5 Best Dive Compasses Reviewed (PADI Divemaster Tested)

Written and Reviewed By

Dive computer + compass

A scuba diving compass is an indispensable tool for any diver venturing into the depths of the underwater world.

The right scuba diving compass ensures precise navigation, reliable orientation, and above all, confidence in your underwater exploration.

With a multitude of scuba brands and compass models available in the market, selecting the perfect scuba diving compass can be a hard task to navigate.

As a PADI Divemaster leading dives in Floridas scuba industry, I’ve learned what to look for in a scuba diving compass.

I’ve carefully curated a list of the best scuba diving compasses, narrowing down the options to just five.

During the selection process, I considered crucial factors such as:

  • Accuracy and readability
  • Durability and water resistance
  • Ease of use and navigation features
  • Ergonomics and comfort
  • Brand reputation and customer reviews
  • Additional features and functionalities
  • And much more!

In the following sections, we’ll dive straight into our recommendations.

Later in the article, I will provide you with a comprehensive buying guide and address frequently asked questions to assist you in making an informed decision.

Let’s get right to it!

Table of Contents

Best Dive Compasses

Our Top Pick

SUUNTO SK-8

4.0
$104.95
Pros:
  • Works in both hemispheres
  • Incredibly stable and accurate
  • Rugged construction will probably last you a lifetime
  • Very responsive and reacts quickly to movement
  • Available with a wrist or retractable mount
  • Firm grip bezel with a solid seal that keeps sand and dirt out
Cons:
  • Compass card can take a long time to charge in low light
  • Lubber line fades quickly with direct sunlight or frequent use
Buy on Amazon Buy on Scuba.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
07/18/2024 04:28 pm GMT

You’ll never struggle to navigate your way around underwater with this diving compass in tow. When it comes to stability and readability, this dive compass can’t be beaten.

The Suunto SK8 boasts a top-notch tilt angle of +/-30 degrees. Compared to other diving compasses, the tilt potential is up to 3 times larger. This means you’ll still get an accurate reading even if the compass face isn’t kept perfectly horizontal. Many underwater compasses tend to stick if you tilt them slightly but with the Suunto SK8, you can avoid this frustration.

The phosphorescent compass card provides a good amount of illumination, so you get easy and clear readings even in low light or visibility. And with an upgraded magnet incorporated, you can dive in any part of the world without the compass losing its accuracy.

And if that’s not enough, this compass is also available with 2 different mounts; wrist-mounted or a handy retractable mount you can clip to your BCD and simply pull it out when you need to take a reading. We love the quick-disconnect clip that allows you to easily remove the compass from your BCD for safe storage.

  • Mount: Wrist Or Retractable Mount
  • North/South Hemisphere Compatible: Yes
  • Side View Navigation
Best for Low Visibility

Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass

4.0
$99.95
Pros:
  • Great value for money.
  • Convenient wrist-mounted design
  • Highly responsive to movement
  • Exceptional illumination in dark and low visibility
  • Well constructed and can handle a high level of abuse.
  • Will last several years without issues
  • Durable rubber strap that sits comfortably over a wetsuit or drysuit
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • A little bulky
  • Only calibrated for 1 hemisphere
Buy on Amazon Buy on Scuba.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
07/18/2024 04:28 pm GMT

First on our list is this classic wrist-mounted compass from Oceanic. It’s robust, affordable, and exceptionally easy to read making this an ideal choice for beginners.

The well-defined lubber line, large ratcheting bezel, and clear bearing indicators ensure you’ll never struggle to find your direction.

But what really makes this dive compass stand out is its illumination in low light and visibility. The OceanGlo luminescent floating card is capable of absorbing light 7 times better compared to other materials, making this one of the brightest compasses on the market.  So you can easily navigate no matter how dark the waters.

This compass has been thoughtfully designed so that it quickly responds to each movement you make with minimum issues. You also have a side panel, so you can choose which view works best for you underwater. It sits comfortably on the wrist with an adjustable rubber strap, or you can loop it onto your BCD.

