In today’s times, GPS navigation is so common that you must be wondering why bother with a compass at all. However, while GPS systems are a godsend for kayakers, they can and will fail. They can be plagued with numerous problems, such as weak signals, solar flare interferences, malfunctions, and, the most common of them all, dead batteries. If your GPS dies unexpectedly in the middle of a foggy expedition, then being stranded out in the gray mist can be a scary proposition. This is why you must have at least a working knowledge of compasses. The best kayak compass, such as the sea-based Silva 58 kayak compass and more, are helpful in more ways than one. They not only help you explore uncharted waters but also enable you to go exploring safely on land without getting lost.
What’s more, the best compasses allow you to navigate back safely to the shore, no matter where you are. And most importantly, compasses are very stable and don’t require any electrical power. To that end, here are the 13 best kayak compass options for you, including the popular Silva 58 and other sea-based ones.
How To Choose The Best Kayak Compasses?
Whether it’s a kayak compass or other kayaking accessories such as the Best Kayak Cockpit Covers, the Best Kayak Carts, Wheels, and Trolleys, they need to be chosen with care. After all, you don’t want to be left with a dud in the middle of your expedition. So, what should you look for when you go buying a kayaking compass? Read on.
When it comes to any water-based accessory, the first thing to check is its durability. If a compass cannot withstand the abuse, then it isn’t worth your money. Make sure that you go for models that feature tough housing and domes, and those that don’t detach from their mounts when dropped or leak after a few bumps. In addition, the dial should always spin easily when you’re changing course. Plus, the fluid within should remain clear even after long period of use. If your kayaking destinations are cold, the liquid within shouldn’t turn to ice! To test that, place the compass in the freezer for a few hours before you leave for your expedition; that should serve you well.
If you can’t read the compass in one glance, then it’s useless, to say the least. Many compasses are designed to be read at specific angles either straight on or from above. The first order of things is deciding where you’ll be mounting the compass so as to be able to read it easily. In addition, go for compasses with well-marked, larger dials that will ease navigation rather than make it harder. The markings shouldn’t be so small that they can be mistaken when you read them.
If you rent crafts or own more than one kayak, then going for removable compasses makes more sense rather than buying one for each craft. Permanent compasses might be damaged when you’re trying to transport them between crafts/ However, one thing you might have to contend with is that removable compasses aren’t as durable as their permanently mounted peers.
Accuracy and declination adjustment
Accuracy is obviously important when it comes to good compasses. To that end, going for products from good, trusted, and well-known brands are a safe bet as you’re assured of always being safe no matter where you’re kayaking.
Another thing you need to check is declination adjustment, which is the difference in degrees between the true north and the magnetic north. However, this varies depending on where you are on the global map. Thus, making declination adjustments is critical for accurate navigation. So, go for products that have the option to set the declination until you get to a new destination.
Weight and size
Finally, the weight and size of compasses is an important factor, though it might be seemingly unimportant. You need your compasses to be of the right size so that you can easily read them even while paddling. Moreover, it shouldn’t;t be too heavy and should be light in weight for portability and ease of carrying.
How do you align a compass?
Compasses are very easy to align. All you need to do is align the longer edge of the compass with the starting point and your destination on the map. You need to ensure that the travel arrow is directed towards your destination, as that’s the direction you have to travel in. Finally, turn the compass dial until the north-south lines on the compass are parallel to the map’s north-south lines. Then, you need to hold the compass straight out in front of you and turn your kayak until the red end and the orienting arrow align. The red end is the north, and the direction you need to travel in is pointed by the travel arrow.
Suunto Orca/Pioneer Compass
One of the best kayak compass options comes from Suunto, which is one of the most popular brands for electronic devices and accessories in the world. The Suunto Orca/Pioneer Compass is one fabulous voyaging compass and is flexible enough to be installed on different watercraft. The unit is designed from rubber, allowing you to easily squeeze its sides in order to detach it from the mounting plate. What’s more, the compass has alternative mounting systems, making it even easier for you to install it. One is the permanent mounting bracket for surface mounting. The other is installing it with the hooks and the rubber cord.
If that wasn’t enough, the floating compass even comes with elastic housing that lends it proper support. To add to that, the tilting angle of the compass is effective up to +/-25 degrees. Finally, everything can be wrapped up in a nifty mesh pouch that makes it easy to carry the compass and keep it safe.
- Robust and rugged for kayaking.
- Easy installation with a mounting plate.
- Assembly might be slightly complicated.
Silva 58 Kayak Compass
The Silva 58 Kayak Compass features on almost every list of excellent kayaking compasses. The outstanding Silva 58 is a rather beloved compass for regular kayak paddlers since it’s lightweight and compact and hardly adds any weight or volume to the boat. Not only is it made from scratch-resistant glass, but also the compass is waterproof. That means that it has the ability to weather even the harshest of weather conditions, pun unintended. What’s more, even the mounting system is secure, staying tight in one place even during windy or stormy weather conditions.
