After 14 hours of research evaluating 95 products, we picked SUUNTO MC-2G Compass as our top choice.
Getting lost while hiking or backpacking can be dangerous!
You may wind up in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service to call for help, even with no battery life to use your cell phone’s GPS.
When that happens, you need a compass.
A pocket compass is the one navigational tool you absolutely can’t live without when out in the wilderness.
It’ll never run out of battery, doesn’t need cell service, and is very hard to break. Best of all, it will always tell you how to get back to safety, no matter how deep in the wilderness you are.
If you’re going out into the wild, always take a compass!
Below, we’ve got a complete list of the best compass options for you. After thorough research into hundreds of products and reading thousands of reviews, we’ve found the pocket compass choices that will keep you safe and on course when out in the middle of nowhere.
Super lightweight, just 2 ½ inches long, compass and thermometer, durable, high quality materials, 30-day free return policy, easy to read
Functionality minimal, not the most accurate
At just 2.5 inches long, this little keychain compass is perfect for you to use wherever you are. Clip it onto your key chain, put it in your pocket, or wear it on a lanyard—however you wear it, it’s highly portable and easy to carry.
Built from durable plastic, it’s fully waterproof, damage-resistant, and scratch-resistant.
The compass comes with basic navigation features, a mostly accurate needle (for magnetic north, not always true north), and a bezel displaying the 16 compass points. However, it also has a built-in thermometer (Celsius and Fahrenheit). It’s great for casual use when hiking or camping, and it’ll go wherever your car or RV keys go!
At $5, this is a total steal! You’ll never be really lost when you’ve got one of these bad boys as your key chain.
Reliable, wear it on your wrist for hands-free portability, easily-rotated serrated bezel ring, compact, the perfect supplement to a larger compass, water-resistant, highly accurate in the Northern Hemisphere
Won’t work south of the Equator, too small to be the most accurate compass
Built like your classic sports watch, this compass is designed to be worn like a wristwatch, allowing for hands-free carrying and easy readings on the go. Though you have to hold it very level to get an accurate reading, it’s easy to use and will help you stay on track even if you don’t have a free hand to carry a compass.
Definitely a plus with this bad boy! It’s resistant to water, rain, snow, dust, sand, or dirt, and you’ll find it can take quite the beating before giving out. You can even switch out the wrist bands, making it easy to find a style that suits you best.
Navigation with this compass isn’t quite as good as you could ask for, as it’s too small to get a truly accurate reading. However, you’ll love the fact that the rotating bezel can be ratcheted into place for quick and easy navigation, and the serrated bezel can be turned by even heavily-gloved hands.
Though it won’t work in the Southern Hemisphere, it’ll serve you well in the Northern Hemisphere, doubling as a back-up compass to use with your higher-grade orienteering compass. It’ll just be so much handier when trying to take quick measurements on the go!
At $26, it’s a tad pricier than you might expect, but well worth the cost if you need a compact, highly portable navigation tool to add to your hiking gear.
Highly compact, clip it onto anything, lightweight, accurate readings, luminous dial lights up in the dark, rotating bezel, 10-degree increments, made in Finland, durable, easy to read, available for both Northern and Southern Hemispheres
May fall off and get lost if not securely clipped in place
This little clip-on compass is ideal for hikers who are already loaded down with gear and want a back-up tool that doesn’t weigh a lot. At just 1 inch tall and 4 inches wide, you’ll find it travels easily no matter how heavy your pack. Just clip it onto your watch band, sleeve, map, backpack strap, or your pocket for easy portability.
Made of high-impact plastic, you’ll find this little compass can survive falls, drops, water, snow, rain, and heavy dust. It’s built to last, and you’ll find it does an amazing job of keeping up with you no matter where you go or what you do.
It’s a very simple compass: liquid-filled jewel bearing with a rotating bezel that comes in 10-degree increments, and a luminous dial that lights up in the dark for nighttime navigation. No fancy frills with this little compass—just maximum portability and ease of use!
At $15, this is definitely on the budget side, and you can rest assured that the compass will serve its job well every time you take it out into the wild with you.
Lightweight and compact, global needle, inch/cm measurements, adjustable declination can be read without any additional tools, 2-degree bezel, made in the USA, perfect for EDC use, highly resistant to magnetic interference, easy to hold
Non-luminous face—you’ll need a light source to take readings in the dark
The design is simple: the compass housing (including bezel and declination tool) built atop a plastic ruler to take measurements. It’s small enough to sit in the palm of your hand and is so lightweight you’ll hardly feel a thing carrying it all day long.
