Choosing the best compass for hiking can be overwhelming, with so many different options on the market. If you are a novice navigator with little experience purchasing compasses, it’s easy to get confused with all the options.
Even experienced outdoorsmen might find it difficult to decide between the many brands of hiking compass on amazon. That’s why we did the research for you and pulled together this list of the top 7 hiking compasses on amazon.
What to Consider When Buying A Compass
When you’re looking into buying a hiking compass, the first thing you need to decide is your budget, and what you want to use the compass for. If you have a larger budget, you can find some top of the line, military grade compasses with all sorts of bells and whistles.
Compasses include mirrors for finding sightlines, bubble levels, camouflage cases, and obscure measurements, just to name a few.
But in truth, whether you are a novice or an expert, there are four main points to consider no matter what compass you are looking to purchase, whether a $70 model or a $15 basic hiking compass.
You want to make sure that your compass is easy to read. Nothing is more useless than a compass that you cannot read while you’re out in the field. You’ll want to be able to take sightings, align it to a map, and navigate across terrain while looking at the compass.
This isn’t so easy if you must hold it 2 inches from your face while navigating. Each compass on this list should be easy to read by outdoorsmen with fair eyesight.
It should go without saying that a compass must be durable. You want to have a unit that can hold up against the rain, the heat, and the trekking across rough ground. Don’t pay $10 for a cheap compass that you have to replace 3 months later. Better to spend a bit more, and have a compass that lasts for years.
Every compass these days comes with various map scales on the baseplate. What you need to figure out is which scales you need. Check the maps that you normally use to see what kind of scale they are drawn in. Keep in mind that American and European maps often use different scales. Make sure to buy a compass with the scales that you’ll be looking for.
The last thing to consider before buying a compass is your location. Are you buying a compass to use only in the United States, or do you plan to travel to South America or elsewhere on the globe? A normal compass will not be able to find north in the Southern Hemisphere.
That is where global compasses become useful. With a global compass, you can navigate reliably anywhere in the world. Take a second to think about your future plans before you make your decision.
Now, without further ado, here is our list of the best compasses for hiking on Amazon.
Best Compass Reviews
CMMG Phosphorescent Lensatic
Weight: 6.4 ounces
Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 3”
Specific Features: Waterproof, comes with a carrying pouch and a belt clip
Best Use: Hiking, Backwoods camping, Backwoods skiing, hunting
This top of the line compass is military grade and one of the best on the market.
The only difference between this model compass and those used by the U.S. military is the luminescent markings.
The CMMG Phosphorescent Lensatic Compass uses luminary paint rather than tritium gas luminescence. It is a slightly cheaper part but doesn’t impact the overall function of the compass.
For the basics, this compass is waterproof, durable, and functions well. It has many unique features that make it stand out in the market and win over outdoorsmen again and again. The dial on the compass face comes with the usual degree markings, but also includes mils/milliradians for field artillery.
Additionally, the compass includes a 1:50,000 scale on the side, useful in determining distance up to 5000m.
One more excellent feature is the outer bezel to set the direction. It is made of plastic, not titanium, but can be set to your desired direction, then simply align to the north and follow your straight line. The compass also includes a peephole with a magnifying glass to check direction more precisely.
- Very durable
- Military grade build
- Mils/Miliradians included on dial
- 1:50,000 scale
- Full metal/aluminum solid construction
Weight: 0.05 lbs
Dimensions: 2 x 4 x 0.5”
Specific Features: clear base plate, fluid keeps navigation needle steady, neon bezel.
Best Use: Hiking, simple beginner to intermediate navigation
For a beginner or intermediate navigator, this affordable compass is a great, reliable options on the market. It is lightweight and compact, will stay out of the way in small bags, and not add bulk on hiking trips. At less than $20, this compass is a great option for outdoorsmen on a budget.
In terms of durability, the Silva Polaris is not the strongest on the market, but for its price range, it holds up really well. As long as it isn’t exposed to too much pressure, this compass can last for years.
