A quality compass is an essential navigation tool for outdoor adventurers. When trekking off trail or in unfamiliar areas, a compass provides guidance and peace of mind. For hiking trips near and far, carrying a reliable compass can prove lifesaving if you become lost or disoriented.

When selecting the best compass for hiking, key factors to evaluate include durability, ease of use, accuracy, and additional features. Durable housing protects the interior magnetic needle from damage while clear sight lines simplify navigation.

Professional compasses with precise calibration provide true accuracy. Added elements like magnifying lenses, declination adjustment, glow features, map scales, and clinometers also boost functionality on the trail.

Here is an overview of the best compasses for hiking in 2024:

Compass Key Features
Suunto MC-2 – Professional quality
– Superior accuracy
– Easy to use with clear baseplate
Brunton TruArc 15 – Highly accurate calibration
– Glow-in-the-dark dial
– Quick set declination adjustment
Eyeskey Multifunction – Multifunction for versatility
– Affordable price
– Waterproof housing
Suunto M-9 ND – Wristwatch design
– Used globally by military
– Quality night vision dial
Coghlans 990 – Very inexpensive
– Easy to read alignment
– Folding design

Below we’ll review some of the best hiking compasses on the market to help you decide which model fits your navigation needs.

Suunto MC-2 Global – Best Overall

Suunto MC-2 Global

Suunto MC-2 Global
  • Professional quality and accuracy
  • Liquid damped needle
  • Large magnifying lens
  • Declination correction
  • Easy to set bearing alignment

Regarded by many outdoor enthusiasts as the best hiking compass, the Suunto MC-2 offers exceptional durability, accuracy, and ease of navigation.

The liquid damped needle provides steady direction readings while precise calibration keeps you oriented correctly. The large magnifying lens makes the dial indications simple to see in harsh lighting.

With pre-marked declination correction and prominent meridian lines for fast map alignments, the Suunto MC-2 delivers reliable guidance on and off trail. The durable, scratch-resistant clear plate also slides easily in your pocket.

Whether new to navigation or a seasoned navigator, the MC-2 serves as a premium global compass no outdoor enthusiast should be without. It provides accuracy and clarity for life-saving confidence when you need it most.

Suunto MC-2 works very well for:


  • Professional quality and accuracy
  • Large magnifying lens
  • Declination adjustment
  • Durable, clear baseplate
  • Trusted brand reputation


  • Higher cost than lesser models

Brunton TruArc 15 – Most Accurate

Brunton TruArc 15

Brunton TruArc 15
  • Superior accuracy with precise calibration
  • Glow-in-the-dark bezel and sight lines
  • Quick set declination adjustment
  • Checkerboard baseplate
  • Lifetime warranty

Obtain pinpoint navigation certainty with the Brunton TruArc 15. Engineered to exceed expectations for accuracy, it provides reliable guidance over long distances.

With glow dial functionality and prominent sight lines, reading the TruArc 15 proves fast and intuitive in all conditions. The quick set declination and red/shed arrow markings further boost readability.

Constructed of durable, UV-resistant polycarbonate, the baseplate delivers lasting protection during rugged use. It also contains helpful map centering, plotting, and measuring features.

Backed by unconditional lifetime assurance, Brunton covers any manufacturing defects for the lifespan of the product. Known for matchless accuracy and quality, the TruArc 15 makes an exceptional hiking compass.

Brunton TruArc 15 works very well for:

  • Trekking
  • Peak bagging
  • Geocaching
  • General navigation


  • Extremely accurate readings
  • Glow in the dark functionality
  • Quick set declination
  • Rugged, high performing construction
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Higher cost than basic models

Eyeskey Multifunction Military – Most Versatile

Eyeskey Multifunction Military

Eyeskey Multifunction Military
  • Integrated with thermometer, whistle, and magnifying lens
  • Waterproof and shock proof housing
  • High visibility dia and sight lines
  • Affordable price
  • Ideal for versatile navigation needs

Why carry multiple tools when this Eyeskey Multifunction Military Compass combines several? With built-in bonuses like a magnifier, thermometer, and emergency whistle, it eliminates pack weight.

