Most people don’t give much thought to getting lost these days, mostly because they can simply punch up their GPS powered location at any time on their smart phone. Others take portable GPS devices into the wild with them when they go hunting or backpacking. But while the GPS system is great, being able to access it is still dependent upon one thing: battery power. What happens if you find yourself lost and the battery on your GPS device dies? If that was your only way to discern your location you’re going to find yourself in a very tight spot. If, however, you have a hiking compass in your survival backpack you have a time tested way to devise an exit route.
Below we’re going to take a look at the 9 entries on our list of Best Compass. These are all affordable, easy to use devices that could wind up saving your skin some day when the chips are down.
Best Compasses In 2018
1. SE Military Sighting CC4580
You can learn how to use a compass in the course of a single afternoon and once you have this knowledge you’re going to find the SE Military Sighting Compass an invaluable asset when you’re trekking, hunting or camping in the wild. This good quality compass has an adjustable diopter lens that will show you the way forward once you’ve determined your path, a rotating bezel ring that makes it easy to stay your course and a built in level.
The military has used the lensatic compass for decades as a way to ensure soldiers are able to obtain the most precise readings possible. “Lensatic” indicates that the rear sight on the compass has a lens that lets you read the dial while your eye is positioned near that rear sight. This setup allows you to sight more accurately in concert with the crosshairs on the front sight. The lensatic compass can take a bit more time to get acquainted with but in the end you’ll be glad you did.
- Weight3.68 ounces
2. Eyeskey Multifunction Military Sighting
The Eyesky Multifunction Military Sighting Compass has light absorption capabilities that allow it to glow in the dark so you’re never in the dark when it comes to navigation. Set it up on a tripod using the screw hole in the base and get pinpoint readings every time. With a metal body that’s both impact resistant and waterproof and a lightweight, compact design the Eyesky Multifunction walking compass won’t get in the way or quit on you when the going gets tough.
If you’re looking for a durable, waterproof navigation compass you can’t go wrong with the Eyesky Multifunction Military Sighting Compass. Everything from the bubble level to the glow in the dark capabilities to the rotating bezel and conversion charts are designed to allow you to obtain information quickly and accurately. Its light weight lets you carry it in your shirt pocket or the pocket of your hiking pants so it’s always at the ready.
- Weight8 ounces
3. Cammenga Phosphorescent Clam Pack
The Cammenga Phosphorescent Clam Pack Lensatic Compass is a durable, effective piece of survival kit that makes this type of hands on navigation not just simple but fun. You may never lean on your smartphone GPS again on one of your outdoor adventures because you’ll enjoy finding your own way with the Cammenga. This is a good quality compass, has been rigorously battle tested and is every bit as tough as it is practical and affordable.
The Cammenga compass looks like something they use in the mountains of Afghanistan because it is. This is an accurate compass developed for the military that has seen untold hours in the field and been refined dozens of times over many years. The hard aluminum casing will take a pounding and the fact that it’s waterproof means you don’t have to fear the rain or snow. Because it uses an induction method of damping rather than liquid this may be the best compass for survival and will deliver accurate, actionable information time and time again.
- Weight6.4 ounces
4. Silva Ranger 515
The Silva Ranger 515 is a modern take on the classic navigation compass. It features a split-sighting mirror that makes navigating on distant objects highly accurate and is also self-illuminating for night time use. There are 3 measurement scales on the baseplate which make for easy, fast plotting when used in concert with a topo map and the adjustable declination means you’re always getting the most accurate readings possible.
A modern take on the time tested lensatic compass the Silva Ranger 515 compass is extremely light, highly readable, easy to use and comes with plenty of features that aid in your ability to get the information you need. Adaptable to numerous different map scales you’re sure to find relevant topo maps you can bring along to use with it. The clinometer can be used to judge avalanche danger in winter time and the 15 inch lanyard prevents you from dropping and losing the device.
- Weight4 ounces
5. Suunto Clipper Watch Band
The Suunto Clipper attaches to your watch band so you always have it at the ready should circumstances call for it. It’s light, tough and provides basic navigational information quickly so you can stay on course to rendezvous with your buddies or your rescuers. The compass has received some negative press because it’s made in China but we found it to work well with most appropriately sized wrist bands and to be a generally accurate compass.
If you want your analog navigation to be simple and direct you can’t lose with the Suunto Clipper compass. There are no sights or lenses to confuse you, just a few key pieces of information that should be enough to keep you moving in the right direction. The operational features like the clip mechanism, the rotating bezel and luminous directional indicator are useful and reliable and the unit is available at a very reasonable cost.
- Weight1 pounds
6. UST Deluxe Map
The UST Deluxe Map Compass features impressive build quality for a compact, liquid filled compass. The base is extended far beyond what you’ll see with other, similar compasses and the various measurement scales in play are all clearly delineated and will offer accurate, useful interaction with your topographic maps. As a result you’ll be able to plan precise routes and extricate yourself from difficult situations in a timely fashion.
