Nobody wants to go hiking to get lost, especially given that navigation in natural environments can be difficult due to factors such as low visibility or ambiguous terrain features. There is an urgent want for hand-held GPS devices as well as watches that have GPS functionality.
It is a fact that we do have smartphones, and it is also true that these devices can be helpful; yet, once they run out of battery or signal, they are rendered worthless. Because of this, an “old-school” compass is the only thing that can be considered reliable.
Compasses have several advantages over electronic navigation systems, including the fact that they are more robust, require no batteries and are far lighter. They illustrate the four cardinal directions, which are north, east, south, and west, as well as bearing and other essential navigational metrics.
You can also use it to perform triangulation to establish your location; when combined with an adequate map, a compass can be a highly effective instrument. However, you will need some familiarity with basic navigation to use it effectively.
List of 10 Best Hiking Compass, Features & Buying Guide
Hiking traditionally does not mean hiking without any technology or any degree of precision. In comparison to earlier times, compasses available now have undergone a substantial amount of development.
The following compasses are among the most highly recommended for use when hiking in the year 2022.
1. Silva Ranger 515 (Best Mirror Compass Overall)
The Silva Ranger 515 is an excellent baseplate mirror compass for outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists, and sportsmen. The Ranger 515 is fantastic at night. The 515’s extra-luminous watch grade is four times brighter than competitors’ and won’t fade with time and with its 2-degree graduations are precise enough for most direction applications.
With this, there is a sighted mirror attachment that allows you to align the compass with a visible landmark while keeping the compass face visible. The mirror might also signal for help.
The 515 contains a built-in clinometer to measure slope inclination. The built-in magnifying glass aids in map reading and the thick silicone feet assist protect the map from sliding.
- Bright screen
- Adjustable declination
2. CMMG Military Tritium Compass (Best Lensatic Compass)
This Official U.S. Military Tritium Lensatic Compass is a good pick for mil-spec gear fans. It’s old-fashioned, but all branches of the military still use it. Bright illumination is not necessary to read the tritium markings on the compass.
It’s not the prettiest compass on our list, but it works. And has done that since 1992, how many compasses have battled? One thing I know is that the UCMMG is reliable, heavy and bulky. If you can afford it, this compass should be in your pack.
You should know that there’s no liquid in the compass that the needle may take a few seconds to settle and that the magnetic needle is slowed by a copper induction dampening device. It may be a speed criticism, but it improves accuracy just by reducing needle shake.
3. Eyeskey Multifunction Compass
This Eyeskey lensatic compass is great for budget-conscious outdoorsmen since it is a durable lensatic compass. Its metal casing ensures this compass will last through years of use. Eyeskey made this compass for guides, scouts, survivalists, and rescue teams.
The water- and shake-proof construction is ready for any weather. The luminous dial illuminates the compass display during night hikes which ensure accurate readings. This keeps the compass from getting trapped. Interestingly, its lanyard, belt clip, and carrying bag makes this compass portable
- Metal cover
- Cm/in ruler
4. Cammenga Tritium Wrist Compass
Cammenga’s Tritium Wrist Compass has the same mil-spec quality as their compasses provided to the military. This compass has excellent tritium-lit components. For facts, I am sure that using a compass without a flashlight is stealthy but Cammenga claims 10-year maintenance-free lighting.
With this masterpiece, when camping, you can attach the compass to a flashlight or other essentials like a knife or a handgun. Tritium makes it easy to find attached tools. The Cammenga Tritium Wrist Compass is made of machined aluminium and nylon.
The aluminium frame and nylon wrist strap won’t dent or scratch. This wrist compass was made to withstand most conditions. This compass works from -25F to 125F. The Cammenga has a dampened induction needle for maximum stability and speed.
- Aluminium frame
- Wrist strap
- Design discrete
- Tritium light
5. A2S Protection Paracord Bracelet Compass
The A2S Protection Paracord Bracelet is a high-value, multi-purpose emergency survival bracelet. this bracelet has 4 tools, including a compass amongst which the bracelet’s 12 feet of emergency cable is my favourite feature. The ultra-tough 550 parachute cord can hold 550 pounds. Every outdoorsman needs a paracord for EDC and adventure packs.
A2S has a micro-compass, flint fire starter, fire scrapper, and 100db emergency whistle. Due to its small size, the micro-compass won’t be the most precise navigator, but it will save you from getting lost, hence a good backup.
Protection Paracord comes in several colours and sizes, so you can match your style. The A2S comes in several sizes for men, women, and children.
