In a rush? Don’t have time to read detailed information about the best hiking compass? We have you covered. This short paragraph should offer sufficient information for you to make a smart choice. We have collected a lot of information about the best hiking compass from expert review sites and owner feedback to facilitate objective product evaluation and comparison. Out of all the products we have looked into, the best hiking compass for sale on the market is the Cammenga 3H Tritium, which is ideal for use in the most demanding hiking conditions where toughness is not just an option. This compass can withstand rigorous shock, water and sand exposure while staying functional in extreme temperatures. It won’t allow you to get lost in the dark thanks to its innovative tritium lights that serve as illumination in poorly lit conditions, replacing a bulkier flashlight or other camping light source. The unit even has a magnifying lens, sight wire plus dial gradations so you can clearly see the readings in any setting. Designed to be tough, this hiking compass can take you through anything with its lasting waterproof housing and aluminum frame. If the Cammenga 3H Tritium is unavailable, we recommend going for the second best option, the SE CC4580.
Hiking Compasses – What to Look for:
Used for finding different directions and for navigation, a hiking compass does not rely on satellite signals or batteries to run, which makes it a better choice for rough outdoor use compared to a GPS device. With no sensitive electronics that could easily be rendered useless during an EMP event, a good compass for hiking helps you find your way while being moderately easy to repair and quite hard to break, despite being a gloriously low-tech device.
Characterized by a magnetized needle that aligns with the magnetic field of the earth, traditional compasses are classified as floating needle compasses, which are not the same as digital compasses. Their needle housing is typically filled with a liquid that keeps the needle steady to facilitate the making of precise readings on them. Battery-powered and requiring calibration, digital compasses are not as reliable as floating needle compasses.
A basic compass is the ideal choice for novice adventurers, backpackers and day hikers who use trails extensively. With all the essential components, basic compasses do not play big on such bonus features as a mirror or declination adjustment. An advanced compass is full featured, built with a number of extras including a mirror magnifier, which can contribute to better accuracy and easier navigation. Those who often veer off the trail and venture into backcountry paths will appreciate this type of compass. Accessory compasses can be found on watches or keyrings. They are small and round and do not have a base plate. Designed more for kids and for quick reference, an accessory compass points accurately toward the magnetic north and is not intended for use in serious navigation.
A baseplate compass is best used on a map. Generally, this type of compass is set into a rectangle with some straight lines and edges to be aligned with the essential parts of a map. That rectangle serves as the base plate that forms the name of this type of flat device. For more accurate map reading, a baseplate compass can feature scales on the edges, with the rectangle shape being constructed of clear plastic to facilitate viewing of map details underneath.
A prismatic and lensatic sighting compass is configured in such a way that allows you to read the compass and also align it with an object around you. The compass is sighted on the object, which can be a tree or a mountain peak. The bearing to the object is read from the compass card while you and the compass remain fixed or unmoving. You can also line up the compass to the direction you will be taking, and then look through the compass’ external sighting slot to sight a distant object that you will move towards, which will provide the proper travel direction. Hybrid compasses are designed to work both in the field and on a map, making them the perfect choice for most people who prefer a one-size-fits-all device.
When checking out recommendations on direct sighting compasses, you will want to make sure the products come with a 1-degree or even better accuracy. You want the compass to be virtually foolproof and easy to use. The needle should not stick even a small bit, or it should not need some force to dislodge it from where it has gotten caught on and should settle at the exact new point without sticking. A perfectly balanced needle will not show any sign of mechanical error, such as a sloppy outside bezel or slightly bent or wobbly sighting posts.
The alignment with the compass needle and the marking of the scale should be precise. The needle should be exactly centered on the compass card. No stray magnetic fields or metal should be able to compromise compass readings, such as when you have your cellphone in your pocket or a pistol on your hip. The bottom line though is you should know well how to overcome human error, mechanical and precision errors and magnetic interference during use.
Most appreciated Products – Comparison Table
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Some advanced features that compasses can carry include a more sophisticated orienting arrow, which can provide the magnetic declination in your direction of travel. In a lot of cases, a tiny adjustment tool can be utilized to turn a small screw near or on the compass housing so the orienting arrow no longer lies parallel to the north-south lines but will be offset to conform with the declination of the area of travel, for easy alignment of the magnetic needle with the magnetic north as you get your bearings, and with new adjustments being made possible for every trip.
