Choose your compass with care. The most appropriate type for use in scouting is probably the orienteering compass. A good one will have a well balanced steel magnetic needle that settles into position quickly. The needle should be coloured differently at each end, usually red at the north end. If the tip glows in the dark then even better.

The base plate and dial are usually strong plastic. The dial will have increments of around 2° marked clearly. On the dial itself will be faint meridian lines (faint parallel blue lines pointing in the same direction as north on the dial). Some even have extra information such as magnetic variation or declination degrees marked on the dial. The dial also has an arrow marked on the bottom aligned with north on the dial.

The base plate should be transparent and have scales in both metric (cm and mm) and imperial (inches). A magnifying glass, clinometer, sighting mirror and adjustable declination screw are all welcome extras.

Don't forget a strong strap attached to the base plate which should be securely held at the other end to your shirt pocket buttonhole or around your neck. There are several different types of compass available. These may range from the simple 'toy' compass which has a fixed dial to the more technical prismatic compass. Here we will concentrate on the most suitable compass for scouting, the orienteering type compass.