best compass for hiking

10 Best Compasses for Hiking in 2020

When you are out in the woods hiking, you need navigational skills to find your way. You need, at the very least, a compass and a map. These are important tools to have at your disposal.

The compass will give you an accurate idea of your location and the correct way to get to where you are going.

To get the best results, you need the best compasses for hiking in 2020. These compasses are great not only because they give accurate directions but because of their durability, features, price and other features. 

You might feel that using a compass is somewhat old-fashioned. After all, there are several handheld GPS devices, watches with GPS, and smartphones.

While these can be indeed useful, what happens when they run out of power? Hence, nothing beats using a good, old-fashioned but reliable compass.

There are other reasons to choose a compass. Not only do they not run out of battery, but they are usually lightweight and very durable. Choosing the best compass for hiking can be hard since there are several options available on the market right now. 

In this post, we will review ten of the best compasses for hiking in 2020. We have also created a buying guide that can help you in choosing the right product. 

There are several factors that affect the efficiency of your compass. In this section, we will consider some of these factors. 

Benefits of Compasses

  • Navigation

One of the main advantages of a typical compass is accurate navigation. The best options on the market that are great for hiking come with the essential measurements for navigation.

The most important measurements are the four cardinal points. Other equipment can also point you in the right direction, but they can lose signal.

No matter where you find yourself in the woods, a compass will help you find your way back to wherever you started. 

  • Lightweight

The best compasses for hiking are lightweight. Therefore they do not weigh you down as you move through the woods. They also do not need any batteries. Therefore you can take them as far as you want without fearing running out of juice.

Compasses are also quite durable. They can survive in different types of weather. 

  • Several other features

Compasses, when coupled with a map, are really useful. They come with several nice features. For instance, some of them even glow at night. 

Features to Consider while choosing a compass – (Buying Guide)

  • Type of Compass

In choosing your compass, you should determine the type of compass you plan on taking with you. There are three major types of compasses available right now. These are the baseplate, lensatic, and electronic types. 

  1. Baseplate: This type of compass is hugely popular and is the most affordable type on the market. 

It doesn’t come with plenty of features. However, the features it comes with are really handy. For example, this compass comes with a magnifying lens that allows you to read the map easily. 

  1. Lensatic: This type of compass comes with three main parts. 

It features a rear lens that helps to read the dial. It isn’t very popular among backpackers as it is mostly used by the military. One advantage of this type of compass is high durability. There is a cover that serves to protect the device. 

  1. Electronic: The electronic compass is very easy to read, is accurate, and offers a numerical readout. It is usually more expensive than other compasses as it comes with plenty of extra features.

One useful feature is the ability to save bearings and notification sounds. 

The issue with this type of compass is that it isn’t very compatible with a map. Furthermore, it is similar to smartphones in that it requires a charge. 

  • Speed and accuracy

The best options on the market come with a correctly magnetized needle. These compasses easily give you a direction regardless of time of the day or climate. You need a reliable magnetized needle as the needle can give wrong readings if exposed to powerful magnets or the local magnetic field. 

  • Durability

It is essential that your compass lasts throughout your trip. Since it is your guide, it has to last despite bad weather or conditions.

Many compasses come with a cover that helps to reduce the effect of impacts of drops and falls. You need a model that can survive drops in the wild without breaking. 

  • Other features

The best options on the market come with several useful features that assist you in finding the right direction and distance.

Some of the most important features include clinometer, magnifier, declination adjustment, sighting mirror, and more.

Choose a model that comes with any of the features you like.

  • Power source

Your compass can either be analog or digital. 

An analog model does not have an external power source. Therefore, it can last for several years. You can keep it in a bag for several years, and it will still be ready to serve you immediately. 

The digital models, on the other hand, need to be charged. If they run out of power during your trip, you might be in trouble. Therefore, if you decide to use this type of compass, you should always have a portable charger with you. 

  • Price

Regardless of the type of compass you buy, you should get the best value for the price. As with other products on the market, compasses come in a wide range of prices. Therefore, you should decide your budget first, and choose an option that lies within that budget. 

10 Best Compasses for Hiking in 2020

Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Lensatic Tactical Compass

The first compass on this roundup is one of the most durable options you will find on the market today.

As implied by the name, it is a military-grade compass. Therefore, it will accompany you through the most perilous of trails without sustaining any lasting damage. 

It comes with a high-grade metal casing that allows it to survive falls, bumps, and impacts. Despite the impressive durability, it is a lightweight option that is easy to carry around with you.

Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Lensatic Tactical Compass | Impact Resistant and Waterproof |Metal Sighting Navigation Compasses...
  • WATERPROOF AND SHOCKPROOF FOR ROUGH USE - The base and cover are constructed with metal for years of durable using. Suitable for motoring, boating, camping, mountaineering, exploring, hunting, and...

It is a compact unit as well that will fit into your pocket easily. Also, it is a weather resistant unit as well and waterproof to boot.

It comes with its fair share of useful features as well. For example, this compass comes with light absorption abilities. Therefore, you can easily read the dial even in low-light conditions.

To get accurate readings, all you need to do is install it in a tripod via the screw hole. 

