Best Kayak Compass In 2022 – Top Pick, Reviews & Buying Guide

In this modern age, GPS navigation devices are the norm. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would ever bother using a conventional compass when we have these marvels of technology at our disposal.

But the truth is,

Technology may be improving, but there are still some downsides to using modern GPS technology. It can and will fail at times for various reasons like weak signals strength, malfunctions, dead batteries, or interferences in the signal from satellites.

Having the best kayak compass can help you find your way out on the water.

best kayak compass

Top Pick ( Best Kayak Compass )

In a hurry? Here is our top pick after proper market research and using it on yaks.

Our Top Pick
Brunton Dash Mount Compass

Brunton Dash Mount Compass

Specifications:
  • It has a direct reading dial making it easy to read
  • It is a highly accurate compass with 5 degree graduations
  • Quite durable due to its heady duty and water tight make
  • Can be permanently mounted on kayak’s deck, bulkhead and dash
  • The Reciprocal Bearing makes reading your back bearing fast and reliable.

If you prefer a GPS over a conventional compass, Check out: The Best Kayak GPS

Why Have A Compass

A compass is a handy tool to have around. It might be used no matter the situation, whether you’re on water or land and even if one has been flying in an airplane. The reason for this? Magnets attract  Earth’s magnetic field to determine what direction is north.

A compass is a great tool for any outdoor enthusiast to have with them in the bush. It can be helpful if you’re lost or out of cell service, and your gadgets are low on battery because no matter which way they always point north which will guide you back on track.

How To Use A Compass On A Kayak

As you may know, compasses are made to point towards the North Pole. But because of how our planet tilts on its axis while it rotates (unless we’re in an ideal vacuum), sometimes magnetic north and true north may not always line up with one another depending upon where exactly we find ourselves situated on Earth’s surface.

Magnetic north and true North can be different if there is a difference in degrees. You may need to adjust your direction accordingly for the local variation or declination of these points, depending on where you are located geographically speaking.

Maps are generally lined up with the compass in that location, so there’s no need to make any adjustments. However, other maps may tell how many declinations should be used for your specific area which could affect where an object will end up when using a map and compass simultaneously.

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Align Your Kayak With Compass

Keeping your kayak aligned with the compass will be a lot easier if you first set it up so that its bow points north and stern faces south. This means that when looking through an imaginary line in between these two directions, all compass markings should look centered too.

Nautical Maps

Nautical maps are designed to provide you with accurate navigation and direction. You can use these nautical charts without having any concerns about the orientation of true north because they line up perfectly on an inner margin according to magnetic compass readings alone.

Does Current & Wind Affect The Direction

When you’re in the water, the situation is possible where your kayak would be facing one direction but being dragged towards another. Keep this factor into account when paddling against wind or current as it could affect how fast and for which directions we travel on our journey.

How To Choose The Best Compass For Your Kayak – Kayak Compass Buying Guide

Durability

The compass is an essential part of any kayaker’s gear. It’s important to get one that can handle anything Mother Nature throws at it, and this includes being waterproof as well as shock-resistant.

Your compass is tested after only a few whacks with the paddle, accidental knocks, and bumps in transportation. It occasionally gets splashed by waves on an outdoor adventure or exposed to cold weather conditions like you might experience while camping out under a tree during wintertime.

What I want to say is that the best compass is tough enough to survive in harsh marine environments and it doesn’t break down or leak over time, proving itself as an invaluable asset on any voyage.

The special type of fluid inside the dome should be clear all the time, you must pay close attention. The fluid must not turn into ice no matter how cold it gets outside.

Easy To Read

A kayak compass is of no use to you if the dial cannot be read from a distance. A large and clear dial that could be readable from the kayak seat is a feasible option. It allows them to read without having their eyesight strain.

When you’re out on your boat in the dark, it can be hard to see what’s going on. That is where using a compass with built-in light comes into play. Although it’s not important for most of the paddlers to have this feature on their compass.

Mounting Locations

Mounting a Compass to Your kayak or boat can be done in many different ways. What’s more convenient for you really depends on what works best with all of its other features.

