Sunday 31 May 2015

Compass Caddy first look

There are many products out there that promise to make life better. Mostly they fail or cause more problems than they solve, but just occasionally you find one that really does what it promises. The Compass Caddy is one of those.

Consider this. I almost always hike with 2 poles so my hands are full. I often hike off-trail so the way isn’t obvious. I need to be checking my compass bearing regularly, problem is it’s round my neck, or zipped away safely in a pocket. I need to stop, put-down my strapless poles, check my compass bearing, pick-up poles, carry-on, repeat. This isn’t too much hassle on a very short section but do that for hours and it gets more than a little annoying. Sometimes I might even give-up with the poles completely and put them away. At all times I can guarantee I won’t check my bearing as often as I should. Enter the Compass Caddy.

The Compass Caddy is a simple plastic compass holder that firmly attaches to a hiking pole. Having your compass on a hiking pole means that, once set, I don't need to stop or put down a pole to check a bearing. Just lift the pole, which has a useful secondary role as a sighting rod, check and carry on. No stopping, no putting poles down = frustration free compass navigation! Even for more general on-trail navigation it’s handy to have your compass accessible and I find myself checking my direction more often, when before I might have taken a chance. I would have loved to have one on my last hike, along the Scottish Trail, because I was forever having to mess around with compass bearings along the Cape Wrath Trail section. The Compass Caddy would have excelled there. 

In use the Compass Caddy grips the compass baseplate tightly, so it’s unlikely to ever fall out, but can still be removed by the user quickly with a firm pull. This is a clever design that fits most standard poles and compasses, with or without a lanyard attached. If you have special requirements, such as super thin lightweight poles, then you can order a Custom Caddy. My prototype Compass Caddy came supplied with a zip-tie, in case you have any slippage problems, which I found a bit... cheap! I suggested they look at friction tape which they are now investigating.

I’ve only had chance to use the Compass Caddy around my local area so far but I can already see huge potential, so much so I’ve bought one to take on my 5000km CDT hike in a couple of weeks. Expect an in-depth longterm review after that.

At this stage Compass Caddy is a Kickstarter project. It needs your funding to help buy the injection mould, without that funding it may never be available which would be a real shame as it really makes compass navigation with hiking poles a breeze.

*Compass Caddy supplied me a 3D Printed prototype for initial testing. I liked it so much I bought a Custom Caddy at normal retail price for my CDT hike. My final review will be on that paid-for version*