Silva Compasses

The idea of Silva compass was born, in the 1930’s, by a need. The sport of orienteering (a map and compass sport) had begun to gain in popularity in Sweden, its country of origin. Efforts were made to develop better equipment, especially compasses. Existing compass factories joined in these efforts with active orienteers.

A lucky coincidence brought the instrument maker Gunnar Tillander, himself an orienteer, together with the three successful orienteering brothers of that time, Arvid, Björn and Alvar Kjellström. They all realized the value of a better and more reliable orienteering compass. Along the way, each Kjellström had been deeply involved in the development of a liquid dampened compass combined with a protractor that would enable one to take a fast and accurate bearing from a map.

The name “Silva”, meaning forest, was an apt title for this wilderness navigation instrument. In the beginning, the growing sport of orienteering helped to increase compass sales and vice versa – the introduction of the Silva system compass helped to promote the sport. The Kjellström brothers realized this and energetically helped to promote the sport; but, they also understood that the largest sector of the compass market was the sales to outdoor people – hunters, scouts, and other professionals. They soon started to widen the product program to suit all needs.

Since 1946, Silva brand compasses have been distributed throughout the United States. Our compass designs range from models for the beginner right up to those for the outdoor professional.