I own at least 12 compasses.   Then again, I teach navigation. (Drivers!  Don’t think you can get around knowing how to navigate well.) What I have found is that you’ll find a model that just “fits” you – the way it feels in your hand, the smoothness of the float of the needle.   Like anything, some navigators even become superstitious about certain compasses after having a series of successes or failures while using a particular model.


I never leave home without two compasses.

My choice compasses are the Suunto MC2 – Global and the Suunto KB 20

Take a look here.



MC2 – Global

MSRP: $95.00


Every person needs to know how to use a traditional compass with adjustable base plate. When learning navigation, it forces you to learn the two key skills – finding a heading and determining a heading of a fixed object. These skills are the same ones you will apply when using a map plotter.

The MC2 – Global features a patented global needle. Basically, you can use this compass any where in the world. Other compasses are suited for a region.


Global use

Magnetic declination



Excellent for map triangulation


Dirt can make it difficult to turn the bezel

Not as quick to use as a sighting compass


KB 20

MSRP – $83.95


I have found the KB 20 to be bombproof, accurate, and extremely easy to use. Last year I bought several of the upgraded model (KB 14) with adjustable declination and was exceptionally disappointed. Although it felt robust, they all failed. Don’t be tempted to think that price and adjustable declination translates to the better compass.




Easy to read

Excellent sight

Cons –

No declination adjustment

Also worth the look – Plastimo Iris $99.99. Accurate, robust, and a great feel in your hand.