Best Survival Compass — Do Not Get Lost!

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Last updatedLast updated: December 20, 2021
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For an outdoors person, the best survival compass is one of those must-haves in your gear. Most other people won’t understand the importance of such a piece of equipment. They live in cities and can depend on Google maps half the time to give directions on where they are going. Hikers, bikers, mountain climbers, and campers may not have the luxury and dependability of smartphones. This may be due to no service, or they may be looking for an authentic experience where their interaction with nature is unaltered by other aspects of their city life. As intimated by the above sentiments, the best survival compass will help you find direction to your preferred destination. Whatever the case, a survival compass is an absolute essential for outdoorsy people.

Also, for you to buy the perfect compass, you have to sift through the riffraff of countless options provided by a bevy of manufacturers. This requires you to eliminate options without the right body construction materials as that would mean it gets damaged easily. Other things that make various survival compasses viable are the dimensions and weight of each device. It would be shameful if all the compass did was add weight to your gear without any additional benefits. Also, you should check luminescence values in the dark as well as any other positive attributes a compass may have. These are all things we have contemplated before bringing you this review of compass options.

Having spent a significant amount of time going through what the various manufacturers have to offer on their sites, we have brought all information we deemed relevant to you in an easy to understand format. This includes a comparison table stating the best attributes of each model. Next up, you find the definitions and in-depth review of each product’s individual properties in addition to what we like and don’t like about them. After that, there is a buying guide because after all the final buying decision will be yours. Besides the best survival compass is relative to the person using it at the time since different people have different experiences.

Top 7 Best Survival Compasses Review 2022


SUUNTO MC-2 Global CompassEditor’s Choice

  • Construction material: plastic
  • Dimensions: 2.56 × 3.98 × 0.71 inches
  • Weight: 2.65 oz.

Extra features: clinometer, luminescent markings for working in low light, Suunto limited lifetime warranty

If you want the best survival compass for mountaineering, you are probably better off selecting this model as your first choice. There are several positive attributes to the compass that make it worth every penny you spend on it. Among them is the clinometer. Consequently, you can measure the angle of inclination of any slope before you take it on. The device can give accurate directional readings anywhere on the globe and even features 20-degree tilt margins. What this implies is an easier reading of the compass no matter who is using it.

The bulk of the compass is made of plastic. Nevertheless, if you are using the device, you will notice it doesn’t take damage easily. However, exercise caution as you use the SUUNTO MC-2 Global Compass as the device being in pristine condition ensures that you always get accurate readings. Design-wise the compass also features a liquid-filled capsule which is something they have in common with the Eyeskey compass. Also, notable is the mirror which serves a purpose besides looking at your reflection. You can use it to sight bearings, and if need be, you can signal to other climbers.

Mountaineering is an activity that is guaranteed to go on even at night, and so the glow in the dark markings are a requirement. The inch ruler is also bound to come in handy when you are reviewing your map in regards to your current position. As such, determining the distance, you still have to go should be a piece of cake. Also, if you doubt the quality of the tool, the limited lifetime warranty should serve to set your mind at ease.

What makes it special?

  • Mirror included
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Clinometer included
  • Visible readings in the dark

What cons did we find?

  • Expensive

DETUCK Multifunctional Geological CompassBest Geological Compass

  • Construction material: plastic
  • Dimensions: 3.2 × 2.8 × 1 inches
  • Weight: 3.8 oz.

Extra features: features survival signal mirror, measures direction of strike, slope angle, angle of inclination

The last option of the day and an impressive one to have around is the DETUCK Multifunctional Geological Compass. This tool is one of the more versatile ones to have around with even military-grade features. Just like the SUUNTO options on offer, the tool allows one to measure inclination angles as well as slope angles. When you are not using the device, you can fold it into its compact state, which also protects the mirror as well as the dial.

Where weight is concerned, you only have to carry 3.8 ounces in your pocket, and that is probably due to the mainly plastic construction of the device. An added benefit of purchasing this tool is the declination regulator. For you to quickly find true north, you need something to correct magnetic declination which this tool does on its own rather well.