We observed that you can quickly get the information you need accurately. It also has a rotating bezel and features conversion charts as well.

These features combine to form one of the most reliable compasses for hiking in 2020.


  • Waterproof
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Glow-in-the-dark dial
  • Easy to read
  • Tough, durable build


  • Difficult to orient

SE Military Lensatic Compass

Using a compass is fairly easy, and you can easily learn how to read a compass dial. Once you can read a compass, then you are ready for your trip.

One excellent compass that you should consider taking along with you is the SE Military Lensatic Compass. This impressive unit is great for whether you are hiking, camping, or hunting. 

It comes with an adjustable diopter lens. This lens comes in super useful as you hike. It shows you the correct way and will help you reach your destination or return to your starting point easily. 

SE Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass with Pouch - CC4580
  • FLOURESCENT: Our thermo-elastic liquid-filled capsule with floating dial makes sure the whether light discipline is your goal, or just practicing navigation at night, you will always be able to see...

There is also a rotating bezel ring that comes in very handy. This bezel ensures that you keep right on the course. 

The lensatic compass gives you the most accurate readings and direction. No wonder then that it is the preferred compass of use for the military. 

As this unit is a lensatic lens, the back sight of the compass features a lens that you can take readings through. This design allows you to get more accurate readings. It is arguably the best compass for day hiking.

It might take some time to master using a lensatic lens, but once mastered, you wouldn’t want to use anything else. 


  • Accurate readings
  • Durable
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Lensatic compass
  • Excellent for nighttime navigation


  • Difficult to master

SUUNTO Clipper Compass

Up next is a very important essential gear to get you on the right course and out of the woods. 

The SUUNTO Clipper Compass is one of the most compact and portable options on this roundup. It comes in a small size and weighs only 1/5th of an ounce.

This combination means that you can take it anywhere you go without feeling weighed down. It can either be carried in your pocket or worn on the wrist like a watch. 

Suunto Clipper L/B NH compass
  • Liquid filled jewel bearing compass

Aside from the incredibly compact size, it comes with a rotating bezel that is marked in 10-degree increments. It also has luminous dials, which allow you to read the compass at night. 

 It is often described as a “button compass,” a fitting description considering the size. 

Where other small options like this often have issues with accuracy, this isn’t the case with this compass. It offers very accurate readings. Furthermore, it is a highly durable unit.

It has a sturdy form factor and can take a tumbling without any serious damage. 

Another reason why this option is preferred by navigators is that it is easy to read. It comes with large symbols signifying the four cardinal points. 


  • Lightweight
  • Highly portable
  • Very accurate readings


  • Easy to lose

GWHOLE Military Lensatic Compass

Thanks to its great features, this military lensatic compass is a sure way to help you navigate through the woods. 

Most compasses come with one color, but this model gives you the option to choose between different color modes.

It features a camouflage print cover that not only looks good but also serves to protect the device.

GWHOLE Military Lensatic Sighting Compass Waterproof for Outdoor Activities
  • High strength engineering metal body, rugged and capable of working under extreme weather condition.

There are several other features that make it a top choice. For instance, the rear plate of the compass comes with a conversion chart. Therefore, you can convert distance, angle or gradient from the back. 

Aside from these good features, it comes with a diopter sighting lens that you can move around till you get the reading you want. 

For safekeeping, it comes with an 18-inch lanyard. Therefore, it won’t go the way of a few similar small-sized compasses that you’ve lost along the way. 

Overall, it offers excellent value for price. 


  • Waterproof
  • High accuracy
  • Good value for price


  • No luminous effect without light

Cammenga 27CS Lensatic Compass

The Cammenga 27CS compass is one of the most durable options on this roundup and on the market today.

It is a compass that has an outline of aluminum. This material serves to protect it from falls and bumps as you hike outdoors. It is also rust-resistant. 

Before releasing to the market, this military-grade compass has been tested in virtually all respects. It is thus safe to use in different conditions.

Despite exposure to water, sand, or shock, you can rest assured that it won’t get damaged. 

There is also a useful magnifying glass, a sight wire, and a dial that ensures that you get accurate readings. 

Portability is another reason for the high rating of this compass. It features a clamshell design that allows it to slip into your pocket easily. 

When choosing a compass, stability is an important consideration. If your compass is not stable, the needle will move erratically, which in turn will affect your readings. 

Fortunately, this model comes with damping lodging, which reduces the needle movement. 


  • Durable construction
  • Easy to use
  • Accurate navigation
  • Non-liquid dampening 


  • The lens falls off
  • Relatively heavy

UST Deluxe Map Compass

The main advantage of this unit is the compact, solid build and the extended base. 

The base is bigger than what is obtainable in similarly priced options on the market. It, therefore, has all its measurements and readings clear and very easy to read. You can easily interact with it to get accurate readings. 

It is a lightweight and compact option that can come along with you in your pocket. Therefore, you can have it ready to use in a jiffy. It also gives the user standard and metric measurements. 


  • Standard and metric measurements
  • Easy to read
  • Compact


  • Not as durable as other options

SUUNTO MC-2 Compass

The SUUNTO MC-2 features on the list as one of the best compasses for hiking in 2020 for many reasons. 

