Best Compasses for Snowshoeing Reviewed

Outdoor activities like snowshoeing through trails can be a favorite winter pass time for many people. It is a highly enjoyable experience because it allows you to spend time outdoors and enjoy the winter weather. Many people snow shoe for no reason other than to go for a walk in the wilderness. The snowshoes allow them to walk on the snow, which makes it possible to go places that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to go.

While some people snowshoe for pure pleasure, other people enjoy it as an exercise. Snowshoeing is a more difficult form of walking as opposed to regular walking, so naturally, it makes for great exercise. Other people will choose to snowshoe as an expedition activity. For example, they may wish to hunt game and they need to snowshoe to where they are going to be hunting. Other people snowshoe into the wilderness as a way to explore. Either way, they need a way to navigate.

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It is for such people that a compass for snowshoeing is an important part of their equipment. It can be really easy to get lost in the wilderness. There usually is no GPS or cell phone towers with which you can call for help if you get lost. A compass comes in handy because it will at least provide you with a sense of direction while you are in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, it’s important to have a compass that works for snowshoeing. They have to be waterproof and easy to locate in the snow if they get dropped. It often helps to have high-quality compasses that will truly point north. Many compasses can be worn on the write which makes them highly ideal for snowshoeing. No matter what, a compass is a key survival tool when you plan on snowshoeing into the wilderness.

 

10 Best Compasses for Snowshoeing

 

1. A2S Protection K2-Peak

1. A2S Protection K2-Peak
This is a great compass for snowshoeing because it can be worn as a bracelet. That helps prevent you from losing or dropping the compass in deep snow. The compass itself is waterproof which will allow it to continue to work even if it gets wet from melting snow or body sweat. It also has other important survival features such as a whistle and fire starter for emergencies.
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Fire Starter

This tool comes with a fire starter and a fire scrapper. You can use the fire scrapper to make kindling and then light the fire using the flint based fire start. This tool can be lifesaving in an emergency.

Emergency Whistle

The compass also has an emergency whistle which you can use to signal people. It can create a noise up to 100DB so people should be able to hear you from a long distance.

Cost and Value

This compass has a very low cost when compared to other snowshoeing compasses. It is an excellent value because it combines a compass, whistle, and a fire starter into one wristband.
Pros
  • The compass is mounted on a wristband so that you won't drop it in the snow.
  • It has a whistle that can reach 100DB for emergencies.
  • There are tools attached to it that will help you start a fire.
  • The compass is waterproof so melting snow will not damage it.
  • You can purchase it in small, medium, or large sizes.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have mentioned that the compass can be too small to read.
  • Other reviewers have noted that the whistle should be louder than what it is.

2. Timex Expedition Shock

2. Timex Expedition Shock
This is a digital watch that has a compass embedded into it. It's great for snowshoeing because it's highly resistant to water and shocks. Since the watch is worn around your wrist, you won't need to worry about losing your compass if you fall in the snow. The watch itself lights up which allows you to read it after dark. It will also provide you with the time of the day also.
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Shock Resistant

This digital watch meets the I.S.O. standards for shock resistance. That means the watch will continue to work even if it is dropped or is impacted by you falling. This feature is ideal in the wild where the watch could get impacted.

Water Resistant

The watch can resist water up to 660 feet deep. That means it will easily withstand water formed by melting snow or sweat from your body. Its durability makes this a great compass for snowshoeing.

Cost and Value

You should expect to pay a high cost for this digital watch and compass. It gets its value from being a high-quality watch and compass. The product is highly resistant to shock and water meaning it is well suited for snowshoeing.
Pros
  • The product meets I.S.O. standards for shock resistant so it will work if dropped.
  • It resists water up to 660 feet deep, which is more than enough for snow water.
  • There is an Indiglo light which allows you to look at the time and compass after dark.
  • The compass is digital which makes it easy to read.
  • It is worn on your wrist so you are unlikely to drop it.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have experienced the strap breaking around the buckle.
  • Other reviewers have reported struggling to get the compass to work.

3. Survival Spark Fire Starter

3. Survival Spark Fire Starter
This is another survival device that you should consider purchasing if you are planning on doing serious snowshoeing. It has a waterproof compass which will continue to work even if you drop it in snow or water. It also has a fire starter so that you can get a fire going in cold weather. Finally, there is an attached whistle in case you are in an emergency.
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Magnesium Fire Starter

There is a magnesium start stick which you use with the scraper to start a fire. You can strike it up to 15,000 times, which means it will last a lifetime. This is really useful in an emergency.

