What makes a great compass for a DofE expedition?

A compass is an expedition essential, and it’s important that you can trust it to guide you on unfamiliar ground.

The three key markers of a great compass are reliability, accuracy and toughness. DofE recommended compasses from Silva give you all three. Compass work is inevitable, so try to have one each, or if that’s not doable, three per team is probably the minimum.

Compasses are sometimes provided by your DofE Leader, so make sure you check ahead of your expedition.

What map to use on a DofE expedition?

Learning to use an Ordnance Survey (OS) map is a central part of your expedition. UK walking expeditions need to use OS maps, usually 1:25000 and cyclists may prefer a 1:50000 scale one.

Many DofE centres provide maps and map cases, so talk to your Leader before buying.

DofE recommended compasses

All DofE recommended compasses from Silva offer reliability, accuracy and toughness. These are the three key markers of a great compass.

Silva Field Compass

  • Rubber grip
  • 1:50K and 1:25K scales
  • Detachable lanyard
  • 28g




Silva Ranger Compass

  • Rubber grip
  • 1:50K and 1:25K scales
  • Declination scale
  • 33g




Silva Expedition 4 Compass

  • Rubber grip
  • 1:50K, 1:40K and 1:25K scale
  • Built-in magnifier for precision map work
  • 36g




Silva Classic Compass

  • Enlarged dial
  • Lanyard
  • Magnetic declination scale
  • Scratch resistant base


DofE recommended maps and map cases

Learning to use an Ordnance Survey (OS) map is also a key part of your expedition preparation.

OS maps are available in different scales, and you can choose from standard paper or stronger laminate which can be wiped clean of route markings.

OS Explorer

  • 1:25000 scale
  • Highly detailed
  • Ideal for foot treks for shorter distances




OS Landranger

  • 1:50000 scale
  • Standard or weatherproof
  • Covers bigger areas
  • Ideal for long distance foot or bike trails



Silva Dry Map Cases

  • M30
  • Fully waterproof
  • Quick and easy closure


How to use your navigation equipment

For the Expedition section, teams must plan and organise their expedition route using a map. You’ll need to identify how you’ll spend your time and how to meet your aim, recording this as a route card.

It’s essential you develop, practice and refine your navigation, compass and map reading skills to the level needed to do your expedition safely.

Read our blog to find out how to use a compass with Silva’s easy 1-2-3 system and download Silva’s quick guide on how to use a compass.

How to look after your kit
  • Keep your compass in a soft case to protect it.
  • Do not store compasses near anything magnetic.
  • Tie your compass to your rucksack or jacket to avoid losing it.
  • Get a laminated water resistant ‘active’ map which is durable.
  • Always try to use a map case, even if using laminated maps and route cards. It keeps everything together and provides the best protection against rain.
Ways to save money



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Helpful resources

Navigation poster

Learn how to get your bearings with our simple navigation poster.