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Best Compass for Survival

Last Updated: December 29, 2020

In our technological era, it is unheard of to use a compass to get around. With the invention of GPS tracking and navigation, it is so easy to take your smartphone out of your pocket and find your way.

However, when it comes to surviving in the wilderness or an emergency situation, you can’t always rely on your smartphone.

Batteries die and signals disappear – that’s why it is crucial to take the best compass for survival with you and know exactly how to use it.

You shouldn’t discount just how important one can be when you are stuck in a bad situation.

Once you understand the importance of a compass to your survival gear, it is then time to decide which is the best compass for you.

There are a variety of compasses available on the market, and as you are particularly looking for a survival compass, it will need to be of good quality.

Here at Survival Front, we’ve reviewed five of the best compasses for survival to help narrow down your search.

Being able to navigate with a compass is an essential skill to have, especially if you go hiking or hunting regularly, so our selection of the best compasses will help you to improve your sense of direction and find your way.

Our Reviews

Sharp Survival Best Camping Survival Compass

As one of the most budget-friendly options, this compass surprisingly packs in several useful features. Not only is it a great looking compass, with a traditional copper design, it also promises reliable and accurate readings so that you never lose your way.

One of the key benefits of the Sharp Survival compass is how small it is, being only 48mm in diameter and 12mm thick. It will fit perfectly in a supplies kit or backpack, making it a convenient choice.

It also has a glow-in-the-dark face, so you won’t struggle to read it during those dark nights or rainy days.

Many customers have found that it is a useful choice for practicing basic navigational skills, but the limited number of technical features means it may not be the best choice if you are more serious about surviving and getting accurate reads.

Some customers have described it as being more like a toy than a handy piece of survival gear, so use your discretion here if you are looking at advancing your compass skills.

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  • Glow-in-the-dark face
  • Compact size
  • Good for compass beginners


  • Limited amount of features
  • May work better for camping or orienteering than real survival scenarios

SUUNTO MC-2 Compass

While not the most inexpensive option, the SUNNTO MC-2 Compass hosts an impressive amount of technical features, as well as being compact in size.

Unlike its competitors, this compass contains a sighting mirror. A sighting mirror enables you to gain a more accurate bearing reading, as you can position the compass at eye level and arm’s length while still reading the information your bezel. Some customers have found the use of a sighting mirror provides them with far greater accuracy than that of a standard base-plate style of compass.

In addition to the mirror, the compass also fully opens up against a map, so you can plot locations easily, without the need to fold your map or make estimations.

As you should want to be as accurate as possible with your readings, especially when it comes to survival, this compass makes a great choice in terms of its visibility as well. The orienteering lines are large and clear to read under the bezel so that you can see measurements clearer from any north-south lines on a map.

An important aspect to consider when looking at survival compasses is whether it has a clinometer. A clinometer measures the slope angle, which is essential if you are potentially hiking up avalanches or mountainous terrain. This allows you to check the stability of the slope and protect yourself from hazardous situations.

As mentioned previously, adjusting the declination is important when it comes to accuracy, and this compass allows you to do just that. It is a crucial feature to consider having in your survival compass, and keen survival experts would argue that it should be a required feature.

However, despite all of its positive aspects, some users have reported issues with the reflectivity of the mirror, which is worth considering for a higher-priced piece of equipment.

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  • Compact size
  • Sighting mirror for increased accuracy
  • Global needle for use around the world
  • Declination adjustment function
  • Clinometer to measure slope angle


  • Not budget-friendly

Northies Combo Pack Military Lensatic Sighting Compass

If you are looking for a survival compass with an extensive list of features, you can’t go too wrong with this military-style compass from Northies.

You can expect multifunctional features with this compass, making it perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities. It can be used day or night, with illuminating dials to help you see, and its aluminum alloy build makes it a sturdy compass against all the elements.

It also provides you with the necessary technical features to help you survive, such as a clinometer to measure slope elevation, and graduated scale measurements that can fold flat against a map.

A feature that keen survivalists should also look out for is a thumb loop, so you can securely hold the compass and hold it against a map easily if necessary.

In terms of outdoor survival, this product has additional items you’ll need to stay safe. It comes with what is essentially a mini survival kit, including a 3 in 1 survival paracord bracelet that contains a flint fire starter and an emergency whistle.

It’s worth bearing this in mind when choosing the most suitable compass, as you may find you get more for your money with this combo pack, but you may also find the excess features overwhelming when it comes to ease of use.

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  • Illuminating dial for increased visibility
  • Includes other pieces of kit, such as a fire starter and emergency whistle, for increased survival safety
  • Clinometer to measure slope angle
  • Aluminum alloy provides durability


  • More than just a compass to get to grips with, as it comes with extra equipment

Eyeskey Military Lensatic Tactical Compass

Eyeskey claim this compass is suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities, from hiking and boating, to bushwhacking and mountaineering. It is designed with aluminum alloy, making it durable enough to handle adverse weather conditions and rough terrain. The compass is dustproof, which also protects its internal mechanism.

In addition to its durable material, it is also water and shake-proof, making it a worthy candidate for outdoor enthusiasts.

You can also expect accuracy as well as durability with this survival compass. The needle floats in a liquid capsule, providing you with highly reliable readings. It also has a leveling bubble, which shows when the compass level is horizontal with the earth’s surface. This ensures that the needle gives you the most precise reading without any complications.