If you want to remove the compass after each trip, make sure that your one is easily removable.

Deck/Bulkhead

Some people like mounting their compass on deck so that it will be easy for them if they need quick directions. This is useful if you plan on having it live semi-permanently in this location. The compass is permanently installed using screws, either directly into the deck or via brackets which are easily screwed onto any surface.

Tie Downs

It uses bungee cords, found on the bow of any kayak so you can easily connect them when needed without hassle. This type of kayak compass mount is easier to attach and detach.

Strapping a compass is useful if you plan to move the compass from one kayak to another or you want a temporary attachment on an additional kayak.

Accuracy

Lastly, it’s important the kayak compass must have a high degree of accuracy.

A compass is an essential tool for any outdoor adventurer, but it’s useless if you can’t rely on its accuracy. Imagine getting lost at sea and being stranded because your navigation system gave out? That would be really bad news

Best Kayak Compass – Reviews

1. Brunton Dash Mount Compass (overall best)

The Brunton Dash Mount compass is a great option for kayakers. It has been designed to fit snuggly into existing recesses on any vessel making it flush mount and giving a company-installed look. The sturdy construction shows its durability for the usage of many years to come.

Moreover, the kayakers were really impressed with its accuracy and readability.

Brunton’s compass is the ultimate tool for any backcountry adventurer. The 5-degree graduations on its dial allow you to read bearings quickly and easily, even when visibility isn’t great or there are other obstacles in your way.

What We Liked

  • Excellent readability
  • 5-degree graduations
  • Flush mount design
  • Low profile design

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Can be installed after drilling holes

Bottom Line

Expensive but with a stellar reputation and all of the benefits, it is well worth the price.


2. TurnOnSport Boat Compas

The TurnOnSport boating compass is a great choice for those on tight budgets. It’s surprising how much it still gives when compared to more expensive options.

It is a large size marine compass that is both waterproof and easy to read with its large markings. The markings even light up when needed (for example in low light conditions). A movable cover on the top shields the compass from direct sunlight exposure.

The compass is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and it’s super easy to install. With two options for mounting you can install this using two screws or the EVA sticker for any flat surface.

The compass is nice, but I didn’t like that it comes with two power cords specifically designed for use with a 12V power supply.

What We Liked

  • Glow in the dark dial
  • Budget option
  • Easy installation
  • Sun cover

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Power cords
  • May require drilling for mounting

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a cheap, yet functional compass then TurnOnSport is your go-to. It may not be the most kayak-friendly option but it will get the job done in an emergency.


3. Kayaker by Ritchie Navigation XP-99

Ritchie Navigation’s XP-99 is a kayak compass that can compete with my top pick for accuracy, durability, and readability but also has the benefit of being slightly less expensive.

The compass in this super-durable, composite construction can withstand extreme conditions because the diaphragm in this compass is able to stretch and bend in many temperature ranges. It makes it suitable for sea kayaking.

The compass features a 2.75-inch dial and large markings, ensuring easy readability for all of its measurements. It also has an innovative “memory indicator” bezel that remembers the direction in which you are headed while using it; this means no more getting lost or getting off track.

There are two installation methods: strapping it down or using screws for permanent mounting.

What We Liked

  • Durable construction
  • Large marking for readability
  • Can withstand extreme conditions
  • Value for money

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Nightglow needs a 12V power source

Bottom Line

It may not be the lightest or a compact option. But it does offer me all of its great features. The mounting flexibility and price are both reasons that it should be considered.


4. Seattle Sports SeaRover Deck Compass

The Seattle Sport SeaRover is a sleek and modern-looking compass that can be easily attached to your bow rigging with two quick-release buckles.  With its clear case and form-fitting plastic base where buckles are locked, this device rests securely in place.

With the easy installation and removal features, this is a great option for those who plan to mount it on other kayaks.

The SeaRover offers an innovative approach to a classic navigational tool. The direct-reading dial is a simple and durable design about 2.4 inches across and rests on top of an effortlessly quality rubber base. But the black dial with white markings can be confusing, as it is difficult at first glance for some users.

