If you live and breathe outdoor adventures, you need the best compasses to give you company. While you may keep energy bars to keep hunger at bay, a sleeping bag to rest well, or even a high-performing torch to save you from the dark, these may not be of use if you are lost in the hills or stuck in a treacherous landscape. Yes, these are important, but without a good compass, you may struggle to navigate through the place or find your way back home, even if you possess in-depth expertise.
When you invest in a high-quality compass, you can bid goodbye to your fears. Here is a list of the best-selling compasses to help you make the right pick.
15 Best Compasses To Buy This Year
1. Best Handy: Suunto Compasses
We often find ourselves walking untrodden paths when we feel extra adventurous. However, this sort of enthusiasm may not always bear fruit and land us in the middle of a jungle (literally). For instance, when you are unfamiliar with your surroundings, and Google Maps can’t help you out, a compass such as this one can come in handy. It features a high-quality steel needle with jewel bearing and is balanced towards the southern hemisphere. This compact compass is filled with liquid, which offers a stable operation. Watch this review cum instructional video for more details about the compass.
- A-10 model
- 5° compass accuracy
- Fixed scale declination correction
- Doesn’t require batteries
- Detachable lanyard
- Includes an instruction manual
2. Best Sturdy Metallic Cover: Sportneer Waterproof Compass
This all-in-one compass is probably the best military compass you could get your hands on. Not only is it a great choice for accurate direction and navigation, but it is also equipped with other useful appendages like an inch and centimeter-scale, a sighting lens, a double chain, and a table of measurement. As it is encased in a protective and sturdy metallic cover, you need not worry about the compass breaking. A glass peep window with reference lines lets you check the accurate compass for hiking without opening the lid.
- Fluorescent dial glows in the dark (only after prolonged exposure to light)
- Fluorescent directional arrow
- Filled with clear liquid
- Handy carry pouch
3. Best Tailor-Made: Wind And Weather Antique Brass Compass
If you are looking for the perfect gift for a friend who loves to travel, is always seen immersed in books, and can’t resist a cute little leather pouch, this compass is tailor-made for him or her. Your friend will be thrilled when he or she opens the lid, as it is engraved with the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
- Made of brass
- Antiqued casing and compass
- Detachable lid
- Leather pouch with buckle
Sportneer Waterproof Compass
Wind And Weather Antique Brass Compass
|7.09 x 3.62 x 0.98 inches
|3.3 x 2.1 x 0.01 inches
|2 x 2 x 0.75 inches
4. Best Shockproof: Cammenga Tritium Lensatic Compass
Built to survive even the worst of calamities, this Lensatic compass for hiking has been put through several rigorous tests to gauge how well it would hold up water when faced with harsh climatic conditions. Its damage-resistant design also makes this compass shockproof, waterproof, and sand-proof. It is considered to be the best compass for land navigation as it is armed with seven micro-lights that can provide illumination even in semi-dark conditions for up to 12 years. As the compass is not filled with liquid, the external temperature doesn’t affect its performance. Check out this review video that has useful information about the product.
- Functions well under -50°F to 150°F
- Copper induction-damping ring keeps the needle steady
- Built with a powder-coated aluminum frame
- Comes with a magnifying lens
- Includes a carrying case and clip lanyard
5. Best Simplistic Design: Turn On Sport Orienteering Compass
Crafted with a simplistic and straightforward design, this compass is not just compact and durable, but it is also ideal for children. It features an acrylic base plate with Azimuth bearing and is an excellent choice for navigating the outdoors. It is also equipped with a 360° rotating bezel and a fast-swinging magnetic needle. As it is filled with compass-safe oil, the capsule is bubble-free, which allows the needle to swing freely. This global compass with rotating bezel for hiking is also equipped with an inch ruler and magnifying glass.
- Lightweight compass for hiking
- Orienting lines inside the compass
- 1:24000 scale
- Military-grade compass with lanyard
- A good compass with magnifier for geological maps
6. Best For Hiking Enthusiast: Brunton TruArc 3 Baseplate Compass
Arguably the best pocket compass for a hiking enthusiast or for someone who’s still learning a thing or two about compass accuracy, this one comes with a TruArc global needle. The baseplate compasses for hiking provides you the most accurate location in both the southern and northern hemispheres. As it weighs only 31 grams, you can simply keep it handy in your breast pocket. It offers a tool-free adjustable declination correction and operates on the 2° scale to help you find the north.
