The key benefit of a thumb compass over a traditional baseplate compass can be summed to one sentence: It is faster. But what exactly makes an orienteer with a thumb compass go faster?
You can run faster
When using a thumb compass you hold the map and the compass in the same hand. This enables you to keep running while reading the map. “Using both hands for map work turns your running into penguin walk,” says Mårten.
You don't need to place the compass on the map again and again
No more holding your finger on the map to mark your current location and no more need to place the compass back on the map. The compass is already there and pointing to where you want to go.
“A lot of times people are taught to place their thumb on the map where they are. However, I find it more useful to know where I am going and thus want to know what is the next spot where I can get solid confirmation on my location.”
You can take a new direction quicker
There is no need to turn the compass capsule on the AIM-6 thumb compass. Simply see which sector on the compass capsule corresponds with your new direction and go. “I usually memorize the color first and then the shape. But you can create your own system for remembering the correct sector.”
All images: Petri Kovalainen / Suunto