A kayak compass is an essential navigational tool that you must have if you want to take your paddling excursions to more isolated locations, and it will help you find your way. Any tour in a kayak requires you to have a reliable compass, but this is especially true if you anticipate navigating across challenging lengths of open water.
However, due to the extensive feature sets offered by these specialist pieces of equipment, it might be challenging to select the best kayak compass for your needs.
Therefore, to make navigation as simple and stress-free as possible during your next kayaking adventure, we have researched and provided reviews of the top kayak compasses currently available.
Our top recommendations if you're pressed for time. You may also continue scrolling to browse our whole list and detailed evaluations.
It is hard to make a mistake when using the portable and practical Silva 58 Kayak Compass since it performs well in various environmental circumstances.
"The Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck Compass is one kayak compass that puts quality and durability at the center of its design. This kayak compass is an excellent choice when cost-effectiveness is a primary issue."
The Ritchie Navigation Kayaker XP-99 is an excellent option to take into consideration if you're looking for a high-end, mountable kayak compass made for extended stretches of paddling.
Our buying guide, which appears at the very end of the list, contains all the information you want to choose the most acceptable compass for your kayak.
The Silva 58 Kayak Compass is an exceptional all-around workhorse suitable for frequent paddling excursions. It was awarded the gold medal as our evaluation's most satisfactory overall compass.
This model features a four-point bungee cord system that enables it to be fastened to virtually any kind of kayak. Consequently, it is simple to install before you head out on your paddles, and you do not need to drill any holes into your kayak to accomplish this.
Additionally lightweight and compact, the Silva 58 is an excellent choice for paddlers whose kayaks have a tiny bow. The fact that the compass is constructed out of a combination of scratch-resistant acrylic and ABS further ensures that it is robust enough to withstand any climate.
The Silva 58 does not fall short in any way regarding its navigation capabilities. Because you can use it in both the northern and the southern hemispheres, it is the best option for those of us who are more daring when it comes to paddling.
The Silva 58 does not come with a memory ring for establishing your course, nor does it feature a straightforward method for adjusting for declination, even though its markings are distinct and simple to read. But, if you are looking for a kayak compass that is built to last and can be used in various situations, this is one model you won't want to pass up.
Compass onboard the Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck
If saving money is one of your main priorities, then the Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck Compass is an excellent choice that you shouldn't neglect because of its great value.
You receive a portable, adjustable-mount compass included with the Sea Rover. This compass can be connected to the deck of virtually any type of kayak, and it comes with a set of nylon straps that can be quickly attached to the deck lines of your kayak using the clips included in the package.
In addition, the Sea Rover features a robust rubber base that eliminates the risk of slipping, especially while you are paddling over waves. In addition, it features a sturdy acrylic casing that has been specifically designed to resist the wear and tear that comes with regular usage. Designed by Seattle Sports, this compass has a unique feature that allows you to read it from both the instrument's top and sides.
It is essential to point out that this compass is relatively large, making it unsuitable for kayaks that have bows that are not very wide. In addition, it is not intended for usage in the southern hemisphere and does not come with support for declination adjustment built in. However, if you are searching for a kayak compass that won't break the bank, the Seattle Sports Sea Rover is an excellent option.
XP-99 Ritchie Navigation Kayaker Manufactured by Ritchie
A deck-mountable compass such as the Ritchie Navigation Kayaker XP-99 may be just what you need if you plan to go on extended expeditions in less populated areas.
The Kayaker XP-99 features a mount that, in contrast to the other two models in our evaluation, is intended to be permanently fixed to the deck of your kayak to provide you with an increased sense of safety as you paddle. However, you can still travel and store the compass separately by utilizing its more straightforward twist-on/twist-off connection technique. This allows for more portability.
The Kayaker XP-99 comes equipped with a high-end CourseMinder bezel with a memory ring, enabling you to set your path while you paddle swiftly. It is also compatible with the company's optional lighting kit, which provides illumination during paddling activities at night.
Having said that, while there is a lot to like about the Kayaker XP-99, we should point out that it is somewhat expensive and that attaching it requires drilling holes into the deck of your kayak. Despite these drawbacks, the Kayaker XP-99 is an excellent product. As it was designed to be used in the northern hemisphere, this should be considered when making a purchase. Even with its flaws, the Kayaker XP-99 is an excellent choice for an ambitious paddler looking for a deck-mounted compass.
