|1. 2 Pieces Military Lensatic Sighting Compass||2. Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Lensatic Tactical Compass||3. Cammenga 27CS Lensatic Compass|
Whether you are a survivalist or a prepper, one of the most important items that you would need in your survival kit is a survival compass. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that learning to navigate your way with a map and a good compass is a basic survival skill and is certainly a life saver.
Be that as it may, not many people learn or practice this skill, until and unless they are put in situation where they have to. Moreover, a lot of people do not comprehend the specifics of this equipment or how to choose the best compass for their needs as they are over reliant on technology like global positioning system (GPS). This is not very wise and if you think of a survival situation, it is only for a certain period of time that your phone or GPS will come to your rescue. Eventually, you will have to rely on navigation compass to guide you around.
A GPS is extremely useful as we all know, but its utility is short lived if you are in an area where there are bad signals (particularly bushes and rural locations) or when its battery dies.
For the reasons mentioned above, it is imperative that you always pack a hiking compass in your backpack or your survival kit, for those tricky situations and for your peace of mind.
Also, a survival compass can be treated as a backup (or a first option) when you are out there in the open and expect long hours and days of commute or navigation. As the saying goes, better be safe than sorry!
You also need to know that a survival compass shares the same basic features as you see in an orienteering compass, but in addition, it also has:
- A whistle (for signaling hikers in emergency).
- A luminous bezel (illuminates for use at night).
- A base plate made of anodized metal. (compass structure is coated to prevent corrosion and enhance durability).
- A global needle (can be used in either the northern or southern hemisphere with its needle handling tilts up to 20 degrees).
- Proofing (for all types of weather and conditions).
- A jewel bearing (less friction gives you more accurate measurements).
No matter what sort of activity or situation you expect to find yourself in, this guide is here to provide you with very specific information on how the best compasses for survival work and the factors you need to consider before you buy the one that suits your requirements.
Top 7 Survival Compasses
We have spent a significant amount of time looking for all sorts of compasses available in the market and from all different kinds of manufacturers too. As mentioned earlier, we intend to simplify the process for you so you don’t have to worry about wasting time in doing a deep dive research on the best compasses for survival.
Although the decision is all yours, we present to you here top 7 survival compass options that are very high in demand due to their compactness, precision and value for money, to name a few reasons. All the best!
Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Lensatic Tactical Compass
This lensatic tactical compass (which comes in two options of camouflage and green) is water resistant and shock proof which makes it ideal for us in rough conditions and situations. Base plate is made out of metal which provides durability for long usage. It is ideal for activities such as boating, camping, mountaineering, exploring, hunting and motoring.
It provides for easy and accurate directions with the help of its floating compass which is filled with liquid capsules and has a 360 degrees scale. Its level bubble makes its accurate and a sighting window which is easy on the eyes for comfortable reading.
The azimuth dial and 360 degrees scale makes it an excellent optical eye piece and allowing for easy bearings and reverse bearings from objects in a quick and easy manner. The bezel that is rotating has a locking mechanism for your bearings which ensures that you are on the right track.
It has fluorescent light which makes it easy to read and follow at night time. When the compass is exposed to enough light, the north arrow and display lighting illuminates to give you a great experience.
There is a very helpful chart at the back of the compass which gives you information on angles, gradient and distances.
Cammenga 27CS Lensatic Compass
This phosphorescent lensatic compass (which is used as an alternative to tritium 27CS for quite some time now) comes with high specs of mil-prf-10436n. It has been tried and tested in varying tough conditions and is meant to be shock and sand proof as well as water resistant. It can endure temperatures from -50 F to +150 F.
This compass has been trusted by the US military for long now. The compass comes as standard with a magnifying glass (to assist you read those small prints on a map), bi-directional dial graduations, sight wire and MILS which provides you accurate readings.
It has an in-built copper induction damping system which reduced the speed of rotation of magnet without any help of the liquids.
The design and piece is sturdy and built with aluminum frame and a water resistant housing. This compass is renowned for its reliance by governmental agencies, armed forces, adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts across the globe.
