Sometimes you spend a lot of money on a piece of kit and it turns out to be a piece of junk. Other times you spend a little bit of money and find some real treasures. KanPas compass is one of those unknown treasures for orienteers and adventure racers!
I’ve been considering getting a compass for my bike map board for some time, but I’ve held back due to cost and the fact that I have about 8 compasses already. Trying to justify an additional compass purchase gets harder each time. But, when I came across the KanPas Map Board Clip Compass at 38 bucks, I had to give it a try. In the past, I’ve used a wrist compass to aid in bike navigation, but keeping a firm grip on both handlebars is usually a wise move for me. Plus, who doesn’t like new gear?
After 75 hours of solid racing at the Sea to Sea, many of those hours spent intimately connected to a bike seat, I can tell you that the KanPas Map Board Clip Compass quickly became one of my favorite new gear items. It is fast, stable and very easy to read.
The needle is very powerful and as I rode over a bridge that had small metal plates on the ground, I could watch the needle deflect every time. Just amazing!
My search for a great MTBO compass is over! I have no intentions of using anything else while bike orienteering. The clip felt strong and attached firmly to the map board. It never felt weak or likely to fall off. I know some people like to put a baseplate compass in their map case, attached to their map board. But, I like the freedom of being able to move the compass around when I needed to uncover portions of the map.
I do have one small suggestion on improvements for this compass and I’ll try to illustrate in the picture below. As you can see, the top clip arm is blunt and can easily catch on the map board, especially if you have multiple maps on the board.
I think if the top clip arm was extended and beveled (see the red outline) it would make for the perfect map board compass. While trail riding, I don’t want to fight getting the compass onto the map board. Also, because there is a slight gap between the base plate and the top clip arm, maps can get caught in between.
These are relatively minor complaints on an otherwise excellent compass.
The same strong, fast and stable needle used for the bike compass is also used for the thumb compass. I was able to try out the thumb compass while orienteering with my family at Oak Mountain State Park permanent orienteering course.
If you’ve never been to Oak Mountain, and live in the area, it is well worth the visit. The terrain is rugged and the permanent course is a lot of fun. We’ve recently completed the permanent amateur course and advanced course. All of the checkpoints are properly marked and still exist.
During this visit, I wanted my sons to learn more about orienteering, and they both did a great job picking routes and using the compass.
There are 3 different styles of thumb compass: rainbow, degree, and clear. I chose the degree style. As we raced over mountainous terrain, I found the needle to be extremely fast, stable and accurate. I’ve been using the Moscompass thumb compass, but I like the KanPas thumb compass better because of its quick, high-visibility needle. The KanPas thumb plate is very durable and fits well in my hand. I really liked the well-defined markings on the plate, showing 100m increments on a 1:10k scale O-map.
So far, I’ve been extremely happy with KanPas compasses and currently use the following:
- KanPas MTBO Map Board Clip Compass MTB-43-F
- KanPas Elite Competition Orienteering Compass MA-43-FS
- KanPas MTBO Wrist Compass for Elite MAW-43-F
- KanPas Elite Baseplate Compass with Magnifier MAG-43-F
They all use the same compass needle, so you can expect the same high-speed, stable performance. The cost of the compasses are reasonable, but shipping directly from KanPas can be expensive.
Here’s a quick video showing you the speed and stability of the 43 needle:
KanPas is currently working on a new design, the MA-45-F, and I am very excited to try it out once it’s available.
If you have any questions about KanPas compasses, drop me a comment or email. Or better yet, stop by any event we’re at and I’ll be more than happy to let you check them out!