When you are heading out for an outdoor adventure towards the hills or the forests with your mates, the best thing to carry may not be that high-performing torchlight, those energy bars that everyone seems to rave about, or that sleeping bag that promises a good night’s sleep. Of course, all of these are crucial too, but without a great compass, you might spend hours trying to find your way back.
However, with a good quality compass, you have nothing to fear. We’ve compiled a list of the best compasses for hiking and backpacking. Take your pick from the 15 best compasses for accurate navigation here.
15 Best Compasses To Buy This Year
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.
- A-10 model
- 5° compass accuracy
- Fixed scale declination correction
- Doesn’t require batteries
- Detachable lanyard
- Includes an instruction manual
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 compass 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
If you are looking for the perfect gift for a friend who loves 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
Built to survive even the worst of calamities, this compass 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 7 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.
- 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
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 is it filled with compass-safe oil, the capsule is bubble-free, which allows the needle to swing freely. This global compass is also equipped with an inch ruler and magnifying glass.
- Orienting lines inside the compass
- 1:24000 scale
- Military-grade compass with lanyard
- A good compass with magnifier for geological maps
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. It 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 and operates on the 2° scale to help you find the north.
- Fights magnetic interference to provide accurate location
- Imperial and metric-scales
- Inch and centimeter scales
- Includes a lanyard
- Highly-detailed manual guide
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 housing makes it an excellent compass for orienteering. This liquid-filled compass 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
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 compass itself is encased in a sturdy metal cover, which comes with a metal ring so that you can loop it on your backpack. This compass 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
When all else fails, there is but God we can turn to. Whether you need direction in your life or perhaps, a path less traveled (literally), God will be your guide, and that is the core message of this antiquated compass. Handcrafted to perfection, this working compass is made of brass and has the Joshua 1:9 scripture engraved on the back. It is also a thoughtful gift for your friends and family to remind them that God is always watching over.
- 6-inch display
- The needle points to “God” as the true north
- Made of real brass
- It comes with a hanging ring
Take a trip down memory lane, travel back in time, and bring back a piece of the yesterday with a little help from this antique-finish compass. It is made of solid brass, and the glass cover reveals a beautiful copper compass. On dull days, pick up the compass and let it inspire you. The inside of the lid has Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined”, engraved into it.
- Comes with an elegant leather case
- Includes a hanging ring
- Compass needle that is jeweled
- Comes with a brass chain
- Antiquated design
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. It is also equipped with a clinometer, which can help you measure slopes. As the scale is fluorescent, you can get a reading even in the darkest of settings. A circular eyepiece feature is also added to the compass.
- 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
- Adjustable declination
- Includes a manual and a pouch
This 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
- Lanyard included
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 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
This compass might be smaller than a penny, but let its compact size not 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 bezel
- Liquid-filled compass
- Weighs 5gms
- Ideal for day or night
- Fits most standard-sized wristwatch bands
As this compass set comes with 6 compasses, it is best suited for larger traveling groups or a thoughtful gift. Not only are these compasses practical and functional, but they are equally sophisticated as well. It comes with a foldable lid that keeps the dial protected from harsh weather conditions. Lightweight and portable, the compass features a 360° rotating frame.
- Pocket compass design
- Set of 6
- Pointers glow in the dark
- It is not liquid-filled
Buying a compass may seem like a confusing task, especially for someone who has never bought one before. Here are a few tips that may make your search easier.
What To Look For When Buying A Compass
1. 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 one with an illuminating dial, the next best thing to do is to look for one with markings and arrows with luminescent qualities.
2. 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.
3. 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 adjustable declination.
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.
5. Global Needle
If you plan to go from one hemisphere to another, you need a global needle for accurate readings.
The primary purpose of a compass is to provide an accurate direction and help us with navigation, and most importantly, to lead us towards the right path. So, having a faulty compass at hand may prove to be quite a disadvantage. That is why we’ve found only the best 15 compasses to let you know that we’re here to help you find the way. Reach out to us in the comments and let us know how a compass helps make your trips more comfortable.