You have to do the math with a fixed orienting arrow, especially when making manual adjustments for each new measurement. A convenient set-it-and-forget-it approach works with an adjustable arrow though. For reading tiny map symbols, a magnifying lens mounted on the base plate is pretty useful. A fold-out surface called a sighting mirror improves reading precision. A notch in the top enables you to look through when the mirror is only partially folded open. The notch also serves as a personal mirror or emergency signaling device.
A clinometer enables you to measure slope steepness. Luminescent indicators are good to have on a magnetized needle when you do night travel. A global needle is indispensable when traveling in the Southern Hemisphere. A lanyard or a piece of cord will be useful for attaching the compass to a pack, belt or the wrist.
There are plenty of choices on compasses on the market, which can make your buying experience more difficult at every turn. Hopefully, with the information contained in the above buying guide, you should have a smoother buying journey. We feature the best hiking compasses below.
This top rated hiking compass in 2020 is a product that carries distinction as the world’s top military compass. It is built to conform to the stringent specifications set by the US Fighting Forces. It even carries a military-like identification number. It is tested to be battle-proof, whether you subject it to water, sand, shock and temperature punishment. The compass can remain functional even in extreme temperatures of minus 50oF to plus 150oF. It is built with even Tritium micro-lights so you can use it to navigate in low-light situations. It has a sight wire, and magnifying lens dial gradations that carry both mils and degrees for precise readings. The package includes a belt clip, carrying pouch and lanyard.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($89.29)
The SE CC4580 is a military prismatic sighting compass that has all the essential components of a highly reliable floating needle compass. Built with a thermo-elastic liquid-filled capsule with floating dial, this model is lightweight at just 3.7 ounces. The ruler units on the sides offer measurements in inches and centimeters so you don’t have to do complex conversions when taking your bearings.
The device comes with a rotating bezel ring and a built-in bubble level. The non-freezing liquid slows the jiggling of the needle and lets it rest quicker compared to an air-filled housing. The azimuth ring or rotating bezel makes it easier to get accurate bearings. The compass also comes with a 36-inch lanyard and a water resistant nylon pouch for effortless carrying.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($15.28)
Although this product is not available for sale in Catalina Island, people buy it because of the authentic DW Brunton design that it is modeled after. It has pretty decent features, which make it one of the top choices in the best hiking compass reviews. It has an impressive turn-of-the-century design that is at once classic and attractive. The needle movement protector is the lift arm type that stops the needle from moving to lengthen its life. It has the cardinal direction points rendered in classic style. The lid swivels off regally, and it contains the sighting mirror.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($134)
Pair this best hiking compass in 2020 with a good set of binoculars, and you’re all set for an exciting adventure. As a more economical replacement for the tritium model compass, this product proves a competitive alternative. It is a phosphorescent lens compass that won’t give up on you on those highly-critical scavenging missions and search-and-rescue operations. It is thus markedly brighter. The sapphire bearing on this dry compass will give little resistance when the holder turns it or turns with it. The whole dial turns as the directional arrow turns, so you don’t lose your bearings. Waterproof and with a copper shell to stabilize the turning dial’s movement, this is an indispensable device for the accomplished soldier.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($62)
This is a two-zone compass designed by the manufacturer to work a fair distance for both the southern and northern hemispheres. You can get reliable readings for the northern hemisphere just as you would in the southern hemisphere. It has rounded and smooth edges, a liquid-filled capsule that’s sufficiently large, and a declination correction scale that’s easily adjustable. You can rely on this compass to help you with convenient and accurate directions. The bezel has luminescence as do the markings so you can use this compass to chart your course during nighttime adventures.
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This is a most welcome addition to the list of products for the best hiking compass in 2020. It is built with a compact frame so you can carry it in your pocket with ease. The fold-out surface of the sighting mirror can enhance your ability to carry out precise direction taking. The notch in the top that is revealed when the mirror is partially open lets you take note of your sight and bearing on a landmark located farther away. The mirror also works as a personal mirror and a signaling tool. The global needle can perform accurate readings wherever you are on the planet. The compass has a base plate embedded with a magnifying lens.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($62.94)
Neon® Metal Professional – Not Available
Lightweight and easy to handle, the Neon® Metal Professional is a compact device that measures longitude and latitude as well as horizontal coordinates for direction taking and other purposes. Each side of the compass has a centimeter and inch ruler to eliminate the guesswork. Built with fine workmanship and an attractive appearance, the compass is made durable for rugged conditions. It features a foldable metal lid for protection plus a floating compass dial with a 360-degree scale for accurate readings. Made of high-strength engineering metal, the compass features a waterproof and fully sealed design to ensure dependable durability while being easy to handle. It comes with a high quality carrying pouch and strap for hassle-free transport and convenient access.