Why did it make our list?

  • Lightweight
  • Declination regulator present

What is not ideal about it?

  • If the compass experiences impact it is likely to lose accuracy
  • Construction material: metal
  • Dimensions: 3.2 × 2.8 × 1.4 inches
  • Weight: 3.8 oz.

Extra features: conversion chart for measurements, tripod mount, rotating bezel ring that you can use to lock in bearings

If you are an all-rounder when it comes to outdoor activities, then you will likely appreciate having this model with you at all times. You can take it with you whether camping, mountaineering, boating and even hunting. Unlike being within the city, some of these activities can get messy to the point where there are a lot of accidents. As such, the construction of the gadget is essential and should be able to keep the integrity of the device the same even where some of these mishaps occur. The outside of the gadget being made of metal, you would be hard-pressed to find a fall or bump that could damage the working condition of the device.

If you are using it for mountaineering, you should know that the product will work even in freezing weather which is also handy for winter activities. Also, a bonus is the waterproof nature of the compass. This is why you find boating as one of the activities that you are allowed to use this device on. There are also liquids inside the device to support the working and fluid movement of the dial. In addition to the above basic features, there are advanced features that include a measurements conversion chart and distance measurers, whether curved or straight.

Where you find yourself still needing to read the compass at night, you don’t have to use your flashlight. The luminous dial, as well as arrow, are useful in that regard. However, for them to work, they have to have absorbed enough light during the day. If also you find your hands are not stable enough to get an accurate direction reading you can mount the device on a tripod. This should eliminate the shakiness and make your job inherently easier.

What makes it stand out?

  • Durable design
  • Easy to read
  • Tripod mountable
  • Visible during the night
  • Accurate readings at all times

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Some users have claimed the device to be a bit chunky

SUUNTO MC-2 NH USGS CompassBest Plastic Compass

  • Construction material: plastic
  • Dimensions: 2.56 × 3.98 × 0.71 inches
  • Weight: 2.61 oz.

Extra features: clinometer, luminescent markings for working in low light, Suunto limited lifetime warranty

The SUUNTO MC-2 NH USGS Compass being the third compass from the same manufacturer takes a few features from the M-3 NH Compass and the MC-2 Global Compass as well. As a limitation, you can only use this on the northern hemisphere without fear of losing direction. However, the device also incorporates the mirror that helps protect the compass as well as making it easily readable in direct sunlight.

Clinometers are an essential feature for anyone climbing mountains and the fact that this device has one makes more of a compelling case for its purchase. With plastic construction, you would expect the tool to be flimsy and easily damaged. However, the presence of a lifetime warranty should serve to dissuade you of such a notion. If you consider the accurate readings of this device along with the luminescent dial, you will come to the same conclusion that we did. This is still one of the best compass options out there for anyone in the northern hemisphere.

What makes it stand out?

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Luminescent during darkness
  • Wristlock makes it easily reachable

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Only usable in the northern hemisphere
  • SUUNTO logo clouds readability of compass for some users

Sportneer CompassBudget Pick

  • Construction material: waterproof and shakeproof metal case
  • Dimensions: 3.3 × 2.5 × 1 inches
  • Weight: 0.39 lbs.

Extra features: inch/centimeter-scale, sighting lens, fluorescent dial, and directional arrow, level indicator

Another device that would make it into the top seven camping survival compass options is the Sportneer Compass. The gadget also happens to be the budget option of the day. The first thing you would love about the device is the rugged construction. Metal forms the bulk of components of the compass, and as such, the tool is practically dent-proof. However, this is not enough given that some devices have been known to maintain their outside integrity while the inside is in shambles. You won’t have to worry about that if you do decide to leave the store with the Sportneer compass in your pocket. This is due to the shake-proof nature of the inside components.

Speaking of the insides of the device, they would be severely damaged if they came into contact with water. As such, the construction being waterproof is something you would expect of any quality survival compass, and the Sportneer delivers. A common feature between this device and the Eyeskey Compass is readability both through the night and day. This makes it easier to take on any terrain even if the trip extends into the night.

