Best Compasses for Hiking in 2019

Navigating your direction over long distances with a compass is no less than skill. It guides you about the best possible way to reach exactly to your destination. Poor visibility at night or varied landscapes, etc. a lot of factors hamper the hiking experience.

Though with advanced technology, smartphones or handheld GPS devices come handy, there’s always a chance that you may get out of battery or signals, and these devices turning useless then.  Therefore, compass acts as the most reliable tool and one of the most crucial gears that can literally save your life.

The analog compass tells you the direction even in those areas where GPS signals cannot even reach. Compasses are in general hemisphere-specific which means that you need one kind of compass for the northern hemisphere and another for the southern hemisphere. Only the global needle compass works worldwide and is not zone specific.

Overview of features of a compass

A compass for hiking should have certain features. Let’s take a look at some of the important ones:

  1. Durability– Who wants a compass that breaks easily just on being bumped or in case it falls on the ground. It is very common to drop the compass when you work around on the map or while operating it with a pair of gloves; so always buy a compass that is durable in nature.
  2. Clinometer: Serious or adventurous hikers who hike at varied kinds of landscapes need clinometer to assess avalanche hazards. It helps you to measure slope angles, the height of objects and is a very important feature for search-and-rescue professionals.
  3. Global needle– If you are a regular hiker and do lots of outdoor activities, and need a compass with a global needle. The global needle has quicker dampening time and helps you to take accurate bearings based on landmarks. These needle handles can easily tilt of up to 20 degrees and can easily work in different compass zones.
  4. Baseplate– These type of compasses come with a flat transparent base, which is made of plastic or similar material. Its edges are marked with a ruler and it has a lot of navigational markings on its base
  5. Luminescent indicators: These type of markings help you navigate after sunset. It makes it possible to use the compass at night. However, digital compasses these days always have a backlight for easy reading at night.
  6. Sighting mirror– This mirror works as an emergency signaling device. The best part about buying a mirror sighting compass is that they are more accurate with directions, as you simply look at the bezel in the mirror, while figuring out the correct direction for travel, and you don’t have to lift your eyes from the compass.
  7. Declination adjustment– Magnetic declination is basically the is the angle between magnetic north and true north. Declination scale is important so that compass points to true north instead of magnetic north. It varies depending on where you are on the globe. Some have a fixed declination correction scale to simplify the calculations required. Others have an adjustable declination correction scale that helps to give accurate direction directly from the compass.
  8. Magnifier– Most of the best quality compass has a magnifier to help you spot the minute of the details on the map. You can read even the smallest of the scribbles or writings on the map with the help of a magnifier.

Buying a compass that matches your requirements, is not an easy task. Amidst so many options in the market, choosing the suitable one seems confusing. To ease it out for you, we have listed some of the Best Compasses for Hiking in 2019. Take a look: 

Best Compasses for Hiking in 2019

Silva Guide 2.0 Compass

Silva’s Guide 2.0 mirror-sighting Compass features a simple and compact design and is easily portable. It folds neatly into a small square with smooth edges, which makes it convenient to carry. Equipped with interesting features, this compass has been technically engineered for serious compass users.

It comes with a fixed declination scale. Its mirror lid comes tilted to a 45-degree angle and stays secured to the same angle even when the lid is closed, thereby protecting the compass against any kind of damage and dirt.

Constructed out of quality material, this compass comes a needle that is made from the finest Swedish steel with high-quality magnetic features.

This tough compass can withstand any rigorous treatment and conditions that comes it’s a way. It comes with a detachable lanyard that features a safety release option. This compass comes with turntable housing that is usable with the SILVA 1-2-3 System.


The best part about buying a mirror sighting compass is that they are more accurate, as you simply look at the bezel in the mirror, while figuring out the correct direction for travel, with your eyes intact on the compass. Meanwhile, it also protects the top of the compass.

It features a DryFlex rubber grip that is great and allows easy handling of the compass. The declination scale is there inside the capsule and can be used anywhere to simplify the calculations.

There are red/black north-south lines at the bottom of the capsule to ensure easy and safe setting.

This easy to use a compass is lightweight, durable, and unsinkable. It features a waterproof design; allowing it to handle tough weather conditions.

The base plate offers map-measuring in inches and scales of 1:62.5k mile & 1:24k USGS scale. The markings and the scales have been made in a clear contemporary font making it easier to navigate. The clinometer helps in measuring slope angle.

