Home » Hiking » Hiking Gear » Best Compass for Hiking

Best Compass for Hiking

Published:
Best Compass for Hiking

Download the
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Add your name and email to download the Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sharing is caring!

This is a gear review about the Best Compass for Hiking and Backpacking in 2022.

With so many navigation choices such as a Hiking GPS, a GPS Watch and so many Hiking Navigation Smartphone Apps the subtle art of paper map and compass navigation is not as well known as it used to be. And the most important item you need for navigation is a backpacking compass.

Hiking the old-school style doesn’t mean hiking with no tech, or without accuracy. Compasses these days have come quite a long way since the days of old.

Here are the best compasses for hiking and backpacking on the market in 2022.

Best Compass for Hiking & Backpacking 2022

The Best Compass for Hiking & Backpacking in 2022 are:

Best Hiking Compass – Overall

Suunto M-3 G Global Compass

Pros:
> Adjustable declination correction.
> Has a built-in magnifying lens.
> Global needle you can use anywhere in the world.
> High-grade steel needle.
> Transparent ruler with 2 scales.
> Luminous markings for low light.
> Detachable snap-lock lanyard.
Cons:
> Not the cheapest compass on our shortlist.

This is the best compass from Suunto and in my opinion the best compass for hiking and backpacking on the market in 2022.

It features a globally balanced compass and a transparent ruler with both metric and imperial scales that you can use in conjunction with a paper map in order to determine how far it is to each waypoint of your hike.

It also has some extra features which add to the cost such as the built-in magnifying lens, adjustable declination correction, and luminous markings for use in low light. It also comes with a detachable snap-lock lanyard, complete with a wrist lock.

Overall, this is the best hiking compass on the market and the Best Suunto Compass in 2022.

Compare Prices:

Best Compass for Northern Hemisphere

Suunto A-10 Compass

Pros:
> High-grade steel needle.
> 2 rulers for use with a map.
> Detachable snap-lock lanyard.
> Rugged and very durable.
> Compass is quick to settle.
Cons:
> Must choose between the SH or NH model, not so good for travel.

This popular compass features a high-grade steel needle with a jewel bearing and is balanced for the Northern Hemisphere and very accurate.

And in addition to the compass itself, it also features 2 rulers (one in cm and one in inches) which you can use together with a map to work out how far you have to travel along your route to reach your destination.

This ruler is transparent, so you can clearly see your map underneath the compass.

It also comes with a detachable snap-lock lanyard, so you can keep the compass on your person the whole time during your hike, and you don’t have to worry about it falling from one of your pockets. 

Overall, it’s affordable and has excellent value for money. Note that there are 2 separate models, the northern hemisphere (NH) and southern hemisphere (SH) balanced models.

Compare Prices:

Best Silva Compass – Overall

Silva Expedition Global Compass

Pros:
> Global needle you can use anywhere in the world.
> Luminous markings for low light conditions.
> Compass features a double-sided ruler.
> Slope card to accurately determine distance.
> Also comes with a detachable lanyard.
Cons:
> Premium product at a premium price.

If you plan on taking a trip anywhere in the world then take a look at a compass with a global needle such as this one. Because it has a global needle and can be used in any magnetic zones.

And that’s not all. You can even use it in low light conditions, thanks to the luminous markings which are visible for up to 4 hours in the dark, once sufficiently activated by either daylight or flashlight.

The compass comes on a transparent double-sided ruler, so you can use it in conjunction with a paper map to work out how far you have to go to your destination.

There’s a detachable lanyard to keep the compass close to your person, and a handy slope card, which you can use in conjunction with a topographic map to calculate the extra distance when going uphill.

Overall, this is the Best Silva Compass on the market and one of the best global compasses on the market in 2022.

Best Sighting Compass

Suunto MC-2 G Navigator Compass

Pros:
> Global needle you can use anywhere.
> Sighting mirror with a V-notch.
> Transparent ruler with 2 scales.
> Adjustable declination correction.
> Luminous markings for low light.
> Detachable snap-lock lanyard.
Cons:
> Customer reviews have been quite mixed, though they are mostly positive.

Another great global compass from Suunto features a sighting mirror with a V-notch, so you can take accurate bearings based on nearby landmarks.

And thankfully this mirror folds down to not only take up less space but also serves to protect the compass from damage.

And it has other great features too. There’s a transparent ruler with both metric and imperial scales for use with a map. And in low light conditions, the bezel ring lights up. Though you may still need a flashlight to read the ruler markings. It offers adjustable declination correction, and it comes with a detachable snap-lock lanyard, complete with a wrist lock.

Overall, this is the Best Sighting Compass on the market in 2022.

Compare Prices:

Best Water Resistant Compass

Silva Ranger S Compass

Pros:
> High water resistance at IPX8.
> It’s very large and easy to read.
> Fluorescent markings for low light.
> No confusing imperial measurements.
> Scale for declination compensation.
> Comes with a detachable lanyard.
Cons:
> Metric only.

