6 Of The Best Compass Reviews – A Guide for Hiking, Backpacking, Survival

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Using a map and a compass comes with numerous benefits for campers and backpackers. It can help you find your way out of the jungle and reach your destination without getting lost.

Hence, it is advisable that you choose the best compass the next time you go out camping or when you’re out in the jungle.

Top 5 Best Compass (Summary)


Image Product Details  

Silva Sighting Ranger CL Compass

Magnifying lensSilva
  • Straight edge
  • Inch markings
  • Clinometer

SE Military Lensatic and Prismatic...

Most versatileSE
  • Military toughness
  • Built-in bubble level
  • Rotating bezel ring

GWHOLE Military Lensatic Sighting...

High accuracyGWHOLE
  • Shakeproof
  • Waterproof
  • Metal body

Brunton - TruArc 3 - Base Plate Compass

  • U-Proof Warranty
  • 2-degree resolution
  • Most reliable

SUUNTO A-30 NH USGS Compass, Black

  • Lightweight
  • Scratch-resistant acrylic
  • Marking holes for control points

For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.

Types of Compasses

Compasses come in various designs and they have varying features that make them unique in one way or another. As a camper, you should be aware of various types of navigational tools available, including compasses.

Here are the different types of compasses and their features:

Card compass is often used as a navigational system for big boats and ships. This compass absorbs much of the ship’s or boat’s motion. The type of moving compass card determines the type of fixed needle to be used for reading the accurate direction.
In a tubular compass, the magnetic needle is contained in a tube. At the end of the needle, there is a diaphragm and an eye piece carrying a glass plate and it is fitted with vertical rulings.
GPS compass works in a way that it collects enough satellite to read the true north. They are often used by hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts who love it for its reliability and accuracy.
This is one of the most accurate compasses that show the accurate direction that one is travelling towards. It uses electronic magnetic sensors.
This compass has a narrow rectangular box that provides room for a long magnetic needle. The trough compass has a needle that contains a magnetized bar of steel with both ends pointed.

The sides of the box are used as a ruler to plot the north direction when it is used in conjunction with a plane table. It is also used to align the telescope in the meridian when fitted on a theodolite.

This compass determines the true north by using astro compass. It also requires the accurate information of latitudinal and longitudinal location, date and time.
Gyrocompass is often used by vessels that travel on large seas. Unlike magnetic compasses, this compass can’t be affected by external magnetic fields. Hence, it can be used on magnetic fields because it is specially designed to find true north and not magnetic north. The axis of the gyro wheel will always seek the north-to-south line because this compass harnesses the force of gravity to the wheel.
Prismatic compass offers you the opportunity to read correct compass bearings. This compass is one of the best compasses, given that it is specially designed for highly accurate navigation.
Thumb compass is commonly used for competing in different types of adventures and sports. One can easily hold the compass and map using one hand because this compass is specially designed to attach to the user’s thumb.
Lensatic compasses are specially designed for strength and they are often used by the U.S. military. It comes with a rear lens that is used to read the dial. It automatically flips out when the compass is open. Its cover features a sighting wire that helps in giving the compass protection while closed.
The baseplate compass is great for plotting purposes, but it is difficult to use it for sighting far objects due to the lack of advanced sighting features. The baseplate compass often includes different scales for worldwide use, luminous components for low-light conditions and a magnifying lens for map reading. The liquid-filled compass mounts on a rectangular base made of clear plastic. In fact, this compass is one of the most affordable and common types of compass.

How to Choose the Best Compass

Compasses are designed to be used in specific situations since they have different features. You may be wishing to lay your hands on the best compass for your outdoor activities, but the procedure of getting one may seem challenging.

That’s why it is always advisable that you seek more information about a product before heading to buy it. In this guide, we will take you through the key factors that you should consider before buying a compass.

1. Consider Your Needs as an Outdoors Enthusisat

If you are just getting started with your outdoors adventure, then you should choose a compass based on your outdoors activities. Also, make it a priority to learn how to read a compass before exploring your next outdoor activity.

For example, you should consider buying a compass with the most needle stability if you’re an adventure racer or an orienteering. If you want to find and maintain the direction you plan to travel more accurate, then go for an advanced baseplate compass.

2. Don’t Purchase Compasses That Lack Fluid-filled Housings

It is advisable to avoid any compass that lacks a fluid-filled housing. This liquid makes it possible to get accurate readings without being perfectly still because it dampens the motion of the needle.

Before you buy a compass, make sure that the needle is in a transparent liquid within the compass’ circular face.