Compact

This compass survival tool is really small. It is only five and a half inches in length which makes it easy to pack it with your gear. You can even keep it in your pocket if needed.

Cost and Value

This item has an extremely low cost which helps make it into a must-have item for snowshoeing. It is an excellent value because it combines three tools into one item all of which can be used for survival.
Pros
  • The compass is water resistant and will continue to work when it is wet.
  • It has a scraper and fire starter tool which helps you light a fire.
  • There is an emergency whistle that you can use to signal people.
  • The tool is very small and is only five and a half inches in length.
  • It comes with a lanyard so that you can tie it to other items.
Cons
  • Many reviewers have reported that the whistle is too soft to be of any value.
  • The compass is very small and either requires good eyesight or glasses to read.

4. Cammenga 27CS

4. Cammenga 27CS
This is a military grade compass that is designed to function in the most extreme environments. It is rated to work in weather as cold as -50 degrees Fareinheight. The compass is easy to read thanks to its magnifying lens and provides its readings in both degrees and mils for accurate output and conversions. The housing is waterproof so it will work when dropped in snow or water.
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Military Grade

This is basically the same compass that the company provides to the United States Military. The only difference is the housing which has phosphorescent paint instead of self-luminous tritium paint that the military compasses have.

Rated for extreme weather.

The compass is designed to work in the most extreme weather. It can function in temperatures that are as cold as - 50-degree Fahrenheit. The compass is totally waterproof and will work even if it gets wet or dirty.

Cost and Value

This is a high-quality compass so expect to pay more for it. It is an excellent value thanks to the fact that it is a military grade compass. You can trust that this compass will work when it's needed.
Pros
  • This is a full-blown military grade compass so it's highly dependable.
  • It has a magnifying lens which allows you to easily read the compass.
  • The compass is housed in a durable cast aluminum frame.
  • You can use this compass in extremely cold weather making it ideal for winter.
  • It displays output in both degrees and mils.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have experiences the needle locking up on this compass.
  • Other reviewers have experienced problems with the locking mechanism not unlocking.

5. X-Plore Gear Paracord

5. X-Plore Gear Paracord
This is another four in one survival tool that has a compass, fire starter, and a whistle. It is an ideal product to own while snowshoeing thanks to its low cost, high functionality, and the fact that it is worn on your wrist. The compass is water resistant which means it will work even if it gets wet from snow or sweat. You can also use it to start a fire.
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Four Tools in One

This tool features a snowshoeing compass, a knife, fire scrapper, flint tool, and a whistle. It has everything you may need if you are stuck in an emergency and need to stay warm.

Buckle Bracelet

The tool is attached to your wrist with a buckle bracelet. This feature is critical to making sure that you always have the tool available to you if you end up in a bind since it locks securely on your wrist.

Cost and Value

This is a low-cost item and it has a lot of value for the money. It is a four in one tool that can be handy in an emergency. Its low cost makes it a great bargain.
Pros
  • It has a flint fire starting tool that can help you stay warm if needed.
  • The product attaches to your wrist by using a buckle bracelet.
  • It comes in different sizes and colors so that you can personalize it.
  • The compass is water resistant so it will still work if it gets wet.
  • You can use the rope to set traps if you need to catch your food.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have mentioned that the compass is not very accurate.
  • Other reviewers have noticed that the wristband is too small to wear.

6. CMMG Lensatic Compass

6. CMMG Lensatic Compass
This is the official compass of the U.S. Military. It is a compass you can fully depend on for survival thanks to its durability and accuracy. The compass comes with a carrying pouch and clips onto your belt. This is a great feature that prevents you from losing the compass when you need it the most. The compass is durable enough for the most extreme conditions.
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Carrying Pouch

This compass is solid a special pouch that you can use the carry the compass. The pouch has a belt clip so that you can attach it to your belt or throw it in with your gear.

Tritium Micro Light

There are seven tritium micro lights that are distributed around the compass. These lights make it possible to read the compass in both low light and dark conditions. You will not need a flashlight to read this compass at night.

Cost and Value

This is a very expensive compass but its durability alone justifies its price tag. The compass is built to last in the most extreme conditions which means it will be there when you need it.
Pros
  • This is the official compass for the United States Military.
  • It can endure cold temperatures up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • You can read it in low light conditions thanks to the tritium microlights.
  • The compass has a special carrying pouch which also can be clipped to your belt.
  • It is fully waterproof so it will continue to work when it gets wet.
Cons
  • The compass only has 5-degree increments on the scale and there is no protractor base.
  • It favors MILS over degrees.

