Best Compasses of 2021

Our editors independently research the best products online to produce this list. We may receive commission on purchases made from the links below but this will never affect our product choices.


Top 10 Best Compasses

  1. Silva Expedition 4-360 (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Silva Ranger S (Luxury Choice)
  3. Trekrite Explorer (Best Value)
  4. Suunto Clipper Micro (Best Small)
  5. Suunto A-30 (Best Multi-Use)
  6. GWHOLE Military Navigation
  7. SUUNTO A-10/Cm/Nh
  8. Proster Sighting Optic Clinometer
  9. Sun Company TempaComp
  10. TurnOnSport Orienteering

Are you looking for a compass that will take your outdoor experience to the next level?

With a compass and a map, you can travel to different places without getting lost. Not to mention, compasses cannot run out of power like modern phones and modern global positioning systems.

Since there are various compasses available, finding the most suitable option for your outdoor gear can be a daunting process. Due to this, we have gone through different compasses and have compiled a list in search of the best compass on the market.

We are also going to take you through the different factors you should consider. With such insight, you can easily find a simple compass that will help you navigate through different places. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Compass Reviews

Silva Expedition 4-360 (Editor’s Choice)

The Silva Expedition 4-360 is a great travel compass for mountaineers, explorers, and navigators. It packs various features that can take your outdoor experience to the next level. For instance, it is water and dust-resistant, making it one of the best compasses for all weather conditions. Not to mention, it comes with a magnifying glass that makes it easier for you to read a map.

This liquid-filled compass has multiple scales that help you to convert different lengths from a map into real lengths. It also comes with a sapphire jewel bearing that reduces friction and saves you time while you are reading the compass.

Silva Expedition 4-360 has luminescent markings that can maintain its intensity for about four hours, making it easier for you to read various elements at night. This compass also comes with silicon rubber feet that improve your accuracy during tough situations.

To handle different temperatures, Silva Expedition 4-360 is made from materials that can operate in temperatures between -40 to +60°C so it could be the best compass for hiking in various conditions.

While this device has some superb features, the compass housing might let air in and affect the accuracy. Some customers have also found that it may reverse its polarity unexpectedly.

Pros:

  • Highly accurate
  • Comes with various scales that make it easier for you to convert different map lengths into real lengths
  • A magnifying lens for easier map reading
  • Sapphire jewel that reduces friction
  • Luminescent markings that allow you to read at night

Cons:

  • The compass housing might let air in the liquid
  • May be prone to develop reverse polarity

Silva Ranger S (Luxury Choice)

With a sighting mirror for landmark identification, Silva Ranger S is a good compass for navigating different places that require accurate direction. Needless to say, it has unique features that make it easier for you to find the true north at night. Hence, it could be the best hiking instrument for lowlight conditions.

This compass offers you different scales that let you read maps. Not to mention, it has metric and imperial measurements. It also features a magnifying lens for reading small letters and numbers on maps.

Silva Ranger S also has a DryFlex grip that allows you to use the compass during tough weather conditions. On that note, too, this product is water-resistant and can withstand wet conditions. Since this compass comes with luminous degree markings, you can use it at night to find your way in the dark.

While this compass is quite handy in determining accurate bearings, you have to be quite careful while taking the bearings. If you hold the compass at a different height, you might get inaccurate results. You may also find it difficult to make a declination adjustment.

Pros:

  • Comes with a grip that makes it easier to determine the direction in tough weather conditions
  • Glowing markings that enhance visibility in low light
  • Multiple scales for reading maps
  • Sighting mirror for accurate bearings
  • Water-resistant compass for hiking

Cons:

  • If you hold the compass on the wrong plane, it might give you inaccurate results
  • May find it difficult to adjust

Trekrite Explorer (Best Value)

Trekrite Explorer is the best compass for hiking, trekking, orienteering, and mountaineering. It has a compass needle that makes it simple for you to find the true north.

With a baseplate that measures 11 x 6cm, Trekrite Explorer can be used to show you the accurate direction to various places. Plus, it offers you different scales for easy map reading. As if that’s enough, it comes with two rulers on both sides – an inch ruler and a centimetre ruler.