Even while a compass may appear to be a straightforward piece of equipment, the fact is that there is a significant amount of technology involved in the production of the very finest kayak compasses. Consequently, it is not always easy to determine which model is appropriate for you.
We have developed a list of the most crucial things to look out for when shopping for a kayak compass to assist you in deciding what you need in a compass for your kayak.
Compasses are available in a dizzying variety of forms and designs, each tailored to function optimally in a particular setting.
For instance, land-based navigation is the most common use for baseplate compasses, which consist of a needle housed in a spinning dial that is fixed on a flat plastic plate. These compasses are meant to be used with flat plates. This is because they can be positioned on a map to calculate bearings. In addition, they are manageable enough in size to be held in one hand while walking or concealed in one's pocket when traversing rugged terrain.
On the other hand, these baseplate compasses are not the best choice for paddlers. The fact that these compasses are meant to be carried in one's hand renders them unsuitable for use as navigational instruments when paddling from one location to another. Additionally, to obtain an exact reading with these compasses, they have to be held very still, which is not always achievable when the water is turbulent. The card compass is one of the vast varieties of compasses that have been thoughtfully developed for use in maritime environments.
Card compasses are constructed with a magnetic compass card, as opposed to baseplate compasses, which are dependent on a magnetic needle. The card is then placed inside of a housing that is transparent and filled with fluid. There, it is free to float about and spin so that it always points north.
Even though they are more significant than their baseplate counterparts, the key benefit of a compass card is that it is better equipped to endure the continual motion of the water. This is the primary advantage of a compass card. It is possible to read these compasses from the side, which is helpful if you are sitting in the cockpit of a kayak.
As a direct consequence of this, the majority of kayak compasses that you'll come across are going to be card compasses. It is necessary, however, to have a solid understanding of the distinctions between the various types of compasses so that you do not inadvertently spend your money on a model intended for use in land-based navigation.
Now that you are familiar with the distinctions between the various kinds of compasses, we will concentrate on the myriad of options available to you regarding card compasses.
You will need to decide early in your search whether you want a model with a fixed amount or one with an adjustable mount since this is a vital aspect that you will need to consider. Fixed-mount compasses, such as the Ritchie Navigation Kayaker XP-99, are intended to be permanently fastened to the deck of your kayak, as the name indicates. When you do this, you avoid the possibility of your compass slipping off while you paddle and stop your navigation equipment from sliding about when you are in rough waters.
Installing these fixed-mount compasses requires you to drill holes into your kayak, which is one of these compasses' drawbacks. The fact that these compasses, in many instances, cannot be removed further increases the likelihood that they may be damaged while being transported to and from the put-in location. Compasses with adjustable mounts, such as the Silva 58 Kayak Compass, are another option. These compasses are meant to be fitted to a wide variety of kayaks, and it is common for them to come with adjustable bungee cords or nylon straps, both of which may be used to connect the compass onto the deck rigging of your kayak.
The portability of these adjustable compasses is the crucial benefit they offer; shifting them from one kayak to another is simple. In addition, you won't have to drill any holes in your kayak if you use one of these, and they are often not too expensive. In stormy conditions, however, there is always a chance that one of these compasses will become detached from its connection system, regardless of how well it is designed.
The question now is, what kind of compass should you buy?
Unfortunately, there is no single correct response that applies to all situations. If you don't mind having your compass permanently affixed to your kayak, then a fixed-mount option is probably the best choice. On the other hand, those who have more than one kayak or do not like to use power tools on their kayaks can choose an adjustable-mount option rather than the other available choices.
When looking to buy a kayak compass, determining whether you want a device that is exclusive to one hemisphere or the entire world is one of the most important decisions you will need to make.
Compasses are commonly considered gadgets that can be used anywhere on Earth (they point north, right? ). Still, the fact is that the majority of compasses are only accurate in either the northern or southern hemispheres of the planet.
This is because the flow of the magnetic field around the Earth is not uniform throughout the whole planet's surface. Instead, our planet's magnetic field tilts very steeply into the Earth as it gets closer to the poles and becomes vertical at both the north and the south poles. Because fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field might cause a compass to give inaccurate readings, producers of compasses are required to adjust the weight of the needle or card included within their products to function appropriately in various settings.