This compass has a price range of $65.81 – $993.99.
SE Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass
This survival emergency compass (in SE logo and packaging only) has amazing features and functionalities and makes it the ultimate direction finder. It has a thermo-elastic liquid-filled capsule coupled with a floating dial which makes it super easy to navigate your way at night time.
This is an ideal piece of equipment for a range of outdoor activities such as camping, training or hiking.
Its base has a tripod screw hole, sighting cover lines, paracord loop and adjustable diopter sighting lens which makes it an excellent choice for all your outdoor navigational needs.
The cover (with straight lines) coupled with the conversion chart on the back of the plate provides you with a device that is meant to give you very accurate readings. The chart provides you with information associated with angles, gradients and distances.
This piece is constructed with heavy duty cover (digitally camouflaged print) and comes in a water proof pouch made out of nylon. This will ensure that your device is durable and well protected for longer durations and to work in the toughest of conditions.
Other interesting features of this compass are:
- Rotating bezel ring
- Thermo-elastic liquid-filled capsule with floating dial
- Ruler units on the sides measuring inches and centimeters
- Built-in bubble level
- Folding thumb ring
- 36” Lanyard
2 Pieces Military Lensatic Sighting Compass
This lens comes in 2 pieces and in 2 different colors: camouflage and US military green. Every set has a green lanyard for hanging the compasses, a high quality pouch and an easy to follow instruction manual. All these items are portable and easy to use.
The compass is manufactured out of engineering metal which makes sure it’s shockproof, water resistant and sturdy. It is perfect for use in tough conditions and terrain and extreme weather conditions. It is resistant to extreme temperatures and has been tried and tested to perfection.
It has an illuminating dial with glowing characters that glow in the dark which makes it very easy to use at night time. Since the dial is fluorescent, it needs to be exposed to sun light for a reasonable time for the illumination to work its magic at night.
The metal body is strong and foldable. The floating compass dial comes with a 360 degrees graduation, varying rangefinders, measurement conversion table and adjustable prism.
It is meant to handle different outdoor tasks such as directional navigation, recognizing location, slope and azimuth measurement, et al. This makes it a great choice for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. It is also a good option for hikers, drivers, campers, mountaineers, climbers, mariners, adventurists, backpackers, hunters and the like.
Its specifications include:
Size: 8.75 x 6.5 x 2.5 cm/ 3.5 x 2.6 x 1 inch
Material: aluminum alloy
SUUNTO M-3 NH Compass
This Sunnto compass has been categorized as an adventure compass. This essentially means it is ideal for finding your way and surviving in crisis situation or extreme conditions. Thanks to the sturdy base plate and the high grade needle which has a jewel bearing.
This quality compass has adjustable declination correction. It is known to operate in poor light conditions due to its luminescent markings. It also features magnifying lenses which are fixated on the transparent baseplate, which makes it very easy to read maps and small print texts.
Some other features of this compass for survival include: balanced device (for northern hemisphere) and liquid filled capsule (allowing the device to perform in a steady condition).
It is very reasonably priced at $32.87.
Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Metal Sighting Navigation Compass
This Eyeskey multifunctional compass is your ideal choice for hiking trips. It provides for very easy and accurate readings relating to measuring slope, azimuth angles and deviation angles. It is available in black and green colors and also has an inclinometer.
The compass dial is scaled to 360 degrees and is accurate up to 0.5 degrees. You can easily see the calibration through the lens.
Measuring the horizontal distances is very easy with the sighting window. It is lightweight and compact, and can even fit in your pocket with ease, providing you with a hassle free experience when you are out on the move.
This compass works well with freezing temperatures too (tested in ice and melting conditions).
Its measurements are 3.9×2.6×1.3in, and it weighs 7oz.
SUUNTO A-10 NH Metric Recreational Field Compass
This recreational field compass is an ideal choice for hikers and scouts. It provides for fast, easy and precise readings. It is a user friendly compass which you can quickly learn to use (with a map) and navigate to places of your choice.
