Hiking Compasses

What is the best compass for hiking?


While that is a question we get quite often, it is not a question with a one or two-word answer. Almost any compass can be used as a hiking compass. But there are definitely certain compass characteristics that can make a compass more useful for the hiker.

This hiking compass image shows how the compass's clear baseplate allows a view of your hiking trail on the map.

For good reason, the standard hiking compass people usually choose is a clear baseplate compass. And we do have a whole page dedicated to baseplate compasses. This type of compass is great for hiking because it allows you to easily use a map as you navigate along your hiking trail. Map use is easier with this type of compass because you can see straight through the compass, right down to the map. This makes charting and setting your bearings a breeze. The compass to the left is our Treknor Orienteer T580 Deluxe Map Compass. This economical hiking compass is packed with features and does its job well. Thatís probably why it is our number one selling compass overall.

If you want to step up to a full-size baseplate compass as your hiking compass solution, we might recommend something like the Silva Explorer PRO. This compass has even more features than the T580, and the full-size capsule and bezel combination mean you can be even more accurate with your readings. Itís not that the larger needle and capsule are more accurate, but in the real world, it just means you can make better use of the compassís accuracy.



This mirror sighting compass makes a great hiking compass by allowing you to see the hiking trail ahead while reading the compass capsule.

But if you can only have one hiking compass, we would really recommend a sighting mirror compass. Thatís because you get all the great hiking compass features of a clear baseplate compass, plus you can gain the improved accuracy offered by a sighting mirror. When you have the sighting mirror bent back at a 45 degree angle it allows you to hold the compass up at eye level and see both your target in the distance simultaneously while you can read the capsule to get your needle in the proper location. This sighting maneuver is something you just canít do with a traditional baseplate compass.

In the picture to the right, you can see the Silva Ranger 2.0 (Orange), a full-size sighting mirror compass. If you take a close look at this sighting compass picture you can see a thin line down the center of the mirror. This line helps you give proper alignment to the compass capsule center, so you can make sure your compass is aimed correctly. You can also see a small notch in the bottom of the mirror and a notch at the top of the mirror that help define objects in the distance that are in perfect alignment with your targeted direction. Now you can hike directly to those targets, and get ready to determine your next target. This is the proper way to sight and plan for accurate hiking paths. You never want to try walking in a straight line by just looking down at your compass to keep you on track. You'll never be able to walk a true straight line that way.

The Silva Ranger 2.0 (Orange) is just one of our perfect hiking compass solutions. You will also see the BASEPLATE MAP COMPASSES and MIRROR SIGHTING COMPASSES section links above, where you can find many possible hiking compass solutions.

If you have any other hiking compass questions, feel free to shoot us an email, or even give us a call. Email: mail@rocgear.com Phone: 706-955-0245 M-F 9am-5pm EST.

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