Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The best survival compass for 2021 came down to four top picks, depending on what your navigation needs are. If you’re into hiking, camping, or just general preparedness and survival, you’ll want to take a look at these top picks and a few other recommendations – to help you stay on course.
Compact Design Pick – Best Survival Compass
Silva Starter 1-2-3 made it’s way into the best survival compass category, because it’s well made, by a company that most outdoors people trust. Silva has been around forever, and if you need a compact compass that you can store almost anywhere, this is it.
Let’s take a quick look at the specs:
- Base plate is designed especially for children’s smaller hands
- The rotating capsule has a 2 dial graduation and clear base plate that makes it easier to read a map and plan the course.
- Inch and millimeter scales are provided for mapping or plotting
- A lanyard hole on the base palte makes for easy carrying
- Weight: 0.9 oz.
A note on declination: I like that this model, although small, has an adjustment for declination. (Declination in land navigation refers to the difference between magnetic north, true north and grid (map) north. This and other compasses below, will help you adjust so that your compass needle accounts for any differences between the three.
Features Pick – Best Survival Compass
Next up is the Brunton Tru-arc 20. I’ve used this compass in the field, and it is loaded with features. Not only is it mostly plastic, which makes it extremely light weight for its size, but it also stores several map tools in the back of the rubber backing case.
This model is made in the USA – Wyoming to be exact. Let’s take a look at the features:
- RELIABLE – A compass designed for you in situations where your equipment needs to withstand serious abuse in rugged, wet and dirty conditions.
- PROFESSIONAL GRADE – TruArc 20 comes with Brunton’s best features, including a sighting mirror, Clinometer, tool-less declination adjustment, and the protective cover and foot. A great tool for foresters, landscapers and contractors. Great for camping
- ADVANCED NAVIGATION – Resists magnetic interference better than any competitor, and will not lose its polarity. Sighting Mirror
- GLOBAL NEEDLE – With a global needle that is accurate in both northern and southern hemispheres, TruArc 20 is ready to go anywhere in the world.
Not only does this model have a clinometer for assessing uneven terrain, but it’s a global model, which means it’s effective in both the northern or southern hemisphere. If you plan on traveling the world, you may just put this “best survival compass” in your pack.
Most Durable Pick – Best Survival Compass
The best survival compass list would not be complete without the Cammenga USGI 3H. With the durability packed into this military compass, it easily wins in the most durable pick category. I have two or three of these myself and have used them in the wilderness for many years.
- Built to the demanding specifications of U.S. fighting forces.
- Shock, water, sand proof and functional from -50ºF to +150ºF
- Equipped with a magnifying lens, sight wire and dial graduations in both degrees and mils to ensure accurate readings.
- Copper induction dampening system slows the rotation of the magnet without the use of liquids.
- U.S. made, NSN #6605-01-196-6971
If weight is a concern, you may look for another option. This little tank is not the lightest best survival compass on the list, but it will probably survive the most amount of abuse. It’s a trade off as with any product decision.
All Around Pick – Best Survival Compass
The Suunto MC-2 takes place as the best all around survival compass on our list. Suunto is another big name in the land navigation world, and their MC-2 compass has been around a long time. It features a tool adjustable declination mechanism (which means you won’t inadvertently knock the compass off its setting).
It also features a large mirror that can double as a signaling device. As with most of the other compasses, it features a lightweight design, but also has a bunch of great features for map work in the field. Take a look:
- Balanced for northern hemisphere
- USGS UTM scales
- Adjustable declination correction
- Mirror for sighting bearings and signaling
- Luminescent markings for working in low light
- Baseplate with magnifying lens
- Detachable snap-lock lanyard with wristlock. Easy to detach for working with the map.
This is my go-to compass, I have several of these around my house. Each one is tucked into a bug out bag or camping backpack. Again, I love the lightweight design, made by a well known company I trust to get me from point A to point B in the wilderness.
Map Tools & References
Listed below are some tools that I have in my land navigation kit.
- A protractor, if you’re not familiar can help you transfer land navigation points to a map from information you’re given, or from a compass reading you’ve taken.
- Weatherproof note pads are a great convenience to have, especially if it rains where you’re at. Even if you live in a desert, oil, dirt and grime can really mess up a note pad. I like to have a compact notepad available for observations, map notes, etc. when I’m in the field.
- A good mechanical pencil is awesome too. Rite in the rain makes a solid pencil that won’t break lead very easily. Again, taking notes, making pencil marks on your map, are all part of land navigation.
- MapTools Round Military Coordinate Scale and Protractor
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Top Spiral Notebook, 4" x 6", Green Cover, Universal Pattern, 3 Pack (No. 946-3)
- Rite in the Rain All-Weather Mechanical Pencil, Yellow Barrel, 1.1mm Black Lead (No. YE99)
This is another great map tool - sure to help you plot points on a map, determine azimuth and mark distances. Every land navigator should have one.
Need to land navigation notes in the field? Try Rite in the Rain. They have a bunch of different sizes, colors, and you can be sure your notes won't fall apart in wet weather.
Another great map tool to add to your land navigation kit. The rite in the rain mechanical pencil lead won't break, smudge or smear.
Wrapping it Up
So, we looked at our top picks for Best Survival Compass in 2021. What about you? Do you agree, disagree? Let us know.
We’ll be doing in-depth reviews of each one of these compasses soon, so tap that Facebook icon over in the menu and hit follow. Or join our free newsletter to stay on top of our latest articles on a monthly basis.
Again, let us know what you think, especially if you have experience with these models.
Stay safe – Stay Positive,