7. Eyeskey Aluminum Alloy

7. Eyeskey Aluminum Alloy
This is a professional grade compass that is perfect for snowshoeing. It has features such as a bubble level, conversion chart, and rotating bezel ring. The compass has a heavy duty construction which makes it sturdy and able to endure harsh wilderness conditions. It is made out of a heavy-duty aluminum alloy which keeps it lightweight yet durable. You can use this compass in even extreme weather conditions.
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Bubble Level

This compass features a bubble level. A level compass produces a more accurate reading so the level is really useful to help you first level the compass prior to taking a reading.

Tripod Screw Holes

The base of this compass has screw holes that allow you to attach a tripod to the compass. A tripod can be extremely useful when combined with the bubble level because you can easily level the compass.

Cost and Value

This compass has a below average price which turns it into a good buy. It has features that are useful for snowshoeing. For example, it is constructed out of heavy-duty aluminum and you can level it.
Pros
  • This compass has a bubble level so that you can make sure it's level prior to taking a reading.
  • It has screw holes that allow you to attach a tripod stand to it.
  • The compass has a lanyard so that you can tie it to your gear.
  • The housing is made out of a durable aluminum alloy metal.
  • There is a conversion chart that helps you convert angles, distance, and gradients.
Cons
  • This compass does not open all of the ways which mean it will not lay flat.
  • Other reviewers have mentioned that the lid does not close all of the ways.

8. Suunto MC-2

8. Suunto MC-2
This is a high tech compass that you can use when snowshoeing in the extreme wilderness. It has a global needle that works in both the northern and southern hemispheres. There is also a feature that allows you to distinguish between true north and magnetic north. The outer ring lights up so that you can read the compass in low light or even dark conditions.
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Global Needle

This compass works in both the northern and southern hemispheres. This can be an extremely useful feature for world travelers who snowshoe in both hemispheres since it's accurate worldwide.

Lightup Outer Ring

You can read this compass in both dark and low light conditions without an external light source. The outer ring of the compass lights up on its own so that you can use it in the dark.

Cost and Value

This compass has an above average cost. It is a great value because it works in both the north and southern hemispheres which helps make it extremely accurate. The body of the compass has tools that help you find true north.
Pros
  • This compass has a needle that works all over the world.
  • There are tools that help you find true north and magnetic north.
  • You can read this compass in low light conditions because of the outer ring.
  • It has a straight edge with inch markings to help you read a map.
  • The baseplate has a magnifying lens to help you read it better.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have said that the compass is too large for snowshoeing.
  • Other reviewers have noted that the compass is not as durable as it should be.

9. UEasy High Accuracy Waterproof

9. UEasy High Accuracy Waterproof
This is an excellent compass for snowshoeing because it is both waterproof and shake proof. The waterproofing is important because it's possible that water from melting snow could otherwise harm the compass. The shake roof feature also matters because its possible the compass could get shook up from getting dropped or from you falling. The durability makes it an ideal choice for a snowshoeing compass.
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Lightup Display

This compass has a luminous display which allows you to read the compass in low light or even dark conditions. There is no need to get out an external light source after dark to use this compass.

Waterproof

It is essential for snowshoeing compasses to be waterproof. There are plenty of ways that a compass can get exposed to liquid in the snow and the compass needs to work even when its wet.

Cost and Value

The compass has a below average cost. It is an excellent value for when you need a reliable snow shoeing compass. The compass is built to be both durable and long-lasting, so it will be there when you need it.
Pros
  • This compass is fully waterproof so it is protected against melting snow.
  • The compass is also resistant to shaking so it will not break in your pocket or backpack.
  • You can use the provided reference table to calculate your scope and distance.
  • There is a light up display that allows you to read the compass in low light or darkness.
  • It also has a bubble level to help you get an accurate read.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have mentioned that the directions are poorly written and hard to understand.
  • Other reviewers have noticed that the carrying case isn't very durable.

10. Bayite Liquid Filled

10. Bayite Liquid Filled
These compasses are designed to be embedded into your gear. For example, you can attach these compasses to the strap of your backpack or embed them into your gloves. They are great snowshoeing because they have a hard shell design which helps protect them against impact. The liquid inside of the compass is flammable which helps you to start a fire in an emergency.
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Fire Starter

These compasses can be broken open and you can pour the liquid onto your kindling. It will act as a flame accelerant and help you start a fire easily in an emergency.