- Fights magnetic interference to provide accurate location
- Metric-scales and imperial measurement
- Inch and centimeter scales
- Includes a lanyard
- Highly-detailed manual guide
7. Best Reliable: Coghlan’s Deluxe Map Liquid Filled Compass
With this compass by your side, no road should be left untrodden. As it is made using durable plastic and a see-through base, it is a reliable compass to use on geological maps. The rotating compass housing makes it an excellent device for orienteering. This liquid-filled map compass for hiking features a jeweled needle along with an illuminated pointer and a lanyard.
- It has an integrated magnifier
- Measuring scales are in inches and millimeters
- 1:25000 scale
- Includes an extensive booklet
- Different shapes are holed in to mark points
8. Best Survival Compass: Proster Metal Sighting Compass
If you are looking for the best survival compass for your camping, trekking, or hiking trips, you should divert your gaze to this one. An all-in-one compass made of premium military-grade materials, this one comes with a clinometer that allows you to measure heights and slopes. The floating compass dial is equipped with a 360° fluorescent scale, which is easy to read during the day and low-light conditions. The time-tested compass is encased in a sturdy metal cover, which comes with a metal ring so that you can loop it on your backpack. This sighting compass for hiking can withstand heavy rains but should not be submerged in water deliberately.
- The measuring slopes range from 0° to 90°
- Spider lines on the cover plate for easy reference
- Measuring scales on the sides
- Foldable sighting lid
- Adjustable prism lens
- Performs well under -20°C to +50°C
If you are an adventurer who loves trekking, camping, hiking, scouting, or hunting, this multifunctional compass might come in handy. This liquid-filled durable compass for hiking has an integrated bubble level that enables you to get accurate readings of your direction, preventing you from getting lost or spending hours trying to find the way. Moreover, it comes with a luminous dial with magnifying power that provides accurate reading fast and quite easily. Built from rugged aluminum alloy, it is durable and can withstand harsh environmental conditions.
- It is waterproof
- Comes with a built-in clinometer
- Comes with an adjustable diopter sighting lens
- Has a rotating bezel ring
- Weighs 0.63 pounds
- Comes with a strong canvas pouch
10. Best Lightweight: MecArmy CMP Titanium/Brass Grade Survival Compass
The compact and lightweight hiking compass is designed with special encapsulation technology to enhance its precision. Its fluorescent interface glows in the dark, making it easier to navigate. This teardrop-shaped traditional compass is available in titanium and brass, both serving a professional look. Its waterproof IPX5 feature makes it suitable for camping, hiking, travel, and heavy-duty military use.
- Comes with a beaded chain
- Easy to carry with a hook attachment facility
- One to two minutes of solar recharge works up to six hours
- Performs in extreme temperatures
11. Best Multitasking: Aofar Advanced Compass
Gather your friends, family, and a map, and chart out a traveling path with this multitasking compass by your side. The capsule is filled with thermoelastic liquid, giving you a quick and accurate direction each time. Ideal for mapping, hiking, trekking, and other similar activities, this compass comes with a sighting optic that allows you to get a read of the compass card housed inside directly. Made of high-quality zinc alloy, it is sturdy, reliable, waterproof, and shake-proof. This compass with a clinometer for hiking can help you measure slopes. As the scale is fluorescent, you can get a compass reading even in the darkest of settings. A circular eyepiece feature is also added to the compass with ruler scales for hiking.
- 360° illuminating scale
- Ruler units on the side (inches and centimeters)
- It comes with a plotting scale
- Retractable lid with see-through window
- Spider lines in sighting lid
- Declination-adjustable compass for hiking
- Includes a manual and a pouch
12. Best For Outdoor Adventures: Turn On Sport Boy Scout Compass
This basic compass is designed for kids to primarily plot potential routes on a map. A clear pocket compass, it is great for outdoor adventures and exploration. This lightweight compass features a 360° rotating bezel and a large directing arrow that points to true north.
- Acrylic baseplate
- Features an inch ruler
- Magnetic needle compass
- Compass with lanyard for hiking
13. Best Tiny: Sun Company Ball Compass With Thermometer Carabiner
A one-of-a-kind compass that could fit in your palm or even the tightest of pockets, this tiny gem sure does pack a punch. One could say that it is the best backpacking compass owing to its design. This navigation tool comes with a ball-shaped compass and a thermometer carabiner. The cushion-mounted ball compass is readable from any angle, and the built-in thermometer is mercury-free. The tried-and-tested compass is filled with liquid and offers 2 ways to get a reading. To check the general orientation (north, south, east, and west), use the smaller, top compass card. If you wish to check the direction of travel, hold the compass in front of you and view the card on the side.