As the product name states, this is specifically a ‘military’ compass, and many of its features have multifunctional purposes. It includes a map measurer, along with a straight and curved distance measurer and a measurement conversion chart, so there is no excuse for you to have incorrect measurements with this compass!

You can also be rest-assured that this compass is easy to read in low-light areas, as it glows in the dark and has a fluorescent dial.

Despite its extensive list of features, the compass is a compact size, so you can fit this powerful survival compass in your pocket.

However, there is no capability to adjust the declination, and some customers have noted that it is not comparable to that of a standard US military compass. For example, you cannot open it out all the way to lay against a map, and it doesn’t have a thumb loop to position it against a map either. This is worth bearing in mind, as if you are looking at intense survival situations, this compass may not perform as well as you need it to.

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  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Sturdy and built to last
  • Glows in the dark
  • Various multifunctional features, such as conversion charts


  • Can't adjust the declination
  • No thumb loop

Brunton TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass

This is a versatile compass, offering a variety of features that are beneficial for both beginners and experienced outdoor survivalists. Its imperial and metric scale feature, as well as its tool-free declination, means it is a useful compass for those learning to get to grips with orienteering or outdoor activities.

A standout feature is its built-in TruArc Global Needle system, meaning you can achieve accurate readings in both the northern and southern hemispheres. This is a must-have feature if you are a keen traveler, and while the needle isn’t the most drag-free, it is a great feature for the budget-friendly price of the compass.

An added feature of TruArc’s compass is that it also comes with a nylon lanyard, so it is easy to access at all times when you are out and about. Its lightweight feel and compact size mean it can fit in your pocket if need be as well, so it is a convenient compass despite its advanced features.

For the least stressful experience when you are in a survival situation, accuracy is key, and this compass has an advanced navigation system included. This is because it resists magnetic interference to a high level and doesn’t lose polarity easily.

However, although this compass has a lot of positive features, as it is budget-friendly, some customers have complained about the overall quality of it. This is mainly concerning the needle, with customers reporting that the needle isn’t cut correctly and actually points south. You should, therefore, be wary when purchasing more budget-friendly options when it comes to this kind of gear, as accuracy is crucial and often worth the investment.

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  • Global Needle System so can be used around the world with ease
  • Imperial and metric scales are useful for beginners
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Tool-free declination


  • Not reliably high-quality
  • No cardinal points on degree markings

A Strong Compass

Whether you are hunting, hiking, or simply exploring the outdoors, you can’t always predict what obstacles you will encounter, or what the weather conditions you will face.

That’s why you need to ensure your compass can handle whatever it’s faced with, such as heavy rain or being dropped.

While ideally your compass would be kept out of adverse conditions, it isn’t always possible to keep it fully protected, so you need to choose a durable compass that will still function regardless.

This means selecting a compass made from a strong material. Aluminum is an excellent choice for this, but there are other materials that would work well.

It’s vital that your compass is waterproof if you are in a wet or cold climate, or if you are planning on swimming at any point during your outdoor adventure.

Ideally, your compass should also be lightweight so that it can fit comfortably in your pocket or backpack.

This is crucial, as it means you’ll have more space for your larger gear and stops your pockets feeling weighed down unnecessarily.

Brightness and Visibility

In addition to the rain, it is likely that you will also face dark and dull skies at some point. This means you’ll struggle to read your compass if it does not light up.

Many modern compasses have a self-illuminating feature, and this typically means the needle will light up, but it could be on the orienting arrow or the four cardinal points.

Regardless, with this feature included, it makes reading the compass far more convenient, especially if you forget a torch (or if your torch batteries fail you)!

Look Closer at the Features

There are lots of features of a compass, such as the needle, the orienting lines, and the orienting arrow. Try to get acquainted with them before you pick which survival compass to buy.

Ideally, your needle should float in liquid, which helps to absorb shockwaves and prevent any vibrations. This makes your direction more accurate than that of a dry needle.

For best results, aim to have a compass with non-freezing liquid, so the movement of the needle is not impacted.

It is paramount that your survival compass has an orienting arrow and parallel meridian lines, which will be at the bottom of the housing of the compass.

These parts of the compass make it a lot easier to correctly orient the compass to a map, and without them, you will struggle to do this.

In order to increase your accuracy, you should also consider the rotating bezel as a key feature.

The bezel is the ring around the outside edge of the compass, marked from zero to three hundred and sixty degrees.

The smaller the gaps are between the individual degrees, the more precise your reading will be. This kind of precision can make a huge difference when you are stuck in a difficult situation.

Declination Adjustment

While it is a technical term, declination adjustment simply means adjusting the needle, so it is pointing towards true north, rather than magnetic north.

This is essential if you are looking at hiking outdoors or practicing survival tactics, as it is more sophisticated and provides you with more accurate bearings.

You set the declination and can then leave it until you move to a new region.


A compass may seem like a straightforward piece of survival gear to use, but, as shown, there are lots of aspects to consider when deciding on the best compass for survival.

If you are determined to improve your survival skills and get the most out of your compass use, however, the SUUNTO MC-2 Compass is an excellent choice.

Although it is not the most budget-friendly option, you may find that this compass is a worthy investment, as it contains all the necessary features for optimal survival, in addition to being high-quality and built to last.

Bear in mind your ability level, however, as you may find another compass on our list to be more suitable for you.

Whatever compass you choose, you should aim to practice your survival skills and put them to use if necessary.

We recommend that you have a compass in your survival kit wherever you go, and hopefully this list has helped you to decide on the best one for you.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below and let us know if you have any suggestions for topics.
Good luck with your survival prepping!

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