Best Beginner Compass Under $50 [COMPARED]



best beginner compass

What Is The Best Beginner Compass Under $50?

The best beginner compass under $50 is the Silva Ranger 2.0. The Silva brand is impressive in navigation folklore. They manufacture quality precision baseplate models, and they manage to keep the price relatively inexpensive at the same time.

We judged two baseplate compasses that we consider to be the best beginner compass under $50. We chose the Silva Ranger 2.0 baseplate compass model against the Suunto M-3 baseplate compass model. We even talk about the TurnOnSport baseplate compass model, a cheaper compass model that’s actually under $10.

Although the Silva Ranger 2.0 and the Suunto M-3 models could be considered the best beginner compass for under $50, we prefer the Silva Ranger 2.0. Feature for feature, you can count on the Silva Ranger 2.0 to be the best beginner compass under $50.

Silva Ranger 2.0 Advanced Compass with Mirror, Slope Card, and Distance Lanyard, Orange
  • DryFlex Rubber grip for easy handling of the compass/great grip
  • Built in adjuster for magnetic declination based on location
  • Mirror sighting with sighting hole for determining direction over long distances
  • Slope card for measuring slope and extra distance
  • Magnifying lens for precision map work
SUUNTO M-3 NH Compass, Advanced Features for Navigation, Luminecent Markings for Use in Low Light
  • Adventure Compass: The M-3 compass is a premium quality precision compass for convenient direction taking in demanding conditions; The M-3 is a hardy baseplate compass ready for the challenge
  • Precise And Reliable: The M-3 Global features a globally balanced needle, adjustable declination, scales in metric and imperial, luminescent markings for low light use, and a magnifying lens on a transparent baseplate for easy use with maps
  • Stay On Course: Made in Finland, Suunto mechanical compasses help you safely and accurately navigate the great outdoors; Great for Alpine skiing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, trail running and more
  • Pioneering Exploration: Combining advanced engineering and thoughtful design with ultra durable materials, our adventure ready compasses are fast, stable, and simple to use; No batteries required
  • Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products

Keep reading to see why we chose the Silva Ranger 2.0 over the Suunto M-3. We also give our reasoning on why you might actually try the under $10 TurnOnSport baseplate compass model. 

We know navigation, and we’re going to let you in on a bit of a secret. Join us and learn more.

Silva Ranger 2.0
Silva Ranger 2.0 Baseplate Compass Model

What Makes A Good Beginner Compass?

Obviously, any product for a beginner should be quick to learn, easy to use, and can be used in the future, even when you’re at an intermediate level.

The Silva and Suunto brands are made precisely, but they’re perfect and inexpensive for a beginning navigator. These are products that you can begin and possibly end with for beginner to intermediate levels.

These two brands have been made for orienteering, hiking, and just clunking around. You can depend on either of these two brands to safely get you out of the woods, even as a beginner.

Both Silva and Suunto brands are straightforward to learn. Each brand offers a baseplate model with every expected feature just perfect for beginners. It’s best to start with a baseplate model compass because they’re practical and less confusing.

Both brands offer standard features to every compass, including rulers, a magnifying lens, and a precision, North direction needle floating effortlessly on a liquid cloud. It’s very poetic, but it makes a point that these brands offer the quality and features you’ll need for primary navigation or serious performance navigation sport.

You can use the Silva 1-2-3 system on both of these compasses, which makes navigation a simple affair. The Silva 1-2-3 system is actually straightforward to visualize and follow for any compass. Learn to navigate with either Fred in the Shed or Silva 1-2-3 system.

Suunto M-3 Baseplate Compass Model

Does A Compass Price Affect Quality?

Yes! A compass price does affect quality. The slightly more expensive compass models are way better in quality and in application than cheaper models. 

In buying a compass today, you can find different prices on compasses ranging from $10 to $100. Most good beginner models are around $40-$50, but the $10 models seem to fit the bill as well.

But, just because a compass is expensive and has been perfected for years doesn’t mean the new, cheaper compasses aren’t worth looking at.

Typically, you want a compass to last season after season, so buying the best seems only fitting. If you’re out in the woods, you want to bring out your old faithful compass along to get you back safely.

But here’s something to consider, the more expensive models created by legendary brands, like Silva and Suunto, aren’t as expensive as the cheapest models from knock-off brands. So, it might be well worth it to buy the best.

A Silva Ranger 2.0 is less than $50, and a SUUNTO MC-2 Mirror Compass is a little less than that. But on the way cheaper pricing scale, the TurnOnSport sighting mirror compass and the TurnOnSport baseplate orienteering compass are less than $10. You could buy four or five cheap compasses for $10 and have a couple of extra compasses lying around for the same price as a more expensive model.

I say buy the best now, and you will grow to love the $40-$50 compass better than the $10 compass. Be your own best judge on comparing the two.

Should You Buy The Best Compass Now Or Later?

You should buy the best compass that you can afford right now. A compass is something that can save your life, and it can navigate you successfully out of a forest. In the compass world, trust great brand manufacturers like Silva or Suunto.

Not having a compass at all is even worse than having a cheap compass. If you don’t have a compass at all, then an affordable model is better than nothing. Again, get what you can afford but try to buy the best that you can afford. Don’t hold off on buying the most expensive model. Buy a cheap one and have a compass.

But because most great compass brands aren’t more than $50 for a good beginner model, there’s very little difference in the price to worry about anyways. Go ahead and get the best beginner model.

TurnOnSport Baseplate Compass Model
TurnOnSport Baseplate $10 Compass Model

Our Pick for Best Beginner Compass Under $50

The best beginner compass is the Silva Ranger 2.0 baseplate compass model, and the Suunto M-3 baseplate compass model is a very close second. I know and offer advice to friends for these two compasses. You will be happy with either of these two models.

If you want a very cheap baseplate mode, then think about the TurnOnSport baseplate compass model. This is a decent, affordable, baseplate compass with almost every feature that you find on the more expensive brands.

Here are a couple of other brands we believe you may also want to consider:

SUUNTO A-10 Compass

Silva Explorer Pro Compass

But again, because the more expensive brands are less than $50, then you might just go ahead and get the best beginner compass for orienteering, hiking, and having fun in the woods.

Check out our article Ultimate Orienteering Guide to learn more about orienteering.

Also, if you want some basic navigation training, take a look at our Outdoor Navigation Ultimate Guide to learn more about how to use a compass.

Conclusion To The Best Beginner Compass Under $50

So, we picked the Silva Ranger 2.0 baseplate compass model as the best beginner compass under $50, and it’s actually less than $50 on Amazon.

The next best beginner compass is the Suunto M-3 baseplate compass model. This compass is also less than $50 and is probably less than the Silva Ranger 2.0.

If you want a way cheap baseplate compass and don’t want to spend $50, you might look at the TurnOnSport baseplate compass model.