Top critical review
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The good, the bad and the bubbly
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.