• 8 Best Hiking Compasses in 2022 (Suunto, Coghlan's, and More) 1
  • 8 Best Hiking Compasses in 2022 (Suunto, Coghlan's, and More) 2
  • 8 Best Hiking Compasses in 2022 (Suunto, Coghlan's, and More) 3
  • 8 Best Hiking Compasses in 2022 (Suunto, Coghlan's, and More) 4
  • 8 Best Hiking Compasses in 2022 (Suunto, Coghlan's, and More) 5

8 Best Hiking Compasses in 2022 (Suunto, Coghlan's, and More)

Are you looking to venture into the great outdoors but are worried about getting lost? A compass can help keep you on the right track by helping you find north and orienteering yourself, no matter how far away from civilization you are! Compasses are an essential tool for hikers, boy scouts, or anyone that wants to prepare for surviving in the wilderness.


Choosing the best hiking compass can be confusing considering how many different features are available. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and picked the Baseplate Compass with Attached Sighting Mirror by Suunto as our favorite. It has an adjustable declination, is well-made, and is sturdy. We’ve also put together an 8 best list for you to consider and created a handy buying guide reviewed by an outdoor guide to help you make your choice!

Featured in this article

Pak, Eugene
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-26-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Hiking Compass - Buying Guide

Before buying a hiking compass, there are a few points you should take into consideration, such as which functions you need. To help you with this, we’ve put together this handy buying guide!

Choose a Between a Basic or Orienteering Compass

There are many different features that you can find on a hiking compass, and it all depends on how serious you take your hikes. Hiking compasses can be divided into two broad categories that correlate to how many features you need.

Basic Compasses Will Keep You on Track

Basic Compasses Will Keep You on Track

The most important feature of any compass is a magnetic needle that will always point north quickly. It should have orienting lines and measurements on the baseplate so you can measure distances on your map. The baseplate should also have a direction-of-travel arrow so you can keep track of the direction you’re moving.

Orienteering Compasses are for the Serious Hiker

Orienteering Compasses are for the Serious Hiker

If you’re going for a hike in a safe and contained location, then a basic compass might be all you need. However, if you’re looking to wander into the wilderness and want to find your way back, an orienteering compass is the best choice. 


An orienteering compass has basic compass features and additional ones to make navigation easier and more accurate. 

Orienteering Compasses are for the Serious Hiker

One of the most important and common features is a declination adjustment. Due to varieties in magnetic declination from area to area, you might need to adjust your compass to reflect the differences between magnetic north and true north.


A clinometer is another handy tool you’ll find on an orienteering compass, and it measures the angle of your elevation.

Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

Compasses with a sighting mirror are always great for more precise navigation as you can take a bearing from a distant object with greater accuracy.

Look for a See-Through Baseplate

Look for a See-Through Baseplate

The baseplate is the surface that the compass is attached to. If you're going to be working from a map on your hike, we recommend getting a compass with a see-through baseplate. 


You’ll find a clear baseplate to be invaluable as it allows you to see the map while you take a bearing.

Look for a See-Through Baseplate

Another baseplate feature that you may find useful is a magnifying glass. Many baseplates have a small magnifying glass built-in, and it helps you read small details on a map.


For extra convenience, look for a lanyard attachment. With this, you can keep your compass around your neck or attached to your bag without the fear of losing it.

Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

See-through baseplates also come with navigational markings and a ruler to help you measure distances on a paper map.

Precise Bezels Mean a Precise Hike

Precise Bezels Mean a Precise Hike

The bezel is the rotating ring that surrounds the housing of the compass. It’s printed with the different directions of the compass and degrees from zero to 360. The level of detail on the bezels can differ from compass to compass, however. 


Some compasses might have the degrees marked out in five or ten-degree segments, but we recommend compasses with every individual degree marked. You can even get some compasses that mark to the level of half degrees! The more detailed the bezel is, the more precise your readings and orienteering will be.

Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

The smaller the interval of degrees, the easier it is to navigate precisely.

Ensure Your Compass is Durable

Ensure Your Compass is Durable

If you’re out in nature, you can’t always rely on your GPS or cell phone reception to rescue you if you get lost. Your only way back to civilization might be your map and compass, so you need to make sure that your compass is durable. 


Many compasses are set in cases with a lid that closes over the compass to protect it. Others come in a padded and protective pouch to keep the compass safe and clean.


A bezel and needle that glow in the dark can help you on night hikes. Just remember to expose them to light before it gets dark! If you’re going to be hiking in extreme temperatures, make sure that your compass can cope with the heat or cold.

Ensure Your Compass is Durable

It also may be essential for you to get a waterproof compass. There are several ways to measure how waterproof a compass is, and the best is the IP waterproof rating. The higher the second digit in the rating, the more waterproof it is.


Some compasses will say what depth of water it can be submerged in, whereas others only say that they are waterproof without defining what that means. If a waterproof compass is essential for you, look for an IP rating since this is the best standard for measuring how waterproof something is.

Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

Metals that contain iron can ruin your compass. Keep your compass away from your car, metallic objects magnets, metal benches, and signs. Also, electrical fields can also throw off the accuracy of a compass. Always be sure to have another source of navigation when you are in the wilderness!

Make Sure the Compass Needle is Settled in Liquid

Make Sure the Compass Needle is Settled in Liquid

When you’re hiking, it’s easy to get caught in bad weather quickly or become lost before you’ve even realized that you’ve wandered off-track. If this happens to you, then you’ll need to reorientate and find north quickly. 


The time it takes for the needle to settle is known as the dampening time. Having the needle in a liquid-filled housing is one of the main factors in dampening time. Liquid allows the needle to float freely and find north quickly. Just make sure that the liquid won’t freeze if you’re hiking in cold temperatures!

Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

Sometimes the liquid in the compass can develop air bubbles, and these can mess with the compass reading. Giving the compass a few light taps usually does the trick, but if there are too many air bubbles, you might need to purchase a new compass.

8 Best Hiking Compasses

We’ve searched the internet to find the best hiking compasses available. We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Pak Eugene.

Image
1
Suunto Baseplate Compass with Attached Sighting Mirror 1

Suunto

2
Gwhole Military Lensatic Sighting Compass 1

Gwhole

3
TurnOnSport Hiking Backpacking Compass 1

TurnOnSport

4
Ust Deluxe Map Compass With Raised Base Plate 1

Ust

5
Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Metal Sighting Navigation Compass 1

Eyeskey

6
TurnOnSport Hiking Backpacking Compass 1

TurnOnSport

7
Coghlan's  Map Compass 1

Coghlan's

8
Costin Multifunctional Compass 1

Costin

Name

Baseplate Compass with Attached Sighting Mirror

Military Lensatic Sighting Compass

Hiking Backpacking Compass

Deluxe Map Compass With Raised Base Plate

Multifunctional Military Metal Sighting Navigation Compass

Hiking Backpacking Compass

Map Compass

Multifunctional Compass

Features

Adjustable Declination and a Mirror for Signalling

Sturdy Compass That Can Take Some Damage

Clear Numbers That Are Easy to Read

A Good Teaching Compass

Durable Compass With a Number of Features

Good Compass for Map Reading

A Basic Compass With Many Features

Durable and Well-Constructed Compass

Price$70.00$9.99$8.77$6.63$27.99$9.77$6.99$12.99
Size3.56 x 4.98 x 1.71 in.2.05 x 2.76 x 0.98 in.2 x 4.7 in.2.4 x 5 x 0.6 in.2.56 x 3.98 x 1.22 in.2.4 x 4 in.5.8 in.2.48 x 3.93 x 1.3 in.
WaterproofNoYesYesNoYesNoNoIP 54
MagnifierYesNoYesYesNoYesYesNo
Liquid housingYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Link
1

SuuntoBaseplate Compass with Attached Sighting Mirror

MC-2 NH USGS

$70.00

Size3.56 x 4.98 x 1.71 in.
WaterproofNo
MagnifierYes
Liquid housingYes
2

GwholeMilitary Lensatic Sighting Compass

$9.99

Size2.05 x 2.76 x 0.98 in.
WaterproofYes
MagnifierNo
Liquid housingYes
3

TurnOnSportHiking Backpacking Compass

$8.77

Size2 x 4.7 in.
WaterproofYes
MagnifierYes
Liquid housingYes
4

UstDeluxe Map Compass With Raised Base Plate

$6.63

Size2.4 x 5 x 0.6 in.
WaterproofNo
MagnifierYes
Liquid housingYes
5

EyeskeyMultifunctional Military Metal Sighting Navigation Compass

$27.99

Size2.56 x 3.98 x 1.22 in.
WaterproofYes
MagnifierNo
Liquid housingYes
6

TurnOnSportHiking Backpacking Compass

$9.77

Size2.4 x 4 in.
WaterproofNo
MagnifierYes
Liquid housingYes
7

Coghlan's Map Compass

$6.99

Size5.8 in.
WaterproofNo
MagnifierYes
Liquid housingYes
8

CostinMultifunctional Compass

$12.99

Size2.48 x 3.93 x 1.3 in.
WaterproofIP 54
MagnifierNo
Liquid housingYes

Pak's Recommended Hiking Compass

SuuntoBaseplate Compass with Attached Sighting Mirror

MC-2 NH USGS

$70.00

Size3.56 x 4.98 x 1.71 in.
WaterproofNo
MagnifierYes
Liquid housingYes
Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

Any compass made by Suunto will really reliable. These are a Finnish brand company made over 70 years ago and are the standard for outdoor expeditions of all kinds. These compasses come with all of the necessary elements for orienteering and are able to take a beating and last a very long time.

Looking for More Hiking Gear?

If you like to hike, having the right gear is essential. Thankfully we have more recommendations to help you!

In Collaboration With Outdoor Guide Pak Eugene

Pak, Eugene
Outdoor Guide/Videographer/Writer
Pak, Eugene

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

Author: Kellie Lacey


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