Maybe you want to go off-trail, you have no reception, or you just don't want to get lost and have no way out. That's when a compass can come in handy! Compasses are instruments that have pointers that show the direction of the north, which helps its user navigate. They are commonly used with topographic maps, which are maps that are richly detailed about where you're exploring.
With so many choices, we've searched Amazon and found 10 compasses that reviewers love. Our favorite is the MC-2 NHUSGS Compass from Suunto since it's a strong and precise compass from a reliable brand. For more of our top picks, please continue reading! Also, don't forget to check out our buying guide for some tips on how to choose the right compass for you.
Compasses can really make hiking easier and even save lives. We gathered a list of many different brands, materials, designs, and features to help you get started.
|Features||Declination adjustment, sighting mirror/hole, clinometer, luminescent marks, magnifier|
|Features||Declination adjustment, global needle, ruler, lanyard|
|Features||Magnifier, sight wire, dial graduations, luminescence|
|Features||Lanyard, sighting mirror/hole, magnifier, luminous markings|
|Features||Magnifier, ruler, lanyard|
|Features||Clinometer, luminous dial, rotating bezel, sighting lens, lanyard, pouch|
|Features||Sighting lens, belt loop, carrying case, fluorescent|
|Features||Luminous arrow/dial, aiming line, magnifier, tripod connector, reading eyepiece, slope chart|
|Features||Leather case, keychain|
God is My Guide
MC-2 NH USGS Mirror Compass
US Military Compass
Multifunctional Navigation Compass
Military Lensatic Sighting Compass
Compass With Display stand
A Professional and Precise Mirror Compass
An Easy and Reliable Entry-Level Compass
A Heavy-Duty Military Compass Built for Survival
A Detailed Compass Great for Hiking
A Bright Handheld Compass Great for Kids
A Military-Style Compass With Many Features
A Simple and Convenient Compass
A Great Gift for Christian Inspiration
A Straightforward and Sturdy Camouflage Compass
A Great Graduation Gift
|Materials||Not specified||Not specified||Aluminum||Not specified||Acrylic||Aluminum alloy||Metal, plastic||Brass||Metal||Brass|
|Features||Declination adjustment, sighting mirror/hole, clinometer, luminescent marks, magnifier||Declination adjustment, global needle, ruler, lanyard||Magnifier, sight wire, dial graduations, luminescence||Lanyard, sighting mirror/hole, magnifier, luminous markings||Magnifier, ruler, lanyard||Clinometer, luminous dial, rotating bezel, sighting lens, lanyard, pouch||Sighting lens, belt loop, carrying case, fluorescent||Display stand||Luminous arrow/dial, aiming line, magnifier, tripod connector, reading eyepiece, slope chart||Leather case, keychain|
Compasses can have many different functions and features. Before you go shop, here are some tips on how to choose the right compass for you.
The difference between true north and magnetic north is called declination. Good compasses should allow declination adjustment, so you can set the correct north adjustment depending on which region of the world you are in.
You should also look for global needles, so you can use the compass whether you’re north or south of the equator.
Good compasses are made of quality materials that can resist harmful conditions like dust particles or being emerged in water. A waterproof rating of IPX8 or higher means that it is fully waterproof. Common materials include metals for the compass itself and acrylics or plastic for the baseplate.
Every compass has a pivoting needle that points to the magnetic pole. Most of these needles float in a fluid that steadies their movement. Make sure the liquid will not freeze in cold temperatures, or opt for a no-liquid option like a lensatic compass.
The compass is surrounded by a rotatable bezel with markings for all 360 degrees. Some of them may even have 720 or more. The higher the number or degrees, the more accurate it will be on maps.
Another good idea is to find a compass with luminescence, meaning that it can be seen in low light conditions.
The compass will usually be attached to a baseplate. Baseplates are often transparent, with many navigational markings, such as a ruler to make measurements on your maps. Good baseplates will not only function as a protractor but may have features like magnifiers and anti-skid feet.
Sighting mirrors are mirrors that flip open about 45 degrees from the compass and let you align the compass with your target destination. They let you look into the mirror and align the orienting arrow accordingly.
Clinometers let you measure your slope angle compared to flat ground, which can help on non-flat land, such as hills, valleys, and mountains. They can especially help to warn of potential avalanches or mudslides from being on sloped land.
Compasses may include ways to make it easier to carry other than your pocket. They may be foldable or non-foldable. They may have holes to hook onto other things, such as lanyards, belt loops, backpacks, or more. They can also be put in a case for extra protection.
Besides compasses, there are plenty of other things that can help you enjoy the wilderness. Check out our other articles for more ideas!
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