How to Use a Silva Type 15 Compass

Written by grace grimm
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How to Use a Silva Type 15 Compass
(Compass with world map image by Attila Toro from

Even with hand-held GPS receivers becoming ever more popular, the ability to use a compass is an invaluable skill for an outdoorsman. A compass never shorts out, runs out of battery power or gets infected with a computer virus. The Silva Type 15 is a classic style of sighting compass invented by the Silva company. Reading this type of compass is a skill you can pick up very quickly and keep in mind forever.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Rotate the compass housing until your intended direction of travel coincides with the top of the compass. The top of the compass is the side closest to the hinge.

  2. 2

    Hold the compass horizontally in front of you at approximately eye-level. Open the mirrored lid to about a 45-degree angle.

  3. 3

    Turn slowly until the red end of the red and white needle points toward "N" on the compass ring, using the mirror to look at the compass housing while still keeping it horizontal.

  4. 4

    Look up in the direction the compass is currently pointing and take note of a landmark. This is your correct direction of travel.

  5. 5

    Move towards the landmark, checking your direction occasionally by looking at the compass housing in the mirror. When you reach the landmark, sight in the correct direction to a new landmark and move toward it. Repeat until you reach your destination.

Tips and warnings

  • Always check that your compass is working correctly before relying on it in the field.

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