It has a minimalistic design. The design is of high quality with high grade steel needles and jewel bearing. It is balanced for northern hemisphere and also has a fixed, non-adjustable declination correction scale. The liquid containing capsule provides for stable operation in all your times of need. It also has a detachable snap-lock lanyard which works well with the map reading.
It is very reasonably priced at $33.81.
How to Choose the Best Survival Compass?
A lot depends on what is your purpose of purchasing a compass. It may be used as a survival tool in a crisis situation. You may use it as a life saver in difficult situations when you are lost in a storm or have lost your way in a rainforest. You may rely on it whilst you are out on a hunting or camping trip. Perhaps, you are a back packer and are looking to make your travels easier by relying on the best backpacking compass.
There is a particular compass for everyone to suit their needs and requirements. To choose the best option out of the compasses for you, you need to understand the different functionalities of a compass and the varieties available in the market that you can choose from. Once you have done this assessment, you are in a good position to choose what will (or will not) work for you.
Here are some of the features of a compass that you need to consider before you set out to purchase one.
Compact, Water Resistant
It is a no brainer that your survival compass should be compact and light weight to make your travels easy and comfortable. Your ideal choice would be a size which can be easily packed into your survival kit or back pack, or in certain cases, pocket friendly.
Outdoor trips can be unexpected and the conditions outside as well. They may change quickly and without any pre-warning. In such situations, you would be well advised to carry something that is compact and easy accessible.
The heavier the compass or your survival kit, the more excess baggage you are carrying, the best compasses are easy to carry. That is the last thing you need in a crisis situation or when you are out in the middle and worried about finding your way. A compass is not the only thing you carry when you back pack or camp or go on a hunting expedition. Heavier and odd shaped items just pull you down and take a lot of energy which you need to conserve for other important activities.
Your back pack compass also needs to be water proof so you do not have to worry about damaging or disrupting its functionality if it accidentally gets soaked in water or rain outdoors. Always remember, a working compass is crucially important in all weather conditions (particularly in rain or snow or in combat situations for those involved in the military) and can possibly make all the difference between life and death, in adverse situations.
A survival compass will almost always be a water resistant device, which can withstand all kinds of climates and weather conditions, for reasons discussed above.
Dry vs Liquid Compass
The survival compasses are also available in dry and liquid form. It really depends on your preference but these preferences are more relevant when a compass is meant to be used on a ship.
Dry card compass is used as a standard compass whereas a wet card compass is meant to be a steering compass. Dry compass is super sensitive. A slight disturbance to it will set it into a motion and it will start moving from one side to the other.
With a wet card compass, the liquid within it will minimize the oscillations and as such it has more utility as a steering compass. In a lot of ships, it is use as a standard compass, as the gyro compass helps with the key directions. If you are deciding to purchase a wet compass, then always make sure that the liquid within it is ‘non-freezing’.
Fixed vs Adjustable Arrow
A compass is available in both the options, i.e. with a fixed arrow or an adjustable one. Again, it really is a personal choice and depends on your specific needs. A lot of people generally opt for an adjustable arrow which gives them the added flexibility and optional.
This essentially entails the adjustment required to rectify the reading differences between magnetic north and true north. This resets the orienting needle from the compass dial by the required degrees. This helps you in adjusting the readings of the compass to reflect the “magnetic declination” in your travel area, which is the difference between magnetic north and true north.
It goes without saying that a sophisticated orienting arrow will benefit all kinds of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts during their expeditions.
If you do not have this feature in your compass then you will be relying on your memory to do a manual calculation by adding or subtracting the relevant correction.
Any survival compass must come with a solid construction and must be sturdy as an overall piece. The idea is to make it strong enough to endure the toughest of conditions. Whenever you are on the move, the probability is you will drop it on different surfaces every now and then. In such instances, it should be able to absorb that shock and maintain its functionality and appearance.
Clinometer: Also knows as inclinometer, this device can be an excellent choice for backpackers, skiers and mountaineers. A clinometer within a compass will help you assess the steepness when you encounter a slope. This meter also helps with assessment of avalanche hazards during climbing.
