Getting lost out in the open water is a lot common than most people think since there are no signs or route marks out there. Nowadays, it’s uncommon for one to get lost with the world filled with advanced navigation systems in our cars, phones and any other device that you may have. However, marine navigation is a bit different and it’s quite impossible to find your way using just GPS. For this reason, every water vessel needs to have a boat compass to guide the sailor around the water.
With a well calibrated boat compass and a maritime chart, you will never lose your way home. There are many types of compasses out there but the two common types that you will come across are magnetic compasses and GPS compasses. With a magnetic compass, it will always set the magnetic north and look for its way from there. While GPS compasses are easy to use, they are often affected by atmospheric weather conditions.
Shopping for a boat compass can get quite hectic especially getting one that you can easily calibrate and adjust. We have made it easy for you to get the best boat compass available in the market by bringing you a comprehensive review of great products that will get you home safe. Let’s indulge.
Top 10 Boat Compasses of 2020 Reviewed
1. Ritchie Explorer Compass Dial with Surface MountBest Surface Mount Boat Compass
Find your way around the water with this dependable marine compass from Ritchie explorer. It’s a surface-mount type of compass that has a large profile and can be placed on the windshield without having to drill any holes. The compass is highly compatible with the current helm design of modern boats. It has a 70mm easy to read dial that displays the coordinates well.
Better yet, you can use it during the night since it’s fitted with 12V green lighting for better visibility. You also get a five-year warranty with this compass that has been well built to withstand turbulent times out in the water.
- Easy to install
- Green lighting for night visibility
- Five-year warranty
- Hard to calibrate
- Quite loose on the dashboard
- May discolor when exposed to the sun for long
2. Eyeskey Seeker Pro CompassBest Professional-Grade Boat Compass
To survive anywhere in the wild, the Eyeskey Seeker Pro compass can be counted on to get you home safe. It’s a professional-grade multi-functional compass with a floating dial that has a 360-degree scale. It has a heavy-duty aluminum allow durable casing and light in weight. It boasts of light absorption abilities that allows it to glow in the dark for increased visibility. It’s a versatile military-grade compass that can be used for almost every outdoor activity such as boating, hiking, backpacking, camping, among others.
It has a mounting tripod hole at the bottom to easily attach it to a tripod. It’s also easy to carry and handle since it has a lanyard and a quality carrying pouch. This highly accurate compass is water and shake-proof. It has a rugged metal cover that withstands falls and drops. It also has a map measurer and converter for various types of measurements.
- Water and shake-proof
- Absorbs light to glow in the dark
- Mountable on a tripod
- No thumb loop to lift it up
- Doesn’t open all the way flat
- More measurement marks needed
3. Ritchie Explorer F-50W Flush Mount CompassBest Flush Mount Boat Compass
Navigate easily when in open water with this flush mount compass from Ritchie Explorer. It features a 2 and ¾ inch dial that’s easy to read directly. It has a green light illumination that glows in the dark for improved visibility. To easily adjust any deviations, the compass comes with a built-in compensator. Dial movement is made possible by the scientifically matched sapphire jewel and the pivot made of hardened steel.
This marine magnetic compass has powerful directive force magnets that allow fast lock on. To extend the operating range, the boat compass features a high-temperature construction of the composite. It also features a movable sun shield to allow reading even when the sun is bright. You can enjoy boating by relying on this marine compass that is backed by a five year warranty.
- Easy dial movement that’s scientifically backed
- Sun shield and night illumination
- Compensator for easy adjustment
- Doesn’t come with mounting screws
- It could be larger for better reading
- Not for use on large vessels
4. Odowalker Illuminated Marine CompassBest Illuminated Boat Compass
Find your way even when it’s dark by investing in this Illuminated Marine Compass from Odowalker. It’s made using strong ABS plastic material that features a magnetic declination sheet. For better night reading, the compass has an incandescent light function that illuminates brightening up the compass for increased visibility. It also comes with adjustable brackets that let you position the compass into the best position for viewing. It also comes with nuts for easy mounting.
- Incandescent light function
- Strong ABS construction
- Adjustable declination sheet
- Difficult to calibrate
- Lighting is poor
- Easily deflects
5. Shoreline Illuminated Marine CompassBest Multi-Functional Boat Compass
The expert craftsmanship on this bracket compass combined with its high level of accuracy makes it a great companion when out in the water. It is made of high-quality materials and comes in elegant black color. The multifunctional compass has a 12V light that illuminates in the dark allowing for night visibility. It’s also UV protected to prevent it from damage due to strong sunlight. Its large size allows you to easily take the readings while its tool-free assembly makes it easy to mount on the console.
- Illuminates in the dark
- Easy to mount on the console
- UV protected
- Its fluid may leak
- Quite big
- Stand seems weak
6. Ritchie Explorer Compass Dial with Adjustable Bracket MountBest Direct Read Dial Boat Compass
Never get lost when out boating by investing in this marine compass from Ritchie Explorer. Its bracket mount design makes it easy to install on the deck and tilts to a suitable position to allow proper viewing. Its 12V LED light illuminates so that you can easily take your readings even at night. The 2 and ¾ direct read dial is large enough for easy reading. The compass is sturdily built and comes with a five-year warranty.
- 12V light for night reading
- Easy to install bracket mount design
- Five year warranty
- Needs adjustment after jostling
- Not great for hot areas
- A bit pricey
7. Silva Compass C58Best Adjustable Boat Compass
The Silva C58 Compass is designed to help you navigate and provide you with accurate directions on where you need to go. It has a diameter of 56mm, which is large enough to allow you to take the readings easily. The light marks on the compass, making it usable at night or in dark places. The compass deviations can also be corrected by using surrounding magnetic fields. The product comes with a peg to adjust any deviations and screws, screw plate and glue pad for easy mounting.