Accuracy of the Silva 515 is excellent. It makes a first-rate companion to your 1:25,000 topo maps and will really bring them alive for you. The fact that this device is so compact and light means you can carry it in virtually any pocket and always have it at the ready. Another great feature is that it offers both standard and metric measurements. When the battery dies and the GPS goes with it you’ll never really be lost as long as you have the Silva 515 Deluxe Map Compass in your bag.
- Weight1.76 ounces
7. GWHOLE Military Lensatic Sighting
The GWhole Military Lensatic Sighting Compass sounds a lot more intimidating than it is. When you get used to the lensatic sighting system you’ll be amazed at how easy it makes accurate navigation and how much fun it can be to work with. Of course if you find yourself lost you’re not going to be concerned with having fun. You’ll want to find a route out and that’s when the GWhole really shines.
Finding your way out of the wilderness is difficult enough if you’re tired and hungry. When your GPS battery dies things become even worse. If you have the GWhole Military Lensatic Sighting Compass with you however you’ll never really be lost or without options. The standard and metric scales on the side, the built in bubble level and the ability to fix the device to a tripod all aid in the gathering of accurate information which you can plot on your map to find your way to safety.
- Weight7.7 ounces
8. Brunton TruArc 3 Base Plate
Here’s an attractive and effective compact plate compass that’s also a great pocket compass. The Brunton TruArc 3 is a basic hiking compass that’s received a few modern tweaks to enhance performance. It includes the time tested TruArc Global Needle system and true, accurate, declination compensation so you know the information you’re receiving is trustworthy and actionable. The Brunton TruArc 3 offers you a sound alternative to battery based locator systems.
This is not the type of navigation compass that you’re going to feel comfortable tossing around or dropping in the creek. It’s a basic device that, while well built, is not up to military standards of toughness and durability. That said, as long as you treat the device with respect it will provide you all the information you need to arrive at your rendezvous safe and sound.
- Weight1.12 ounces
9. Coleman Pocket
The last compass on our list is by the largest maker of outdoor gear in the world: Coleman. Their Pocket Compass is not going to blow anyone away but what it just might do is save your life should you find yourself in a tough spot. There’s the standard directional references and a phosphorescent pointer so that you can keep moving even at night. This liquid filled, snap open device hangs easily off your belt or your backpack.
The Coleman Pocket Compass isn’t going to take you by the hand and guide you out of the wilderness. This is an accurate compass that will provide anyone who’s able to interpret basic navigational information a means by which to extricate themselves from the wild as quickly and safely as possible. The case is tougher than it looks so use it within its operational parameters and you shouldn’t ever have a problem.
- Model1.6 ounces
The compass has been around for centuries but few modern humans actually know how to use one. With that fact in mind here are a few basics you’ll want to consider when buying a compass.
Types Of Compasses
Although for this “Best of” list we’re focusing on magnetic compasses there are actually quite a few different types of compass out there and all do a good to excellent job of providing pertinent navigational information. Here are some of the other types of compass:
The gyro compass uses the law of conservation of angular momentum as well as the spinning of the earth to find true north.
This type of compass focuses on finding true north rather than magnetic north. To do so it uses time, date, longitude and latitude.
Fast becoming the standard the GPS compass uses a collection of satellites circling the earth in geosynchronous orbit to arrive at your position.
Solid state compass
This type of compass utilizes magnetic sensors to discover north.
Elements Of The Compass
Here are the important component parts of a magnetic compass.
The Scales - The scales on a compass help you determine distances. Use them in concert with a map to figure out how far you have to go. Make sure your map is compatible with whatever scale or scales your compass uses.
The Magnetic Needle - The needle is a strip of metal that pivots in the middle and points toward magnetic north at all times. Sometimes the north facing tip is painted red.
Direction of Travel Indicator - This arrow is marked on the base plate and guides the direction in which you’re headed.
Orientation Arrow - This fixed arrow is typically on the bottom of the housing and rotates with it. Use it to align the plate with the Magnetic Needle.
Declination Scale - The declination is the difference between magnetic and true north. It’s not always essential that you factor for this but it can make your route planning more accurate.
Orienting Lines - These North/South/East/West lines line up with the grid on your map to allow you to bring both map and compass into agreement.
Bearing marker - This provides you with your bearing relative to either magnetic or true north or both.
Housing - The housing is that which envelopes the basic walking compass and also holds the liquid filled chamber that contains the Magnetic Needle. It can be made of anything from aluminum to plastic.
Base plate - The base plate is used to place the compass on the map and orient the two items to each other. Not all magnetic compasses have a base plate.
The compass is old world tech that survives in the new world due to its unquestioned utility and practicality. Having a top rated compass as part of your survival kit is essential for anyone venturing into the wild for any length of time.
We hope you found this information on the best compass models useful and that it helps inform your decision when it comes time for you to purchase a good quality compass. Make sure to bookmark us and check back regularly for more informative product reviews from Gearhungry.com.