If you’ve survived an aeroplane crash in the woods or mountains, survival would require you staying as close to the aircraft as possible.
Of course, if you’re a true adventurer, you’ll no doubt know that the sun’s journey from east to west is an accurate navigational tool, and that single stars and rivers can also guide you away from disaster.
Simplicity, Reliability and Ease of Use
Finding your way in the wilds doesn’t always require fancy navigation tools. Some compasses are sophisticated tools used by the military, and this type tends to be somewhat bulky. For the average user, some features on a modern-day compass may not even be important;you just want a quick and reliable way to get your basic directions. It doesn’t take a sophisticated compass to do this, and a button or pocket compass is ideal in your car or survival kit.
Even the simplest compass is of no use to you if you don’t know how to use it. You will need to learn how to use a compass well ahead of time, and buying a compass depends on how you intend using it and on what navigational skills you already have.
Let’s take a look at some of the best button compasses there are:
OEM Survival Compass
Liquid Filled Grade AA
Space is always an issue when packing for a hiking or camping trip into the outdoors. At just 20mm in size and with a black plastic base, this compass with its easy-to-read dial offers up to 8 hours of high luminosity with its bright green N, W, S, E. It’s a liquid-filled grade AA compass and promises to be reliable for providing you with your basic directions.
It is also water resistant to 100ft and has a working temperature range of 20ºF to 120ºF. This nifty mini-compass is the most perfect, compact gadget to have in your survival kit and it promises to get you back to civilization.
Private Label Survival Compass
A Set of 5
This liquid filled Survival compass comes in a set of 5. These 20mm mini compasses from Private Label are well made and are the ideal addition to any survival kit or to keep in your pocket. The black faced dial is easy to read and is sealed with a clear acrylic top and with a black plastic base.
These “flat on the back” compasses allow you to attach them easily to your backpack or your binoculars. Accurate as anything, the mini compasses will also work well in sub-freezing temperatures. These little compasses with bevel on edge, can be carried with a lanyard.
NATO Survival Compass
Operates in Below Freezing Conditions
This Francis Barker, built-to-military-specification compass, is robust enough to be able to operate in temperatures of -40°C. Also known as the Francis Barker SAS Survival Compass, this tiny brass compass weighs in at just 10 ounces.
This means it can easily fit into your pocket or survival kit. Just 0.597’’ in diameter, you can take this compass out on the darkest night as it has two luminous dots for both North and South. Having been used in World War 2, the hardy little NATO Survival Compass of brass and glass was sometimes sewn into clothes to prevent its loss. It is made in the United Kingdom and comes as corrosion resistant.
Compact Tracker Emergency Compass
Military Quality Compass
This compass by Best Glide ASE is a 20mm oil filled, pressurized military quality compass. Its small size allows it to fit easily into any pocket or your backpack or you can mount it anywhere. Recently upgraded, it is more accurate and dependable, making it just that little bit more expensive.
Even so, it is better not to use them for orienteering, where intense navigational skills also using a map to navigate across unfamiliar terrain is required. These button survival compasses are used as an aid for locating a general direction as opposed to a precise map reading instrument. For general direction finding, a small pocket or mini compass like this one can’t be beaten.
Mini Compass with Thermometer
A Brand Name Catering for Outdoor Enthusiasts
You can be sure that only quality materials are used to make Pro Force products. The company Pro Force offers quality equipment, catering to the need of outdoor enthusiasts and military service members.
This mini compass with its size being 2.5″x1.75″ is a Celsius or Fahrenheit thermometer with markings for every 5º. With its responsive needle this compass has been designed in the USA. It is made from a robust poly carbonate plastic and weighs just 0.45 ounces. The compass has been tested in the field in tough environments. The compass can be attached anywhere or simply kept in your car or on a key ring.
BCB CK311 Explorer Compass
Military Approved Compass
This sturdy button or mini compass is just 0.51″ in diameter. It’s an oil-filled pressurized military approved compass. The fluid is for dampening the needle, so it settles quickly. BCB International was started in 1854, and they develop innovative products that help seafarers, armed forces and adventurers operate and survive in harsh environments.
Customers agree that this compass serves well for urban orientation, as well as walks and hikes on fairly familiar territory. For sturdiness, this robust little compass has been load-tested to 24kg. The compass doesn’t come with anything to attach it to a keyring, and most users solve the problem by gluing it onto their binoculars.
Isport Mini Compass
Isports offers quality products which are reasonably priced. Their multi-functional, easy to read mini hiking compass with clear acrylic top is suitable for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and traveling. The compass, in a range of trendy colors, opens and closes smoothly, and its benefit comes from being able to be used as a key chain. Strong, reliable and lightweight, this 1.06 inch diameter compass with thermometer weighs just 32g. It’s a well-made mini compass which is ideal for adding into any survival kit.
Dalvey Miniature Pocket Compass
Non-Tarnish, Stainless Steel Body
With its stainless steel body, this liquid filled compass with tungsten steel needle on a jeweled bearing comes with a rotating azmuth ring. Ideal as a gift, this pocket compass displays fine workmanship. The compass is set in a precision made, non-tarnish stainless steel body.
The lid has a raised Dalvey insignia, and folds into a pocket-watch style fob. If you want, the back side of the compass can be engraved on. This compass weighs just 1.6oz, its thickness is 5/8’’ while diameter is 1 and 7/8th of an inch.
It goes without saying, that the compass you choose will depend on your usage, but your best bet is to keep your compass as simple as possible.
Check out whether your compass works in both northern and southern hemispheres, whether you get good damping and good handling of magnetic variation. Any regular hiker simply needs a compass with accurate bearings that will point at a distant object and lead you on a course.
Even the entry-level button compass models from good brands like BCB, Pro Force and Best Glide will be fine for most recreational purposes, they’ll be 100% reliable, be truly affordable and will last for decades with proper care.