Here is the truth, smartphones can save you from getting lost on an outdoor adventure tour. After all, the standard iPhone now has a compass built into it. It only take a few taps as well to add Google Maps to your phone. It almost makes it seem like you don’t need a camping compass.
Or, you might prefer using a hand held GPS device. These little units, often called “sluggers”, are great if you want specific, accurate information on where exactly you are in the world and where you are looking to go.
But, you’re here and reading this article.
So then the odds are that you’ve realized you need some sort of compass with you when you go out camping. All it takes is your device to run out of battery and you could be lost in the woods. For that reason, traditional compass are the undisputed best navigational aid.
For this post, I’ll highlight:
- A buying guide of what you should be thinking about when looking at a camping compass
- The five best options in 2020
- A FAQ section on key questions you might have regarding compasses while camping
So, let’s get started!
Camping Compass Buying Guide
When buying a compass, there are only a few things that matter. All compasses function the same (e.g: one compass won’t say North is Left and another compass will say North is Right). Also, design doesn’t matter much with compasses in a way that will make your life a lot easier or harder to use one instead of the other.
That being said, some things absolutely matter when you buy a compass. Here are my thoughts on what matters:
Quality, quality, and more quality: A compass is the ultimate navigation aid and the ultimate “get out of jail free card.” If you are lost in the woods, or lost in a storm, a compass can be the literal difference between living and dying.
Think of a compass as life insurance. You would never go rappeling with twine instead of rope or drive a car without brakes. If you care about your health, then you need a high-quality compass.
Glow in the dark: It’s a feature you wouldn’t expect, but a compass dial with glow-in-the-dark markings will make it a lot easier for you to navigate around in the dark.
Size You want a compass that is less bulky so it will be lightweight. That way, it will be easy to carry in a pocket, in your bag, or on tied on your pack.
Water Resistance: It’s definitely a nice to have feature. It’s inevitable you’ll be caught in the rain, so having the ability to keep your compass dry is helpful to ensure it doesn’t get destroyed when wet.
Global Needle: If you are a camper who ventures far from home, then you need a global needle. Global needles keep your readings accurate, no matter which side of the equator you are on.
Various Scales: Another nice to have, but if possible, try to buy a compass with both imperial and metric measurements.
Declination Adjustment: This allows for the most accurate bearings because you can adjust for the offset of true north from the magnetic north.
Now that I’ve outlined some of the key features you should think about with a camping compass, I’m now going to share my five favorite compasses from 2020.
5 Best Camping Compasses of 2020
My favorite compass: Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Lensatic Tactical Compass
This model from Eyeskey is a combination of utility and value. You can rely on this compass when you go out in the wild. It is constructed with metal which means it is highly durable and will last for years. You can take it along with you to camping, boating, motoring hunting, mountaineering, exploring and other outdoor activities.
The liquid-filled capsule has a scale that rotates 360 degrees and gives easy and accurate readings. You can carry it even in the dark and it will help you find your way with the help of fluorescent light that lights up the display. A very suitable choice for night travelers.
On the backside of the compass, you will get a conversion chart for distance and angle. And in order to move in a particular direction, you can use the rotating bezel ring.
- Fluorescent light on the display for night
- Solid built
- Easy to read
- Questionable craftsmanship
- Fluid may leak
The best looking option: MAH ”Robert Frost Poem”
I know I said earlier that design doesn’t matter when it comes to camping compasses. I stand by that, but if you prioritize design, then this is the one for you. The Robert Frost Poem compass is an engraved Brass compass which gives it a very antique look.
Along with a very classy finishing, it is very convenient to carry. You can either use it for your adventures or you can gift it to your friends or family members who are crazy about antique items, designs, or poems. Inside the compass is a high-quality jeweled needle which quickly rests in the right direction
The compass is solid in hand with clear glass display and lovely polished underside with the poem. The total weight of this beautiful masterpiece is a light half pound, which is actually surprising. I would have expected it to be heavier with this design. To keep the compass away from any damage you get a leather case which is again very durable and rugged.
- Classy antique look and feel
- Very masculine
- Perfect compass for gift
- For poet lovers
- The needle may not be the most accurate
- Questionable quality, durability and functionality
Best multi-function compass: Core Survival Paracord Survival Bracelet –Compass
If you are looking for a multi-functional and durable compass, this can be a suitable choice for you. This model by Core Survival not only is a compass but a complete package on your wrist. In fact, this was the first compass I personally ever bought for camping because of its multi-function capabilities. I keep this in my bedside table because it’s so versatile and always a great thing to have with you.
