Best Compass for Hiking: 7 Top picks

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Don’t get stranded in the wild – it’s obvious, but essential to have a compass for hiking. I’ve compiled a list of the best compass for hiking for every type of hiker.

When it comes to selecting the best hiking compass for your needs, there are several factors to consider. The first is the type of compass. There are two main types of hiking compasses: baseplate and lensatic.

Hiking Compass Pros and Cons and Tips:

➡️ Baseplate compasses are the most common and feature a clear plastic base with a rotating bezel. ➡️ Lensatic compasses are more advanced and feature a sighting mechanism that allows you to take more precise readings.

Another factor to consider is the compass’s accuracy. A good hiking compass should be accurate to within two degrees, which is sufficient for most hiking needs. You can use it to confirm your GPS hiking watch reliability.

However, if you plan on using your compass for more advanced navigation, such as orienteering or geocaching, you may want to invest in a more accurate model. A compass, first aid kit for hiking and blister kit can really make a differece.

Quick Verdict: Best Hiking Compass Comparison

We know that when it comes to hiking, having a reliable compass is crucial for navigating through the wilderness. Here’s my comparison of the top 2 on the market at an affordable price.

Best Performance
SUUNTO MC-2 NH US
  • Precise: Global Use, Metric UTM
  • Durable: Made in Finland
  • Field: Operable in low light conditions
Runner Up
Brunton - TruArc 15 - Compass
  • Precise: 1:24,000
  • Durable: Tool-free declination
  • Field: Sighting mirror

Short on Time? Summary Table

Don’t have time to read the whole article? No problemo, here’s a quick summary of the best hiking compasses. I’ve listed where to find them on amazon, but you can also buy at REI or other retailers I’ve listed below.

Why it’s Awesome 🥾⭐️ Click link to Purchase 👎🏻
Best OverallSuunto MC-2 Compass
Runner UpBrunton – TruArc 15 – Compass
Most Bang for Your BuckSUUNTO A-10 Compass
Best for ScoutsTurnOnSport Orienteering Compass
Best CarabinerCoghlan’s 1985 Carabiner Compass
Best PriceCOTOUXKER Hiking Compass
Military StyleEyeskey Military Sighting Navigation Compass
Backpacking, scouts, hiking and mountaineering compass review.

🧭 Read until the end for my top travel recommendations for hikers.

You will also like:
➡️ 🗻 Discover the
best hiking socks to prevent blisters.
➡️ 🥾Take a look at the best rucking backpacks.


Best Compass for Hiking: 7 Best

So let’s jump in where I’ll share my personal experience, pros and cons, and expert recommendations for the ultimate hiking compasses.

Overall Best

1. Best Overall: Suunto MC-2 Compass

Suunto MC-2 Compass

If you’re a serious hiker or a professional, the Suunto MC-2 Compass is a must-have for your outdoor adventures. Top-of-The-line Compass for Professionals & Serious Hikers USGS UTM Scales Northern Hemisphere.

Pros

  • Made with serious hikers in mind, this professional mirror compass was designed for precise directional measurement and has been balanced for global use with Metric UTM scales and inch ruler.
  • Operable in low light conditions, the MC-2 Compass includes a sighting hole and notch for accurate bearings, declination adjustment tool, and a clinometer.
  • Suunto mechanical compasses help you safely and accurately navigate the great outdoors; Great for Alpine skiing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, trail running and more.

Cons

  • The compass is a bit heavy at 4 ounces, which may not be ideal for ultralight backpackers.
  • Some users may find the declination adjustment tool a bit tricky to use.
  • The compass may be a bit pricey for some hikers on a budget.

The Suunto MC-2 Compass is a highly reliable and accurate compass that will help you stay on course during your outdoor adventures. The compass is easy to use and provides accurate readings even in low light conditions. The sighting hole and notch make it easy to take accurate bearings, while the declination adjustment tool ensures that you’re always heading in the right direction.

The compass is also very durable and can withstand rugged outdoor conditions. It’s great for a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, mountain biking, and trail running.



