How To Use A Mirror Compass

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: March 13, 2017
How To Use A Mirror Compass

Some mechanical compasses come with a mirror attached to a hinged lid. When you open the lid, you see reflection of your compass in the mirror, with which you can see an object or a direction along with the compass at the same time. Here at, we are going to tell you how to use and read a mirror compass correctly.

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Steps to follow:


In order to see an object or direction along with the compass, you need to open the mirror at 45 degrees approximately. At this angle, you will be able to see the object properly aligned with the compass’ sighting aids, along with the protractor and the compass capsule. Lift the compass at your eye level, and it should be roughly at your arm’s length.


This mirror will also enable you to signal over a long distance by flashing sunlight that gets reflected through the mirror. To find out the direction of the reflected light, use 2 fingers at your arm’s length in V-shape, so that you can see your target in between the fingers. Then, keep the compass mirror upright near your eyes, and keep turning it until the reflect light hits the fingers. Then, rotate the mirror from left to right, so that you can create a flashing sign in your desired direction.


Open the lid of the mirror fully, so that you have a long straight line to determine your travel direction. You will need this while working on a map. Always keep the base plate and the lid of the mirror aligned to achieve this purpose. The lid will also provide added protection when it is closed or stowed away. Make sure that the lid and the mirror are made up of impact-resistant materials, so that they remain ideal for exploration in the outdoors.

How To Use A Mirror Compass - Step 3

Some mirror compasses may also come with a clinometer, which is like a weighted needle which moves freely while holding compass on the side. When you are using the clinometer needle, you will have to tilt the compass on the long edge, and turn the capsule in such a way that the ‘0’ of the declination scale points to the edge that is pointing down.

If you want to measure a slope, you will have to align the compass’ lower edge with the slope, or by visualizing an object below or above you with the help of the mirror.


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How To Use A Mirror Compass