If you’re looking for the brightest underwater compass, this is the one for you. It’s also very reasonably priced so it’s ideal for divers on a tight budget.

Product Specs:

  • Mount: Wrist
  • North/South Hemisphere Compatible: No
  • Navigation: Side view 
Great for Beginners

Cressi Compass

4.2
$40.54
Pros:
  • Cheap
  • Long-lasting and robust design
  • Easy to use and read thanks to the clear markings and large bezel
  • Comes with both a wrist strap and a hose mount as standard.
Cons:
  • Need to keep the compass flat to get an accurate reading.
  • Slightly less responsive to movement
  • Illumination isn’t as bright or long-lasting as our other recommendations
Buy on Amazon Buy on Scuba.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/09/2024 12:00 pm GMT

If you’re looking for a no-frills dive compass that’ll last you a long time and won’t break the bank, then this is the one for you. Cressi is known for creating reliable and durable dive gear, and this classic compass is no exception.

Despite being one of the cheapest options, it’s well constructed and super easy to read. It’s a great option for beginners or divers on a tight budget. Plus it comes with both a hose and wrist mount so you can choose what suits your set up best.

Product Specs:

  • Mount: Wrist strap and hose mount
  • North/South Hemisphere Compatible: Yes
  • Navigation: Side View
Most Versatile

Sherwood Genesis Compass

4.5
$56.06
Pros:
  • Max tilt action gives accurate readings at an angle
  • Well built and can easily take a few knocks.
  • Bezel is easy to rotate even with thick gloves.
  • Extra-large side window makes navigating a straight course easy
  • Retractable mount comes as standard with 2 different clips
  • Super clear and bright markings
Cons:
  • Reading may be disrupted by any iron nearby
  • Need to buy wrist mount seperately
Buy on Amazon Buy on Scuba.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
07/18/2024 09:36 am GMT

This compass promises top-notch navigation for all divers. With large windows and high contrast markings, it’s a cinch to use underwater.

The dials are also luminescent for extra clarity. It comes with a retractable mount that attaches to your BCD, making it easily accessible when you need it but out of the way when you don’t. The built-in retractor is durable and holds with enough tension that it doesn’t sag, yet still remains easy to pull out and use.

The high strength magnets mean the compass is super responsive and gives a highly accurate reading. It also features a max tilt action, so you don’t have to worry about keeping the compass perfectly level when navigating.

Product Specs:

  • Mount: Retractable mount. Wrist mount sold separately.
  • North/South Hemisphere Compatible: Yes
  • Navigation: Side View
Budget Choice

XS Scuba Compass Module

4.5
$38.95
Pros:
  • SuperTilt feature ensures accurate readings at more extreme angles
  • Bright and long-lasting illumination
  • Large, easy to read bezel
  • Strong magnets are highly responsive to movement
Cons:
  • SuperTilt feature is slightly more expensive (but well worth the extra few bucks!)
  • Only works in 1 hemisphere
  • Need to purchase a mount separately
Buy on Amazon Buy on Scuba.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
07/18/2024 09:23 am GMT

If you’re looking for the most accurate dive compass, then look no further than the compass module from XS Scuba.

Most dive compasses can be a little tricky to use underwater because you need to make sure they’re always kept level. But even when this compass is tilted at a 30-degree angle, its SuperTilt feature ensures you’ll still get an accurate reading. And thanks to its super strength magnets you’ll get that accurate reading pretty much instantly.

The large ratching and clear markings on the rotating bezel combined with the minimal, high contrast card design makes this compass remarkedly easy to read. And when you illuminate it with a dive light, it’ll hold the illumination for several minutes making it great for night dives or low visibility.

What’s more, it’s surprisingly affordable. If you are on a budget, you won’t be disappointed with this dive compass. It’s just as good as its more expensive counterparts.