This is the perfect sighting compass to have at hand when it starts to rain or carrying your waterproof gear when canyoning. It has a really high water resistance rating, coming in at IPX8.

It does have a lot of other great features. There is a scale for working out declination compensation, a detachable lanyard, and a grippy non-slip DryFlex socket. Also, it is quite large and easy to read and works well in low light conditions thanks to the fluorescent markings.

On either side of the compass are two rulers for use with a map. But it’s important to note at this point that both rulers are in kilometers and not in imperial measurements so for the three countries left in the world using imperial measurements this is not the best option.

Overall, this is one of the best water-resistant sighting compasses on the market.

Best Budget Compass

Brunton TruArc5 Compass

Pros:
> Affordable and great value.
> It features a global needle.
> Large base plate with magnifier.
> Has imperial and metric scales.
> Features adjustable declination.
> Comes complete with a lanyard.
Cons:
> Hard to read in low light conditions for some people.

If most of the compasses we’ve shown you so far look a little pricey to you, this one may be more up your street.

It features a global needle, which basically means that it’s accurate in both the northern and southern hemispheres, so you can literally take this compass anywhere in the world.

This compass is quite large with an oversized base plate with a map magnifier, which makes it super easy to read and use. And it has a resolution of 2 degrees.

There are two scales to help you read the distance on your map, imperial and metric, though they are both on the same side, so you’d have to be careful not to get them mixed up.

It’s made in the USA, specifically in Riverton, Wyoming. And though you don’t see it in the photo, it does come with a lanyard.

Overall, this is the best budget compass with a global needle.

Compare Prices:

Best Ultralight Compass

Suunto Clipper L-B NH Compass

Pros:
> Straightforward & uncomplicated.
> Ultralight Compass.
> Very easy to read in good light.
> Affordable and good quality.
Cons:
> Not global, you must choose between NH or SH.
> Doesn’t come with a base plate with scales for reading maps.

This has to be one of the simplest compasses on the market. It’s simply a straightforward compass, without a baseplate, that you can clip onto your watchband, bag strap, or map, and the hardened steel needle will show you which way is North. 

If you are looking for a basic, ultralight compass that will let you know which way is north then this might be your option.

It’s also the most affordable compass on the shortlist but still features good old Suunto quality.

Overall, this is the best ultralight compass for thru-hiking with only the basic feature of pointing north. Note that this comes in a Northern Hemisphere version (NH) and a Southern Hemisphere version (SH) but not a Global version (G).

Compare Prices:


Buyers Guide

There are a couple of things you may want to know prior to buying a compass. While I have not included a guide to using a compass (that is a rather large article that I am working on), the info below may assist in helping you make your purchasing decision.


Sighting Mirror on a Sighting Compass

Some of the compasses in this review have a sighting mirror to be used as a sighting compass. When you are trying to get a bearing or a back bearing you can hold the compass at arm’s length from the body and get a very accurate fix on your intended landmark. A sighting mirror aids in making accurate compass readings.

My first ever compass had a sighting mirror. As I got more experienced with using a paper map and compass I moved away from sighting mirrors and back to the lighter, more simple compass without a sighting mirror. Your choice if you want them or not.


Rotating Bezel

Not all the compasses in this review have a rotating bezel, but all the best ones do. The bezel is used to rotate to account for the difference between magnetic north and true north, known as the declination. I will not go into too much detail about what that is, or how to use the rotating bezel (as mentioned above, that will be the focus of a whole in-depth article). Just know this, if you want accurate readings you will need a rotating bezel.


Global Needle

Not all compasses are set up to be used anywhere in the world. If you want to take your compass anywhere you will need a compass with a global needle. This is often indicated with the latter ‘G’ somewhere in the description of the compass.

For compasses that are not global, they are often only balanced for either the Northern Hemisphere or Southern Hemisphere.

Compasses balanced for the Northern Hemisphere usually have ‘NH’ in the description.

Compasses balanced to the Southern Hemisphere usually have ‘SH’ in the description.

Compasses balanced for use anywhere in the world have a ‘G’ in the description.

Knowing this is possibly the number one most important thing you need to know when purchasing a compass.


Conclusion

So, the biggest factors influencing which compass to buy will probably be whether you want adjustable declination, a global needle to point north anywhere in the world and whether you want the base plate to magnify the map. Either way, there’s plenty to choose from in our shortlist.

Overall, the Best Backpacking Compass in 2022 are listed below:

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.
Who makes the best compass for navigation?

The best compasses for navigation are made by, Suunto, Silva, and Brunton. Although there are several other companies these are the most popular for the outdoors.

Can I use a compass anywhere in the world?

There are compasses that can be used anywhere in the world and some are balanced for either the northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere. Global compasses can be used anywhere and are usually sold with G in the description. NH in the compass description is balanced for the northern hemisphere and SH is balanced for the southern hemisphere.


Sharing is caring!

Photo of author
About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

Download the
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Add your name and email to download the Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.