Embeddabble

The recommended uses for these compasses is to embed them into a bracelet, however, they can also be embedded into other items as well. Just remember that the interior liquid is flammable if the compass is cracked.

Cost and Value

These compasses are low cost and you get a set of ten when you purchase them. You can use them to make bracelets or other travel gear. They are a great value because of their low price.
Pros
  • These compasses are extremely low cost and can be embedded into other items.
  • They have a hard shell for durability.
  • The liquid inside of the compass is a flame accelerant.
  • The letters are easy to read in dim light because they are bright.
  • The compasses are sold in a package to ten.
Cons
  • These compasses aren't very accurate so only use them as a backup.
  • They can demagnetize very easily if exposed to other magnets.

Anyone who spends time snowshoeing in the extreme wilderness will want to include a high-quality compass in their gear. Compasses are necessary because you need them in order to read maps and have a general sense of direction. It is extremely likely that you can end up getting lost without a compass. Higher quality compasses are preferred over inexpensive compasses but many of the inexpensive compasses can be used as backup devices if your main compass is lost or broken.

There are military grade compasses that are highly ideal for snowshoeing. Such compasses are highly accurate and are designed to work in even extremely cold weather. Most importantly, besides being accurate, is that they are fully waterproof. Snow will melt and compasses that aren’t waterproof can get damaged by melting snow. High-quality compasses will usually have lighting which allows you to read them in dim or dark weather.

Many of the inexpensive compasses are embedded into three in one or four in one survival tools. You should use such a compass as a backup device. Most of the time these compasses have features such as whistles or flint fire starting tools which can be critical for survival. They can also be used when your main compass gets lost.

People who snowshoe will need to purchase the right equipment for the activity. A high-quality compass should be on the list. There are plenty of compasses to pick from that will help make sure you get home safe. After all, snowshoeing isn’t much fun if you get lost.

When outdoors on trips and exploring, the regular landmarks and signposts are no longer visible; so we need to know where we are to enable us to determine where we are going. A compass comes into its own in these circumstances, and whilst out in desolate and isolated places; we need the security of being able to locate ourselves and our position. A magnetic compass is a general favorite used for this purpose; the magnetic properties of the steel needle will align itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. This allows for greater locational adjustment and provides direction for better route planning or even finding a way when lost. Other types of compass use the position of either the Sun or even a star to determine position, and a gyroscope will resist deflection from the position of its axis which will be rapidly spinning.

How We Chose

Of course, the type of activity being undertaken, and in what conditions will determine the type of compass used. However; the choice made needs to be explored as there are a great many different compasses in terms of both price and functionality on the market. Reliability has to be a priority as well; the last thing we want is to be in the middle of an isolated trip only to find the compass is inferior. Materials used in the manufacture of the compass should be studied to ensure the kit is really up to the job. This criteria information will highlight some crucial aspects of different designs to assist in making the right choice for any potential purchase.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Compasses

 

Knowing and using a compass

The first thing to take into consideration when buying a compass has to be the correct knowledge of how to use it properly. There’s no use taking one out into the unknown if it becomes rendered useless through lack of information on the product. A baseplate compass is clear so a map can be viewed, housing holds the needle and the needle itself floats in liquid to enable freedom of movement. Lines and arrows are strategically placed to allow ease of aligning with map coordinates and eastings, they also have a scale to allow distance measuring on maps. They are usually equipped with both an index line, and a directional arrow so the user knows where to go.

The knowledge needed for a navigational tool should be acquired prior to going on any trip or expedition when there is no GPS or visible landmarks. The maps we have on our satnavs and mobile phones are of little use when out in isolated territory; therefore it has to be imperative to learn how to use a compass before it is needed. There are a variety of excellent academically trusted websites to access to gain this important information – to ensure a safe excursion and return; this should ideally be as mandatory in preparation as deciding what equipment needed.

Compasses for different uses

In determining the reason for the need for a compass will allow a better-informed choice to make the correct tool for the job. There are various types of a compass on the market designed for specific roles. A common compass used for land navigation is the magnetic type as described above in materials. The design of these mainstream compasses is created for a product that is comfortable to hold and lightweight and usually comprises red and white marking for quick deciphering. They are also equipped with a dial for enabling precise measurements, which often incorporates luminosity for all light circumstances.

