With spring here, it’s a fine time to go hiking. My memories of the last time I went hiking, which was also the first time, are absolutely dismal. I got lost and couldn’t find myself, but was found only after I shouted out to my friends for help.
This year, I know better than to do that again. I will go hiking, and yes, I will go fully equipped, compass and all. That's what was missing in my last adventure, but no more of that now. I'm all excited about the upcoming hike and need to be sure I'm getting it all right this time.
So, to begin, let's go out and get a best compass. But hey, wait, which one's the best for a hike? I'll have to scour the market for the best pocket compass that will be of immense value to me on this hike and after.
7 Best Compass: Comparison and Reviews
CMMG Official US Military Compass
Cammenga 27CS Lensatic Compass
Outdoor activities and government agencies
Eyeskey Military Metal Sighting Navigation
Lensatic compass; military compass.
Hiking and other survival activities
Cammenga S.W.A.T. Tritium Compass
Harsh maritime and desert conditions
Suunto MC-2G In Global Compass
Luminous two-color bezel ring
Outdoor adventure activities
Cammenga Official US Miltary Compass
Military lensatic compass
Adventure activities; war
Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Compass
Outdoor adventure activities
For the best hiking experience, you need to arm yourself with a compact and lightweight compass. An added advantage would be accuracy. This will help you a great deal when you tread on the unfamiliar ground. So, when choosing a best compass, always get the best, regardless of the price.
One really good option is the CMMG Official US Military Tritium Lensatic Compass for being lightweight, portable and compact. At barely 91 gm, you can hold it in the palm of your hand, since its dimensions are just 6”x4”x3”, making it ideal for hiking and backpacking.
It is also highly robust and can withstand extremes of weather conditions. So, it is resistant to water, sand, and shock, reasons why it's regarded as one of the best military compasses. It’s also durable and can work even in low light conditions thanks to its seven Tritium Micro Lights.
It can work up to temperatures of -50 F to +150 F. So, whether you’re hiking in a forest or are deserted in a desert, your compass will help you navigate well. This best compass also works well in the dark, as its dial is luminous, and can remain so for over 12 years. It has a robust aluminum body and comes in a smart canvas pouch. Not surprisingly, it is touted as the best lensatic compass.
You can’t do without a Cammenga 27CS compass as it has all the ingredients that make the best compass—accuracy, lightweight, durable, enables night vision and sturdy construction. Are these its finest features? Not at all. The finest are yet to come. Here they are:
This compass is sturdy, uses resistant engineering and is highly durable. Put its robustness down to its aluminum frame. It is also endowed with a sapphire jewel bearing and a drab olive colored lanyard.
It is highly water-resistant, making it ideal for fishing. Overall, it can withstand very high temperatures, ranging between -50 F to +150 F. It’s also shock-proof and sand-proof.
Not being a map compass but a lensatic compass makes it easier to navigate. Plus, since it is illuminated by phosphorescence, it allows better night vision, particularly for seniors.
Being richly feature-oriented, this compass is regarded by experts as the military compass.
Whether you’re new to hiking or not, the Eyeskey Multifunctional Military compass can be your perfect companion for a variety of reasons. It’s a reliable professional compass that even the military can depend on.
First, it’s lightweight, compact and is highly accurate—in fact, up to 0.5 degree. It is robust and built to suit all weather conditions and climates. It will also guide you on top of a mountain, or even down a trail, or wherever you want to go.
Its engineering is very robust and made of metal, and is highly portable too at 0.29 kg. It is olive in color and has a military kind of appeal. However, this apart, it is very different from a conventional military compass—the Eyeskey does not have a flip-up optic which is common in lensatic compasses.
Instead, it has a sighting optic, which enables you to directly read the compass’ internal card lodged in the capsule. It also helps you measure an object’s horizontal distance.
A built-in clinometer measures height differences, There’s a clinometer to measure height differences, too. If accuracy is one of your main concerns, this compass is worth checking out.
Here’s a black beauty that’s so robust that it can give excellent results on the battlefield with features that navigates you to your exact location.
A top-rated compass, the Cammenga S.W.A.T. Black Tritium Lensatic Compass is built to be waterproof, shockproof and sandproof so it can withstand all the rigors of extreme weather. It works well between temperatures of -50 degrees F to +150 degrees F.
It is built with seven Tritium micro lights that don’t call for any maintenance to be luminous for a 12-year period. They are operational in low light conditions and therefore do need a flashlight to help you along.
