Maps and compasses

Tips for learning to read a map and use a compass effectively on expedition.

/ Expedition Kit / Maps and compasses

What maps and compasses do I need for a DofE expedition?

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.

Your DofE Leader might provide a compass, but if not look out for reliability, accuracy and toughness. These are the three key markers of a great compass – and Silva gives you all three.

DofE recommended compasses

 Silva field compass  Silva ranger compass  Silva Expedition 4 compass

Silva Field Compass

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

View Field compass

Silva Ranger Compass

1:50K and 1:25K scale
Glow in the dark
Declination scale
Rubber grip

View Ranger compass

Silva Expedition 4 Compass

Sapphire jewel bearing
Silicone feet
1:50K, 1:40K and 1:25K scale
Glow in the dark

View Expedition 4 compass

 Silva classic compass

Silva Classic Compass

Enlarged dial
Scratch resistant base

View Classic compass

Maps and map cases

Learning to use an Ordnance Survey (OS) map is a central part of your expedition, and in fact the DofE work so closely with OS, they offer a 20% discount for all DofE participants. Click here to get your OS discount.

OS maps are available at 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scale, and are made with both standard paper and stronger laminate which can be wiped clean of route markings.

DofE recommended maps

 OS explorer map  OS landranger map  Silva map case

OS Explorer

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

View Explorer maps

OS Landranger

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

View Landranger maps

Silva Dry Map Cases

Fully waterproof
Quick and easy closure

View Dry map cases

You can also customise your Ordnance Survey maps, centering it on your location or if your route crosses two or three standard maps. You can even add your own photographs.

Ways to save money on your DofE expedition

Buying good navigation tools will help your expedition run smoothly and there are lots of other ways to keep your costs down:

  • Talk to your team about sharing the costs of navigation kit.
  • Tie your compass to your pack or jacket to avoid losing it – this string can be used to measure distances.
  • Keep your compass in a soft case and away from magnets.
  • Silva can re-polarise your old compass for FREE.
  • Enjoy the 20% discount for DofE participants on all OS standard maps, and 15% off OS custom maps.
  • Use your exclusive DofE Card or Voucher to claim your discount* in all local GO Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors or Tiso store (Scotland only) and online.

*Full T&Cs apply 

For DofE Adults’ discounts, click here.

How to use your navigation equipment

Silva’s 1-2-3 on how to use your compass

Download Silva’s quick guide to setting your compass so it’s always pointing at your destination.

Download Silva_1-2-3_Easy_Compass

 Map reading

DofE Recommended Kit
Ordnance Survey


Videos: Tips and info

Click on a video to play.

Steve Backshall - Learn how to map read series - OS

Steve Backshall - Learn how to map read series - OS

How to use a compass - Silva 1-2-3

How to use a compass - Silva 1-2-3