Best Hiking Compass

When you are looking how to get into hiking, there are countless ways you can find your way around.

This can be hard if you are in regions, where GPS signal is poor, or your cell has a dead battery.

A good compass may be old, but it has been a trusty companion for many travelers.

Guide on Buying Hiking Compass

A field compass should be in everyone’s first time camping essentials, so to be sure you have the best, these compass reviews go through five of the best to see which is worth your time and money and can be a great backup to the best hiking watches.

What is a Hiking Compass?

A hiking compass is an expansion of a regular compass. These come with base plates, direction of travel arrows, and rotating bezels you can use to take your bearings.

A high-quality compass can make all the difference when used with maps because you will be able to calculate exactly where you are and where you are going.

The most accurate compass you can find has many features that you can use to tailor the readings to your map.

This will include declination adjustments where you match north on your map, to north on your compass.

These reviews go through the top five. By the end, buying a compass should be much easier.

Top Hiking Compass Reviews

SE CC4580 Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass with Pouch

1. SE CC4580 Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass with Pouch

The SE compass is among the best you can get. SE is a registered trademark, and this sighting compass comes with it proudly emblazoned on the casing.

It comes with a water-resistant pouch, a 36-inch lanyard, and is covered in a camouflage print for an authentic look.

For finding out where you are going, there is a handy conversion chart for your distance. This can cover gradient and angle on the back plate.

There are other features such as rulers, built-in bubble level, and a thermos-elastic liquid-filled capsule.

Pros

  • High degree of directional markings
  • Features sighting lines and lens in cover
  • Small when closed
  • Comes with protective pouch
  • Fluorescent dial

Cons

  • May face some shipping restrictions – countries
  • Single color option
  • Cannot be used on magnetic fields

Technical Specifications

  • Size: 3 x 2 x 5
  • Weight: 7.2 oz.
  • Material: Metal
  • Adjustable diopter: Yes
  • Tripod screw: Yes
  • Rotating Bezel: yes

This could be the best compass for hunting as you can sight through the cover. With a guide price of just under $10, the features you get far outweigh the small cost.

No matter what your outdoor activity, you will find that this is the best survival compass you can find. You will never be lost, and you will always find your way back when other navigational tools fail you.

SUUNTO A-10 Recreational Field Compass

2. SUUNTO A-10 Recreational Field Compass

Travel compasses need to be easy to use, and for basic field craft, there is nothing easier than this base plate compass.

If you own a Suunto compass watch, then this can be a great backup in case you are not in the best location.

There is a high-grade steel needle that has a jewel bearing, and this is balanced for the northern hemisphere.

If you need to use a map and compass quickly, you can detach this from the lanyard and use it in an instant.

Pros

  • High degree of accuracy
  • Made from durable plastic
  • High price to quality
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • No global-needle
  • No adjustable declination scale
  • No luminous dial or needle

Technical Specifications

  • Size: 1.4 x 3.2 x 5.1
  • Weight: 2.4 oz.
  • Material: Plastic
  • Adjustable diopter: No
  • Tripod screw: No
  • Rotating Bezel: No

This is more suited to be an orienteering compass rather than one of the more professional compasses.

It does lack some features, yet the guide price of just over $15 does mean this is a lot cheaper than a Suunto wrist compass, but you can still get the great company reliability.

Ueasy Military Compass, Prismatic Sighting Compass - Magnetic Waterproof Hand-Held Professional Compass for Boy Scouts Hunting Camping Sailing Navigation Hiking

3. Ueasy Military Compass, Prismatic Sighting Compass – Magnetic Waterproof Hand-Held Professional Compass for Boy Scouts Hunting Camping Sailing Navigation Hiking

The best compass for hiking will be one that has several uses. While navigational compasses are handy to have, when you can spot your destination in the distance, it can make a difference between struggling to find your way or not.

The U Easy compass comes with lots of features, and you can use it as a telescope. This makes it one of the best survival compass you can choose.