This compass is endowed with a magnifying lens, dial gradations in degrees and mils, sight wire which goes to ensure you get accurate readings. This compass’ Copper Induction Damping System retards the magnet’s rotation without using liquids.
And durability to this product is enhanced by its lightweight aluminum frame and waterproof structure so that it doesn’t let you down when you’re in the midst of a rigorous expedition.
Perhaps the finest of them all among equipment to be taken on a hike, the Suunto MC-2G stands out for a few but vital reasons. No wonder, people buy this repeatedly, even if the market is rife with other compasses.
The outstanding features of this best compass make it difficult for users to look elsewhere for a compass. For instance, it has a sighting mirror that works by giving the user precise directional measurements worldwide.
Here, even if you hold the compass at eye level and at arm’s length, you can still get a precise reading of your bearings on the dial. With this compass, you get better relative elevation to your target area than any other compass can offer.
Being a sighting mirror, it gives the additional benefit of being a signal mirror in cases of rescue and relief operations.
If you’re hiking in snowy terrain, you’re definitely going to need a clinometer, so don’t leave home without one. Whether you’re a pro or a novice, you know that a clinometer reads slope angles; here too, precision means everything to you. With the Suunto MC-2G, you can either use the clinometer independently or in sync with the sighting mirror when up or down a slope. The Suunto is an accurate compass for all types of terrain, one that never lets you down.
There may be times when you feel the need to estimate distances. How do you do it? By using the two scales integrated into this best compass-- 1:24k and 1:62500. For all these many features, is it surprising to find that the Suunto is expensive? Oh no, it’s value for money.
Claimed to be the world’s No. 1 military compass, the Cammenga Official compass is robust and is made of cast aluminum and is totally waterproof. Its accuracy level is +/- 0002 mils, and its bezel displays readings in degrees and mils.
This good quality compass is a survival tool in the true sense of the word, and it is built to work in exacting conditions from temperatures ranging from -50o F to +150o F, rendering it water, shock, and sand proof. No wonder it has been the official survival compass of the U. S. Military for years.
It can navigate you well even in low-light conditions without a flashlight due to its seven Tritium Micro Lights which stay luminous for more than 12 years.
When you’re in the heart of a jungle or a desert, to get back to civilization, you need to be guided by the best compass. That’s when the Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Compass is your best survival guide, as it steers you through life and death situations and plays a pivotal role in emergency rescue operations with its integrated GPS tracking ability.
This high-quality compass is rugged enough to work in all kinds of terrain, all thanks to its superb engineering that offers a superb job without the need for batteries or recharging.
It has an integrated bubble level which helps improve its accuracy level. Its heavy-duty aluminum alloy frame makes it highly durable and resistant to shocks and weather conditions. So, you can easily use it in the rains, or in extremely hot or cold weather.
Another innovation is that it’s waterproof and shake-proof. This enables you to use while engaging in some rough activity like climbing or other activities like fishing, motoring, boating, exploring, camping, and mountaineering. This also proves its versatility and renders it the most accurate compass.
Its fluorescent display enables it to be read even in the dark. All it needs is some sunlight exposure.
Lastly, it is ergonomically designed to be lightweight and compact. It weighs Sixth, the navigation instrument is compact, lightweight and ergonomic. It weighs 0.18 kg and measures 2.75” x 2” x 0.98”.
The Ultimate Guide to Find Out The Best Compass
You may not think much about getting lost in the wild because you feel you have a smartphone enabled with a GPS tracker. But what happens when your phone's battery dies on you? You're completely lost and alone, and no one can reach you nor can you reach out for help.
It’s only in such unfortunate circumstances that you realize the worth of going hiking or backpacking with a good compass. But before you step into the market or check online, acquaint yourself with the types of compasses available today.
Types of Compasses
You may be a casual trekker or a professional on a huge ocean liner. No matter what your walk of life may be, a compass will always come to your help and assist you in reaching your destination. Here are the different types of compasses to choose from:
One of the commonest types and best compass for the money, the baseplate compass is liquid-filled and mounts onto a plastic rectangular base. A magnifying lens to read maps, luminous lamps for low-light reading form part of its components. This compass type is good for plotting but cannot sight distant objects as it lacks the necessary features.
Also called a military compass, the lensatic compass has three main parts:
- The base: This is the body of the compass which holds the needle, bezel or dial and rotating scales.
- The cover: The sighting wire is housed here which protects the compass when shut.
