Watches with a compass are extremely convenient for active people who are engaged in backpacking, mountaineering, and hiking or just like to go fishing or hunting. In this case, the compass can be very useful.
You may rack your brains seeking the answer to the question: “What is the best compass watch and how to choose it?” Of course, you may go to the store and get a consultation from shop assistants. But it’s easier and more convenient to find the watch on the internet. The range of compass watches is huge and there are lots of discounts on websites like Amazon, so you can get a great deal. Moreover, you can read compass watch reviews from customers which can be really useful.
The leading manufacturers of compass watches are Casio, Suunto, and Garmin. We’ve include some of their models as they offer the best watches with compass.
The 5 Best Compass Watches
Looking through lots of compass watch reviews, you may find the Suunto Core watch. This watch has the most important features that you will need for backcountry endeavors. It provides essential data for navigation, so you will never get lost with it. It’s made of composite material and features aluminum bezel and elastomer band. The display is made of mineral crystal and has a backlight for better illumination. Here is the list of the key features:
- Altimeter/barometer, compass, and thermometer;
- Automatic Alti/Baro mode to switch between altimeter and barometer functions;
- Barometric altimeter is accurate to 29,500 feet and tracks current elevation, elevation gain/loss, and ascent/descent rate;
- Elevation scale: 1m;
- Storm alarm;
- Sunrise/sunset data, multiple time zones, stopwatch timer, countdown timer, 1 daily alarm;
- Depth meter for snorkeling: 10m;
- User-replaceable battery with low battery indicator;
- Battery life: 1 year;
- Water resistance: 30 meters.
Thanks to the ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass) your navigation will be a breeze. Digital compass monitors direction, you just need to set and follow a bearing using rotating bezel ring or point top of the watch in that direction where you want to travel to lock in bearing. The altimeter/barometer function is amazing. It will be a great addition to the compass since it measures long-term trends in pressure changes and delivers accurate data, so you can predict the weather. There is a graph that shows both altitude and pressure trends. The Suunto Core automatically switches between the altimeter and barometer to give you the info about the weather. The watch also features an altitude log and you can log your total ascent and descent and a number of runs for 7 days. Another nice feature is the storm alarm. So you will be informed about the storm in advance. There are only some watches on the market with this function.
The Suunto Core is water resistant to 30 meters, so it will not be suitable for serious divers. But it will be great for snorkelers who can get an accurate depth reading to 10 meters.
The battery is replaceable and has a low battery indicator. It will last for about 1 year.
The Suunto Core Multifunctional watch also offers some traditional features like the world time zones, stopwatch timer, countdown timer, daily alarm and sunset/sunrise data.
Overall, it is one of the best watches with compass, altimeter, barometer and other functions for easy navigation. It will be perfect for backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering.
The Casio PRW-3500T-7 is another watch with high scores for its performance and reliability among the best compass watches. It makes the navigation really easy providing all the data you may need in the wilderness. Since it’s a solar-powered watch, it will last you for many months without a recharge. To keep the battery charged, you just need to wear the watch under a light source. And it’s really a great advantage in comparison with the GPS watches that keep the battery charged only for a few days. So for long adventures, the PRW-3500T-7 will be indispensable. Let’s take a look at the features of this watch:
- Tough solar power;
- Triple Sensor Version 3: altimeter, barometer/thermometer, and compass;
- Multi-Band atomic timekeeping (US, UK, Germany, Japan, China);
- Full auto LED backlight with afterglow;
- World time with 31 time zones (48 cities + UTC), 12/24 hour formats, hourly time signal, 5 daily alarms, full auto calendar (preprogrammed until the year 2099), 1/10 second stopwatch, countdown timer, sunrise/sunset data;
- Low temperature resistant (-10⁰C/14⁰F);
- Solar rechargeable battery with battery level indicator and power saving function;
- Battery life: 7 months of rechargeable battery (normal use without exposure to light after charge), 23 months on rechargeable battery (when stored in total darkness with the power save mode);
- Water resistance: 200 meters.