The no-hassle Silva 58 sea kayak compass makes for an easy, secure, and swift installation too thanks to the clips and rubber straps. In fact, it even doesn’t even need any drilling on the deck. Not only can it be attached swiftly to the deck lines, but also can be read easily from a distance. So much so, that you don’t even need to leave your paddling seat!
- Sturdy build.
- Easy to install.
- Easy to read from a distance.
Kayaker by Ritchie Navigation XP-99 Surface Mount Compass
Kayaker by Ritchie Navigation XP-99 Surface Mount is one of the best kayak compasses on this list. The compass is very efficient in bringing up the most accurate readings and provides your location with pinpoint accuracy. In addition to that, it does so no matter how harsh the weather conditions are. Not only is it easy to install, but it’s also compact and lightweight, weighing only 12 oz. Moreover, the dial display is 2.75 inches huge, making it easy for you to read and identify the readings.
Since it features a sturdy build, you can rest assured that the compass won’t fall prey to wear and tear easily. Also, its good-component construction means that it provides smooth response, is accurate, and stable too. If you want a good long-distance sea kayak compass, then this is it.
- Stays at the exact viewing angle.
- Easy to mount on the deck.
- Some users mentioned that it’s difficult to read at night.
X-11Y Ritchie Navigation 2-Inch Dial Sport Compass
Thanks to the accurate navigation of the X-11Y Ritchie Navigation Sport Compass, your kayaking trips will now be all the more enjoyable. The lovely bright yellow-colored compass not only adds a splash of color and style to your deck but sits right in front of your eyes and gives the most accurate readings. The handheld device is slightly different from the others on this list and features two direct-read cards. Plus, what helps is that the dial is two inches wide and is very easy to read and identify the readings. If that wasn’t enough, the unit boasts an impact-resistant and protective covering made from high-quality silicone. It can weather all sorts of elements and offer excellent performance even in turbulent waters.
Thanks to the green lanyard, the compass is very easy to transport and weighs merely 0.25 lbs. If you’re hitting a large lake or the sea, then this sport kayak compass is perfect as it can be read easily even in the dark.
- Can be positioned easily on any boat.
- Easy to read.
- None, really.
Sun Company SeaTurtl Compass
If you’re looking for the best full-size marina kayak compass, then look no further than the Sun Company SeaTurtl Compass. The compass has a sleek black dial with clear and easy-to-read white markings that are very easy to comprehend. It can be installed on the deck very easily, and the adjustable elastic cords lend it a snug fit. So, it’s perfect for kayaks, canoes, and all other sorts of boats too. Also, since it’s a heavy-duty compass, it can be installed very easily using the nylon clips that happen to be UV-resistant too.
When it’s not in use, the compass’s adjustable hood serves as protection and can be even used while paddling to prevent glare from the sun. If you plan to hit the sea waters, then we cannot think of a better, hassle-free kayak compass for you.
- Very durable.
- Flexible to use on multiple water crafts.
- Some users had issues with accuracy, but that can be subjective.
Brunton Dash Mount Compass
If you want to avoid mounting issues with your compass while installing it, go for the Brunton Dash Mount Compass. This standard compass is your ideal companion for longer kayaking trips, and scores high on readability, robustness, navigational abilities, and reliability. The compass can be installed easily using the four screws that come with it. If your boat doesn’t have such a recess, then simply cut out a hole separately and mount the compass. It’s something you can easily do by yourself too.
As far as first looks go, you won’t find a better-looking compass than this Brunton one. It features a swanky black-colored dial with crystal-clear and visible white markings. Thus, you’ll be easily able to read the compass, no matter whether you’re simply sitting, paddling, or fishing. With reciprocal bearing and five-degree graduations, this lightweight compass makes for a great buy.
- Gives accurate readings.
- Hassle-free installation.
- Some users mentioned that durability is an issue.
Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck Compass
Kayaking is absolute fun when you know you’re moving in the right direction. And that’s why the Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck Compass is one of the best kayak compass options out there. The big-sized compass boasts visible, clear markings that make it quite easy to read. What’s more, mounting the unit is not an issue at all, thanks to the effortless two-point system. Plus, it’s very easy to operate, thanks to the user-friendly on and off button.
Going further, the compass even has a base plate that can not only be attached quickly but can easily be fastened to deck bags too thanks to the quick-release buckles. All-in-all, this new-age kayaking compass is designed to withstand the toughest of marine situations.
- Easy to install.
- Made from heavy-duty material.
- Easy to read.
- Some said that the webbing straps could be quite thin.
Ritchie Navigation Explorer Surface
Ritchie Navigation makes yet another appearance on this list with the Explorer Surface Compass, which will appeal to people with all kinds of personalities. To begin with, the compass features a 2.75-inch-huge easy-to-read direct-reading dial, complete with internal green night illumination. This is particularly beneficial if you want to use the compass in low-lighting conditions or at night. What’s more, the in-built compensators can easily be adjusted for deviation and scientifically matched as well. Adding to the accuracy is the sapphire hardened steel pivot dial movement.