3. Beware of Cheap and Inaccurate Compasses

Remember that there are cheap and inaccurate compasses in the market but you should ensure that you distinguish between the two. You should choose a compass that is marked with all 360 degrees, large enough to read, and is sturdy. It’s important to be aware of cheap features that compromise accuracy and reliability.

6 Best Compass Reviews

1.Silva Sighting Ranger CL Compass

The Silva Ranger 515 Compass comes with interesting features, including map magnifier, clinometer, utilization of quadrant graduations, new luminous and classic bezel.

This compass weighs 2.4oz, measures 4X2.5” and it includes a lanyard with a screwdriver to set declination. It has silicon feet that keep it from sliding on a map. It has a geared declination adjustment.

The compass also comes with luminous markings for use a night, magnifying lens and clinometer. A clinometer plays a big part in reading a compass because it lets you measure angles of inclination. 1: 50,000 and 1:25,000 romer scales. 1:24,000 map scale.

When taking bearings, the geared declination ensures constant compensation for this variable because it gives you the chance to set and forget the declination of your current position.

In addition, it comes with silicon feet that offer firm grip on a map. You can achieve a quick, easy plotting with a topographic map using the three scales on its baseplate.

You can be assured of superior accuracy when navigating on distant landmarks, thanks to its split-sighting mirror.

Silva Sighting Ranger CL Compass

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  • Map magnifier and a clinometer
  • Luminous points that make it convenient for night use
  • 4X more intense luminous that does not degrade over time
  • 1-piece mirror with etched sighting line for precise readout


  • May not be available for shipping to some countries

2. SUUNTO A-30 NH USGS Compass, Black

The Suunto A-30L Field Compass is one of the best compasses offered in the market. It weighs 1.1 oz/32 g and it measures 2.2” x 4.3”. It has marking holes for drawing control points. The compass also features a magnifying lens, luminous bezel, and markings inch or cm scales.

It comes with a detachable snap lock lanyard, a jewel bearing, and a Two Zone System Fixed declination correction scale.

You can easily measure a km distance using this compass by simply marking 100-meter markings on a piece of card stock or a business card and then laminating it. The straight end is marked in miles for a 1:24,000 scale.

The compass is marked in inches on one side and cm on the other side. It has markings mile scales for 1:5000 and 1:24000.

This compass comes with a declination offset and this feature will perfectly fit you if you are a casual user. It has a degree dial that rotates so you can adjust given the fact that most parts of the earth, a magnetic compass doesn’t point to the geographic north.

SUUNTO A-30 NH USGS Compass, Black

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  • Comes with a lanyard with detachable snap-lock
  • Luminous markings and bezel for navigation in poor visibility
  • Marking holes, jewel bearing, and declination correction scale for control points


  • Not for sale in some countries

3. SE Military Prismatic Sighting Compass

SE proudly presents the ultimate direction finder – Military Prismatic/Lensatic Sighting Compass.

Please take note that SE is a registered trademark protected by US Trademark Law, hence that shows that their compass is among the best. Genuine SE Military Prismatic Sighting compass comes with an SE logo on the packaging. So, this will help you avoid being a victim of counterfeit products.

You will enjoy the usefulness, function and quality this Military Prismatic/Lensatic Sighting Compass with pouch has to offer. SE is dedicated to providing the customer with the best source for value.

Other features that come with this product include: water-resistant nylon pouch, 36” lanyard, heavy-duty digital camouflage print cover, conversion chart for distance, gradient and angle on back plate, sighting lines on cover, adjustable dioptre sighting lens, tripod screw hole on base, folding thumb ring, built-in bubble level, ruler units on the sides measuring centimetres and inches, rotating bezel ring and thermo-elastic liquid-filled capsule with floating dial.

SE Military Lensatic and Prismatic...

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  • Comes with one water-resistant nylon pouch and one 36” lanyard
  • Features ¼” sighting lines and sighting lens on cover
  • Face diameter of 2-1/8” marked in 5-degree increments
  • Closed dimensions of 2-1/2” x 1-1/4” x 3-3/8”
  • You can get the ultimate direction finder in digital camouflage print


  • May not be shipped to some countries

4. Professional Multifunction Military Army Metal Sighting Compass

The Professional Multifunction Military Army Metal Sighting Compass comes with exciting features that include 1 Ueasy shopping bag. It comes with a smaller bubble than the circle for easy and fast leveling as needed to free up the pointer movement to align accurately and quickly towards magnetic north.

The lines on the face are properly aligned over the pointer center. It accurately articulates the directions with the face turning. It comes with a reference table to estimate scope and distance. The compass also features a sighting window with sighting line.

You can enjoy convenient night clearly viewing using this compass with a luminous display inside. It is shakeproof and waterproof. The materials used to manufacture it include glass and metal.