The design of the Silva is exceedingly simple with a clear baseplate that includes inches, centimeters, and a 1:24,000 scale. With the clear baseplate, you can easily lay the compass on top of a map to set a course or orient yourself. The tungsten steel needle sits in a fluid, which helps with accuracy, and the neon bevel is easy to read, turns smoothly, and makes it convenient for setting a course.
There are a few customer reported downsides to this product, but overall, it is a great choice for less than $20, if you are a beginner or intermediate hiker.
- Occasionally the fluid leaks and causes the needle to be less accurate
- No magnifier
- Excellent, affordable price
- Clear base plate for easy map reading
- Neon bevel and black and red guides and scales
- Small and lightweight
Eyeskey Military Optical Compass
Dimensions: 7 x 5.2 x 2.5cm
Special Features: Built-in bubble level, camo cover case, dual sightlines on cover and compass
Best Use: Outdoor work, scouting, hiking, backcountry hiking, skiing, and backpacking
The Eyeskey Military Optical Compass claims to be military grade, and although it doesn’t quite live up to that claim, it is an excellent choice for the $15 price tag. For intermediate and advanced outdoorsmen on a budget, this compass is an excellent choice.
For the positives, this compass is very accurate, with great durability. The construction is solid, and it feels like a unit that will be with you for years. Additional usability benefits include the ability to navigate from two sightlines, one from the bevel and the other looking straight down.
On top of that, you can see the dial even when the compass is closed, which saves you having to struggle to open it when your hands are full or frozen outdoors.
The outer dial illuminates but unfortunately, the inner dial does not. Another often mentioned downside of this compass is that the sightline of the eyepiece doesn’t exactly match up to the sightlines on the cover. Given that the guidelines are a bit off, it can be difficult to use this compass with a map.
All in all, this compass is an absolute win for the price point. If you’re looking for a high-quality compass at an entry level price, you can’t go wrong with the Eyeskey.
- High level of accuracy
- Durable construction
- 2 sightlines
- Great price
- Problems with alignment and a few functionality issues
Dimensions: 4.72 x 2.4 x 0.55”
Special Features: clear baseplate, global usage, metric and imperial scales, luminescent markings
Best Use: Hiking, traveling, outdoor work, scouting, and backwoods activities
If you’re in the market for a small, lightweight, incredibly accurate compass, and you’ve got a little extra to spare, you can’t go wrong with the Suunto M3-G.
This is one of the best, most reliable compasses on the market and comes with tons of usability perks.
If you’re an outdoor lover who also travels, the Suunto has the advantage of being a global compass. Where most compasses are made to work in only one hemisphere, the Suunto can travel from the northern to the southern hemisphere and still reliably find north. And no matter where you are, this tidy little compass will always find north reliably, and quickly.
The compass doesn’t need to be perfectly level to find north, and it won’t get distracted by other nearby devices. Most cheap compasses will get easily thrown off and need to be perfectly level, so the Suunto has them all beat in this category.
In terms of having a user-friendly interface, the Suunto comes with plenty of guides and thoughtful components. The base has 2 scales; 1:24,000 and 1:62,000 to help with reading maps. The base also has measurements in inches and centimeters. For those with poor eyesight, the base includes a 22mm magnifying glass.
At night, the bezel is luminescent and glows softly in the dark, it also has two luminescent markings to indicate where north ought to be. The only weakness of this compass is that the arrow itself is not luminescent, so it is still difficult to read in the dark.
Overall, the Suunto is a huge win, and if you have close to a $50 budget, this is the perfect choice for a hiking compass.
- Global compass works in northern and southern hemisphere
- Guides and scales in inches, centimeters, 1:24,000 and 1:62,000
- The luminous bezel can be easily read in the dark
- Compass finds north quickly even when not level
Silva Ranger 515 Compass
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Dimensions: 4 x 2.5 x 0.5”
Special Features: Clear baseplate, mirror with etched sighting one, luminous bezel, map magnifier
Best Use: Hiking, forestry, outdoor work
Another solid choice, from a company with a long legacy of well made, sturdy compasses.
