Best Compass for Day Hiking with Buying Guide

During wilderness navigation, your best compass is a reliable and rugged tool. Unlike smartphones or GPS devices, it can handle challenging winter conditions. During a snowstorm, its battery does not drain alarmingly quickly.

Once you have the skills to use them effectively, compasses use the Earth’s magnetic field to point you in the right direction. Additionally, the best compasses have features that help you interpret their sidekick: the map. You can also utilize a map and compass outdoors, which is a reassuring safety net in case other technology fails.

Products for the Best Compass for Day Hiking 

Title
Best Overall
SUUNTO unisex adult Northern Hemisphere compass, USGS UTM, MC-2 NH US
All Rounder
SUUNTO Clipper Compass, Micro Compass Attaches to Strap, Sleeve or Map Edge
Mapping Compass
Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass
soft and non-slip
Silva Ranger S Compass, Clear, One Size
Plastic
Silva Expedition Global Compass
Image
SUUNTO unisex adult Northern Hemisphere compass, USGS UTM, MC-2 NH US
SUUNTO Clipper Compass, Micro Compass Attaches to Strap, Sleeve or Map Edge
Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass
Silva Ranger S Compass, Clear, One Size
Silva Expedition Global Compass
Prime
-
-
Rating
-
-
-
-
-
Best Overall
Title
SUUNTO unisex adult Northern Hemisphere compass, USGS UTM, MC-2 NH US
Image
SUUNTO unisex adult Northern Hemisphere compass, USGS UTM, MC-2 NH US
Prime
Rating
-
All Rounder
Title
SUUNTO Clipper Compass, Micro Compass Attaches to Strap, Sleeve or Map Edge
Image
SUUNTO Clipper Compass, Micro Compass Attaches to Strap, Sleeve or Map Edge
Prime
Rating
-
Mapping Compass
Title
Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass
Image
Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass
Prime
Rating
-
soft and non-slip
Title
Silva Ranger S Compass, Clear, One Size
Image
Silva Ranger S Compass, Clear, One Size
Prime
-
Rating
-
Plastic
Title
Silva Expedition Global Compass
Image
Silva Expedition Global Compass
Prime
-
Rating
-

SUUNTO MC-2 Compass

SUUNTO MC-2 Compass

If you want the best compass for day hiking, then you are at the right place. SUUNTO compass is very easy to use, which helps in navigating the outdoor areas safely. Most surprisingly, the manufacturers made it with precision engineering. 

It comes with fantastic navigation tools whenever you are in a new location. 

So you can quickly go towards your destination with the help of this high-quality compass. SUUNTO is a renowned brand producing different types of compasses for beginners and professionals according to their needs. 

It is a significant compass made with modern features for accurate directional measurements. Not only for simple day hiking, but it is also a professional compass for backpackers, skiers, and serious hikers. It also includes a hole and notch for precision bearings.

Pros

  • It comes with essential navigation tools
  • Easy to use for beginners and professionals
  • Adjustable declination
  • Advanced engineering and thoughtful design

Cons

  • The build quality could be improved. 
SUUNTO unisex adult Northern Hemisphere compass, USGS UTM, MC-2 NH US
  • 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

SUUNTO Clipper Compass

SUUNTO Clipper Compass

By putting first glance, it looks very compact and lightweight. So you can easily carry this gadget in your backpack and use it if needed. 

Wherever you go towards another new territory, it gives you procedure navigation. So it is considered the most important rule while going on any hiking trip or trekking. Not only professionals but even beginners can also use this gadget very quickly. 

Base plate compass is its style, whereas it is equipped with all the essential navigational features that should be present in a potential compass. It is a micro compass that you can attach to your sleeve or watch strap. 

Overall it is a very high-quality compass with an advanced compass that is fast and stable with no batteries required.

Pros

  • Super compact and lightweight
  • It comes with luminescent markings
  • Made up of ultra-durable materials
  • Fast, stable, and easy to use

Cons

  • Requires a fair amount of practice
SUUNTO Clipper Compass, Micro Compass Attaches to Strap, Sleeve or Map Edge
  • Micro Compass: This super compact compass easily attaches to your sleeve, watch strap, backpack strap, or map edge so you can free up your hands; It's also great for underwater navigation
  • Balanced For Northern Hemisphere: This liquid filled jewel bearing compass has luminescent markings so it's operable in low light; The direction is on a rotating bezel in 10 degree increments
  • 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

Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass

Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass

Brunton Mapping Compass is the best compass for day hiking and tracking and is made in the USA. So no one can deny the reliability and quality of materials used in its construction. 

The global needle is present to check the direction and is accurate in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It provides a two-degree resolution where you can also find the scales in centimeters and inches. It also comes with a map magnifier. 

It’s considered the best and perfect choice for backpackers, hikers, and trekkers. This gadget stands out in the market because of its intensive map work with a map magnifier, so you can check out every detail. If you want to check the direction with accurate triangulation, this one is perfect as it has an oversized base plate.