If you like travelling during the night, this liquid-filled compass might be suitable for you. It features multiple luminous marks that are clearly visible at night. Such marks are printed on a rotating bezel to show you the right direction.

The only setback with this compass is that it might not point towards the north in some situations. Not to mention, it might not be quite as durable as other options.

Pros:

  • Comes with various scales that let you read different maps
  • Features two different rulers
  • The rotating bezel has luminous guides that can be seen in low light
  • Has a magnifying lens for reading small numbers and letters

Cons:

  • It might not be quite durable
  • It may not point towards the northern hemisphere in all situations

Suunto Clipper Micro (Best Small)

As the name hints, this is one of the smallest compasses in the market. It might be suitable for you if you are looking for something that you can fasten to various parts of your outdoor gear or your sleeves. This feature makes it one of the best hiking compass particularly if you need to have both of your hands free.

Measuring 30 x 24 x 11 mm, this is a compact compass that shows you the direction of the northern hemisphere for easier navigation. Most of the markings that are drawn on this compass are luminous, making it possible for you to travel at night.

On that note, the lines on the bezel have an increment of 10 degrees. Since this compass is insensitive to water pressure, you can even use it for underwater navigation. It can also be used as a hiking compass.

While this compass is small and suitable for navigating different places, the steel needle might swing out of the normal plane and point in a different direction.

Pros:

  • Small and compact
  • Luminous compass lines make it easier for you to navigate at night
  • Insensitive to water pressure and suitable for underwater navigation
  • It can be fastened to different parts of your outdoor gear
  • Lightweight – it weighs 5 grams

Cons:

  • The needle that points north might swing out of the normal plane
  • Small size may make it easy to lose

Suunto A-30 (Best Multi-Use)

Balanced for the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere, Suunto A-30 is a suitable navigational compass for multiple types of outdoor activities such as hiking and mountaineering. The baseplate comes with a magnifying glass that allows you to get accurate readings of wherever you’re going.

Thanks to the two types of scales that this liquid-filled compass includes, you can convert scaled lengths into real lengths. Suunto A-30 features a jewel bearing that reduces friction while the needle is moving – this saves you time as you are looking for the direction of the magnetic north.

A lanyard can get in your way while you are reading a map. To prevent that from happening, this liquid-filled compass comes with a snap-lock that allows you to remove the lanyard while you are reading maps. Suunto A-30 also boasts glowing markings for determining the direction during the night.

However, if you store this liquid-filled compass inappropriately, the liquid that suspends the needle might leak from the compass housing. The compass housing might also let in air and cause the formation of bubbles in the fluid thus affecting the accuracy.

Pros:

  • Comes with multiple scales for reading maps
  • Packs a jewel bearing that reduces friction
  • Has a snap lock that allows you to remove the lanyard while reading maps
  • Luminous markings that guide you during the night
  • A magnifying lens for reading small characters

Cons:

  • The liquid that is used to suspend the needle might leak
  • The compass housing might let in some air and cause the formation of bubbles

GWHOLE Military Navigation

Made from a well-engineered high-strength metal, this is a military lensatic compass that is suitable for tough weather conditions. This lensatic compass is appropriate for hunting, mountaineering, camping, boating, and camping.

GWHOLE Military Navigation was designed to handle rough navigation conditions. For starters, it is both shake-proof and waterproof – you don’t have to worry if you drop it accidentally. Due to this, it could be one of the best compasses for hiking in uneven terrains. What’s more, it comes with a bubble level that minimises errors and improves accuracy.

To help you navigate smoothly during the night, this lenstatic compass features a fluorescent light that makes it easier for you to read in the dark. It also comes with a pouch that allows you to store it safely as you are hiking or camping. Plus, it has a lanyard that allows you to carry it anywhere effortlessly.

Since this lensatic compass is made from a high-strength metal, it might be heavy for some users. The lanyard might also break off while you are carrying the compass.

Pros:

  • Shake-proof and waterproof
  • Made from durable materials
  • Fluorescent light that helps you navigate smoothly during the night
  • Comes with a pouch that allows you to store the compass safely
  • Ideal for tough weather conditions

Cons:

  • It might be heavy for some users
  • The lanyard may break off while you are carrying the compass

SUUNTO A-10/Cm/Nh

Measuring 56 x 104 x 10mm, this is a small and compact compass that is best for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Plus, it’s quite lightweight at 30 grams. It’s balanced for the northern hemisphere and helps you determine the direction of different places easily.