- The thermometer is easy to read
- The aluminum carabiner clip allows you to hang it anywhere
- A brass split ring is included
- Can read as low as -20°F
14. Best Sturdy: Sun Company Go Compass
This button compass might be smaller than a penny, but don’t let its compact size deceive you. Designed to fit on the band of your wristwatch, this is one of the best compasses for tactical situations. It is crafted with premium-grade ABS housing, which makes it incredibly durable and sturdy. This cushion-mounted compass also features a luminous button.
- Rotating compass bezel
- Liquid-filled compass
- Weighs 5gms
- Ideal for day or night
- Fits most standard-sized wristwatch bands
15. Best Compact: Silva Explorer Pro Compass
The Explorer Pro compass offers high-end features to meet your requirements. It comes with a slope card to measure extra distance and slope and a lanyard that helps determine the challenges ahead of the journey. An additional magnifying lens contributes to precise map work. This compass with magnifying lenses for hiking is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry and use.
- All markings are in a clear contemporary font
- Includes an adjuster for magnetic declination
- Transparent baseplate for easy navigation
- Tough material to withstand heavy usage
- DryFlex Rubber grip for easy handling
How To Choose The Right Compass For Hiking?
Here are a few points you may consider to ensure you find the right compass.
- A luminous dial: A good compass is one that is fairly uncomplicated to read and easy to operate. A better compass is one that is easy to read, even in low-light conditions. When buying a compass, ensure that the dial glows in the dark. If you can’t find a glow-in-the-dark compass for hiking, the next best thing to do is to look for one with markings and arrows with luminescent qualities.
- Water resistance: When you are trekking, hiking, or camping, there is no way to be prepared for the shifting moods of nature. It may be bright and sunny for a minute, and dark and cloudy the next, all without a hint of a warning. When stuck in the middle of a forest with nothing but a compass for reassurance, you better make sure that the compass is waterproof or water-resistant.
- Declination adjustment: While this is not a necessary feature to stress about, it’s certainly a helpful one. Let’s first understand how declination works. True north is not the same as the magnetic north, and the angle between these two (true and magnetic north) is the declination. Due to irregularities in the Earth’s magnetic field, the declination angle keeps changing. This is why travelers are advised to check the local declination before starting a journey. As declination is either in the east or west of the magnetic north, depending on where you are, it is wise to invest in a compass with declination scales for hiking.
- Weight: The last thing you want is a heavy and bulky compass that you have to constantly carry in your palms to guide you. Stick to something compact and lightweight. Look for one that includes a lanyard.
- Global needle: If you plan to go from one hemisphere to another, you need a global compass for hiking for accurate readings.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are compasses waterproof?
Yes, many brands manufacture waterproof compasses for hiking. However, you may check the label and material before buying one, as not all compasses are waterproof.
2. How much does a compass weigh?
Hand-held or pocket-size compasses meant for traveling and hiking generally weigh less than commercial-use compasses. Compasses come in different shapes and sizes and can weigh from a few grams to a couple of kilos based on their specifications.
3. How many needles does a compass have?
Magnetic compasses for hiking usually come with a single metallic needle. The metallic needle shows the directions by rotating due to the presence of the magnet in the compass.
4. What is a compass needle made of?
The compass needle must react to the magnet’s presence and is usually metallic. Metals such as stainless steel can keep the needles rustproof and help show accurate directions.
5. Are compasses worth it?
A compass is a good device to own as it requires no batteries or chargers to show directions. Unlike smartphones and GPS, a compass can show directions without being connected to the internet.
Why Trust MomJunction?
Our writers and reviewers have gone through hundreds of trusted websites to find the best compasses for your next outdoor adventure. Keeping your requirements in mind, we have compiled this list after considering features such as scale definition correction, accuracy, waterproof, and shake-proof build. To help you make the right choice, we have described each compass, highlighting its features. Our post also has a buying guide towards the end to help you choose the right option.
While outdoor adventures can be fun, having a compass handy helps ensure you know your directions. Since you can never tell when you’ll need a compass to give you precise directions, make sure the compass you buy has a luminous dial and is waterproof. It helps to invest in a compass with additional features, such as a global needle when traveling to different continents. Among the list, the noteworthy picks include the Suunto Compasses for its compact size and stability, the Cammenga Tritium Lensatic Compass for its durability and high performance in harsh conditions, and the Proster Metal Sighting Compass for its multipurpose design. Moreover, buy a lightweight compass that is easy to carry in your pocket or bag.
Infographic: How To Use A Compass Correctly?
Using a compass is essential for navigation during hiking trips, providing reliable orientation in unfamiliar terrain. Proper knowledge and practice make a compass vital for ensuring safety during exploration. Refer to the infographic to learn about some points to remember to use a compass correctly, maximizing accuracy and precision.