10 Best Lensatic Compasses | April 2017

We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Prefect for maintaining your bearings and preventing you from getting lost on hikes, camping trips or even military missions, these rugged and durable lensatic compasses will steer you right every time. Coming in durable housings and a range of price points, there's one here for every type of adventure. Skip to the best lensatic compass on Amazon.
10 Best Lensatic Compasses | April 2017
Overall Rank: 10
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 5
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 7
Best Inexpensive
The Eyeskey Clam Shell lensatic compass has an adjustable eyepiece and an inclinometer, making it more versatile than many other options, yet still affordably priced. It comes with a lanyard and a carrying pouch.
  • lanyard ring can lock the case closed
  • includes a tripod thread for mounting
  • too heavy for long-distance hikes
Brand Eyeskey
Model pending
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0
The VONOTO Multifunctional Military Compass has a waterproof and shake-proof design, so it will still perform reliably even after long days of hiking or if you ever find yourself caught in the elements.
  • includes a free key buckle
  • solidly built and resists drops
  • hard to see at night
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.5 / 5.0
The Under Control Tactical Military Grade compass has a digital camouflage print modern outdoorsmen and survivalists will appreciate. Its liquid-filled floating luminous dial gives quick and accurate readings.
  • foldable metal lid
  • includes a handy necklace
  • features bubble leveling window
Brand Under Control Tactical
Model Best-Survival-Compass
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
The NDuR 51500 is a lightweight unit at just a hair over three ounces, and its overall compact size means it can be tossed into any backpack or larger pocket for quick access when you need it. It features luminous sighting dots.
  • very easy to read
  • scale 1 to 25000 ratio meters
  • has a rotating bezel
Brand NduR
Model 51500
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
The Huntington MG2 K4580 Compass has a prism lens system that allows you to get your bearings from the side, and a diopter-adjustable lens system that can be easily tweaked for maximum accuracy in your readings.
  • fluid-damped compass disc
  • matte black finish with a silver bezel
  • bezel incremented every five degrees
Brand Huntington
Model pending
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
The Cammenga 3H Tritium Military Compass comes with a matching protective pouch, and is available in four different colors, so you can find the compass that fits your personal style or find a great gift for someone else.
  • works in extreme temps -50 f to +150 f
  • accuracy: +/- .0002 miles
  • has a belt clip and lanyard
Brand Cammenga 3H Tritium Mil
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
Perfect for woodland mapping and navigation activities, the Under Control Tactical Pro lensatic compass was designed specifically for survival scenarios, when taking accurate readings can be a lifesaver.
  • rugged metal housing
  • luminous marching line
  • has a thumb hold and magnifier
Brand Under Control Tactical
Model Under-Control-Tactical-
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
The Suunto MC-2G In Global is a compact mirrored compass with a global needle, so it works anywhere on the planet, making it a good choice for backpackers and travelers headed to multiple hemispheres. It has luminous marking for nighttime use.
  • fixed declination adjustment system
  • extra sighting hole for added precision
  • anti-slip rubber base pads
Brand Suunto
Model pending
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
The UEasy Pro Sighting Compass is a multi-function military grade clam shell-style option that has a sighting window with a sighting line to help you take fast and accurate measurements. It gets great reviews from its owners.
  • luminous interior display
  • reference table to estimate distance
  • durable metal construction
Brand Ueasy
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
The CMMG 3HCS has been rigorously battle tested for shock, sand, and water protection, so you can rest assured your gear is leading you in the right direction every time, regardless of wear and weather.
  • has a magnifier lens
  • tritium micro lights for low light use
  • dial graduations in degrees and mils
Brand Cammenga
Model 3HCS
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

How To Find Your Way

Not everybody has a good sense of direction, and, as folklore suggests, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in your wake doesn't exactly solve the problem. I mean, if everybody did that, we'd eventually have no way of knowing whose breadcrumbs belonged to whom.

Stopping and asking for directions has its drawbacks, as well. For starters, the doctrine of western masculinity forbids it. If you should choose to subvert this doctrine, you'd still have no idea whether you could trust the directions you got. These are strangers we're talking about here, and even if they don't mean you harm, they might just be stupid.

It falls upon us, then, to have the tools to find our own way, and a lensatic compass, often paired with a good map, is the best way to accomplish this. Of course, these are useless if you don't know hoe to use them.

A lensatic compass traditionally unfolds into three components. The first of these, which sits at the top of the folded compass, is the sight wire. This lines up with an index marker on the compass face. All you have to do is line up some object in the distance with the sight wire and look through the third element–a folding lens–to see the exact bearing of the distant object.

This is a great way to get a sense of the direction you choose, so you can keep track of your movements should you need to retrace your steps. If you have a map telling you the specific direction in which you must travel to reach your destination, all you have to do is swap two of the steps.

First, you turn your body until you line up the index marker on the face of the compass with your intended bearing. Then, simply glance up through the sight wire to an object in the near distance that you can approach. Stop there, measure again, find a new object and repeat. By this method, you will reach your destination without fail.

A Compass In The Dark

Most of the lensatic compasses on our list follow the traditional design associated with the compasses issued by the US military. In fact, two of the compasses on our list are the very units contracted for production by the US government.

That doesn't mean that there's no room for innovation, though, nor does it mean that this type is the right type for you. For example, traditional lensatic compasses require you to look through a small lens to view the compass face and get your bearing.

There are models on this list that use mirrors instead of sighting wire, or that employ bubble levels and horizon demarcations on a cross-hair sight to evaluate the field before you. If you're a purist, you'll want to reach for the original US-issue compass, but don't let that sense of purity cause you to write off other technologies.

Then, there's the question of visibility in the dark. If you left all these compasses out in the sun, then brought them into a cave and tried to use them, you'd be able to see all of them clearly. Conversely, if you left them in a cave for a day, then took them out at night and tried to navigate, only a few would have visible faces.

That's because the glowing elements in these compasses are either made from phosphorus or tritium. Phosphorus absorbs light and holds it as energy, which is why it's one of the chemicals used in the construction of solar panels. Tritium, on the other hand, is actually radioactive.

Don't freak out, though. Tritium radiates beta particles that can't penetrate the skin, and its biological half-life is short enough that you could ingest enough tritium to fill 100 compasses and probably never notice. The downside to tritium is that is has a half-life of approximately 12 years, meaning that if 25 years go by before you pass this compass down to your child, it likely won't give off a glow any more.

Directed To The New World

Before the discovery of polar magnetism and its application to navigational compasses, travelers by land and sea alike relied on charts, maps, landmarks, and celestial bodies to find their way. Of course, being lost at sea under incessantly cloudy skies made for some interesting navigation.

The magnetic compass first appeared in China during the Han dynasty. This was sometime between the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE. The funny thing is, the device wasn't first used for navigation at all. Instead, the erection of new buildings relied on magnetic properties to guide the flow of energy through a space as per the tenets of feng shui. The Chinese wouldn't adapt the compass for navigation until the 11th century.

Most historians believe that Arabs in the Middle East introduced the compass to eastern Europe, and that it made its way west for there. Written evidence exists that references the navigational use of a magnetic compass in the English Channel as early as 1187. About 300 years after that, a rather well-known Italian explorer pointed his compass west from Spanish shores, and the rest is an eventful and bloody history.

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Last updated on April 23 2017 by multiple members of the ezvid wiki editorial staff

Our professional staff of writers and researchers have been creating authoritative product recommendations and reviews since 2011. Many of our wikis require expert maintenance, and are authored by individual members of our editorial staff. However, this wiki is currently maintained by multiple members of the ezvid wiki team.