This compass has different scales enabling you to read different maps and to determine the real length between two points on a map. Also, it comes with a ruler that allows you to measure the length of various points in inches and centimetre, making it a great option for orienteering.

The SUUNTO A-10/Cm/Nh boasts a bezel that has degree increments of 10 degrees – this makes it easier for you to determine the direction easily. Moreover, the needle is made from high-grade steel and has a bearing that minimises friction. Additionally, this compass comes with a snap-lock that lets you fix or remove a lanyard from the baseplate.

It is a straightforward and easy-to-use device. However, unlike other compasses, the baseplate may not be made from a durable material.

Pros:

  • Comes with different scales for reading maps
  • The compass needle is made from high-grade steel and moves seamlessly
  • Snap-lock that allows you to attach or detach a lanyard from the base plate
  • Easy to use
  • Has a ruler that has metric and imperial measurements

Cons:

  • The baseplate might not be made from a durable material
  • May not include a magnifying glass

Proster Sighting Optic Clinometer

Well-designed and constructed from highly durable materials, this lensatic compass is great for tough weather conditions. It is also an excellent compass for hiking, boating, hunting, exploring, geology, climbing, and camping. In fact, it is one of the best compasses for waterproof navigation.

Since this hiking compass comes with a sighting optic, it’s easier for you to read data directly from the source. It also has a vertical line on the sighting optic that minimises errors and improves accuracy. Moreover, this compass has a luminous fluorescent design that lets you read different elements at night. For instance, the magnetic arrow absorbs light from different sources and illuminates some of that light during the night.

Additionally, the Proster Sighting Optic compass features a clinometer that allows you to measure the slope and height of a certain location. Apart from that, it has a 360-degree compass dial that shows you the direction. This lensatic compass comes with a graduated scale that enables you to read maps easily. The scale is graduated using white lines, making it easier for you to read different values.

This Proster instrument also comes with a pouch so you can store the compass safely as you are travelling. Plus, it has a metal casing that protects the internal components of the compass. While this compass is waterproof, it cannot be used in water, while some users have complained of the needle sticking in places.

Pros:

  • Made from a durable material that is well-engineered
  • Has a fluorescent design that makes it easier for you to read different elements at night
  • Clinometer for measuring the slope and height of different places
  • Comes with a pouch for safe transport
  • Lensatic design that provides accurate readings

Cons:

  • While this compass is waterproof, it cannot be submerged in water
  • Needle may stick in places

Sun Company TempaComp

Sun Company TempaComp is an all-in-one compass that comes with other accessories, providing you with a fantastic outdoor experience. It comes with a carabiner clip that can be hooked to your outdoor gear, making it easier for you to carry the compass.

Measuring 3.8 cm x 7.4 cm, this is a cushion-mounted compass that allows you to read the direction from various angles. It is one of the best compasses for winter sports, hiking, and camping. It has a brass split ring that offers you multiple carrying options. For example, you can attach the brass ring to your backpack zipper or your key collection.

Sun Company TempaComp has a built-in, mercury-free thermometer that detects temperatures between -30° C to 50° C.

However, some parts are not made from durable materials. For instance, the thermometer might break if you drop it on a rough surface. Also, you may find that the face is too small to read accurately.

Pros:

  • Features a thermometer
  • Comes with a carabiner clip that allows you to hook the compass to your outdoor gear
  • Lightweight and highly portable
  • Comes with a brass plate that offers you more carrying options
  • You can read the direction from various angles

Cons:

  • Some of the materials might not be quite durable
  • May be too small for accurate readings

TurnOnSport Orienteering

This liquid-filled is an appropriate compass for hiking, orienteering, mountaineering, and outdoor survival. It is also suitable for camping novices such as cub scouts. Plus, it packs various elements that allow you to read maps easily.

With a 360-degree bezel and an acrylic baseplate that has a straight edge on both sides, this compass makes it easier for you to determine the direction between two points. It also features scales that allow you to read different maps. Furthermore, this compass has a magnifying lens that enables you to view small characters in maps and other navigational documents.