- Adjustable wristband
- 550lb paracord
- Fire scrapper
6. Brunton TruArc 3
TruArc 3 is a portable compass for orienteering and mapping. Its simplicity makes it excellent for beginners. It’s a good backup compass because it’s tiny. This little compass is particularly sturdy and can withstand neglect, amazing isn’t it?
This compass has a global needle which means you may now take a small, accurate compass wherever in the world. No matter where you are in the world, your compass will be accurate. Brunton’s declination adjustment is tool-free.
With a simple finger twist, you can set true north and for beautiful yet a simple compact compass, TruArc3 is just the best.
- Global awl
- 2-degree increments
- Measurement markings
- Beautifully crafted
7. Brunton Nexus 7DNL
Brunton has made reliable products for over 100 years, and this is not going to be any different because Brunton is proud of the 7DNL. After all, it is ideal for the lightweight outdoorsman. Funny how if you don’t keep it around your neck with the lanyard, you may forget you have it.
Setting the compass module’s declination is smooth with just enough friction to hold it. The 7DNL is a lightweight minimalist compass. Although it’s not the fanciest compass on our list, it works and this small compass fits perfectly in your pocket making it a great compass for beginners and as a backup.
- Lightweight and compact
- 2-degree increments
- Inches, centimetres marked
Since expert terrain navigation doesn’t require a pricey compass Suunto M-3 G is a premium baseplate compass just to get the work done, and with its enhanced functions, it helps you save time. Suunto incorporated more functions and employed better materials to build a compass that can resist the worst conditions.
“G” in M-3 G stands for Global, for the Suunto’s global needle can be tilted up to 20 degrees and still move easily. This feature makes the needle more responsive even if you’re not in Antarctica.
The additional clinometer estimates mountain slope angles. It can also measure high-flying objects. Land navigation will always involve some mental math. With the adjustable declination scale, you may avoid some headaches by setting it to true north.
Even though I constantly urge people to take good care of their gear because their life could depend on it, irrespective, the M-3 G can withstand your abuse. Well, if you intend to travel anywhere in the world, consider purchasing a compass with a global needle, such as this one. Because of its global needle and ability to be used in all magnetic zones.
- Measurement markings
- Luminescent markings
- Snap-lock lanyard
- Global awl
9. Cammenga SWAT
Tritium Lensatic Compass is challenging because it is built to battle-tested throughout all branches ensuring the compass face is always visible and easy to read even when there is no ambient light. This is useful when a flashlight might give away your position.
These compasses are made of the highest quality materials to withstand the misuse and be reliable in any climate especially because extreme temperatures cause many compasses to fail. This one covers -50 to 150 Farenheight, which is pretty much anywhere on Earth. A copper induction damping mechanism prevents the magnet’s arms from moving too quickly and ensures they show the right directional data.
More so, the compass frame is made of lightweight, anti-corrosive aircraft-grade aluminium. This compass has one of the strongest and most durable spinning bezel rings I’ve seen. This compass is nearly unbreakable having an LC-1 carry pouch and belt clip that are also durable.
- Tritium micro-illumination
- Aluminized clamshell
- Copper induction waterless mechanism
- Waterproof, -50 to 150F temperature resistant
10. Vikano Survival Bracelet Watch
This compass watch is minimalist with versatile gear that is great for EDC, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. This compass-watch combines 5 tools making the Vikano Survival Bracelet Watch the ideal piece that is great for those who want to travel light.
With this compass, you have one bracelet, 5 ounces, and numerous survival situations. The little compass is great for acquiring a general bearing. Any survivalist or prepared person should have a paracord, and having it on you is even better, that being said, this compass has a paracord strap that measures almost ten feet.
It also has alarm and calendar features included in it, and the time is accessible digitally and with analogue hands on the watch. The watch is composed of aluminium alloy and is waterproof up to 100 feet. So long as you don’t go deep diving with it, you’ll rarely need to remove it.
- 550 paracord 9.8 feet
In the end, I understand that paper map and compass navigation are not as widely practised as it once was because there are now so many other options for navigation, such as a hiking GPS, a GPS watch, and a great number of smartphone apps that provide hiking navigation.
However, you should keep in mind that the compass is still going to be the single most critical thing you require for navigation. Therefore, the most important considerations to make when selecting a compass to purchase are probably whether or not you want the declination to be adjustable
Whether or not you want a global needle that can point north in any location around the world, and whether or not you want the base plate to magnify the map. In either case, our selection provides a diverse range of options from which to select.