Navigating the urban jungle is made easy with the help of modern GPS tools on your mobile device; however, as convenient as GPS may be, there are times when a good old-fashioned compass is what you need to get the job done. For field work and surveying, a portable handheld compass is lightweight and easy to carry – plus, you don’t need to worry about a power source.
A high-quality compass is one of many must-have tools for surveyors, but you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot to experience the benefits of this time-tested, trustworthy technology.
Below, we review three of our best survey compasses under $100 to help make your decision easier.
The Suunto KB-20 is a lightweight, floating compass that offers advanced navigation features including a 1° graduation interval, a reverse scale, and 0.5° accuracy.
Weighing just 40 grams and protected by a shock-resistant plastic housing, this hand-bearing compass is adaptable for professional, marine, and outdoor use.
Designed to provide the ideal combination of easy operation, extreme precision, and speed of operation, the Suunto KB-20 guarantees long-lasting durability and smooth behavior thanks to a special dampening fluid that cancels vibration, remains clear, and maintains low viscosity – even in extreme temperatures.
With an optical lens, the Suunto KB-20 delivers precise reverse scale readability with the addition of a regular scale for viewing from above. The V-notch is convenient for sighting landmarks, and optical adjustments allow for fine-tuning focus.
The compass card is set on an anti-magnet pivot with a jeweled bearing to resist friction, and it has been given permanent anti-static treatment.
Its bright-yellow housing makes this compass easy to find, and the lanyard is perfect for portability and storage.
Priced at just under $100, the Suunto KB-20 also comes with a 2-year warranty.
An improvement on the classic 15TDCL, the Brunton TruArc 15 compass has been upgraded with a full-coverage mirror and the TruArc Global Needle system. Powered by Ever-North rare earth magnets, the TruArc Global Needle system ensures accuracy in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
With high-visibility cling, this compass also delivers excellent low-light and nighttime performance while the triple clinometer system guarantees a fast and accurate read.
The Brunton TruArc 15 resists magnetic interference better than the competition and is guaranteed to never lose its polarity. With tool-free east or west declination adjustment and a 1° resolution, this professional-grade compass is an excellent tool for navigation, fieldwork, and avalanche safety.
It also features a map magnifier, sighting mirror, bubble level, triple clinometers, and a magnified readout. Weighing in at just over 3 ounces (91 grams), it is highly portable.
It comes with a lanyard for portability and storage, and its quality construction ensures long-lasting durability.
Priced at just over $50, the Brunton TruArc 15 compass is an excellent buy.
The Silva Ranger 2.0 Quad Compass is the ultimate outdoor navigation tool for professionals and experienced users. Featuring advanced mirror sighting, 4 x 90° graduations, and a DryFlex Rubber grip with turnable housing, this compass delivers accuracy, precision, and durability.
The Silva Ranger 2.0 is also equipped with a slope card for measuring slope and distance, making it an excellent tool for avalanche safety and long-distance navigation.
Plus, with the Silva 1-2-3 System, you are guaranteed an accurate read without having to lift your eyes from the compass to sight the terrain.
Constructed from robust materials to withstand the harshest conditions, the Silva Ranger 2.0 Quad Compass remains surprisingly lightweight, weighing just 3 ounces (86g). It offers 2° accuracy and 360° graduation with declination adjustment and a jeweled bearing for friction-free needle movement.
With scales marked in clear, contemporary font with luminous markings for nighttime visibility, this compass is also easy to read – day or night.
Priced at just under $50, the Silva Ranger 2.0 Quad Compass delivers on precision, accuracy, and affordability. Plus, with added features like waterproof protection and a distance lanyard, this compass outperforms the competition in more ways than one.
View our entire catalog of compasses and clinometers for land surveyors.