2. Runner Up: Brunton – TruArc 15 – Compass

Brunton - TruArc 15 - Compass

If you’re looking for a reliable compass for hiking, the Brunton TruArc 15 is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • The compass is designed to withstand serious use in rugged and tough conditions.
  • It comes with a Clinometer and tool-less declination adjustment, making it perfect for outdoors people and professionals like foresters, landscapers, and contractors.
  • The TruArc Global Needle is accurate in both northern and southern hemispheres, making it ready to take you anywhere in the world.

Cons

  • Some users have reported poor quality and design issues.
  • The adjustment for magnetic declination can be a bit stiff.
  • The bearing scales could be improved.

The Brunton TruArc 15 is a professional-grade compass that resists magnetic interference better than most competitor compasses and will not lose polarity. It’s also made in Brunton’s own facility in Riverton, Wyoming, so you know you’re getting a quality product.

The compass comes with a map magnifier, sighting mirror, and bubble level, making it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who require accurate navigation. It’s also magnified, making it easy to read and use.



3. Most Bang for Your Buck: SUUNTO A-10 Compass

SUUNTO A-10 Compass

If you’re looking for a reliable compass for your hiking adventures, the SUUNTO A-10 Compass is a great option.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry in your pocket or attach to your gear
  • Fast and simple to use, perfect for recreational hiking or orienteering
  • Made with durable materials and no batteries required

Cons

  • The baseplate could benefit from a magnifying lens for easier map reading
  • The scales could be more simply set out
  • It’s not the most advanced compass on the market, so if you’re looking for more features, you may want to consider a different model

This compass is ideal for those who want a simple, straightforward tool for navigating the great outdoors. It’s balanced for northern hemisphere use with inch/cm scales and a fixed declination, and features a high-grade steel needle with jewel bearing and a liquid-filled capsule for stable operation.

The SUUNTO A-10 Compass is also great for alpine skiing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, trail running, and more. It’s designed with advanced engineering and thoughtful design, and is made in Finland with over 80 years of high-quality heritage craftsmanship.



4. Best for Scouts: TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass

TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass

If you are looking for a basic and reliable compass for your outdoor adventures, the TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass is a great option.

Pros

  • The compass is lightweight and portable, making it easy to carry in your pocket or backpack.
  • It has a magnifying glass that is useful for reading and navigating geological maps.
  • The compass is accurate and professional, making it ideal for hikers, campers, and survivalists.

Cons

  • The rotating bezel is a bit stiff, which can make it difficult to turn for some users.
  • The compass is made of plastic, which may not be as durable as other materials.
  • The scale map may be too small for some users to read.

We recently used the TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass on a hiking trip and were impressed with its accuracy and ease of use. The magnetic needle swings fast and freely, pointing you towards north with ease. The acrylic baseplate and 360-degree rotating bezel make it easy to navigate and map your route.

One of the standout features of this compass is its portability. It is small and lightweight, making it easy to carry in your pocket or backpack. The compass also comes with a lanyard, which can be useful for keeping it around your neck or attaching it to your gear.

The magnifying glass is another useful feature of this compass. It is great for reading and navigating geological maps, which can be helpful when you are trying to find your way in unfamiliar terrain.


5. Best Carabiner: Coghlan’s 1985 Carabiner Compass

Coghlan's 1985 Carabiner Compass

We highly recommend the Coghlan’s 1985 Carabiner Compass for hiking enthusiasts who are looking for a reliable and affordable compass that is easy to carry around.

Pros

  • The carabiner makes it easy to attach to bags, belt loops, or a pack for quick access.
  • The luminous directional markers on the 1.06 inch (27mm) diameter face aid reading in low light.
  • The durable aluminum construction ensures it will last through your adventures.

Cons

  • The compass end responds to magnets which may affect the readings, so make sure it is not influenced by other magnetic objects.
  • It may take several seconds for the compass to settle enough to be readable.
  • The carabiner is on the small side, which may make it difficult to attach to thicker straps.