Because manufacturers try to keep costs down by only weighting compasses to one hemisphere, using them in other parts of the world will render them inaccurate. On the other hand, if you believe you would be interested in going on foreign paddling vacations, you can get compasses that cover the whole world.
Likely, most paddlers won't have any issues with the magnetic weighting. If you do intend to travel, you must consider this because it is likely that your excursions will require a globally balanced compass.
While we are discussing the restrictions that magnetic compasses have in both the northern and southern hemispheres, there is one more factor that must be taken into account by anybody who intends to navigate with these tools, and that factor is declination. The distance that separates the true north and magnetic north is referred to as magnetic declination. In some regions, magnetic variation is another name for magnetic declination. This disparity arises because the north pole of the Earth's magnetic field does not coincide perfectly with the geographic north pole, which is located at 90 degrees north latitude.
On the other hand, each of our maps is aligned with the geographic north pole (a.k.a. geographic north). If you don't compensate for the difference between true north and magnetic north, you could end up paddling in the opposite direction. It might not seem like a big deal, but when the difference between true north and magnetic north is 20 degrees, you could end up paddling in the wrong direction.
As long as you are familiar with some basic mathematical operations, you will be able to adjust your compass declination easily by simply performing some basic mathematical operations.
On the other hand, some kayak compasses come with declination settings that allow you to avoid making this straightforward calculation frequently. Because of these settings, you only have to worry about performing these constant calculations once at the beginning of the day when you make your declination adjustment. This frees up a lot of time for paddling throughout the day.
On the other hand, declination adjustment tools are not very common on kayak compasses; thus, if you want this function, you could have to pay a reasonable price. You may be justified in paying the additional cost if you paddle in locations with significant declination values. You may be justified in paying the additional cost.
To put it another way, if you cannot read the compass, it is of no use to you as a paddler. For those who are looking to avoid making costly mistakes, you need to determine whether or not a compass is easily readable.
The readability of a compass, on the other hand, can be affected by a wide variety of elements and decisions made during its design. It would be best if you kept an eye out, especially for kayak compasses, for versions that feature large numbers and letters showing your bearing to provide a rapid reference while you paddle.
In addition, you will want to check that the information provided by the compass is sufficient for you to paddle. For instance, if you are navigating through treacherous seas, you could find that a compass that indicates every 45 degrees is not comprehensive enough for your needs.
When faced with situations like these, investing in a compass that is graded in tiny increments (about 5o) and with clear directional indications may make a world of difference regarding how straightforward navigating is.
Kayak compass weight and size are not an issue in terms of mobility, unlike portable baseplate compasses that you could take trekking. This is because kayak compasses are designed to float. Nevertheless, it is essential to consider the size of the kayak compass you intend to purchase. This is because you will want to avoid buying a model that is too large to fit on the deck of your vessel.
Although most kayak compasses are made to take up a minimal amount of space, specific models are far more expansive than others. When compasses have an adjustable mount, this is usually not an issue.
When it comes to fixed-mount types, however, you need to be sure that your compass will fit flush on the deck of your boat before you attempt to place it firmly. Otherwise, you may end up ruining the deck of your kayak.
Therefore, if you want a compass that is permanently mounted, you will probably require a kayak that has a compass recess area in the bow that is relatively level. To avoid any problems in the future, you should probably also take some measurements in this region to see whether or not it is compatible with the compass you intend to purchase.
The last point to consider is that specific kayak compasses have a few additional functions that may make your time spent paddling more enjoyable. Although the cost of a compass will go up due to the addition of several of these capabilities, you should consider whether or not they are worthwhile for your travels. Consider the following features:
Since you've read our guide to the best kayak compasses, you should now have a firm idea of the many models available for purchase and how you may choose one suitable for your particular requirements.
After looking at some of the best kayak compasses on the market, it's easy to see that the Silva 58 Kayak Compass is head and shoulders above the competition.
One of our favorite features of this product is that the Silva 58 is tiny and compact enough to be fitted to a wide variety of Kayak Compass. In addition, it features a sturdy structure, an easy-to-read set of navigational markings, and an adjustable attachment mechanism to work in various situations.