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Finding the right compass

I recently lost my compass and it’s a good thing I did. Finding the right compass can be frustrating but the rewards of proper navigation are well worth it!

Finding the right compass

I recently lost my very last compass, and I’m glad.

This compass was just a $6 Coghlans Map Compass. I purchased this compass at the surplus store, en route to a camping trip. It was only supposed to hold me over, until I could order a replacement, for the Suunto compass that I had recently lost. It seems that I might be the equivalent of a Bermuda Triangle for compasses.

The Coghlans Compass ended up as my primary compass longer than originally planned, and I used the heck out of that compass.

I didn’t have high expectations for the Coghlans Compass, but the compass needle tended to point in a Northerly direction and that was good enough in a pinch. I did find myself missing some of the features and high quality of that lost Suuntu compass.

On a positive note, I am confident that the woodland creatures are appreciating the quality construction of that compass…


Desired Features

I started keeping a list of features that I needed (ok, wanted) on my compass wish list.

When I finally lost the Coghlans Map Compass, I pulled out my wish list of compass features and started digging around the Amazon marketplace for my upgrade.

Wish List (these are my actual notes, but sanitized and curse words removed)

  1. Illuminated (or glow in the dark) dial and needle – I must have this on any compass from now on!!!
  2. clear and efficient markings without too much clutter
  3. adjustable declination (or declination adjustment) – I think the lack of declination is why I am lost.
  4. Raised and Beveled edges, to can easily rotate the compass for correct bearings, with gloves on. (aka: I am not taking off my gloves, it’s too cold, I’ll just stay lost a while longer)
  5. must not cost a trillion bucks…maybe $30

That’s a pretty simple list. What do you expect from a man stopping to scrawl notes on compass features, while lost in the forest?

There were dozens of compasses that met my requirements, but item #5 (price) really trims the competition down. I finally opted to go with another Suunto, the Suunto M3, because I really appreciate the quality of the Suunto compasses.

The Suunto M3, matched my wish list perfectly and it was even snazzier and better constructed than the last one. These fine compasses are constructed of quality materials and are made in Finland (not China!) and should last me a long time.

I’m sure I’ll lose it on some upcoming hike, outing or camping trip, so to hedge my bets, I also purchased a back up compass, a Silva Polaris compass, which is the official Compass, of the Boy Scouts.

silva polaris and suuntu m3
Silva Polaris and Suuntu M3


Even If I lose my primary compass, I won’t be stuck buying another $6 Coghlans Compass, on my way to a camping trip again. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take any compass over no compass any day!

Finding the right compass was a pretty simple task this time around since I had made a list of what I really wanted. Everyone should keep a notebook in their backpack to take notes of any likes, dislikes or lacking features for any piece of survival or camping gear in your kit. That way when it comes time to buy a new piece of gear, you have a place to start.

You really can’t go wrong with a Suunto compasses and the Suunto M3 has a sweet price point, that does NOT compromise the quality of the construction. It’s rugged and the right size and will fit perfectly in my navigation kit… until I lose it.


  1. Je peux vous envoyer une copie d’écran de cette boussole que j’ai découverte sur Pinterest ?
    Can I send you a screenshot of this compass that I discovered on Pinterest?



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