Hiking and camping are some of the most fun holidays and adventures you will have. It doesn’t matter if you are alone or in company, you are practically guaranteed to have a fun and freeing experience. However, many people do find themselves getting lost when they wander from the trail or decide to explore new areas. When your phone signal fails you, you can turn to the traditional compass – one of the key tools for outdoor survival. In this guide, we have gathered some of the best compasses as well as compass reviews, so you can find the one that is best suited to you. From top brands to cheap alternatives, the perfect compass is here.
How to Choose A Compass
Selecting the compass that suits you best can be harder than it seems, especially since there are so many on the market and the majority of them are very similar in appearance. In this section, we take you through some of the things that will help you to choose a compass that is right for you and your needs.
A base plate is a great place to start. This often contains printed rulers and a magnifying glass to help you carry out map work while you are stationary. You can plan your route and adjust the bearings accordingly so that you are all set for your trip. It tends to have a direction of travel arrow as well, so you know which way to hold it when you are checking your location.
A rotating bezel tends to be featured on all compasses, and it is important to make sure that yours includes one. This is marked with degrees, and circles around the needle. The smaller the interval of degrees, the easier it is to navigate precisely.
Of course, you might not want a compass as bulky as the traditional ones that contain baseplates. A wrist compass can give you readings that are just as precise as a classic one, but the compass itself is in a more convenient location. This is certainly the way to go if you reckon that your hiking or camping trip will require you to use both hands most of the time.
If you want a compass that is a little more advanced, invest in one that features declination adjustment. The declination is the difference in degrees between the true north and the magnetic north. Declination tends to vary depending on where in the world you are, and so adjustable declination can be very important, as you simply adjust it to your current location and then leave it until you move onto the next one.
Always take the time to read through the reviews before you make your purchase. If you aren’t sure which is best, the reviews from other customers can tell you a lot about the general level of satisfaction others have felt. This can aid in your decision making and help you with a potentially tricky decision. It’s also important to remember that while the most expensive items are often more reliable, this is not always the case.
Things to Look for
There are a couple of things you might want to keep an eye out for when you go to buy a compass. The first of these is lamination. Many compasses will come with a laminated screen, so you can see the direction and bearings in the dark. This can be very handy if you get lost or end up out longer than you had intended. It is certainly worth getting.
A lanyard is another option. If you are looking to keep your compass close to you at all times, then many come with lanyards so you can wear it around your neck – even the models with baseplates. This means you can check your location quickly and easily with minimal hassle.
A sighting mirror should also be considered. This helps you to focus more precisely when following an exact bearing or landmark. It can also double itself as an emergency signalling device much of the time, so you can try to get help if you end up in trouble.
The Advantages of A Compass
Here are some of the advantages to using a compass when you go hiking and camping:
- Prevents you from getting lost
- Allows you to see the direction you need to be heading in the dark
- They are very portable
- They are reliable and don’t risk malfunction like electronic ones
- They give you rapid orientation
- You can use them to undertake map work if they have baseplates
All that’s left is to choose the perfect compass for you. Take a look at our compass reviews for some of our favourite models.
Other Compass Models
Here are some other some other compass models in case the ones above did not suit your needs.
Suunto A-30 L CM Explorer Compass
This lightweight compass has been balanced for use in both the northern and southern hemisphere. It has a fixed declination correction scale, as well as jewel bearing. Made by a trusted brand, it is reliable as well as durable, and features a detachable lanyard so you can keep it close to you. The luminous bezel and markings help you to use in in dark conditions, and it has a baseplate with a magnifying lens and control marking holes. A good buy at a reasonable price.
Silva Compass Expedition 4-360
Another trusted brand that has a very reasonable price tag; Silva is one of the most popular compass manufacturers for hikers. This compass features sapphire jewel bearing for friction free movement of the compass needle, as well as several Romer scales and silicon feet so that you can do accurate map work. They have luminous markings so that the compass can be read at night, and even a magnifier alongside the millimetre and inch scales. Plus, the scales are durable and hot stamped on.
We have looked at quite a few models and brands in order to find the best compass in this guide. Of course, it’s not east to pinpoint a winner, especially since they cover so many different areas. Reliable brands like Silva are often the way to go if you are unsure, and you also have the option of a wrist compass if you want something a little easier to access while you are out hiking. Regardless of which of these compasses you pick, they are all excellent and sure to prevent you from getting lost.
What did you think of our compass selection? Are there any you would have added? We love hearing from you, so feel free to leave a message in the comments below.