The biggest thing that it has, in addition to the compass, is the fire starting capabilities. It features striker and flint rod for starting a fire with ease, which means you don’t have to worry about carrying an additional fire starting sticks.
The buckle also has a whistle that can be used to alert or notify your fellows about a certain scenario. Just bring the bracelet close to your mouth and blow air. The whistle could be heard from a very long distance that can catch the attention of the rescuers or warn off wild animals.
You also have 10 feet of paracord with it, which is always incredibly important and helpful to have as well.
The main feature of this bracelet is the compass which helps you to find your way back to the campsite. It is attached with the bracelet with a very strong grip so there is no chance that it will fall off!
You can carry this gear to your hiking, camping hunting, or any other outdoor trips. It is very comfortable and lightweight, comes in 8 colors and 3 sizes. Talking about the durability, Core Survival’s products are very dependable and can withstand harsh conditions. You are not carrying just a compass but a whistle, fire starter and a stylish accessory on your wrist.
- Highly reliable and strong
- Unique features
- Honestly none…I love this one
Your “backup” multi-purpose compass: Compass Paracord Bracelet- FROG SAC
This life-saving gadget by FROG SAC is a 100% handmade bracelet with the help of premium quality parachute rope. Which gives it extreme strength and durability. You can wear it for any outdoor activity including hunting, boating, fishing, trekking, rock climbing etc.
As you can probably tell by the above option, I personally prefer the Core Survival one. That being said, many people like Frog Sac instead so I thought it only fair if I
The bracelet is undoubtedly multifunctional equipment on your wrist which has a compass showing accurate readings, which means there is no chance of getting lost in your trip. It may come in handy for those who are still new to use a compass.
FROG SAC compass provides a 100% safety and satisfaction guarantee to their customers. All the bracelets are individually studied and tested to meet the safety standard and provide a better experience from other companies. These bracelets do not contain any toxic materials of any kind; suitable for children.
- Accurate readings
- Value for money
- Color options
- Adjusting the bracelets can be an issue
- Questionable functionality compared to the Core Survival one.
Best Carabiner/Compass Combo: Snowmanna Mini Compass
This mini compass by Snowmanna is all you need for your hiking, climbing, traveling, hunting or everyday carry. It is multifunctional and has a 3 in one design. You can use it as a Thermometer, Carabiner, and as a compass. One side you have a thermometer and the other side is your compass side.
The neat and compact design makes it very convenient to carry around, just hang it on your backpack and you are ready to conquer the world. Moreover, it is built with high-quality materials which makes it durable enough to last for a long time.
The big downside to this one is how well it works. I’ve found it works when you first get it, but if it gets hit hard, it could stop working as well. I’d personally buy two of them to have a backup because you can’t have your only compass break.
- Campus reading is good
- Compact size
- Offers multiple uses
- Thermometer is accurate
- If it gets hit hard, it could stop working.
- Material may be cheap
My hope is that my thoughts and reviews above have been helpful for you as you think about which camping compass is right for you. There are a couple of good options on the market right now, and as long as you have a working compass with you when you go out camping, you will be in good shape.
Camping Compass FAQ’s
There are a couple questions that many people have when they first start to look into these compasses. With that in mind, I’ve put a couple of the most common questions below and did my best to answer them and help you out!
How do I use a compass?
It’s a great question, one that many people are afraid of asking because they don’t want to feel like they are missing basic knowledge that they should know.
The reality is though, you should know how to use a compass before you go camping. You might not need to be a military-grade expert, but you should know the basics of how they work and what to do with one. Here is a great resource I found online on how to use a compass.
Should I bring a compass with me camping?
There is a short answer on this one: absolutely!
There is no scenario where you shouldn’t bring a compass with you. In most cases, they are cheap and easy to use. Remember, a compass is life insurance for you. If you get lost without one, or if your GPS or phone doesn’t work, then you could be in a world of trouble. It’s worth having one as a backup.
How to make a camping compass out of wood?
Some people like the idea of making their own camping compasses as they are nifty looking. You could make one in a basic woodworking shop that looks great and sits on your mantel.
However, when it comes to one that you actually use to save your life while out in the woods, then I’d recommend going with one of the options on this list that are professionally built and can work when you need them too.
Where to buy camping compass?
Stick to the pros here. Some gas stations and 7-Elevens near campsites sell cheap compasses for people who forgot to bring one from home. I’d buy compasses only from BPS or Gander Mountain if you want to buy from a store.
However, I just buy all my camping supplies from Amazon. Faster and cheaper than going to the store.
What is the best camping compass?
It depends on what you are looking for; I outlined some great options above!