The durable, waterproof housing protects the precision magnetic needle from moisture and drops. The high contrast color scheme and markings make for easy viewing in rough conditions.

Offering impressive versatility and accuracy at a budget-friendly price, the Eyeskey Multifunction compass proves useful for all-around navigation duties. It gives you essential directional and environmental guidance in one compact unit.

Eyeskey Multifunction Compass works very well for:

  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • General outdoor recreation


  • Integrated tools add helpful features
  • Waterproof, shockproof housing
  • Highly visible dial
  • Affordable price


  • Baseplate lacks declination marks

Suunto M-9 Wrist – Most Convenient

Suunto M-9 Wrist

Suunto M-9 Wrist
  • Quality wristwatch design
  • Used by military forces globally
  • Scratch resistant crystal
  • Easy tool-free calibration
  • Integrated night vision lighting

For keeping your compass conveniently close, check out the Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass. Based on designs trusted by military and professionals worldwide, it delivers premium performance from your arm.

The durable watch strap and scratch resistant crystal hold up to extreme conditions. With a highly accurate needle and easy set declination, it tracks directions precisely.

The integrated night vision light also boosts readability in low light. Overall, for keeping your compass secure and accessible, the M-9 presents an excellent solution.

Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass works very well for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Hunting
  • Tactical use


  • Convenient wristwatch format
  • Crystal viewing lens
  • Superluminova night vision
  • Made by a revered compass brand


  • Expensive for casual recreational use

What To Look For When Buying

With many compasses to choose from sporting various features, deciding the right model for your needs takes consideration:

⛰️ Usage terrain – If navigating mostly open landscape in good visibility, a basic compass suffices. For mountain trekking, altimeter compasses add helpful elevation data.

🧭 Accuracy level – Casual users can get by with standard recreational models. For adventure races or remote exploration needing precision, upgrade to professional calibered compass.

🧯 Added functionality – Evaluate which bonus features serve you best – night illumination, magnification, map scales, mirrors, clinometers, etc. But simplicity also has advantages.

🛡️ Durability – The housing, crystal window, markings, needle assembly, and lanyard should withstand considerable outdoor conditions and repeated handling.

💲 Budget – Inexpensive models cover the basics on a budget while professional compasses give true accuracy and features at a higher price. Set realistic expectations.

With a bit of research on reputable brands and components that match your intended compass use, selecting an optimal model proves pretty straightforward. Then focus on practicing your navigation skills!

Using A Compass 101

Equipped with a quality compass, reviewing some fundamental navigation techniques helps ensure efficient use:

🔍 Inspect it routinely – Check your compass often for damage to the housing or needle sticking. Gently tap the unit to realign interior parts if the needle catches.

🗺️ Learn to orient a map – Place your map aligned to north according to your compass needle direction. This allows tracing possible routes accurately.

🧭 Take bearings frequently – Identify reference points, hold compass level, and note bearings as you hike to track distance and direction covered.

✨ Consider declination – In some regions, account for difference between true geographic north and magnetic north per degree variance declination charts.

⚙️ Calibrate as needed – If accuracy fluctuates in certain locations, recalibrate with an adjustment tool so your compass reads properly.

As long as you respect compass limitations, practice sound navigation fundamentals, and travel cautiously, your compass serves as an indispensable guide when you need it.


"Hello, I'm Alexandra, a seasoned hiker with over a decade of experience exploring the great outdoors. My love for hiking was sparked on the Appalachian Trail, and since then, I've embarked on numerous hiking adventures, from dense forests to towering peaks. I'm dedicated to sharing my knowledge and expertise through HikingCare.com to help hikers of all levels make the most of their outdoor experiences."