Triple Sensor Version 3 (altimeter, barometer, and compass) from Casio provides improved reading accuracy and energy efficiency. The altimeter provides accurate high/low altitude measurements in 1-meter increments and has auto cumulative ascent/descent of particular treks. The compass displays measurements over full 60 consecutive seconds. The barometer measures atmospheric pressure and informs about the changes in pressure with the alarm sound. The watch features full auto LED backlight with afterglow, so you can read the data in daylight and darkness.
For accurate timekeeping, the PRW-3500T-7 comes with the Multi-Band atomic timekeeping feather that automatically gets atomic clock time calibration signals in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and China.
The other advantages of the PRW-3500T-7 are its water resistance up to 200 meters, low-temperature resistance (-10⁰C/14⁰F) and long battery life (up to 7 months without exposure to light after charge). So you can take this watch for long journeys and don’t worry about the battery. The watch has a power saving function and low battery indicator, so you will know in advance when to replace the battery.
In addition, the Casio PRW-3500T-7 is packed with traditional watch features, including world time with 31 time zones (48 cities + UTC), 12/24 time formats, hourly time signal, 5 daily alarms, full auto calendar, stopwatch timer, countdown timer and sunrise/sunset time indicator.
Overall, the Casio PRW-3500T-7 is very durable and reliable watch that is quite reasonably priced. This watch is appreciated by many people and you can also find lots of good reviews of this watch on Amazon. Its altimeter, barometer and compass feature is amazing. So the Casio PRW-3500T-7 fairly deserves to be in the category of the best compass watches.
The PAG240T-7 is another solar-powered watch from Casio that can be named as the best compass watch. It also has the same great Triple Sensor functionality for easy navigation and some other features that are rather handy for outdoor enthusiasts. The PAG240T-7 features a stainless steel case with mineral crystal glass and titanium bracelet with a double-locking fold-over clasp. The display has full auto LED backlight with afterglow for reading the data in daylight or darkness. And here are the features of the Casio PAG240T-7:
- Tough solar power;
- Triple Sensor (altimeter / barometer, compass, and thermometer);
- Full auto LED backlight with afterglow;
- World time with 31 time zones (48 cities), city code display, 12/24 hour format, daylight saving on/off, countdown timer, 1/100 second stopwatch, full auto calendar (preprogrammed until the year 2099), hourly time signal, 5 daily alarms, sunrise/sunset time indicator;
- Low temperature resistant (-10⁰C / 14⁰F);
- Solar rechargeable battery with battery power indicator and power saving function;
- Battery life: 6 months on full charge (without further exposure to light);
- Water resistance: 100 meters.
A Triple Sensor of the Casio PAG240T-7 provides altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and compass information that will facilitate your navigation. The compass displays current direction and reports bearing in 1-degree increments. The altimeter tracks elevation gain/loss from -2,300 to 32,800 ft. (-700 to 10,000m) in 20 ft. (5m) increments. The altimeter has auto memory measurements (high/low altitude memory, total ascent/descent) and can store up to 25 records of altitude, date, and time. The barometer tracks atmospheric pressure and helps you detect the weather changes which are shown in the barometric pressure tendency graph. The barometer display changes from 260 to 1,100 hPa (7.65 to 32.45 inHg) measured in 1 hPa (0.05 inHg) increments. The thermometer ranges from 14 to 140⁰F (-10 to 60⁰C) measured in 0.2⁰F (0.1⁰C) increments.
Besides the navigation features, the Casio PAG240T-7 has a number of other useful functions, including the world time with 31 time zones (48 cities), countdown timer, stopwatch, full auto calendar, 5 daily alarms, hourly time signal, sunrise/sunset data and much more.
The watch is water resistant to 100 meters and has a solar rechargeable battery that can last up to 6 months on full charge without exposure to light. The watch also features a power saving function and battery power indicator, so you will know when it’s time to recharge the battery. Furthermore, the PAG240T-7 is resistant to temperatures as low as -10⁰C/14⁰F.