Durability is about average with this compass—the plastic can handle a lot of daily wear and tear as well as shock, water, dust, and sand. However, if you’re expecting maximum durability, you’re better off considering other options—without a cover to protect the compass, the glass case is at risk of breakage.
This compass comes with tool-free declination adjustment, making it easier to get accurate readings of true north without magnetic north interfering with your compass. It also includes metric and imperial measurements for more accurate orienteering, a responsible needle resistant to magnetic interference, and a rotary bezel marked at 2-degree increments. The only thing it doesn’t have is a luminous dial for easy night readings—you’ll need a flashlight for that.
At $13, this is the sort of compass you can take with you everywhere you go and use it anytime. It’s conveniently lightweight and compact, inexpensive, and a great EDC choice if you’re hiking or backpacking.
Highly durable metal body, glows in the dark, highly accurate, waterproof, shock-resistant, shakeproof, includes clinometer, takes accurate long-distance readings, includes lanyard to prevent it slipping into the water
Heavier than your average compass
The metal body protects the compass itself, and the metal-built navigation tools won’t wear out or fade with regular use. It’s even built to stand on a tripod for hands-free orienteering.
It comes with a lanyard you can sling over your neck or around the steering wheel of your boat, keeping it from falling overboard as you sail or row.
Built from solid aluminum, this compass is waterproof, shock-resistant, shakeproof, and rust-resistant. You’ll find that it can be submerged in up to 30 meters of water without a single leak or crack.
The compass lights up in the dark, allowing you to chart your course in even the darkest night. The bubble level and clinometer will help you measure the angle and elevation of slopes, and the adjustable diopter sighting lens is excellent for taking long-distance readings when out at sea. It even comes with a built-in measurement conversion chart to help you as you take measurements, and the magnifying viewer will make it easier to see your maps and charts.
At $25, it’s not the cheapest compass on our list, but certainly one of the best! It’s durable, compact, and highly reliable as a navigational tool.
Incredibly durable cast aluminum frame, fully waterproof, perfect for low-light conditions, 12-year lifespan on the built-in lights, shockproof and sandproof, incredibly accurate, performs in low and high temperature climates, made in the USA
Very high price tag
Built with a powder-coated aluminum frame, this compass is guaranteed to survive just about anything you can throw at it. The metal case snaps tightly shut, protecting the compass, and the navigation tools are built into the durable aluminum frame.
The compass is fully waterproof, shockproof, and sandproof, and it works perfectly in temperatures ranging from -50F to 150F. The non-liquid-filled needle housing won’t be affected by temperatures or climate, guaranteeing an accurate read anywhere you are. And, thanks to that tough aluminum frame, you can always rest assured the compass will stand up to any conditions!
The compass is fairly simple—it has a magnifying lens, sight wire, and dial graduations in both degrees to guarantee the most accurate readings. The copper induction ring on the compass also stops the needle’s rotation quickly, allowing you to take faster readings. And, thanks to the seven built-in tritium micro lights, you can navigate easily in the dark.
At a starting price of $110, this is definitely the most expensive compass on our list, but it’s absolutely worth the cost if you want a compass that will keep up with any outdoor activity you throw at it, no matter how rough or rugged.
Global needle works anywhere in the world, high quality product, excellent durability, sighting mirror included, wrist-locking lanyard, multiple rulers, 2-degree bezel increments, glows in the dark, lightweight
On the pricier side, no tool for declination adjustment
Lightweight (at just 2.65 ounces) and measuring just 2.5 inches by 3.98 inches by 0.71 inches, this is a navigator’s dream. It’s designed to be highly effective to use day and night (thanks to the glow-in-the-dark bezel ring), and it’s compact enough to fit in any pocket, pouch, or pack.
The plastic base plate is highly durable, and you’ll find it’s easy to grip and comfortable to hold for long hours as you use your compass to navigate. The numbers will wear out with regular use, however.
The compass comes with a cover to protect the mirror, base plate, bezel ring, and the compass’ glass case. While it’s not the sturdiest cover, it’s more than strong enough to keep your compass from being damaged by water, dust, snow, or debris, and it will ensure you get many happy years of use from the compass.
Not only does the plastic base plate come with a magnifying lens (to make map-reading easy), but you’ll love the inch-marked straight edge ruler, the adjustment key that comes built into the included wrist lanyard, and the two-degree bezel increments.
Though this compass doesn’t include a declination adjustment tool, it does come with a mirror for more accurate and reliable readings. The global needle will also work anywhere in the world (Northern or Southern Hemisphere) and its bearings are as accurate as it gets!
At just under $60, this is definitely on the pricier side, but well worth it if you’re looking for a compass that offers maximum precision and a user-friendly design.