How compasses work

Learning the basics

Besides learning how to navigate the easy SILVA 1-2-3 way it is also useful to know the basics of compasses. There are different types of compasses but the key feature regardless the model is the compass needle. The compass needle is placed in the liquid-filled compass housing. But there are more features – come have a look at the explanations below.

Compass accuracy

Silva is a longtime global leader in compass accuracy, precision and durability. On all Silva compasses, the direction accuracy for Magnetic North is 1 degree.


The scales and other information on our compasses are hot stamped, which makes them exceptionally durable.


To make your compass last longer, we use only highly durable acrylic plastic. It is of highest quality, and it will stand the test of time as well as intense use. Also, to increase the map visibility, it has a lot of transparency.

Direction-of-travel arrow

This arrow will point towards your travel destination after you have set the course.

Compass housing

The capsule is filled with anti-static liquid (customised formula) that ensures clear reading, fast settling time, perfect dampening, stability and accuracy of the needle.

North/south arrow

Patented red/black north-south lines in the capsule bottom ensure easy and safe settling. Align with the meridians on the map. Make sure that the map points north.

Compass needle

We have developed the world’s fastest, and most accurate, compass needle made only from finest Swedish steel. We use sapphire jewel bearing for friction free movement of the compass needle.


Many compasses have a clinometer built in the compass house. This is used for measuring inclination of slopes.

There is always more to discover