We recently took the Coghlan’s 1985 Carabiner Compass on a hiking trip and were impressed with its performance. The compass was easy to attach to our backpacks and the luminous markers made it easy to read in low light conditions. The durable aluminum construction gave us confidence that it would withstand any bumps or falls along the way.

One thing to note is that the compass end responds to magnets, which may affect the readings. We made sure to keep it away from our phones and other magnetic objects to ensure accurate readings. It also took a few seconds for the compass to settle enough to be readable, but once it did, it was easy to use.


6. Best Price: COTOUXKER Hiking Compass

COTOUXKER Hiking Compass

If you’re looking for a reliable and durable compass for your hiking adventures, the COTOUXKER Hiking Compass is a great choice.

Pros

  • High accuracy and reliability
  • Built to last with rugged materials
  • Enhanced features for improved accuracy

Cons

  • Doesn’t glow in the dark for very long
  • The carrying case could be more durable
  • The compass may need to be calibrated occasionally

We took this compass on a recent hiking trip and were impressed with its accuracy and reliability. The lensatic function, prism lens, and bubble level all work together to ensure precise readings, which is essential when you’re out in the wilderness.

The compass is also built to last, with rugged materials that can withstand rough conditions. It’s weatherproof, so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged if it starts to rain.

One of the best features of this compass is its enhanced accuracy. The clear scales and fluorescent design make it easy to read even in low-light or dark conditions. Plus, the glow-in-the-dark interface ensures that you won’t get lost during nighttime adventures.

The compass comes with a carrying case, lanyard, or pouch included, making it easy to transport. It’s compact and lightweight, so you can take it with you on all your on-the-go adventures.


7. Military Style: Eyeskey Military Sighting Navigation Compass

Eyeskey Military Sighting Navigation Compass

If you’re looking for a reliable and accurate compass for your outdoor adventures, the Eyeskey Military Sighting Navigation Compass is a great choice.

Pros

  • The clinometer feature allows you to measure the angle of slope, elevation, and avalanche hazards when mountain climbing, backcountry skiing, or hiking steep slopes.
  • The luminous dial, adjustable luminous marching line, thumb hold and magnifying viewer make it easy to handle and read.
  • Its waterproof rugged aluminum alloy build means it can withstand extremely tough situations.

Cons

  • It’s a bit on the heavy side, which may be a concern for some hikers.
  • The sighting hairline may be difficult to see in low light conditions.
  • Some users reported that the compass needle sticks occasionally.

We recently took the Eyeskey Military Sighting Navigation Compass on a hiking trip and found it to be a reliable and sturdy compass. The clinometer feature was particularly useful when navigating steep slopes, and the luminous dial made it easy to read in low light conditions.

The compass is built to withstand tough conditions, and its waterproof design gave us peace of mind when hiking in wet weather. However, the compass is a bit heavier than some other models, which may be a concern for hikers looking to minimize their pack weight.


Buying Guide

best compass for hiking

When it comes to choosing the best hiking compass, there are several factors to consider. We’ve compiled a list of features to look for when selecting a compass to ensure that you get the most accurate and reliable product for your hiking needs.

Type of Compass

There are two main types of compasses to choose from: baseplate and lensatic. Baseplate compasses are the most common and are ideal for beginners. They are lightweight, easy to use, and come with a clear plastic baseplate for easy map reading. Lensatic compasses, on the other hand, are more advanced and are typically used by military personnel. They are more accurate and durable, but also heavier and more complicated to use.

Compass Accuracy

Accuracy is crucial when it comes to hiking compasses. Look for a compass that has a high degree of accuracy and precision. A good compass should be able to measure angles to within 1 degree or less. Additionally, make sure that the compass has a declination adjustment feature, which allows you to adjust the compass for the difference between true north and magnetic north.

Durability

When hiking, your compass is likely to take a beating. Make sure that the compass you choose is durable and can withstand the elements. Look for a compass that is made from high-quality materials, such as aluminum or stainless steel, and is waterproof and shockproof.