A mirror compass, on the other hand, is not as mainstream; and although it has the same basic features it also has a mirrored lid which incorporates a notch for sight navigation. The difference with this type of compass is that does not only use the magnetic field to find bearings; it also gives the ability to pinpoint objects further afield whilst the mirror cleverly reflects the bearings. This extra navigational tool is very useful not only for trekking but also on moving vehicles and floating vessels.

Types of Compass

The most common type of compass is the baseplate compass as mentioned previously, whilst this product is generally more affordable it does have limitations of use. It doesn’t enable the user to be able to focus on any distant objects due to the absence of advanced sighting features. A thumb compass is designed cleverly so it can be used in one hand – this type is especially useful for distance runners because it can be used at speed. A gyrocompass is generally used by large sea vessels; it uses gravity to enable north-south line analysis; providing a true north reading which magnetic compasses do not. Electronic compasses are increasingly more available, and benefit from having bearing storage to keep the user on track – of course; the downside is that these require a power source to keep working.

Materials

The obvious first thing to look for when choosing a decent compass will be the materials used in its manufacture. Not only the materials are important of course – the quality of the materials and the overall functionality of the product are also of paramount interest. Stainless steel is commonly used in a compass for the directional needle, and as it is an alloy made up primarily from iron ore and coke – it allows it to be magnetized for long periods and thus; creating longevity in the life if the product.

The casing is also an important aspect of the compass, inferior outers can be the downfall of many a lesser quality product. Ideally, the casing will be made from acrylic plastic; these are manufactured using a variety of acrylic acid compounds, (primarily methyl methacrylate). The formation of polymethyl methacrylate is highly favored as a part of this chemical process because it is known for its strength and transparency.

Special Features

Of course, not everybody wants to buy a compass for the same purpose. There would be little point buying a compass for example if you were simply going on a driving road trip, (although it may come in handy for signal abnormalities!). A baseline compass has most basic features required for local, smaller treks; however, for the different explorer, there are extra features to look out for to give added peace of mind. For trail users and hikers a compass that has a declination adjustment will be beneficial to ensure the direction is maintained between magnetic and true north. For precise navigation, it would be beneficial to have a sighting mirror, as mentioned above this allows for traveling off the trail. If it’s mountaineering and off-piste skiing the compass is for then a useful feature is a clinometer; this will aid in assessing danger such as avalanches. And finally, for the intrepid global traveler – the global needle feature will balance zones to ensure navigation updates anywhere on the planet.

Plainly it is not as straightforward shopping for a compass as first impressions suggest. The requirements and product knowledge are as vital as any emergency kit. There is a need to be specific about the functions of a compass for a particular activity. There are a great variety of compasses on the market, differing in cost, quality, and functionality – the guide and review here will hopefully give some direction on the right individual purchase.

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you know when the needle is pointing north?

A: One end of the needle is colored to indicate it’s pointing north, this is usually painted red.

Q: Why does a compass have a lightweight magnet and a frictionless bearing?

A: The Earth’s diameter is about 8,000 miles (12,875 kilometers), which is a long way for the planet’s magnetic field to go before affecting your compass. That’s why a compass has a lightweight magnet and a frictionless bearing — otherwise, there just isn’t enough strength in the Earth’s magnetic field to turn the needle.

Q: Can problems be encountered by magnetic compasses on moving platforms?

A: Not only do magnetic compasses correct themselves slowly when the platform turns, but they also must be kept level to work properly.

Q: Can being near metal affect the compass?

A: Yes, due to the compass being reliant on having a north reading, any metal close to it can cause an inaccurate reading.

Q: Can I use a standard compass anywhere in the world?

A: Unfortunately not, to use a compass anywhere globally you will need one with a global needle – this utilizes the global magnetic field.

Q: Do compasses automatically glow at night?

A: Some do as they can be fluorescent, but others need to be absorbing light through the day to become luminous at low light.

Hopefully, these criteria and sample questions and answers should give a better overview of the compass, enabling a more educated choice for purchase. If the basic criteria is set before any purchase, ( what the compass is to be used for, in what terrain and for what activity, and where it is to be used,) the process should be easier to break down. For the security and safety of any use, it must be stressed the importance of learning how to use the compass before any trip is taken. The knowledge gained not only gives better confidence to trek off the trail but ultimately it can save lives.  

Sources

  1. compass facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about a compass
  2. Facts About Compasses | Trails.com
  3. A beginners guide to the compass | OS GetOutside
  4. How to Choose the Best Compass – REI Expert Advice
  5. Navigation Novelty: Compass Quiz | HowStuffWorks
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