Pros

  • 2-degree resolution
  • It comes with a map magnifier
  • Made in the USA
  • Accurate and lightweight

Cons

  • Basic model
Brunton TruArc5 Baseplate Mapping Compass
  • GLOBAL NEEDLE - With the TruArc Global Needle that's accurate in both northern and southern hemispheres you can take this compass anywhere in the world.
  • TOOL-LESS - Allows for East or West declination settings to +/- 180°.
  • 2° RESOLUTION - The Brunton TruArc 5 Compass features 2° resolution and scales in inches and centimeters.
  • MAGNIFIER - The map magnifier makes reading detailed topographical maps that much easier.
  • MADE IN THE USA - Made in Brunton’s own facility in Riverton, Wyoming.

Silva Ranger S Compass

Silva Ranger S Compass

Silva Ranger S Compass is very lightweight, weighing only 0.06 kg. It is also a compact and durable compass with all the features that should be present in a potential gadget. It has a soft and non-slippers socket with an extra large direction finder. 

It uses its fluorescent elements to give you simple and exact directions even in the dark.

You can also use it in wet or light rain because it is fully waterproof. The strap is also available in this compass, so you can easily attach it wherever you want. Not only this, but it is also a great gift idea for the person who goes on hiking and tracking so often.

Pros

  • Extra large size direction finder
  • It comes with fluorescent elements
  • Waterproof and lightweight compass
  • Made up of high-quality, durable materials

Cons

  • The base plate is too small.
Silva Ranger S Compass, Clear, One Size
  • With soft and non-slip DryFlex Socket, an extra large sized direction finder for simple and exact course planning.
  • Scale for declination compensation is located within the capsule.
  • With fluorescent elements for use in the dark and removable safety strap.
  • Waterproof to IPX8.
  • 90 x 59 x 17 mm, 53 g.

Silva Expedition Global Compass

Silva Expedition Global Compass

Silva Expedition Global compass comes with a global needle. So with the help of this needle, you can use this compass in all three magnetic zones. You can also use it at night because it gives you luminous markings and graduation rings. 

As a result, you should not have to be afraid of going out at night. It enables nighttime navigation for up to 4 hours once activated by daylight. It also has a slope card to check the slope and extra distance. 

You can place this compass directly on your route. The rubber grip will give you easy handling. If you are concerned about the quality of the compass, then you should purchase this. Overall, it is a very easy-to-use gadget that anyone can easily use.

Pros

  • It comes with an excellent luminous protractor
  • Beautiful look and feel
  • Global needle with a tilt base
  • Well made functioning

Cons

  • The availability of this compass could be improved.
Silva Expedition Global Compass
  • Sapphire mounted needle
  • Rotating housing
  • Carrying strap with scales
  • Clinometer
  • Magnifying glass

SUUNTO A-10 Compass: Compact, simple to use

SUUNTO A-10 Compass: Compact, simple to use

It is straightforward to use both for recreational hiking and trekking. The feature that stands out in the market is its speedy and specific use. With the help of a baseplate compass, it is perfect for navigation with a map and compass. 

The gadget’s high-quality needle has a jewel in the center and a liquid-filled capsule for stable operation. It’s made in Finland, and there’s no in its quality and reliability. 

You can securely and accurately navigate the outdoor areas. It is the perfect gadget for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and skiing. It’s a very modern gadget with ultra-durable materials used in its construction.

Pros

  • Perfect for recreational hiking
  • Compact and straightforward to use
  • Ideal for navigation with a map
  • Advanced engineering and thoughtful design

Cons

  • No declination adjustment capability
SUUNTO A-10 NH Compass
  • Recreational Compass: Minimalistic and straightforward, the A-10 compass is the ideal hiking and orienteering compass that is fast and simple to use; Balanced for northern hemisphere use with inch/cm scales and a fixed declination
  • Baseplate Compass: Ideal for navigating with a map and compass, the A 10 is compact and features a high grade steel needle with jewel bearing and a liquid filled capsule for stable operation
  • 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

SUUNTO M-3 Compass: Quality, precision compass

SUUNTO M-3 Compass: Quality, precision compass

SUUNTO is also called an adventure compass because it gives you precise directions during your trip. It is a high-quality precision compass with easy to read design and adjustable declaration. 

Like the above one, it also gives luminescent markings so you can navigate at night. You can use this compass very quickly, and it also helps you safely and accurately guide the outdoors. 

According to the manufacturers, this compass is simple to use and is also very fast and stable. It does not require any kind of battery and works on itself. With the help of technological advancements, the manufacturers offer accurate navigation and other navigation tools even in the most demanding conditions.