You are also assured that the device will always be by your side. Make use of the belt loop attachment to ensure easy reach whenever you need to recalibrate and get your bearing. You can even use the carrying case and throw it into one of the side pockets of your camping bag. This would, however, make it harder to reach when you need it. Something you are bound to notice over a continued use period is the lens on the rear site. By magnifying the values on the card dial, you will likely get a more accurate reading of your bearings, and that is of immense importance when trying to find the right direction.

Why did it make our list?

  • Durable construction
  • Affordable
  • Accurate readings even in dark scenarios
  • Waterproof

What is not ideal about it?

  • For such a small device some previous users have noted that it is heavy to carry around

SUUNTO M-3 NH CompassBest Northern Hemisphere Compass

  • Construction material: plastic
  • Dimensions: 2.4 × 4.72 × 0.55 inches
  • Weight: 1.62 oz.

Extra features: clinometer, luminescent markings for working in low light, Suunto limited lifetime warranty

So soon after SUUNTO feature their first device on our list, they feature yet again. Of course, you are going to note a few differences between these two models right off the bat. Among them is the exclusion of a mirror where the design of this compass is concerned. However, you can still use it for most of the applications where you can use the MC-2 Global Compass predecessor. A noteworthy similarity is with the inclusion of a limited lifetime warranty for both products.

South of the equator, your readings and bearing may not be all that accurate as the device is balanced only for the northern hemisphere. This makes your range of options limited with regards to places to visit if you plan on using this device to find your way. The baseplate has a magnifying lens, and this should be important if you don’t want to sit too long trying to figure out your position on a map.

Plastic construction seems to be a common theme for a lot of the SUUNTO devices on offer, and this device also features the same. For easy access to the compass, there is a wristlock lanyard that should put the device within arm’s reach at all times. It is also rather easy to detach whenever you need to use the tool alongside a map.

What stands out?

  • Luminescent readings
  • Wristlock for easy access
  • A magnifying lens with the base plate

What cons did we manage to find?

  • Only configured to the northern hemisphere

DETUCK G-12 Pocket CompassBest Small Survival Compass

  • Construction material: metal
  • Dimensions: 2.4 × 2.4 × 1 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 lbs.

Extra features: 1-year warranty, fluorescent dial

Where you need something portable and light to have in your pocket, the DETUCK G-12 Pocket Compass is ideal. The device is also one of the more lightweight options you can own. In terms of aesthetics, the gold plated shell should be pleasing to look at but what you as an adventurer should be more concerned with is the usability of the tool. You need to affirm whether you can expect the device to give accurate direction readings. For the most part, this compass should do well if you place it horizontally on your arm. However, try not to use it too close to other magnetic materials as that may negatively affect your directional results.

Readings and measurements wise the values on the compass dial are clear and even luminescent for when enough reading light is not a possibility. Also, temperature-wise the DETUCK G-12 Pocket Compass has a wide range of values from which it will still work well enough to point you in the right direction. Also, the manufacturer offers guarantees in case you don’t like the product you get even giving 100% refund in some cases.

What makes it special?

  • One year full warranty
  • Portable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Luminescent features

What cons did we find?

  • Accuracy of the device can be affected by other magnetic items in the vicinity

Things to Consider

Features to consider while choosing a survival compass

Best Survival Compass — Do Not Get Lost!Having decided to start taking on the outdoors, you will need to get a quality survival compass as one of the first purchases. However, getting to select a model and one that suits your needs may be a tall order. The many options available may be enough to confuse you to the point where you purchase a few to see which works best. However, there is a more efficient way to do this, and that is to study the features and then rate each product accordingly. Here are the key things to look out for:


All your outdoors gear should have an element of durability towards them. You never know what might happen, and if it is true that you solely depend on your survival compass for direction, it always has to be accurate. As such, the construction is vital. Some are made of metal while others have plastic as their main components. The important take away is to see how the device behaves if it falls down or if it lightly hits a rock. As such metal compasses are slightly better but even some plastic compasses will impress you with the damage they can take on the outside all without interfering with how the insides work.