These luminous markings make nighttime navigation easier up to 4 hours once activated by daylight/flashlight. There’s a lot of transparency in the baseplate that further eases the navigation process. One of the biggest cons of this compass is that it lacks declination adjustments.

Overall, this compass has all the features that make it ideal for hikers, mountaineers, backpackers, and hunters. This robust navigation device serves an excellent quality to price ratio and is worth the money.

Suunto M-3 G Compass

Made in Finland, this premium quality precision compass is constructed out of best quality materials and features a high-grade steel needle with jewel bearing.

This compass is highly reliable and works amazingly even in the most demanding and challenging conditions. It is a globally balanced needle that can survive extreme conditions. The capsule is liquid-filled to provide stability in operation.

This hardy baseplate compass comes with an adjustable declination correction, which minimizes errors. The baseplate style compass has a straight edge that makes it easy to locate the destination.

This baseplate style adventure compass has a built-in clinometer that lets you measure slope angles and the heights of objects. It features metric and imperial UTM scales The luminescent markings make nighttime navigation easier.


The snap-lock lanyard has a wrist lock and is easily detachable, making it convenient of you to work with the map. One of the reasons behind this compass being ultralight is that it has no sighting mirror.

Having a sighting mirror means that your eyes remain intact on the compass, thereby giving more accuracy when finding a direction. Therefore, this compass needs to be stored properly, so that you can protect it.

This compass is highly responsive as it features a global needle; you can pitch this compass at 20° tilt margin, and it works amazingly to provide easier readings. The best part of the global needle is that it works perfectly no matter the location.

Finding directions with the compass that do not have a global needle is a tedious process. The degree of precision on the Suunto M-3 D bezel is two degrees, which is pretty good for point-to-point navigation. You can always position the bearing mark accordingly to give you one degree of precision.

Each baseplate on this compass also features an inch scale, centimeter scale, 1:24,000 map scale, and a 1:25,000 map scale and a 1:50,000. This compass is covered by Suunto limited lifetime warranty. The baseplate also has a magnifying lens that helps you spot minute details on the map.

Given the features like adjustable declination or a global needle, this compass truly justifies its premium price tag. Quality comes at a price, and this compass is a perfect example of that. This compass is perfect for those who travel to different compass zones.

Suunto A-10 Trekking Compass

Made in Finland, this easy to use compact compass has been engineered to be balanced for the northern hemisphere. However, this compass is so reliable that it works both in the northern hemisphere, and can be used over varied ranges of latitude.

Constructed out of quality materials, this compass features a high-grade steel needle with jewel bearing. Highly durable, this compass offers a scratch-resistant finish and easily fits in the palm of your hand.

The capsule is liquid-filled to provide stability in operation. This baseplate compass features a simple and minimalistic design and is quite straightforward in its usage.

This reliable navigational tool is fast and highly responsive. Best suited for general recreational use, this robust compass comes with a fixed declination correction scale, which ensures precision.


The baseplate markings are made in a bright red color, which makes it easier to read when combined with a map. The A-10 does not have any luminous markings on it, which means it is not intended for night time use; it can be only used during daytime. It has a bearing lock with orienting indicator.

The snap-lock lanyard has a wrist lock and is easily detachable, making it convenient for you to work with the map. The lanyard is of good-quality and makes this compass convenient to carry.

The best part is that the lanyard can be attached directly to the baseplate iThe bezel material comprises of plastic and there are degree markings in white color on top of the bezel in 2º intervals with highlights at 10º and 20º.

This works great only in ordinary conditions; so if you are a serious hiker and want to buy a compass for challenging conditions, then this one is not for you. This well-built compass has 2.5° of compass accuracy.

It has distance indicators for 1:10k 1:50k and 1:25k map scales. It doesn’t feature any magnifying lens and there is no clinometer. It is insensitive to water pressure. This compass is covered by Suunto limited lifetime warranty.

Convenient for all the normal navigation tasks, this is an accurate compass for hiking and orienteering. Unless you want a sighting mirror compass, this works great, especially for beginners. Genuinely priced, this baseplate type compass is definitely worth it. 

Silva Ranger S Compass  

Silva Ranger compass series has always been popular and with this Silva Ranger S Compass, they have introduced a top-notch product with updated graphics and colors. Equipped with a lot of new features, this compass has been designed for serious compass users. It is a compact mirror sighting compass that can be used effectively for plotting routes.