All in all, the Casio PAG240T-7 has all the necessary features for navigation. It’s waterproof, durable and operates really well providing very accurate data. The price is reasonable and you can buy it with good discounts on Amazon. So if you are looking for the best compass watch, the Casio PAG240T-7 can be your solution.
The Tactix from Garmin is another watch with compass that can boast lots of tracking capabilities for navigation. This watch has a high sensitivity GPS receiver unlike the watches reviewed above. So it’s a GPS watch with compass, altimeter, barometer and some other nice features. People who are keen on new technologies will definitely like it. This watch is designed in military style and has forged stainless steel rear case PVD coated black and scratch-resistant curved mineral crystal domed to reduce reflection. Let’s take a closer look at the features of the Garmin Tactix:
- 2” non-reflective, scratch-resistant curved mineral glass with green LED backlight;
- 3-axis compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer;
- Stainless steel EXO antenna;
- High-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS;
- Simultaneously shows 2 sets of coordinate system on 1 screen;
- ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone or computer;
- Stores 1,000 waypoints and 10,000 track points;
- TracBack feature to navigate back to your starting point;
- Tracks distance, pace, speed, cadence, calories, heart rate and other metrics while running or cycling;
- Jumpmaster software for skydivers handles HAHO, HALO, and static drops;
- The U.S. tide data and a worldwide basecamp;
- Sun/moon info; hunting/fishing calendar; stopwatch; timer; alarm clock; world clock with auto time-zone calibration; vibration alerts;
- Compatible with Garmin Connect to download your workouts;
- Smart notifications directly to the watch;
- Customization of the watch with a variety of watch faces, data fields, widgets, and apps from Garmin;
- Compatible with Garmin Heart Rate Strap and bike sensor and foot pod;
- Water resistance: 50 meters;
- Battery life: 50 hours in GPS mode, 3 weeks in sensor mode, and 5 weeks in watch mode.
The Garmin Tactix is extremely durable watch with advanced functions for navigation. It’s one of the best GPS compass watches with altimeter and barometer. The ABC sensor allows you to get the accurate information needed for traveling. The compass will show you the direction and the altimeter with barometer will show the changes of pressure, so you can predict the weather. The Tactix stores 1,000 waypoints and 10,000 track points. With the help of the TracBack function, you can create a breadcrumb trail which will guide you back to the recorded point. So you will always find your way back.
The feature that all professionals will love is the ability to show two sets of the coordinate system on the display of the watch. It means that you can view your current location in multiple formats such as latitude/longitude and MGRS (military grid reference system).
You can get all the data in your smartphone as the Tactix has ANT+ and Bluetooth that allow you to sync it with your mobile device. The Garmin Connect software will show your routes, waypoints, speed, distance, pace, cadence, calories and much more. You can also customize the Tactix with a variety of watch faces, data fields, apps, and widgets. The watch features smart notifications, so you will receive the info about incoming calls and messages directly to your watch.
The Tactix is also compatible with heart rate monitor, bike sensor, and foot pod, so you can track more workouts. The watch also comes with a world clock with auto time-zone calibration, alarm, stopwatch, timer and has vibration alerts, sun/moon info, hunt/fish calendar.
Taking into account that the Garmin Tactix is equipped with GPS, its battery life in GPS mode is no more than 50 hours, but it can operate up to 5 weeks in watch mode. The watch is also water resistant to 50 meters.
Overall, the Garmin Tactix is a bit more than a compass watch as it is packed with a plenty of features for navigation and some fitness tracking capabilities. So it’s really worth consideration.
