PROS: Will help you find your way in emergencies, like when you have forgotten to bring a phone charger
CONS: Won’t point you in the right direction but no detailed instructions like a GPS
TAKEAWAY: It’s always a good idea to have a magnetic compass as a backup in case you get lost, and because the places you’re most likely to get lost are the same ones that are most likely to have no service.
Who needs a compass in the era of smartphone maps and GPS and, well, smartphones? Come on, Grandpa! Well as it turns out, the old magnetic compass is actually a really cool thing to have. Not only does it add to the functional side of your “rugged individualist” IPA-drinking aesthetic, but it can actually have practical benefits, too.
You don’t have to be some wilderness explorer like Peter Freuchen, nor a Ming Dynasty admiral, to appreciate the utility of the magnetic compass. For one thing, it can help you find your way around when your phone battery dies. For another, studies show that apparently relying on GPS can atrophy part of your brain. So keep your wits sharp and carry one of these top multifunctional analog compasses with you.
1. Sportneer Military-Style Lensatic Compass
An analog compass with a classic look, this one has a flip-up design with a lens mechanism that helps you get a more accurate bearing. It also glows in the dark.
2. Sharp Survival Camping Compass
This ultra-compact compass has a cool copper frame and fits in a pocket easily. It also boasts a rotating bezel and a glow in the dark feature, so you can find your way even on a moonless night in the middle of nowhere.
3. Suunto MC-2G Compass
It looks like a serious instrument, and backs up its appearance with a full set of surveyor type tools. This compass has a fixed declination adjustment system so you can compensate for local magnetic variation.
4. Brunton TruArc
This simple, yet globally effective and super accurate compass is an easy pick for everyday carry. It also features a useful ruler on its baseplate and the compass itself reads to a resolution of just two degrees.