Sighting Mirror: along with declination adjustment are very useful features when you are looking for a more precise navigational experience or for off-trail travels. This makes for easy visibility of an object of direction concurrently with the readings of compass capsule.
Global Needle: A global needle comes in handy for globe trotters or those taking an expedition to the south of the Equator. A global needle cancels out the variances that you may notice in the Earth’s magnetic field and provides punctual readings, irrespective of where you are in the world.
Magnifying Glass: is usually fixed on to the baseplate in certain models. This feature comes in very handy when you are trying to focus on small prints on a map, as you are on the move.
Luminescent Indicators: as the name suggest, helps with the illumination of the compass so you can easily read and follow it in the dark. Depending on the model, these indicators can be found either on the orienting arrow, or the four cardinal points of the compass or the magnetized part of the needle for easy visibility at night time.
Azimuth Ring: is a rotating bezel which has markings of 0 to 360 degrees in the inner circles of the compass screen and surrounding the outer edge of a needle capsule. The smaller the interval off the degrees, the more precision you get with your navigation.
Arrows & Meridian Lines: Always go for compasses with orienting arrows and meridian lines. There are useful markings on the baseplate of the compass which helps you in navigational tasks. Without these arrows and lines, compass orientation vis-à-vis a map will be quite a task.
You need to be wary of compass lookalikes! These are meant to function as compasses but are not manufactured with the same level of precision and functionality that you would expect from a standard or stand alone compass. These are often found as a ‘side kick’ to key chains, zippers, wrist bands and even multi functional watches. None of these can replace the standard needle-style compass with a baseplate.
Survival Compasses Trusted By The Military
As part of your decision making for purchasing a good quality survival compass, you need to understand and evaluate all the key features that a good quality military compass should have. I use the word ‘military compass’ as you would expect the military men and women to use tools and equipment which are nothing but the best.
Survival compasses are widely and frequently used by military members, in fact more than the civilians do (who are spoilt by the technology of GPS these days).
At some point in time, all of us have heard war stories or watched war footage or movies on the TV. A common sight is when a soldier and military officials are moving around in a battlefield, forests and all kinds of terrain to combat with the enemy and save their own lives and country. These actions take them to remote areas which they never expected to be in, in the first place. That is where they need the compass to help them plan their every little move.
Military compasses are manufactured with special attention to detail and design which gives them guaranteed functionality. They are designed to withstand tough combat situations and to protect and save their own lives. To achieve this, they are meant to be made with qualities such as light weight, portable, durable, sand and water proof, night/illumination option, low maintenance and be able to work well under extreme temperatures such as -50 to +150F. They are also meant to have a two directional rotating bezel with an accuracy level which is around +/- 0002.
A lot of civilians use military trusted compasses as their benchmark for purchasing high quality compasses for their outdoor activities. They expect military compasses to be ‘more’ precise and error free. After all, it can be a life saving equipment when you are lost in the wilderness or are stuck in a bad torrential rain or storm.
There are special compasses that are trusted by the military and which are manufactured by certain companies. We discuss some of the best ones out there in our guide below, if that is of interest to you.
What is the Best Compass for Survival?
One of the best survival compasses would have to be “Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Lensatic Tactical Compass”.
Who Makes the Best Survival Compass?
Some of the best brands that manufacture survival compasses would be: Suunto, Polaris, Cammenga, Brunton, SE and Eyeskey.
When Do You Need to Use a Compass?
You use a compass when you are uncertain about your direction of travel and need to be shown the way. It can be used by the military or civilians during camping, hunting or generally for survival situations. Its purpose is to ‘point you to the right direction’.
No matter what compass you eventually decide to purchase, always make sure that you use it frequently to get used to it. Any of the above recommended compasses is as good as you make it to be. Reading and navigating with the help of a compass is a skill which gets perfect with practice. This also ensures that a survival scenario or a wilderness quest doesn’t turn into learning curve. Happy navigating, everyone!