Pros

  • Decision compass for adventurous hiking
  • High-quality and compact
  • A precise and reliable compass
  • Great for hiking, trekking, mountain biking, mountaineering

Cons

  • Expensive compass for day hiking
Suunto M-3 G Compass For Globetrotters, One Size, Global Metric
  • Adventure Compass: The M-3 compass is a premium quality precision compass for convenient direction taking in demanding conditions; The M-3 is a hardy baseplate compass ready for the challenge
  • Precise And Reliable: The M-3 Global features a globally balanced needle, adjustable declination, scales in metric and imperial, luminescent markings for low light use, and a magnifying lens on a transparent baseplate for easy use with maps
  • 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

Buying Guide for Hiking and Backpacking Compass

Buying Guide for Hiking and Backpacking Compass

Adventure racing and orienteering

From a few hours to several days, adventure races can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Runners, backpackers, paddlers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor athletes must combine their skills to locate hidden waypoints.

An orienteering compass and topographic map are all you need to accomplish this. It is possible to consider orienteering separately from adventure racing, even though it involves skill. 

Some local clubs and groups organize orienteering races, which are less challenging than adventure races but operate on the same principle: find waypoints before your competitors!

Redundancy

Compasses are kept around by many as backup navigation tools. You can find it in the trunk of a car, in a survival kit, or on the dash of a boat when it gets dark. No matter what source of electricity or battery is used, we know there may be times when they run out. Solar chargers will charge up electronics when there is sunlight, preventing this from happening.

Along with their main orienteering compass and handheld GPS, some hikers keep a small, lightweight compass attached to their zipper or on top of their hiking pole. 

Three compasses aren’t necessary for everyone, but they can be good backups.

What types of compasses do hikers and backpackers use?

Orienteering Compass

There are several names for orienteering compasses, but they all possess high-level navigational accuracy. 

Their transparent baseplates allow them to be used with topographic maps, often with rulers, declination scales, sighting mirrors, and clinometers. Highly skilled navigators will appreciate the full-featured features of these compasses.

Orienteering Compass

Liquid Filled Compass

Many types of compasses are liquid-filled. Most models offer this feature, and it’s not confined to one kind of compass. The needle chambers of compasses are buffered from movement and vibration by adding fluid. 

Navigating with fluid dampens the swing of the compass and tempers erratic movements. For navigation purposes, this is a must-have feature.

Simple Baseplate Compass

There are only a few features on these compasses. A transparent acrylic baseplate allows maps to be viewed and read through the compass. A great beginner’s compass, these compasses will serve most hiking and backpacking needs.

Building Awareness

If you plan to go hiking or backpacking in the wilderness, you should be familiar with your surroundings. Rescue operations are carried out annually in seemingly avoidable situations, where hikers get lost and discover they could have escaped easily. 

Once you’ve had some training and practice with a map and compass, you’ll feel much more confident and comfortable. Reading a map, recognizing landmarks, and navigating using simple terrain features will boost your safety (and ego).

What to consider when purchasing a compass

What to consider when purchasing a compass

The Right Time to Carry a Compass

Compasses are generally helpful on hikes. Using a compass can be beneficial whether you go out for a day or a week. I usually skip the compass when I’m on a short hike in an area I know with good cell phone reception. However, I always carry a map and a compass.

You probably only need a tiny pocket compass for backup on simple afternoon hikes at the local park with the kids. However, off-trail backpacking in the Wind River Range requires a good orienteering compass, if not a baseplate compass. You should include a decent baseplate compass in your bug-out bag, emergency trunk bag, or prepper-style survival kit.

Compass Storage and Care

Make sure you store your compass correctly when you aren’t using it. Magnets and powerful electronics should be kept away from your compass. These two factors can potentially distort your compass’s accuracy over time. 

It is important to remember that your compass is designed to work outdoors and may be disrupted or show inaccurate readings in vehicles or buildings.

How to Use a Compass

Learning how to use an advanced compass can be challenging. Try some YouTube videos to familiarize yourself with the basics of navigation. You can find basic navigation classes at local outfitter stores. You can become an advanced compass user by participating in orienteering. To complete this activity, you must navigate to hidden locations as quickly as possible using a map and compass. Excellent compass navigation can be learned in a fun and enjoyable way!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does declination mean on a compass?

On a compass, the arrow points north magnetically. Declination is the angle between true and magnetic north. According to the geographic north pole, true north is the direction along the surface of the Earth.

What is the best way to set the declination of a compass?

The compass determines the direction. The tools required for some compasses vary, ranging from a metal key to a special screwdriver. Once you have turned the north arrow on the compass to the angle that corresponds to your local declination, you have set your declination. 

Final thoughts

If you consider our recommendations, picking the best compass shouldn’t be a mind-boggling dilemma. Even the most expensive orienteering compass isn’t ridiculously expensive, so you can invest in a high-quality tool without breaking it. You can buy a perfect compass for camping or short hikes for very little money. Regardless of your chosen compass, you should take the time to learn how to use it. If you purchase another model in the future, you can apply these skills to it.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Scroll to Top