To improve the accuracy of the needle, this simple compass comes with a vacuum filled housing that is filled with oil, providing stable suspension.

The only setback with this needle is that the liquid might leak out of the compass housing if it’s not stored safely. Also, it only comes in a bright orange design which may be off-putting for some users.

Pros:

  • Offers you different scales that help you read multiple maps
  • Comes with a magnifying lens for identifying small characters
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Suitable for various outdoor activities
  • With a lanyard included for carrying

Cons:

  • The liquid might leak from the compass housing
  • Only one colour option available

Different Types of Compasses

Basic Compass

This compass comes with one needle that points towards the magnetic north. It’s a great compass for showing you the approximate direction of different locations. It’s also cheap and might be used as a spare compass.

Orienteering Compass

Since this compass comes with a base, you can easily place it on a map for orientation and triangulation. If you want to be accurate, this might be a suitable compass for you.

Sighting Compass

Mainly used in the military, this compass is suitable for taking the bearing from certain objects. While it might not have tons of features, it’s still accurate.

Features of a Compass

Compasses come with a needle that points you towards magnetic north. Apart from that, a great compass has multiple elements to enhance accuracy – sighting mirror, steel needles, magnifying lens, global needle, and an adjustable declination.

a map and a navigating device

Needle

As mentioned above, the needle is the most basic part of a compass. It shows you the direction of the magnetic north using magnetic field.

Baseplate

This is the part where the compass is mounted. It also has other printed elements that are crucial in showing you the accurate direction. Most baseplates come with a straight edge.

Rotating Bezel

Printed with different directions such as North, West, East, and South, the rotating bezel is a movable disc that surrounds the compass housing. The rotating bezel comes in handy when you are looking for the direction of a certain place.

Orienting Lines

These are lines that help you align the compass with various grid lines on a map.

Orienting Arrow

This the arrow that aligns with magnetic north, making it easier to tell the direction.

Compass Scale

Found on the edge of a baseplate, this is a scale that helps you convert various distances into real length.

Index Line

It is found beneath the rotating bezel and helps you mark different bearings.

A Sighting Mirror

A sighting mirror lets you identify an object on the landscape as you are viewing the compass capsule.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Compass

Bezel with Clear Markings

You should go for a compass that has clear markings on the bezel. This makes it easier for you to determine the direction you’re going.

Temperature Range

The temperature of a certain place might fluctuate due to various climatic conditions. A compass that has a wide temperature range allows you to determine the direction in places that have different climates, as some compasses won’t work in extreme temperatures.

hiking in winter mountains

Transparent Baseplate

A transparent baseplate enables you to read different maps easily by placing your compass directly on to the map. Alternatively, if you don’t rely on maps, then this may not be a necessity.

Lanyard

This helps you to carry your compass as you are travelling. You can place it around your neck so that you won’t misplace your compass during hiking or camping. It also keeps your compass within reach, contrary to stashing it in your dry bag.

Durability

While compasses are more durable than modern GPS systems, some compasses can break into pieces when they hit hard surfaces. To prevent this from happening, go for a compass that is made from a durable material like cast aluminium or steel.

Luminous Markings

If you like travelling at night or you are often hiking in dense forests where there is less light, a compass that has luminous markings might help you determine the direction of where you are headed to. Simply put, these markings absorb light energy during the day and use that energy to illuminate various elements in lowlight conditions.

luminous markings

Scale

A scale helps you to convert the length in a map into real length and allows you to estimate the distance between two points. Compasses that come with a scale allow you to determine the length between two points on a map.

Finding the Best Compass

The best hiking instrument, a compass will take your outdoor experience to a whole new level. Different compasses come with different features that let you navigate through multiple places easily. Plus, compasses are designed for different types of outdoor activities.

Out of all the compasses on our list, we think that the Silva Expedition 4-360 is the best compass for most adventurers. It is suitable for mountaineers, explorers, and navigators. Plus, it comes with different scales that help you read maps easily. On that note too, this compass has a magnifying lens that enlarges small characters, making it easier for you to interpret maps. Silva expedition 4-360 is also made from durable materials that can withstand tough conditions.

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