- Easy to correct deviations
- Comes with screws and screw plate for easy mounting
- Light mark for night visibility
- Not suitable for temperatures above 65°C
- Quite small
- Mounting can be hectic
8. Oceanic SWIV Compass ModuleBest Boat Compass for Underwater Navigation
For underwater navigation, this Oceanic SWIV compass will guide your way around. It’s designed to fit SWIV consoles and has a proprietary design that offers a fast response and seamless movement. The compass is flexible and can be read from the top or the side. The OceanGlo luminescent card absorbs light, making it glow in the dark for easy visibility. The lubber line is also highly visible for easy reading.
- OceanGlo luminescent card that glows in the dark
- Highly visible lubber line
- Ideal for underwater navigation
- Affected by metallic objects
- Not easily rotated
- Doesn’t stay in place
9. Boat Compass Dash Mount Flush – Boating Compass Dashboard Suction
Do you want to be always aware of the direction in which you are moving? The Boat Compass Dash Mount Flush by TurnOnSport is what you need. You can mount it in your car’s or boat’s dashboard and connect it to the 12V power supply. It is suitable for reading any time of the day since it has a bright incandescent light to illuminate during the night. It is perfect for watercraft, boats, and other marine vessels. You can easily mount it on any flat surface using the included screws and EVA foam sticker.
Since you will use it in marine environments full of water, this compass features a waterproof, corrosion-resistant ABS plastic. That means you can use it on a kayak without worrying about it getting damaged by water. When exposed to the sun, a cover shields it to prevent your eyes from being hurt the bright light. It measures only 4.3 by 5.5 inches and won’t look too conspicuous on the dashboard.
- Suitable for mounting on the dashboard
- It features a waterproof, corrosion-resistant ABS plastic
- It has an incandescent light, which illuminates it at night
- Some users did not find it useful in their vehicles
- It may interfere with the performance of electronics in cars
- It may not calibrate easily
10. Estink Boat Mount CompassBest Corrosion Resistant Boat Compass
Since this boat mount compass is resistant to corrosion and repels water, it’s an ideal gadget to have when out at sea. It’s made of heavy ABS plastic that will withstand rough water. It boasts of a built-in accuracy compensator that helps you easily adjust any deviations to provide you with more accurate readings.
- Easy Adjustment
- Corrosion resistant
- Built in accuracy compensator
- Poor visibilty at night
- Doesn’t come with instructions
- Poor mounting structure
How to Choose the Best Boat Compass: The Ultimate Buying Guide
A boat compass is one of the simplest yet most crucial gadgets to have with you as you explore the open waters. While most boats may come fitted with an electronic navigation system, it’s still important to carry a compass with you so that you may never lose your way. With the widespread popularity of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), many outdoor lovers have opted out when it comes to compasses. But your GPS may lose its signal due to interference, and a good old compass and map will come in handy.
How Does a Boat Compass Work?
Every marine compass has a lubber line which points to the direction on the compass card. The compass card sits at a degree on the bearing and easily rotates as you change directions. The compass card is kept in a liquid to ensure that it moves freely. The most common type of compass that you are likely to come across is a magnetic compass that always gets its bearing from the magnetic north.
Types of Norths
To fully understand how a compass works, it’s important to differentiate between the three types of North that are crucial when navigating. They are;
Grid North – When navigating, you always need to carry a map. The vertical grid line that is running east of the United Kingdom on your map is the grid north.
True North – This is the end of the earth’s axis and has a negligible difference from the grid north.
Magnetic North – This is the direction that all magnetic compasses point to and is usually shifts about 6 meters per year due to the earth’s forces.
Marine compasses are categorized depending on their mounting style which can be;
- Flush Mount – This is where the boat compass is in a cutout on a horizontal surface where half of it is on the surface while the rest is below.
- Bracket Mount – These types of compasses are quite versatile since they allow you to mount using different tilt angles and are easily removed for storage.
- Surface Mount – They usually rest on the top of a surface and can be removed easily by pressing a button and don’t need holes to mount.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Boat Compass
There are several factors to keep in mind as you shop around for the ideal boat compass to help you with navigation. They are;
- Type – Most sailors opt for magnetic compasses compared to the electronic ones since they are rarely affected by electric signals. That said, electric compasses can be fitted with sophisticated sensors that help provide a more accurate reading.
- Accuracy – A properly calibrated compass will get you home safe. Ensure that your choice can be easily calibrated and doesn’t need constant adjusting as this may complicate navigation due to inaccurate readings.
- Mounting style – As discussed above, there are various ways that you can mount your compass. Your choice will depend on your dashboard and the type of boat you own.
- Shape – You will come across three shapes when looking for a marine compass; flat, conical, and cylindrical. The flat compasses are best suited for large vessels since they are more stable and don’t keep toppling over when in rough water. If you love sitting on the helm of your boat, then the conical compass is the best choice.
- Readability – Larger compasses are easier to read and interpret. It’s also important to ensure that the compass can be easily read in bright sunlight and even in the dark.
With a well-calibrated compass and a maritime chart, you will rarely get lost out there. Compasses have been used for centuries, and sailors have always depended on their accuracy to find their way home. We have featured the best boat compasses that you can count on for your expeditions out in the water. Pick the best option that will meet your needs and be sure of a safe journey to and from your boating expedition.