Going further, the compass features a pad beneath the dial that protects the mounting surface and keeps it from getting abrasions or scratches. Rounding up the features are the field-balanced high Gauss magnets that are specifically matched to each compass size, dial style, and model. They’re what help in rapid, smooth response and superior accuracy of the compass.
- Displays accurate readings.
- In-built compensators control deviation.
- Green-light illumination for low-light conditions or nighttime.
- Calibration might be slightly a challenge.
Ritchie Explorer Flush Mount Compass
We have yet another fabulous Ritchie compass on this list, the Ritchie Explorer Flush Mount Compass. One of the best kayak compass options on this list, this sleek, white-colored compass is perfect for any kayaker, notwithstanding their expertise level. Moreover, it even has a slick internal green light that’s perfect for reading the readings clearly even at night or during low light conditions. To add to that, the in-built compensators can easily be adjusted for deviation.
However, that’s not all. The compass even boasts a set of powerful directive force magnets that allow for getting quick headings lock-on. In addition, it even features a scientifically-matched pivot dial movement that’s made of hardened steel and sapphire jewel. The movable sun shield is very useful to read the dial in extremely bright light conditions. Finally, the high-temperature composite build allows for an extended operating range.
- Can be used in low-lighting conditions and at night.
- Has in-built compensators for easy adjustments.
- Swift and easy mounting process.
- Practically none.
There’s a lot to love about the Shoreline Marine Kayak Compass, which is crafted using the finest materials that make it the heavy-duty and premium compass that it is. The compass features a jeweled pivot assembly that contributes to its accurate readings and function. Besides that, the compass has a lighted dial that radiates a light source, making it easy to read even in low-light conditions or at night. At the same time, it contains a zero-spin facility and is equipped with many water-friendly features making it perfect for every kayaking enthusiast.
The compass scores high on reliability too, since it has UV protection that helps prevent damage that can occur due to sunlight rays. Finally, the multifuncitonal product can be set up easily without any expert tools or knowledge.
- Broad heading for easy navigation.
- Can be used in low light and dark too.
- Reliable UV protection.
- Some users mentioned fluid leakage sometimes.
Ritchie Navigation F-50 Explorer
The Ritchie Navigation F-50 Explorer is another excellent high-grade kayak compass that features a 2.75-inch-huge Direct Reading Dial. Additionally, the dial features an internal green light illumination, complete with in-built compensators that can be easily adjusted for deviation. The compass features powerful directive force magnets for fast heading lock-on. What’s more, you’ll also find a scientifically matched sapphire jewel and hardened steel pivot dial movement for heightened accuracy.
To add to the above, the kayak compass has a high-temperature composite build for extended and lengthened operating range. The movable sun shield helps you read the dial even in the brightest of conditions. The mounting hole makes it easy to install, and it even comes with a five-year Ritchie warranty.
- Easy to mount.
- Superior accuracy.
- Can work even in the severest of conditions.
- Extreme sunlight could evaportae the internal fluid.
TurnOnSport Professional Field Orienteering Compass For Kayaking
There’s a lot to like about the TurnOnSport Professional Field Orienteering Compass. To begin with, it comes equipped with a magnifying glass, an Azimuth with a 360-degree rotating bezel, a ruler, and a first-rate 1:24000 compass scale. When they work together, all these tools make it very easy to navigate no matter what kind of uncharted waters you’re in. And even though it comes with such a plethora of all these features, it’s still easy to use, lightweight, and inexpensive.
Despite the supremely inexpensive price point of less than $10, the TurnOnSport compass doesn’t wobble and is very, very accurate. This is thanks to the liquid-filled, bubble-free capsule that holds within it a high-speed precision magnetic needle. Above all, the markings and numbers are easy to read right from your kayak seat. Finally, the military-grade heavy-duty plastic build is compact and can yet handle all the rigors of kayaking.
- Handheld and lightweight.
- Comes with lots of features.
AOFAR AF-4580 Military Lensatic Sighting Kayak Compass
Topping the list of best kayak compasses is the AOFAR AF-4580 Sighting Compass. The compass features an optical eyepiece for recording a precise azimuth or bearing. Thanks to the reversed 360-degree scale and a regular one, you can take both reverse and forward bearings. In addition to that, it has both a measuring wheel and a ruler that allows you to measure both curved and straight distances on maps. There’s even a thermoelastic damping liquid-filled capsule that allows the needle to reliably point to the magnetic north even while the kayak is in motion. Finally, the luminous arrow and dial, magnifier, adjustable prism lens, and aiming line further enhancing the visibility and reliability.
The military-grade compass is made from a heavy-duty die-cast Zinc alloy, making it waterproof, shake-proof, and able to weather all conditions. Rounding up the features is the lanyard, waterproof pouch, and tripod screw hole at the base.
- Can take both straight and curved measurements.
- Can take both forward and back bearings.
- Lots of features.
- Virtually none.