The compass measures 65x53x26mm. Please take note that there is no luminous effect without light. The luminous indication is more durable when there is a longer irradiation time. The fluorescent lamp can be seen after irradiation. Luminous effect refers to the phosphor powder under natural light.

Military Compass, Prismatic Sighting...

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  • Shakeproof
  • Waterproof
  • Ensures convenient night clearly viewing with luminous display inside
  • Comes with a sighting window and a sighting line


  • May not be shipped to some countries
  • Can’t be used on magnetic fields

5. GWHOLE Military Lensatic Sighting Compass Waterproof

This Lensatic compass will help you find your way out of the jungle, thanks to its impressive features.

It comes with a heavy-duty digital camouflage print cover. It has a conversion chart for distance, gradient, and angle on the back plate. The compass features sighting lines on a cover.

What makes this item cool is that it comes with an adjustable diopter sighting lens. Other cool features that come with this product include: tripod screw hole on base, folding thumb ring, built-in bubble level, ruler units on the sides measuring centimeters and inches, rotating bezel ring, and thermo-elastic liquid-filled capsule with floating dial.

The package includes one User guide in English and GWHOLE Lensatic Compass (with Lanyard and Pouch).

The lanyard is 18”, the product weight is approximately 7×5.2×2.5cm, it is made of metal and the color is army green.

Please take note that there is no luminous effect without light. The luminous indication is more durable when the irradiation time takes longer. The fluorescent lamp can be seen after irradiation.

GWHOLE Military Lensatic Sighting...

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com



  • 1-year warranty from GWHOLE
  • Shakeproof and waterproof making it suitable for hunting, hiking, camping, boating and motoring
  • Features high accuracy, built-in bubble level
  • Special design of fluorescent light


  • Can’t be used on magnetic fields
  • May not be available for shipping in some countries

6. Brunton - TruArc 3 - Base Plate Compass

The TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass is proof that Brunton offers top quality field precision for today’s most demanding outdoor adventures. The no-frills reliability, and tool-less declination compensation, plus standard and metric scales make this compass a must have for anyone planning to explore outdoors.

From one generation to the other, outdoorsmen have trusted the global needle system in the characteristic form. The TruArc confirms that this compass is a scouting compass with modern updates.

The 3 Base Plate Compass is a great example of a top quality compass that perfectly fits into today’s most demanding outdoor adventures.

Brunton - TruArc 3 - Base Plate Compass

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  • Comes with a U-Proof Warranty
  • Made in the USA
  • Global needle
  • Comes with a 2-degree resolution
  • Great for camping


  • May not be shipped to some countries

Tips on Using a Compass for Hiking, Backpacking

Learning how to use a compass is equally important, once you’ve decided which compass to settle on.

In order to travel from point A to B, you will need to learn how to take the bearing off the map. First, put the Direction of Travel arrow pointing from A to B then lay the edge of the compass on the line between the two landmarks on the map.

Please note that the true bearing is indicated by the index mark. However, that doesn’t mean that it is the bearing you intend to follow.

Ensure that the map’s longitude lines are parallel with the meridian lines of the compass.

  • Use the Right Compass Model: You need to take note that there are some cheap and counterfeit products in the market. Some of these compasses don’t meet the basic requirements of a standard compass. So, ensure that you settle for the right type of compass for your specific needs.
  • Follow the Right Bearing: Hold the compass level and set it to your desired direction of travel. In order to find the right bearing, keep moving and turning till the red arrow settles in its shed on the housing.
  • Don’t Store a Compass Near an Electric or Magnetic Field: Magnets can be problematic when using a compass because the exposure demagnetizes the needle.
  • Keep Your Compass Away from Ferrous Metal: Electric fields (like a running car engine) can distort the accuracy of a compass. Even the iron levels in a lava field can have an effect. Please take note that ferrous metal can distort compass reading. Hence, keep your compass away from metallic objects like a metal post or even metallic picnic table.


Conclusively, top-quality compasses can deliver more accurate results. You should be very keen when buying a compass to ensure that its features are compatible with your camping or outdoor needs.

And yes, take note that you generally get what you pay for, with compasses just like with any other product. So, it is advisable that you invest in the best quality compasses.

In this case, the Silva Ranger 515 Compass appeared to be the best compass given its top quality features including 4X more intense new luminous that does not degrade over time. It also features a classic bezel, map magnifier, clinometer, and utilization of quadrant graduations.

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Sammy Garrard

I am the Founder and Chief Editor of outdoorsity.net and a prepper with over 15 years of experience. I’m excited to my knowledge and the things I learn while travelling in British Columbia, Canada where I live and around the world. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, Facebook!

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