One of the most common pieces of equipment you’ll find in all die-hard adventurers backpacks is a good compass. This is because seasoned hikers know the importance of knowing your bearings at all times. When you’re miles away from civilization, safety should be your top priority, and the best way to stay safe is to know exactly where you are! Smartphones and GPS devices are great for when you want to get from one place to another in a city with ample connectivity. However, when you’re in the wild with no battery, no signals, and no satellite connections either, all your fancy gadgets will fail.
Therefore, every backpacker should have a compass that is best for survival, no matter how short their hike maybe. Getting lost with no connections to the outside world and nothing but your basic instincts to help you get through can be an incredibly challenging ordeal. If you need to freshen up on your navigational skills then check out this excellent guide here.
To help aid you get to where you want to go, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best compasses for wilderness survival. Now you can enjoy going off the grid without the crippling fear of getting lost in the wild thanks to these ingenious, top quality compasses.
However, before we jump to our list of the best compasses for survival, you need to know what you’re looking for in a compass and why the products we recommend are worth buying.
Things To Look Out For In A Compass
- Adjustments for declination: This is a crucial feature for all compasses. You have to make sure your compass is well adjusted for declination before purchasing it. Magnetic declination is the difference that occurs between the magnetic north and the true north in the area you’re traveling in. You’re more likely to get lost if you’re compass is not adjusted for declination since the bearings showed won’t be accurate.
- ‘Glow in the dark’ markings: the availability of light in the wilderness strictly depends on the sun. Nights outside are often pitch black, with the moonlight only illuminating some small areas in front of you. You might be faced with a situation where you want to continue hiking at night. Therefore, to save your torch’s battery, and avoid the hassle of shining a light on your compass every few minutes, get a compass that has luminescent markings.
- Water-proof: since you have absolutely no control over weather conditions in the wilderness, it’s vital to be prepared for everything. Your survival kit compass must be waterproof so that you can navigate your way even in adverse weather conditions or through water bodies.
- Lightweight and compact: having a bulky compass adds unnecessary weight to your baggage. When you’re hiking, it is important to pack only light and compact equipment that is easy to use and carry. A good compass for your survival kit will be not only accurate but also light and small. Ideally, you should also use a lanyard with your compass to keep it safe.
- A global needle: a global needle helps to keep readings as accurate as possible when traveling across hemispheres by compensating for the magnetic variance. Otherwise, you might have to keep getting your survival kit compass readjusted if you’re traveling across hemispheres to ensure that the readings are still accurate.
- Robustness: this goes without saying. Having a flimsy compass will do you no good when you’re making your way through unknown terrains. It is very easy to drop small objects like a compass when you’re hiking. If a slight fall is able to shatter your compass completely, you can be left stranded with no help for miles. This is why it is essential to have a good, robust compass that can withstand small falls and forces. In this case, compasses with a metal casing are generally more robust than acrylic ones.
- Well-marked base plate: the best compass for your survival kit will include a variety of features other than the bearings. These include small rulers to measure distances on maps, orienting arrows and even meridian lines. All these things will ensure that you know exactly where you are at all times.
The Best Compass for Outdoors, Survival and Hiking
1.) Suunto MC-2/360/G/D/L Compass
This is a high end, excellent quality compass made with great detailing and precision. If you don’t mind splurging a bit, then the Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass is the best compass for survival in the wilderness that you can. The compass is durable and robust yet lightweight and compact, making it the perfect travel companion.
It contains a global needle that works accurately no matter which hemisphere of the globe you’re in. This compass does not include the traditional magnetized needle. Instead, it uses a magnetized disk that is situated on top of a gimbal, which is then attached to the needle. This system ensures that the needle doesn’t hit the bottom of the compass while you’re in the southern hemisphere.
The Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass even has the ability to dampen much faster than most ordinary compasses, so you don’t have to keep carrying out bearing checks again and again. This compass also comes with a glow in the dark, luminescent dial, perfect for when you’re traveling during the night.
Another impressive feature that it has is the built-in inclinometer to measure different heights, terrains, and angles. This is especially useful for cycling and biking on rough terrains. All in all, though the Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass is a little on the pricey side, it is definitely worth every penny.
2.) Eyeskey Multifunctional Compass with Inclinometer
A military-grade compass made for die-hard hikers who don’t mind braving rough terrains and weather. The Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Metal Sighting Navigation Compass is a no-nonsense, top of the line compass that has all the qualities of an excellent compass, at an affordable price.