The Suunto Traverse is another GPS watch with compass from the leading manufacturer of watches for hiking, mountaineering, backpacking and other outdoor adventures. The case of this watch is made of composite materials and a stainless steel bezel is scratch-resistant. The lens is made of mineral crystal. Since the Traverse features GPS and connects wirelessly to a smartphone, its battery life is not very long. It’s a typical shortcoming of all watches with GPS. But its battery life is one of the best among the competitors. The watch can last in GPS mode up to 100 hours that is quite enough for a few days of traveling. Let’s take a look what this watch offers:
- Altimeter, barometer, compass;
- Supports GPS and GLONASS;
- Flashlight/backlight mode;
- Free topographic maps in Suunto Movescount app;
- Automatic breadcrumb of the trail;
- Synchronization with a smartphone via Bluetooth;
- Compatible with Suunto Movescount app;
- Smartphone notification;
- Five sports modes which track speed, pace, heart rate;
- Steps and calories counter;
- Sunrise/sunset times, storm alarm, vibration alerts;
- Countdown timer, stopwatch, automatic daylight saving time;
- Water resistance: 100 meters;
- Battery life: up to 100 hours in GPS mode and 14 days in time mode.
The Suunto Traverse features an altimeter, barometer, and compass that are essential for navigation. The compass shows the data in degrees or miles. The compass accuracy is 5 degrees. The altimeter shows the altitude or it’s so called FusedAlti feature that combines barometric and GPS altitude. So you will get accurate altitude measurements in 1-meter increments in the altitude graph of the watch. The Traverse automatically switches from the barometer to altimeter when it detects the change of altitude. When the watch is still, it switches back to the barometer mode. The barometer has sea level pressure graph, weather trend indicator and storm alarm. The watch can store the sea level pressure for past 26 hours. Thanks to the storm alarm, the watch can alert you about a sudden change of pressure. So you can predict the weather change in advance.
The Suunto Traverse has a flashlight/backlight mode. So you can read any data in daylight or darkness.
The GPS accuracy of the Suunto Traverse is pretty good. Besides GPS, the watch also supports GLONASS navigation system that needs less time to get a satellite fix. However, the GLONASS is not available now, but Suunto is going to update it soon. You can set 3 different GPS intervals to control the battery life (10, 15, 100 hours), but remember that with longer intervals you will get less accurate data. The watch supports different coordinate systems, including WGS84, UTM, and MGRS. You can store up to 250 waypoints and create a breadcrumb trail to find your way back.
The Suunto Traverse has 5 sports modes and it allows you to calculate your speed, distance, pace, heart rate, steps, and calories. You can also add up to 3 apps per mode. The watch can measure your heart rate while swimming with Suunto Smart Sensor. Log recording rate is 1 and 10 seconds.
The watch syncs with a smartphone via Bluetooth and it is compatible with Suunto Movescount app to track your activity. You can get free topographic maps in Movescount app. The app lets you upload photos and videos on a 3D map, create your movies and share it on Suunto’s YouTube channel. Suunto Movescount allows you to plan your routes and get analytics of your workouts. With Suunto Movescount app, you can receive phone notifications about incoming calls, messages or emails on the watch.
The Suunto Traverse also features some traditional watch functions, including sunrise/sunset data, countdown timer, and stopwatch timer. The watch is waterproof up to 100 meters and the buttons can be used under water.
In a nutshell, the Suunto Traverse is a pretty durable watch that can make your navigation a breeze. The watch is reasonably priced for all the features it offers. The features are really useful and appreciated by many hikers. So if you want to get the best watch with compass and you like GPS functionality, then the Suunto Traverse is a nice match.
We recommend you to pay attention to some features that are important for a good watch. First of all, it’s important to get a durable watch, so the material of the watch is essential. Then, think about the functionality. Now there are so many compass watches with lots of additional features that can be either handy or useless for you. Consider which features you really need. If you like long distance journeys, then the battery life will be also a crucial factor for you.
The Bottom Line
If your aim is to buy the best compass watch, this review can be helpful. We’ve tested a plenty of watches to make the list of the best watches with compass. Our review is unbiased and we’ve tried to include the models of watches with a good combination of price and value.
We’ve included in our review both solar-powered and GPS watches. Solar-powered watches lack some functionality of GPS watches, but they have better battery life that may be a crucial point. Consider all their pros and cons and make your choice. We hope that our review will be helpful.