The only downside is that this compass module doesn’t come with a mount, so you’ll need to purchase this separately. It does, however, fit with many standard dive consoles and wrist mounts.

Product Specs:

  • Mount: None
  • North/South Compatible: No
  • Navigation: Side View

Scuba Diving Compass Buying Guide

To find the best dive compass for you, here are a few factors you want to consider before you buy:

Readability & Visibility

There’s no point in having a compass if you can’t read it!

Look for high contrast, simple designs that feature large markings and luminescent materials. The compass card and markings should glow when charged with light.

Make sure the bezel is large enough that you can accurately read where the arrows are pointing. This will make a big different underwater and in low light conditions.

Dive Compass

Tilt Compensation

The problem with many dive compasses is that you need to keep them perfectly level to get an accurate reading.

This isn’t always easy when you’re trying to maintain your buoyancy, keep an eye on your buddy, and avoid any obstacles.

The best dive compass will have a good tilting capacity so that even if you hold the compass at an angle, you’ll still get an accurate reading.

Accuracy & Hemisphere Calibration

The last thing you would want is to choose a dive compass that will give you inaccurate results. Look for a compass with a strong magnet system.

Remember to choose a compass that is calibrated for your hemisphere.

Most compasses are only effective in one hemisphere because of the switch of the earth’s magnetic field.

Some manufacturers, including Suunto, have created a balanced magnet system that means your compass will read accurately in both hemispheres.

So if you know you’ll be diving on both ends of the globe, look for a compass with a balanced magnet.

Durability

Dive Compass

When you’re investing in any piece of dive gear, you want it to last you a long time. Look for a high depth rating so you don’t have to worry about the water pressure.

It’s also important that you choose one with a robust bezel that can withstand a few knocks. Equally, the bezel should have a good seal that’ll prevent any sand or grit from getting inside.

Mounting Options

The module is the actual compass and the mount is what it sits in that allows you to wear it when diving. You’ll find different that most dive compasses come with different mounting options. The best mount for you really comes down to personal preference.

  • wrist mount allows you to wear your compass like a watch which makes it quick to check your bearing. But it can feel a little bulky and cumbersome.
  • retractable mount can be clipped onto your BCD. This means that you easily pull the compass out when you need it and store it out of the way when you don’t.
  • A dive compass can also be console mounted alongside your pressure gauge or dive computer. This means you can check all the essential dive info in one place.
Dive computer + compass

Price

You can definitely find a reliable dive compass without spending too much money. Just make sure it’s readable, durable, and is backed by a good warranty even if it isn’t that expensive.

Along with all of these factors, it’s important that you actually understand how to use your dive compass. Make sure you understand the basics and take some time to practice on land before you rely on it underwater.

How To Use A Dive Compass

Learning to use a dive compass is best practiced on land, and ideally with a dive professional, but here’s a quick recap for you…

Frequently Asked Questions

Although it’s not mandatory to have a compass with you on every dive, it is highly recommended regardless of your experience level. Even if you are very familiar with the area you’re diving and can use landmarks to navigate, it’s helpful to have a compass in case of reduced visibility or strong currents that can cause disorientation or carry you off course.

And if you are less experienced or new to an area, having a compass (and knowing how to use it!) will help you to fully explore a dive site and be able to navigate to your exit point easily and safely.

Although it’s not mandatory to have a compass with you on every dive, it is highly recommended regardless of your experience level. Even if you are very familiar with the area you’re diving and can use landmarks to navigate, it’s helpful to have a compass in case of reduced visibility or strong currents that can cause disorientation or carry you off course.

And if you are less experienced or new to an area, having a compass (and knowing how to use it!) will help you to fully explore a dive site and be able to navigate to your exit point easily and safely.

You’ve now got all the information you need to go ahead and buy yourself the best dive compass.

Do you always dive with a compass? Or do you prefer to navigate using natural references? We love to hear about your experiences so let us know in the comments below.

Looking for other essential diving accessories?

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *