Gear Review
(Review Date: 2011)


TrailDrop Digital Compass
by Highgear Outdoor Navigation Tools: www.highgear.com

Description:
"The TrailDrop is a tried and true digital compass that can make finding your way around seem all too easy. One of the smallest digital compasses on the market."
Price: $30

Specs:
clip taken from Highgear website




My Review:

Recommended

Pros:
The compass is pleasing to the eye, and is lightweight and easily attachable to a keychain or zipper clasp.
Pressing the upper right button instantly shows the digital compass heading. This is a very quick and easy way to get a compass heading, which I can see would be especially useful when you are trying to maintain a given heading in cross-country travel or when you are trying to orient yourself in an area (this could be useful anywhere—the backcountry, the middle of a city, driving along an unknown road).
The leveling bubble helps you to keep the compass level.
You can specify the declination based on the location you are at.
When using it to give a compass heading, it marks the heading relative to the direction labels on the rim of the compass, so you can transfer the heading to a map view.
Pressing the upper left button illuminates the screen.
Pressing the lower left button conveniently toggles between time, temperature, alarm, chrono, and timer modes. All of these modes are quite handy additions.
Calibration is easy, as long as you have the instructions.

Cons:
Without the instructions, it is tricky to know what buttons to press (there are 4 of them) to change between modes and calibrate the compass.
For mapwork, it would be nice if the compass came with a straight edge to project onto a map the declination from one point to another, which the compass shows as black marks relative to the direction labels on the rim of the compass.
Without a flip up mirror, sighting an exact direction is not as accurate as with mirrored compasses. Hence, it might be a bit tricky to use this compass to identify closely-spaced summits and landforms.
I never like relying on a battery-powered device while in the backcountry, so I'd be reticent to give up my trusty brain-powered mirror and needle compass for backcountry adventures. But that's personal preference.

Unknowns:
Durability. I will have to use it some more to find out how it weathers the outdoors.
Accuracy. Again, I will have to use it some more to find out how accurate it is, namely the compass heading and temperature functions.
Battery Life. Again, I need to go out and use it.....
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