- The rear lens: This projects outwards when you open the compass and serves to read the bezel or dial.
This type of compass is also called a marine compass as it is generally used on boats and ships. Unlike other compass types, it has a fixed needle that depends on a moving compass card for the correct directions. Since the moving absorbs the motion associated with boats, it is more dependable to have a fixed needle rather than a needle compass.
Sports in which map reading and one's association with the terrain are important to use a thumb compass. Such sports are called orienteering sports. Here, the compass gets linked to the user's thumb and lets the competitor hold the compass and map in one hand while moving speedily ahead, whether on foot or by canoe or bike.
This compass is used by those who need extremely accurate navigation assistance. Sighting the prism lets the user read the compass while also spotting distant objects.
A gyro compass is a navigational compass that houses a gyroscope motor. This motor registers the direction of the true north along the earth’s surface. This compass does not rely on magnetism.
This compass offers a numerical readout of one’s bearings. Not only does it give accurate readings but also allows you to store your bearings in the compass’ memory. The disadvantages are that this kind of compass is not ideal for map work, and it requires a power source to work, thereby rendering it unreliable.
How Does a Compass Work?
A compass works by finding out the Earth’s natural magnetic fields. The Earth’s magnetic field comprises two poles—north and south. These magnetic poles are a little away from the rotation of the Earth’s axis but are close enough so that the general directions along with some polar differences or declination can be used while navigating.
A compass is made of a lightweight magnet and a magnetized needle that is fixed to a free moving pivot. In this position, the needle reacts better to magnetic fields in the neighborhood. To locate north, the southern pole of the needle gets attracted to the magnetic north pole of the Earth.
How to Choose The Best Compass: Features to Consider
There are six main features to look out for when selecting the best compass:
Stability and Speed:
If a magnet's needle quickly points you in the right direction, that's better than a slow one as the latter can slow you down. This is particularly important if you're trapped in bad weather and want to find your way out of it quickly.
If you're using it when hiking, your compass must definitely be durable, or it might fall on the ground or get bumped while in your backpack. This is a common occurrence, particularly when you try to take your map out of your bag and the compass pops out. If it's windy at the time, the chances of your dropping it, only increase.
This feature is a must if you’re a hiker.
This feature has both adjustments of declination. So, if your need is for extremely precise navigation, ensure that your compass has a sighting mirror.
If you’re into backcountry skiing and mountaineering, your compass should contain a clinometer so that you can easily assess the hazards of an avalanche.
Perhaps, you're a world traveler, or you're soon to be exploring a destination south of the equator. For either situation, you definitely need the best compass with a global needle.
At the heart of a compass lies its compass needle. Usually, the end of the needle that's red in color points towards the magnetic pole and this helps determine your direction with accuracy. Generally, the needle is made to float in a damping liquid for steady movement and accurate reading. However,, if it forms a bubble, the accuracy of the compass is impacted.
When and Why Should I Carry A Compass?
If you're traveling by road, hiking for days or are on the high seas, it's necessary to possess a compass and map. While traveling, you might just take a wrong turn. That's when the need for the best compass is truly felt.
Difference Between a Digital vs. Analog Compass
A digital compass is like its analog counterpart in the sense that both these compass types use the Earth’s magnetic field to determine the true North location, and both help trail makers, hikers, bikers and mapmakers in telling them which way they are going.
However, the difference lies in the fact that an analog compass can be wobbly due to some movement and can face interference from strong magnetic areas, thereby giving inaccurate readings.
On the other hand, a digital compass is sturdier and more accurate since it uses only the North Pole to guide it.
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Tips on Using a Compass for Hiking & Backpacking
Here are a few tips you can use when going hiking with your compass:
- Ensure that your arrow that shows your travel direction is actually pointing in the direction that you want to go.
- Your orienting arrow should be pointing in the direction of the true north.
- Once you find your bearings, follow the travel direction arrow, not the magnetized needle.
- When taking bearings, choose a stationary landmark.
Now that you know how to select the most accurate compass for your needs let me hop over and put before you the best available. This should lay to rest the question that perhaps dogs you every day, “What is the best compass to buy?”
Read Also: Best Compass Watch.
Leaving home to hike in difficult terrain can only be complete if you have the best of these compasses. As a seasoned hiker, you know the importance of a quality compass, and as a novice, you're too nervous about going without anything that you might need. And a reliable compass is one bit of equipment you’re going to use a lot. So, go out there and buy one today.