Made with a robust, protective metal casing, this small compass is lightweight and easy to carry. This compass contains a whole range of top of the line features which aren’t too common in expensive compasses either. These include things such as a magnifying viewer to see all the small details in your map, a floating luminous dial, an adjustable luminous marching line that makes using the compass during nighttime a breeze, a thumb hold, and a sighting hairline, all encapsulated in a tough metal casing.
The compass contains a liquid that eliminates any friction and allows fast and accurate readability. It is also sealed completely and thus completely waterproof and dustproof, making it perfect for use even in wet conditions. Eyeskey has truly outdone itself with this meticulously crafted military-grade compass for surviving the rough outdoors.
3.) SUUNTO A-10 Recreational Field Compass
Another excellent product by SUUNTO, the A-10 Recreational Field Compass is an excellent choice for keeping you from getting lost in the wild. With an incredibly economical price tag, this nifty little compass for survival in the wild is sure to give you a bang for your buck.
The compass itself is made from premium quality acrylic, which is scratch-resistant, durable, and super lightweight! The compass is also quite small in design, comfortably fitting into the palm of your hand. So, it is both easy to carry and easy to use as well. It also contains a lanyard that comes with a detachable snap-lock so that you can easily wear it around your neck or hang it on your backpack while traveling.
The SUUNTO A-10 Recreational Field Compass uses a special two-zone system that is unique to SUUNTO devices, for accurate and reliable readings for when you’re traveling in the northern hemisphere. Some more notable features include the adjusted declination scale, a jewel bearing to reduce friction in the needle, and two scales (cm and inches) on either side of the compass.
The baseplate is relatively large, so you can even use it to draw lines and measure distances on your map. All in all, one of the best life-saving compasses for both beginners and pros that will ensure that you find your way out safely every time.
4.) Silva Ranger 515 Compass
The Silva Ranger 515 is an excellent device for hikers looking for a versatile compass that does more than simply point you in the right direction. Equipped with some of the most innovative features, the Silva Ranger is a great one of a kind device that is loved by hikers everywhere. This compass includes a map magnifier for looking at all the small measurements on your map and even new luminous dial, which is four times brighter than watch grades and doesn’t deteriorate over time!
The compass also utilizes quadrant graduations and comes with a clinometer. The clinometer helps you give more accurate readings since it measures inclination angles as well, in a map scale of 1:24,000, 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 in Romer scales. It has a classic bezel and a split-sighting mirror and lid, complete with knurling for a more comfortable grip and better rotations. Using the geared declination on the compass, you can easily set it once and then travel worry-free since the compass itself ensures that there is constant compensation when reading your bearings.
The silicone feet are an excellent addition that allows you to place the compass perfectly on the map without worrying about it slipping away. The baseplate is sufficiently large and contains three scales for fast and easy topographic map plotting. Lightweight and small, the Silva Ranger 515 survival compass is an excellent travel companion for all hikers.
5.) Ueasy Military Prismatic Sighting Compass
A no-fuss, high quality military-grade prismatic sighting compass that means business! Equipped with a bubble that is relatively smaller than its circle, this compass provides fast and easy leveling. This frees up the pointer and ensures that it accurately and quickly aligns with the magnetic north. The pointer movement is further enhanced thanks to the oil liquid-filled capsule, which has a floating dial.
This excellent compass for survival while going off-grid is made to brave rough terrains and horrible weather conditions with ease. Robust and tenacious, the compass contains a metal casing made of aluminum alloy and is shake-proof and waterproof! The compass has a specially designed fluorescent technology that glows in the dark after it has absorbed enough sunlight, allowing you to carry on with your night treks safely. The compass also contains a sighting telescope that can be used for accurate positioning a ruler with both inches and centimeters, and even measuring wheel which allows you to measure straight as well as curved distances on your map.
There is also a conversion chart on the backside of the baseplate for gradients, distance, and angles. The best part about this compass has to be its 30-day money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty. Something very few compass companies actually offer. You can rest assured that you will never get lost on your off the grid explorations with the easy military prismatic sighting compass.
Carrying a well-built, robust, and compact compass with you while going hiking or trekking is an absolute necessity. It is a relatively simple device that can make finding your way out a breeze when used properly. No fancy gadgets can compare to the fool-proof usefulness of a good quality lifesaving compass when you’re lost in an area with no connectivity. Our list contains some of the best compasses for survival in the wilderness. Whether you’re looking for pricey, high-end models, or no-fuss cheap ones that get the job done, we have something in store for all your trekking needs.