The focal point of all compasses is to tell north from south and west from east. As such, that is the first thing you should check for even ensuring accuracy in the process. Nevertheless, there are some more measurements that the compass can take that make it more useful in a variety of scenarios. Azimuth is one such measurement and one likely to strike the fancy of geologists. In another situation, the compass may assist you in measuring the angle of a slope. Mountain climbers use this all the time to determine whether they should go straight up or look for an easier way around it. Geologists may also find this feature useful in an instrument they are interested in buying.

On the sides of the device, you may also find metric scales for centimeters and inches. These are useful where you are making use of a map alongside your compass to find your way. Another useful accompaniment may be a conversion chart for distance, angles, and gradients.


Extra features

Best Survival Compass — Do Not Get Lost!Extra features are like the icing on the cake. They are not necessary, but they do make the compass a more attractive purchase. Take, for instance, the wristlock. If you are hiking and need to take directional measurements, often your compass shouldn’t be in your back pocket. It should be in your hands where it is reachable at any moment. However, holding the compass the entire time you are on the hike may be exhausting, and that is why you have the wristlock.

In another scenario, compass covers are slightly unnecessary. Nevertheless, they could be used to make the compass more legible as direct sunlight can impair that. Also, if you add a mirror on here, you will be able to signal to other hikers and climbers in case you need to.

A compass at its core is only an item that gives direction. These other functions such as measuring dip, strike, and distance on the map are all extras. However, their inclusion in the device makes it more useful and thus a much more worthwhile purchase.

Price and Warranty

A compass is one of the more affordable pieces of gear you can own. They rarely cost more than fifty bucks. Most people will find this general price range affordable, and thus they have many options to choose from. However, you should still look at what you are getting out of the deal. Is the quality top-notch? If so there are no qualms against purchasing a particular compass unless of course, the warranty terms are unfavorable.

Some devices don’t have warranties which is a clear indication that you should walk away. The ones that do vary in duration and whether they replace or repair items. Contacting a manufacturer should be on a to-do list if you can’t find details of the warranty anywhere on the product description on a vendor site.


A wide temperature range makes a device useful in a variety of situations. You will be able to use the compass while traveling through icy regions as well as where there is searing heat. Where one of these temperature conditions renders the compass inactive, you may be left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Durability is also something to check for. If the device breaks, it can’t work, and if it can’t work, you are effectively lost. Get yourself a device that doesn’t crack at the slightest impact and even get a second one to store in your backpack just in case.

Of course, a needle that works should be the first thing you look at. Will the device be able to tell direction as that is its primary purpose? Where a device is not able to do this, it means it is defective and should be returned to the seller.

As a basic rule, you would have to use a compass with a clinometer to determine strike. Place the edge of the compass on the rock surface that you are trying to measure. Then you would need to adjust the bezel aligning east and west. Later, you can try to orientate the compass until the clinometer shows that the device is level. This would have to be without lifting the device from the surface. Then mark a line on the rock surface where it touches the compass. This is the strike direction.

Our Verdict

The SUUNTO MC-2 Global Compass just as the name suggests can work anywhere in the world and more specifically in mountainous regions. Despite what many would call flimsy plastic construction, this device has been known to last a whole lot longer than other such devices. Additional features are a mirror and even a clinometer for use in mountain regions. A bonus aspect of owning the MC-2 is the full lifetime warranty.

Apart from the MC-2, the DETUCK Multifunctional Geological Compass would be ideal for a lot of other outdoors people in addition to geologists as well. Construction-wise you still get a full plastic body with the capability to even function as a military compass. A mirror incorporated into the case should be ideal in case you need to signal someone else on your survival trail.

A third highly recommended model is the Eyeskey Compass. It is cheap, shockproof and waterproof. In addition to the rugged metal exterior, the device is also likely to give you accurate directions to where you need to go. It is no wonder that so many hikers and campers choose to buy this product. Depending on your use intentions, what device do you think would be ideal for you from the many provided above?

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