely is still too hard for you at that point, you are probably too delicate to risk being outdoors anyway and might do better to just stay home.

"It got a bubble" - Maybe there are compasses out there that will never get a bubble but having used several brands and models, I don't know of any. I confess - my 8099 compass developed a bubble when I took it out on an early winter camping trip a few years ago. Cold temperatures do that to compasses because the damping fluid within the capsule contracts. Set them out in the sunshine on a hot summer day and the bubble goes away (or at least shrinks to near nothing). Anyway, since this compass doesn't use a traditional needle, bubbles present no functional problem.

One more remark has to do with value. When originally introduced - at a retail price of about $80.00 - the Eclipse 8099 was pretty pricey. But at the current pricing - about $30.00 less - the Eclipse 8099 offers what I consider to be very good value.
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on October 23, 2005
I was dissapointed. Quality was poor overall. The cover was supposed to lock in various positions, but just flopped around helplessly. The indicator would only float freely when the base was held off-level. Lanyard interferes with cover action. I went out and bought a $15 cheapo that works better.

It does work however and the instructions were OK. I expected a much better quality instrument for the money I paid.
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on August 29, 2008
I got this compass because many on the net have referred this as the best compass on the market. I think this may be too much for most users but if you want the best this is it. Its a professional grade product with a lifetime warrantee so you cant really go wrong. Its a little bulkier than most other compasses I have used but it does have a nice rubber housing which doubles as a pencil eraser (for erasing pencil marks on topo maps) and a bunch of referenc cards housed behind the compass. This compass includes an inclinometer for measuring slope grades but I have not had the opportunity to use this feature. Good for orienteering, SAR work, professional pursuits....but might be overkill for general outdoor use.
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on July 24, 2014
Every one who hikes off the beaten trail swears by this compass and prefers it to others costing much more....yes it tricky to get used to but 15-29 minutes spent becoming familial with it and you are set for that fabled trip up the amazon in Brazil....an instrument you can trust to get you exactly where you want to go.....it does not make mistakes and buying one you will neither. RCMP
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on September 24, 2014
I have the same model from somewhere between 10-15 yr ago. I really like it. However, it lacks a couple things I'd like to see in a higher end compass.

First, the good. The circle-in-circle system is easy to use. Gradations are, in contrast to many compasses, 1 degree, and are crisp and clear enough it's possible to actually see and distinguish them. The little "magnifying" bump helps with this. Declination scale adjustment is easy to set without tools. Bezel moves smoothly and easily but not too easily. Flip up mirror has nice crisp line and the usual notch. It sort of clicks into position at about 45 degrees. I would worry that this would lossen up and get sloppy but I've used my other one for 10+ years and it hasn't so assuming this one will be the same. UTM and mile scale for 7.5 min serries USGS topos on the base is a plus. There are others for different scale maps on a clear plastic page in the little booklet thingie that comes sandwiched between the base and the rubber bottom cover of the compass. The edges are all rounded over so no sharp corners which is great if you tuck it under coat/shirt to keep it from flopping about.

Next, the "Mheh, whatever." The little booklet that comes under the baseplate is cool, I guess, but I already know how to use a compass and I'm probably not going to whip it out if I need to brush up on first aid but someone might, so okay. It doesn't look at all waterproof, so I took it out of my old one. The rubber base cover ... not sure exactly why, other than to hold little booklet in. It makes this larger compass a bit bigger and clunkier looking and feeling. You'll have to take it off to take a good map bearing - it makes the edge indistinct and it won't slide on the map. Hmmm... musta been thought up by someone who doesn't use compasses in the field much.

Now, the not so great. So I REALLY wish this compass had more parallel lines etched into the base, like my old beater Silva from 25yr ago. Those allow you to short-cut taking map bearings by aligning compass edge to line of travel then rotating bezel so lines on face of bezel are parallel w/ North gridlines (ideally, overlying one). That saves the step of "orienting the map" and is great for the field where you are all geared up and/or in rough terrain and don't want to bend over to set the map on the ground. Bummer on not having that. Second is why they had to make the base rubber case thingie DARK gray?? So, if I take out the booklet above, the face of my compass is now dark (from the rubber behind it) and I can't see the circle or needle to use the compass! So I either have to leave the booklet in and risk ruining it in wet conditions or put in some other "white" card or something. My old model had a light green rubber cover so it was fairly usable without the booklet. Why not make the rubber base thing bright yellow? I mean, if I ever dropped it, that would help me find it too!! Lastly, the way the lanyard attaches worries me. There are pins that move back and forth to capture the cord. The rubber case holds them in place, but if you take that off, uh-oh - If that happens while you are hiking ... ooops ... there goes your compass. When I go the places I do, my compass is as vital to me as the means by which I'm going to secure hydration, so that makes me paranoid. That means I have no choice but to leave the rubber case on when hiking and futz around taking it off to use ..... grrrrrr. The one I got developed a bubble at about 8000 feet - about 3-4mm which I think is significant. Still useable, but not sure what will happen at 10k feet or over...

Overall, I think this compass is very good. It had potential to be awesome, but comes up just a tad short.
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on December 9, 2014
The card would not align properly which made it terribly frustrating and inaccurate. However, as is typical of Brunton, they replaced it with a NEW unit, no questions asked. Brunton is a great company to work with. Everyone makes mistakes, it's how the error is resolved that sets a company apart from the competition.
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on February 9, 2014
My husband is a Geology major, so we got this compass for his academic and extracurricular use. Its very user friendly – so easy to use, the instructions are simple and clear. And it came with extras – a small guide with survival tips, and cord and rubber case for mobility.
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on November 7, 2014
excellent compass. The built in inclinometes alone are worth the price payed for this compass. The included tangent tables are a time saver when trying to estimate heights or distances. A compass makes a very good combination with a GPS. With the GPS you can mark where you are, and with the compass you can mark a spot of interest where you might want to go, something that looks interesting from the distance.You cannot accurately mark a distant point with a gps, but with this compass you can obtain the direction and calculate the distance to that place.
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on December 20, 2014
Huge bubble, compass disc won't spin at all, mirror cover flaps around with no real strength to the angles it's supposed to keep (it's own weight will pull it down from 45*), and the rubber boot just gets in the way. Just liked the declination setting method..which I hope to find in another higher quality, functioning product. Returning my item as any item will be better than something that doesn't work at all. I was really disappointed at the quality.
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