The weight isn’t an issue as it only measures 12 ounces.

What We Liked

  • Can be installed easily with buckles and a plastic base
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some users complained about the fluid leakage and discoloration

Bottom Line

Most of the users reported about its splendid performance. However, some have had problems with the durability or fluid leakage and discoloration leading them to question its worthiness for use in a harsh environment.


5. Sun Company SeaTurtl Kayak Compass

Do you want a compass that is easy to install and doesn’t require any drilling? Check out the Sun Company SeaTurtl Kayak Compass. It features four tough elastic cords that securely hold it in place, ending in a clip so you can attach it to any suitable part of your vessel.

If you don’t have any kind of molding or if your compass doesn’t come with a clip, then this floating mount is perfect. You can attach it anywhere on the boat and remove it when not in use.

The compass features a foam base to prevent scratching your vessel and an adjustable hood that you can use when reading the dial-in bright sunlight or shade it from UV rays.

What We Liked

  • Easy installation with elastic cords and a clip
  • Adjustable hood for better readability
  • Suitable for both curved and flat kayak hulls

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not recommended for night kayaking


6. X-11Y Ritchie Navigation 2-Inch Dial Sport Kayak Compass

The Ritchie Navigation X-11Y is an excellent option for beginners who want a simple, yet well put together kayak compass.

At 4 ounces, this little compass is as lightweight and straightforward to use on your trip. It’s the perfect hand-held device for any outdoor enthusiast who needs something simple.

The compass features an easy-to-read 2-inch dial and yellow silicone rubber housing. It also includes a lanyard and chem sticks markers that light up in the dark or low light.

You’ll need additional items to attach to the deck of your kayak including a holder.

The built-in roller diaphragm of the compass provides an extra margin for temperature tolerance, extending its operating range.

What We Liked

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Good temperature operating range
  • Comes with a lanyard
  • Chem sticks for illumination in the dark

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Dial size is small

Bottom Line

Despite its low price and tough construction, the X-11Y doesn’t offer the best readability. I find it cluttered compared with other models that offer more clarity at eye level.


7. Ritchie RA-93 Angler

The Ritchie RA-93 Angler is a marine compass that will get you to and from your favorite fishing destination (as the name depicts). This product does not come cheap, but its performance makes up for the price – no matter if it’s on land or water.

The Ritchie RA-93 Angler features a 2.75 inch highly visible, anti-glare grey finish blue dial that’s designed to offer improved readability even in bright sunlight. The compass also has green LED lights so you can see the readings at night or in any low light conditions.

RA 93 angler is not only accurate and easy to read, but it also has a movable sun shield. This helps protect the dial from sunlight.

To install it directly onto the deck of your kayak, you have two options: use screws or an adhesive pad. The mount will come with push buttons at each side for easy removal, so it is convenient to take on any adventure.

What We Liked

  • Great readability in sunlight
  • Movable sun shield
  • Adhesive pad for mounting
  • Push buttons for removal
  • LED backlight

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Expensive
  • 12V battery is required for backlight

Bottom Line

The Ritchie RA-93 Angler is an easy-to-read, reliable compass that offers a wealth of high-end features. It’s perfect for those who love kayak fishing and need something more than what you’d find on your run-of-the-mill models.


Summing Up ( Best Kayaking Compass)

The compass is a critical piece of navigation equipment that will help you find your way in the wilderness. You can expect most models to perform their functions, though there are some rough spots for certain manufacturers and models alike- both with small dials or spotty quality control; weak mounting systems which might result from poor design. Consider these things before choosing between competing brands.

Our top choice The Brunton Dash Mount Compass is one of the best compasses for kayakers. This device can be flush mounted to your deck and has an easy-to-read face with large digits.

The device is made to withstand the toughest conditions, but if you don’t have a recess in your kayak? No problem. Just like with most other things I can think of – DIY time.

Those who want a compass with less of an installation hassle can go for the Ritchie XP-99.