Additional Features

Some additional features to consider include:

  • Sighting mirror: A sighting mirror allows you to take more accurate bearings by aligning the compass with a distant object.
  • Clinometer: A clinometer allows you to measure the slope of the terrain, which is useful for planning routes and determining avalanche danger.
  • Luminous markings: Luminous markings on the compass make it easier to read in low light conditions.

By considering these factors, you can choose the best hiking compass for your needs. Remember to choose a compass that is accurate, durable, and has the features you need for your hiking adventures.

Final Verdict: Overall Best Compass for Hiking

Best Overall
SUUNTO Northern Hemisphere compass, USGS UTM, MC-2 NH US
9.4
  • Advanced Navigational Compass: Made with serious hikers in mind, this professional mirror compass was designed for precise directional measurement and has been balanced for global use with Metric UTM scales and inch ruler
  • Precise And Dependable: Operable in low light conditions, the MC-2 Compass includes a sighting hole and notch for accurate bearings, declination adjustment tool, and a clinometer
  • Stay On Course: Made in Finland, Suunto mechanical compasses help you safely and accurately navigate the great outdoors; Great for Alpine skiing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, trail running and more
  • Pioneering Exploration: Combining advanced engineering and thoughtful design with ultra durable materials, our adventure ready compasses are fast, stable, and simple to use; No batteries required
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of compass is best for hiking?

The best type of compass for hiking is a baseplate compass. These compasses are lightweight, easy to use, and accurate. They have a clear baseplate that allows you to see the map underneath and make accurate measurements. They also have a rotating bezel that allows you to take bearings and follow a course.

Are compasses good for hiking?

Yes, compasses are essential for hiking. They allow you to navigate in areas where there are no trails or where the trail is hard to follow. They also help you find your way if you get lost. A good compass can make the difference between a successful hike and a dangerous situation.

Who makes the best quality compass?

There are several companies that make high-quality compasses for hiking. Some of the most popular brands include Suunto, Silva, Brunton, and Gerber. Each of these companies has a range of compasses that are designed for different levels of hikers and different types of terrain.

How much should a good compass cost?

The price of a good compass can vary depending on the brand and the features it offers. A basic baseplate compass can cost as little as $10, while a high-end compass with advanced features can cost upwards of $100. It’s important to choose a compass that meets your needs and fits your budget.

What are the best pocket compasses for hiking?

Pocket compasses are a great option for hikers who want a compact and lightweight navigation tool. Some of the best pocket compasses for hiking include the Suunto MC-2 Compass, Brunton – TruArc 15 – Compass, and SUUNTO A-10 Compass.

These compasses are small enough to fit in your pocket, but still accurate enough to help you navigate on the trail.



Why Trust?

woman hiking

At Crave the Planet, I’m all about honest and relatable reviews of outdoor products. As a physical therapist, hut to hut hiker, downhill skier and mom, I’m constantly trying new gear to make my outdoor experiences more comfy and fun but with science in mind.

I’ll be real with you, I don’t do every outdoor activity. But, who does? I’m just a regular person who loves exploring the planet. Perfectionism is my enemy and I hope to help you ditch that vibe too.

My review process involves testing each product in real-life outdoor situations, but if it’s a really horrible day I’ll probably find a hotel in the valley. I’ll let you know what worked for me and what didn’t, so you can make informed decisions about your gear choices.

I don’t do sponsored reviews or take payment for my reviews. All comments are based on my personal experience. Sometimes I’ll test something and then send it back for a refund. Usually there’s a hefty fee. Bummer. So, if you’re looking for a relatable and honest take on outdoor gear, you’re in the right place.

Prefer Video? How to Use Hiking Compasses

More Hiking & Outdoor Gear Resources

Here’s more awesome gear to empower your journey. I have written in-depth comparisons of products that make hiking and exploring the Great Outdoors safer and more fun, especially if you’re a beginner (or like me, a little rusty in the knees).

Physical Therapist Curated Gear Guides for Hikers

My Guides to Bucketlist Hikes in Europe
(That I’ve personally done and loved.)

If you’re an avid hiker or mountaineer, you know that getting lost or injured in the wilderness can be a frightening experience. I hope this list of the best compass for hiking helps you feel safer to explore.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.