The best part about buying a mirror sighting compass is that it can also be used in emergencies for signaling. These compasses also help you determine direction over long distances accurately, as you don’t need to lift your eyes from the compass in order to look out the direction.


The mirror folds down easily, which lets it nicely sit in a pocket. The back of the mirror acts as a case to protect the compass and the mirror. This functional compass comes with 1:25:000 and 1:50:000 scales and centimeter/millimeter rules.

Another useful feature of this compass is it’s easy to use-anywhere declination scale inside the capsule. A base plate map-measuring in mm and scales of 1:50,000 and 1:25,000. The lanyard is extremely soft and has been constructed out of quality material, is easily bendable and can be easily placed on the map, adding to the convenience level.

The luminous markings make this compass perfect for adventurous hikers and nighttime hiking. It comes tilted at 45-degree angle assistance on the mirror sighting function. This compass is waterproof to IPX8 standards.

It has very eye-catching contemporary font colors that change to green and black to harmonize with the other outdoor assortment.  The baseplate also has a magnifying lens that helps you spot minute details on the map. The DryFlex rubberized bezel surrounding the compass provides grip on those challenging weather days and is easy to use with or without gloves.

Designed for regular and adventurous athletes, this versatile mirror-sighting compass is equipped with all the necessary features that will help you determine the accurate location. With an adequate price to features ratio, this one is definitely worth the consideration.

Suunto Mc-2G Usgs Mirror Compass

This is a professional mirror sighting compass equipped with some top-notch features to provide you with accurate and precise direction. It features a globally balanced needle with jewel bearing. Compasses with global needlework perfectly under any kind of extreme conditions.

With the weight of 75g, it has operating temperatures of -30° C to +60° C. The sighting mirror fold down nicely to protect the compass.

Finding directions with the compass that do not have a global needle is a tedious process. The global needle has quicker dampening time and helps you to take accurate bearings based on landmarks. This global needle accepts tilts up to 20 degrees and still reads with exact precision and accuracy.

It comes with a built-in clinometer and an adjustable declination correction tool. The clinometer helps to measure slope angles, that helps to estimate any kind of danger on avalanche-prone slopes. The liquid filled capsule allows for stability in operation. This compass also includes an additional sighting hole for superior bearing accuracy.


The luminescent markings make it possible to use this compass in low light conditions. The baseplate also has a magnifying lens that helps you spot minute details on the map. The snap-lock lanyard has a wrist lock and is easily detachable, making it convenient for you to work with the map. It has USGS UTM scales.

Each baseplate features a 1:24,000 miles map scale, 1:24,000 km map scale and 1:50,000 km map scale. It also has silicon map grippers on base.

It features a 2-color bezel ring and meridian lines that help in compass orientation to map. The baseplate is covered by anti-slip rubber pads, which ensures a firm grip and makes it easier to use with or without gloves. The sighting mirror provides for sight bearings and also helps in emergency signaling. It comes with an inclination accuracy of 2 degrees.

Made in Finland, this product features Suunto limited lifetime warranty. Overall, this professional compass has been engineered to match the needs of global mountaineers. This compass can be easily used in the northern and southern hemisphere. Given its top-notch features, this one justifies its price tag.

Comparison Table of Best compasses for Hiking 2019

Below-mentioned table filters out some of the important features for you to make a better choice:

Basis Silva Guide 2.0 Suunto M-3 G Suunto A-10-CM-NH Silva Ranger S Suunto Mc-2G
Type Mirror Sighting Baseplate Baseplate Mirror Sighting Mirror Sighting
Declination Adjustment No Yes No No Yes
Clinometer No Yes No No Yes
Magnifying Lens No Yes No Yes Yes

Understanding the features before you make a purchase is very important. It is also imperative to learn how to use your compass. Make sure you never place the compass near strong magnets as it can demagnetize the needle and hamper its accuracy.

Rating Table of Best compasses for Hiking 2019

Best compasses for Hiking 2019
  • Silva Guide 2.0 Compass
  • Suunto M-3 G Compass
  • Suunto A-10 Trekking Compass
  • Silva Ranger S Compass
  • Suunto Mc-2G Usgs Mirror Compass
4.7

Conclusion

Don’t be confused while buying a compass. Make sure you don’t comprise on quality in lieu of price and fall for a cheap compass. Research the options well and make a wise choice that fits in your requirement.Nbe