Compass Recommendations for Scouts

An essential navigation tool every Scout should own.

A good scouting compass has the following attributes:

  1. Liquid filled dial of at least 1.5" diameter

  2. Baseplate for map work.

  3. Clearly marked bearing numbers on the dial.

  4. Sighting mirror. Not essential, but highly desirable for sighting accurate bearings. Silva, Suunto, and Brunton are popular brands of quality compasses. Here is a list of my Top Picks based on price including shipping:

Suunto MC2­G $68 (my personal favorite) Silva Ranger 515 $46 Silva trekker $27 Suunto MCA­D Mirror $24 (best bang for the buck) Suunto MCB Amphibian $22

Silva Guide 426 $20

Non­mirror compasses. These are ok starter compasses, but not ideal: Silva Polaris (no mirror) $16 Suunto A­10 (no mirror) $13

Anything less than $10 is likely junk and will cause frustration in the field. Pick a price point and then google the model name to find a shopping link.

Example of a quality compass:


Example What Not to Buy:

This is a Lensatic compass.


AVOID. They do not work well for scouting. Hard to read the bearing #s. Compass needle jiggles all over the place. Lack of base plate make map work awkward. The market is flooded with low quality lensatic compasses. Decent military versions start at $60, but they are heavy.

In summary, invest in quality compass for your Scout. A quality compass will last a lifetime. He'll thank you when he's in the mountains and his GPS goes blank.

YIS, Keith Savage