This small, lightweight compass easily fits into the palm of your hand and will hold up against the test of time, and the test of the elements.
With the mirror and the sightlines, the Silva Ranger 515 compass works extremely well for sighting and holds true. Navigation remains fairly easy even over difficult terrain. The compass is easy to use in daylight and also holds up well in the rain and elements.
The base has guides for inches and centimeters, as well as three scales: 1:24,000, 1:25,000, and 1:50,000 to make reading and interpreting maps easier.
The only downside to this compass is its night functionality. There is luminescence, but on the black bezel it can be difficult to use, and there is no true glow in the dark function on this compass.
- Mirror makes following sightings across rugged terrain easier
- Works well in the rain
- Small and lightweight
- Can be difficult to read at night
Suunto MC-2G Compass
Weight: 2.65 ounces
Dimensions: 2.5 x 4 x 0.7”
Special Features: Global compass, clear base plate, magnification, luminescent outer ring
Best Use: General hiking, camping, outdoor navigation
If you’re shopping for a top of the line compass with baseplate and sightline mirror, it’s hard to find better than the Suunto MC-2G.
With a price point around $60, it is a slightly more expensive model than some of the others on the list, but as they say, you get what you pay for. With this Suunto, you get a fine compass that will hold up for years.
For starters, Suunto made the MC-2G a global compass, which makes it an excellent choice for people who explore outside of the United States. In the southern hemisphere, lower price compasses won’t be able to find true north. But this MC-2G can reliably find north from anywhere on the earth. A valuable feature if you’re lost in the Amazon.
Another reason this compass is one of our top picks is its accuracy and speed. This is one of the fastest and most reliable compasses when finding north. It can even pick up an accurate read when the compass isn’t completely level. That can come in handle when you’re trying to follow a line through rough terrain.
The baseplate has measurements in inches and centimeters and comes with two scales, 1:24,000 and 1:62,500. The rubber feet on the bottom of the baseplate help to keep it steady on the map, and the mirror lets you hold the compass at eye level and take a sighting. The last neat feature is the declinometer, which will tell you the steepness of the hill you’re standing on.
Overall, this compass is a reliable product that holds up well in the elements and gets the job done. If you’re looking for a compass within this price range, you can’t go wrong with the MC-2G
- Global compass can be used anywhere on earth
- Durable and long lasting
- Highly accurate, even when tilted
- Mirror lets you pick a sighting from standing
- Need a wrench to adjust the declination so be careful not to lose it
- 2 map reading scales, and inches and centimeters.
Suunto A-30L Field Compass
Weight: 1.1 ounces
Dimensions: 2.2 x 4 x 0.25”
Special Features: Luminous bezel, clear baseplate
Best Use: General, beginner level hiking, camping, and outdoor navigation
This is a solid beginner level or general compass for use getting from point A to point B.
It doesn’t have as many special features as some of the other compasses on this list, but if you’re looking for a simple, affordable compass that will hold up well over time, the A-30L Field Compass is the way to go.
The compass works well, and users report that it doesn’t get bubbles in the liquid like many similar Chinese made models tend to do. The clear baseplate is easy to read and includes markings for inches, centimeters, and a 1:15,000 scale.
Possible downsides are the flimsy lanyard included with the compass and the fixed declination. But you can easily replace the lanyard with your own piece of paracord, and you’ll just have to get used to a fixed declination. Overall, this is still a great and affordable quality compass.
- Well build, reliable compass for the price range
- The clear base plate is easy to read with inches, centimeters, and a 1:15,000 scale.
- Lanyard is flimsy and declination is fixed
- Great quality for the price
The Choice Is Yours
There you have it, a complete list of the top hiking compasses on Amazon. This list has aimed to be fairly comprehensive, but of course, there are always other options on the market.
The companies on this list have been proven to produce reliable, top quality products that will stand the test of time, and the elements. Hopefully, now you can make an informed choice and get the best compass for your money, and your needs.