Pros

  • Multifunctional use as compass and sighting telescope
  • Features sighting lines and lens in cover
  • Waterproof and shake-proof
  • Comes with protective pouch
  • Fluorescent dial and needle

Cons

  • May face some shipping restrictions – countries
  • Single color option
  • Cannot be used on magnetic fields

Technical Specifications

  • Size: 2.56 x 2.09 x 1.02
  • Weight: 6.2 oz.
  • Material: Aluminum alloy
  • Adjustable diopter: Yes
  • Tripod screw: Yes
  • Rotating Bezel: yes
  • Warranty: Yes

With a guide price of a little under $20, this packs enough features into one of the smallest compass you can have hanging around your neck.

The features make this one of the best backpacking compass you can stash in your gear bag.

Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass

4. Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass

From the company who makes the best wrist compass, you won’t expect anything less with the best compass for backpacking.

The Suunto MC-2G compass is a compact compass which is ideal to keep on the end of the lanyard.

This performs well when you need to mess around with magnetic north to be sure your needle is pointing where it should be thanks to the global-needle.

The construction is robust, and it can be used at night with the luminous readout.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Global needle
  • Waterproof and shake-proof
  • Accurate readouts
  • Fluorescent dial for night reading

Cons

  • Tool needed for changing declination
  • Numbers rub off dial with lots of use
  • Does not stay illuminated for long periods

Technical Specifications

  • Size: 1 x .03 x 1.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 oz.
  • Material: Aluminum alloy
  • Tripod screw: No
  • Rotating Bezel: yes
  • Warranty: lifetime guarantee

With a guide price of just over $55, this may be the best compass for the money, but it does extend outside some individuals budget.

It does deliver, and with the sighting holes, it is easy to use along with a topographic map.

Brunton - TruArc 3 - Base Plate Compass

5. Brunton – TruArc 3 – Base Plate Compass

If you are looking for the best pocket compass, then the Brunton – TruArc 3 may fit the bill. The baseplate comes with rulers, and even though it offers simple navigation, it does have a global needle.

The outer bezel can read in 2-degree increments. Add to this the adjustable declination marks, and you do have the best compass for survival at the very minimum.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Global needle
  • Waterproof and shake-proof
  • Accurate readouts
  • Fluorescent dial for night reading

Cons

  • Tool needed for changing declination
  • Numbers rub off dial with lots of use
  • Does not stay illuminated for long periods

Technical Specifications

  • Size: 3.5 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 oz.
  • Material: Plastic
  • Adjustable diopter: No
  • Tripod screw: No
  • Rotating Bezel: yes
  • Warranty: Yes

With a small guide price of just over $10, this small compass is perfect to keep tied to your beginner camping gear or hanging around your neck.

What to Look For When Buying a Hiking Compass

One of the first things to look for when deciding on a compass are the different types of compass, this compass guide looks at the main ones and then a few things you need to look for.

Types of Hiking Compass

Types of Compasses

  • Card compass: used in boats and ships.
  • Tubular compass: Needle is supported inside a tube.
  • GPS compass: digital compasses which use satellites for directions
  • Lensatic: a lensatic compass are designed to be strong. They have a magnifying lens to read the dial. They also have a sighting mirror so you can spot items in the distance to set your compass.
  • Baseplate compass: These are best used when placed on your map. There are rulers so you can measure distance, and these are often accurate and in scale to your map.

There are a few things a compass needs to do when you are map reading. True north being one thing that can affect cheaper compasses.

To get around this, you will need a compass that comes with adjustment declination. This allows you to make sure your compass matches your map.

Declination scales need to be adjustable, and this is often achieved with a rotating bezel on the compass.

One of the other main criteria will be a global needle. With these, you can use them in any location without a magnetic field throwing your compass off its reading.

Most compasses now come liquid-filled as added absorbency to shock for the compass needle.

One last thing that can make all the difference when choosing a compass is luminous points. Reading a compass may need to be done at any hour that can have low light.

SE CC4580 Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass as Best Hiking Compass

Final Verdict

While reviewing the above to find the best backpacking compass, we took the best compasses and compared them against each other.

We quickly found one that stood out for the price to performance. There were lots of features from the winner, which was the SE CC4580 Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass with Pouch.

It was perfect to be used for spotting as well as using as a regular basic compass. It had the best luminosity for night ready, and it came in a sturdy case.

Add to this the adjustments you can make, and it is easy to see why the army use this kind of compass.

The price maybe toward the lower end, but the features put this way ahead of any other top-rated compass in the review.