Best Compass for Backpacking

People these days are increasingly getting interested in going for outdoor activities. The reason is that people are realizing the importance of physical activity and connecting with nature. Social media also influences this preference. People like to do blogs or vlogs and post them online. However, to fulfill this leisure pursuit, one also needs to have the right tools.

So, if you are an outdoorsy person who likes to go trekking, hiking, and camping, you would want to have all the essential equipment. Among camping gear, one of the most important tools is a compass!

You need it to get directions and locate yourself while hiking, and a compass will help you do so. Therefore, if you are a backpacking enthusiast, you should get a compass for yourself.

Today, there are many digital compasses in the market. However, the good old fashioned compass is the best option to choose when it comes to accuracy and reliability.

In this article, we are going to list down some of the best compasses for backpacking. You will also get to know some of the product’s pros and cons so that you can easily make a selection.

Best 4 Compasses for Backpacking

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4. Suunto MC-2G

Suunto MC-2G

The Suunto MC-2G is one of the most widely used compasses among backpackers. It is a highly functional and reliable compass. The compass itself has a very strong body, and therefore, it is highly durable. The compass is shock, water, and dirt resistant. It also has many useful features, including a magnifying lens, clinometer, and sighting mirror.

An adjustment key comes attached to the compass; by using the key, you can easily adjust the declination. The compass also has a global needle so that you can use it in various compass zones, and you do not have to measure level it for accurate measurements. The Suunto MC-2G also consists of a luminescent indicator so that you can use it even at night.


  • Highly accurate
  • Global needle
  • Durable
  • Luminescent indicator


  • Slightly heavy

Global Needle: The global needle of the Suunto MC-2G is much quicker and accurate than any standard needle. Therefore, you will not have to worry while going on backpacking on a different compass zone.

3. Brunton TruArc 3

Brunton TruArc 3

The Brunton TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass provides you with simple navigation. The compass gives quite accurate measurements. Like the Suunto MC-2G compass, this also has the global needle, which will work in any zone. The compass has a 2-degree resolution on its bezel. It also has a display on both inch and centimeter scales.

Brunton also offers an adjustable declination on the TruArc 3, which gives accuracy in navigating. You do not need any extra tool to adjust the declination on this compass. Just rotate the declination screw on the compass’s side until the reading on the graduated circle in the compass lines up with the index pin at the top of the compass at the proper declination. The compass is also highly reliable in terms of accuracy.


  • Global needle
  • Adjustable declination
  • Easy to use
  • Good accuracy


  • Not as durable

Declination: The declination of the Brunton TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass does not need any tool for adjustment. This is a major convenience while camping. You do not have to carry any extra tool to adjust it.

2. Silva Ranger S

Silva Ranger S

The Silva Ranger S is also a good option next to Suunto MC-2G. Although this compass does not contain the clinometer and the magnifying glass, it is still one of the most durable compasses. Silva Ranger S is shock and dirt resistant.

The compass is filled with liquid, which makes the needle’s movement easier and gives accurate directions. The luminous display of the compass makes it readable even in low light. Moreover, the declination of the compass is easily adjustable. All of its features make the compass a reliable device for getting directions.


  • Speed
  • Great accuracy
  • Liquid filled
  • Durable


  • Little inconsistent

Quick Measurement: The feature that makes Silva Ranger S stand out is the promptness of its measurement. The compass does not take much time pointing in the right direction, and that too, with great accuracy and durability.

1. Silva Guide 2.0

Silva Guide 2.0

The Silva Guide compass is good for backpacking and trekking. The compass is quite compact and suitable for beginners. However, it has a fixed declination that you cannot adjust. Silva Guide compass has a mirrored lid that secures the compass’s display against any damage. This makes the compass quite durable. It is filled with fluid and has a rotating bezel for increased accuracy.

Silva Guide compass also has a sighting mirror. However, the compass lacks a clinometer and a magnifying lens. Nonetheless, it is a good option for people who are new at using compasses. You do not have to go into the difficulties of adjustment and other complicated features. Its basic features make it easier to use for recreational hikers and backpackers.


  • Affordable price
  • Durability
  • Sighting mirror


  • Not many advanced features
  • Declination is not adjustable

Affordable and Durable: Silva Guide is one of the most affordable compasses that offers good durability. It serves as good value for money when you compare the quality with its price.


1.   How can I learn using a compass as a beginner?

You can learn using a compass in three easy steps. First, place the compass on the map in a way that the compass’s baseplate touches make a straight line connecting your current location to your destination.

Then, you need to set the compass’s head by only turning the dial until its north lines up with the magnetic north on the map.

Lastly, you need to hold the compass flat and make sure that the arrow directs straight. Then, while focusing on the compass’s needle, you need to rotate yourself till the red end aligns with the angling arrow. And so, the travel arrow will direct towards the position where you need to go.

2.   What is the declination in the compass?

The arrow of the compass points towards the magnetic north, and there is a true north, which is according to the Earth’s axis. The declination is an angle that is created between this magnetic north and the true north. This angle depends on the location you are at.

3.   What are the different kinds of compasses?

There are several types of compasses. However, you can divide all of these compasses into two main categories. One is the magnetic compass, and the other is the gyrocompass. The magnetic compass consist of a needle or a card that gets in-line with the Earth’s magnetic field by itself. However, the gyrocompass consists of a spinning wheel. The movement of the wheel of this compass works together with the Earth’s rotation. The axis rotation gets parallel to the Earth’s poles, and so the compass directs towards the actual poles of the Earth.

4.   Are compasses always accurate?

Compasses mostly give accurate directions. However, the accuracy also depends on several factors, including the quality of the compass you are using. Therefore, you need to get your hands on the best compass. Nonetheless, the accuracy also depends on some natural factors like the magnetic field of your position.

5.   What can I do to get accurate directions?

There are three factors that you must focus on if you want accuracy in your direction. Firstly, you need to use the declination correctly. The declination may differ according to the place, and you must use the current declination for accuracy. Secondly, you should use a compass that facilitates adjustable declination. And lastly, you should make sure that the compass is away from the magnet, any type of metal, or other electrical devices for more accuracy.

6.   How can I store my compass safely?

While storing a compass, you should make sure that it is away from any kind of other metal, particularly ferrous metal. Metals that consist of iron recoil the compass’s needle, and then it starts pointing towards the object instead. You must also store them away from other magnets and electrical devices, both of which have magnetic fields that will cause the compass to diverge. Moreover, you should ensure that you do not store your compass in either extremely hot or cold temperatures.

7.   What should you avoid while purchasing a compass?

There are two important things you need to consider before buying a compass. First, do not go for cheap and inaccurate compasses. They may seem to work just fine at first. However, cheap and low-quality compasses usually give inaccurate directions. Secondly, avoid compasses that do not have fluid-filled housing. The fluid allows easy movement of the needle and provides an accurate reading.

Final Words

It’s fun to be a little outdoorsy. You get to explore and connect with nature. It is one of the most relaxing leisure time activities that you can choose from. Nonetheless, preparing yourself for it is very important.

You can find various compasses in the market at different prices according to your needs and affordability. From analog compasses to high-tech digital compasses, all are easily available. You can choose from a variety of these compasses to suit your needs.

However, you must note that the analog compasses are usually more accurate than the other advanced equipment. The analog compasses do not need batteries, so you don’t need to worry about running out of battery. Although learning how to use an old school compass might be a little intimidating, you will not want to go back once you get used to it.

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