Navigation these days can be considered a pretty simple task, but what if you go off track? Or inclement weather occurs? You’ll want to carry the best and most effective navigation tool of choice. While GPS’s are nice, what happens if the battery dies? You need a good reliable compass. So which brand do you choose? We are here today to put head to head two extremely capable compasses, the American made NavELite WaterBlock P and the Finnish made Suunto M-9.
First, let’s start with what functionalities these two wrist worn compasses have in common. Both the NavELite WaterBlock P and the Suunto M-9 have a quality luminous card, metal buckle, jewel bearing, bezel ring and of course they point north. But the key differentiators of these two wrist worn compasses could be the difference between staying lost for a few more hours or quickly finding your way.
The NavELite WaterBlock P has a handful of unique features that cannot be found anywhere else, especially on the Suunto M-9. Because the founders of NavELite are members of Special Operation units, they have a different prospective on the navigational needs of adventures and armed forces alike which is where the development of these unique features derives from.
Unlike the Suunto M-9, the NavELite WaterBlock P can be used worldwide. The Suunto M-9 on the other hand restricts their users to the northern hemisphere. It seems Suunto M-9 tried to make up for this by adding in a simple feature for side view reading. The NavELite WaterBlock P has 2 giant leg-ups on Suunto M-9 compasses and this is why:
The founders of NavELite provided their users with a controllable backlit feature that lights up the face of the compass on the users command. This is a big differentiator, especially for those who don’t want to give away their positioning (i.e. hunters and armed forces). This also allows users to find their way at night without fumbling with a headlamp or flashlight.
NavELite partnered up with HzO Inside to provide users with a compass that wasn’t just water resistant, but had a WaterBlock feature. This feature would allow for the compass to be submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes while continuing to function flawlessly.
Origin of the NavELite Backlight
Magnetic compass technology has been around since the Han Dynasty (206 BC). With such an ancient technology, it can be difficult to find improvements that haven’t already been tried over and over.
We searched high and low, but could not find any satisfactory solutions for illuminating a compass in low light situations. This was not for lack of trying though! We found many different attempts at making compasses more visible at night. Unfortunately, all of the methods we found had one or more shortcomings. So we decided to take a crack at it.
The NavElite wrist compass was created in response to a user requirement generated by troops deployed to Afghanistan early in the conflict. The troops were looking for a compass that could be seen at night. Not to state the obvious, but it turns out that illumination can be extremely low in remote regions of the world! It also turns out that people who find themselves in a situation where they have to navigate in the dark actually prefer having a compass that is easy to see.
Other NavELite Improvements
During the design process, we decided to take a look at some of the other features on modern wrist compasses. Based on our experience, the disk based wrist compasses had a tendency to bind if they weren’t held level. This can lead to bad bearings while navigating. Not good! So we designed our compass with the strongest compass needle we could build. While the you still want to level your compass while taking bearings, the NavELite needle is far less likely to bind and give you bad readings.
We also took a look at the sighting window concept and found that trying to sight through that small window can be a pain when you have full kit on. So we designed our compass to be easily read from a top down view. This provides plenty of accuracy and is far more practical when wearing a bunch of gear.
When it comes to survival is seems that NavELite really has thought through what users really needed on a compass in order to survive in all, even dangerous, situations. We invite those who have tried the Suunto M-9 to purchase a NavELite WaterBlock P and let us know how you compare the two. We are confident that when survival truly counts, the NavELite compass series will prevail.