First, it comes with a globally balanced needle that points in the right direction at almost all times. This jewelled needle is accurate and works well despite bad weather conditions.

The globally balanced needle comes with several advantages. If you have used a compass with a regular needle, you’ll appreciate the efficacy of a globally balanced needle. It has excellent dampening time and helps you achieve exact readings.

SUUNTO MC-2G Global Compass
  • Compact mirrored compass for taking highly accurate and reliable directional measurements

It is a lightweight compass as well. It weighs just 75 g, which makes it very easy to carry around with you. 

There is a sighting mirror cover on this compass that enhances its durability. Therefore, it will be a great companion for several years. 

The clinometer found in the compass will come in very handy if you are hiking on slopes. Furthermore, this compass comes with a liquid-filled capsule that makes it stable. 

You can easily use the compass in low-light conditions due to the lume on the dial and other parts.

Interestingly, it also comes with a base plate that features a magnifying lens. Therefore, you do not need to have a separate lens before you can read a map. 

There is a detachable wrist lock to keep the compass safe at all times and to prevent misplacing it.


  • Globally balanced needle
  • Glow-in-the dark features
  • Sighting mirror


  • Small orientation mirror


SUUNTO is one of the most popular compass manufacturers on the market today, and it is not surprising that the manufacturer has more than one product on this roundup of the best compasses for hiking.

The A-10 is a recreational compass by the company and comes with many basic features that come in pretty handy on the road. Despite coming with basic features, it is one of the most accurate compasses that you can find on the market today. 

SUUNTO A-10 IN Metric Recreational Field Compass
  • Lightweight recreational compass made of durable, clear, scratch-resistant acrylic

As a recreational compass, it comes at a relatively lower price than military-grade models. Nevertheless, it is quite durable and has a nice aesthetic. 

It is lightweight and can be slipped in your bag or pocket easily. It doesn’t have the fancy features of more expensive models, but if all you want is to know how to get from point A to point B, you’ll definitely find this to be just the right tool for you.

One of the best features we like about the product is the easy-to-read base plate. It also comes with declination adjustment, which comes really handy. 

It also features straight edges that serve as rulers. This helps you with map reading. 

The major drawback of this unit is that you cannot adjust the declination. Furthermore, there is no sighting mirror.

Overall, though, if all you need is a simple model to get you through a short hike, then you’ll likely love using this compass. 


  • Clean, simple design
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use


  • No sighting mirror
  • Lacks durability

Silva Ranger 515 Compass

The penultimate compass on this list is an excellent option from Silva’s line of compasses. Silva is a popular manufacturer of high-quality compasses, and it is great to see that this model does not disappoint. 

There are quite a number of features that grants this unit a deserved spot on this roundup. 

Silva Sighting Ranger CL Compass
  • Classic bezel, lid & mirror with more knuling for easier rotation/grip

For example, it comes with a clear, easy-to-read bezel. This bezel can be easily seen at all times of the day, even at night since it comes with lume design. 

Unlike the model reviewed just above, the Silva comes with a sighting mirror. The mirror comes in very useful when you want to get an accurate location on the map. 

Additionally, it comes with silicon map grippers that ensure that your map is accurately rendered without any distortion. 

If you walk the less-traveled path, then we strongly believe that this compass will serve as an excellent companion. 


  • Comes with luminous points
  • Easy to read
  • The base plate features three scales


  • Lacks a globally balanced needle
  • No self-declination

Coleman Pocket Compass

The Coleman Compass is the last but definitely not the least in this roundup. 

Coleman is the largest manufacturer of compasses and outdoor equipment, and the pocket compass from this maker is a very useful tool for anyone heading outdoors.

The features here are rather basic, as Coleman has opted for functionality over bells and whistles. Therefore, we rate it as the best pocket compass for hiking.

Coleman Pocket Compass
  • Quicker accuracy with liquid-filled design

One basic but very useful feature is the standard directional references. As with the best models on the market, it comes with an illuminated pointer. Therefore, it comes in pretty useful at night. 

It is lightweight and portable. Despite the relatively low price and basic features, it is one of the most durable options on this roundup. 

While it might not blow you away with its simple features, it is useful enough to get you out of a tough spot when needed. 


  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • Illuminated pointer


  • No extra features

Comparison Table of 10 Best Compasses for Hiking



As you prepare to take a hike, you should keep a high-quality compass in your backpack as it comes very handy.

Although you can use a smartphone, it can run out of juice and leave you stranded.

In this post, we have considered important information about compasses. We have seen why a compass is beneficial. We have also discussed the different types of compasses on the market.

In the buying guide, we discussed some of the essential features that can help with making the correct buying decision.

Before making the list of the best compasses for hiking, we spent hours researching and having hands-on experience with scores of these products.

From our research, we came up with the list of products listed above. The best options on the market we reviewed above consider the user’s range of needs and features.

Many of them feature impressive adjustable declination to guide at all points of your trip. Most also come with a light-up feature, which allows you to get an accurate compass reading even in low-light conditions.

We hope that this guide and review provided in this post will assist you to choose the best compasses for hiking in 2020. 

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