Let’s be honest:
It’s hard to retain a sense of direction when navigating underwater.
Apart from the absence of any landmarks, the presence of ocean currents makes you increasingly vulnerable to losing your way. Throw into the mix the reduced visibility in there, and it seems only logical that you go there prepared.
Which is why we recommend the best dive compasses for your underwater trips.
By making sure that you know where you’re going – and where you came from – these dive compasses reduce a lot of stress. So you can easily explore the ocean without having to worry about your whereabouts.
9 Best Dive Compass’
Starting with the best feature that the DGX Tech has to offer, it has an easy-to-read luminescent face to set it apart from its competitors. Whether you’re traversing the depths of an ocean or it has gone dark while you’re still underwater, this shiny face won’t let you forget your direction.
To make it a cinch to read, this model offers both the top as well as side reading options. So you won’t have to correct too much your wrist’s orientation before using this model. Then comes its low-profile bungee mount which makes sure that you could easily attach this compass to your other gear.
What’s more, since this dive compass is filled with liquid, it could withstand the extremes of pressure and temperature. Also, since it is calibrated to the northern hemisphere, you could use this model in both the hemispheres without making any adjustments.
On top of everything else, the DGX Tech compass is one of the most inexpensive models in this review. That means you won’t have to blow a hole in your pocket to land this model.
A competitively priced model which offers all the features which you normally expect in dive compasses costing twice as much, the DGX Tech Compass has everything to make it worthy of your money.
Brilliant top and side reading facility
Easy-to-read luminescent face
Calibrated to the northern hemisphere
Some complaints about it jamming at bigger depths
One of the best analog models around, the Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass is a workhorse which has all the features to provide it with a long shelf-life.
What is it that separates the Oceanic Wrist Compass from other models in this review? For starters, its proprietary design which ensures quick response as well as smooth movement. So you won’t see this model jamming even under extreme pressures.
Furthermore, in addition to its luminescence, the face of this compass has a floating card which absorbs light. Afterward, if/when it gets dark in there, it uses the energy from that light to glow up to 7times faster than it does in normal conditions.
Luckily, the fact that this model doesn’t come with an attachment allows you to mount either on a bungee or on your wrist. The presence of a clearly marked lubber line, meanwhile, helps you follow the Oceanic Wrist Mount in a straight line towards your destination.
Finally, this model has a 2’ wide bezel face which is easy to rotate and has a rubber-strap which provides just the right amount of flex to let you stretch it to complement your wrist’s size.
In addition to glowing in the dark, the Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass has a wide rotating bezel with a proprietary design which all but guarantees smooth movement. What more can you ask for!
Glows in the dark
Provides 7 times more brightness
Requires no battery
Question marks about the quality of the rubber strap
3. XS Scuba Retractable SuperTilt Compass The XS Scuba Retractable SuperTilt Compass is one of the more expensive models in this review. Luckily, as you’re going to see, this model has the features to justify its otherwise astronomical price tag.
In contrast to most other models in this review, the XS Scuba SuperTilt isn’t a one-trick pony. It has a convenient side window whose luminescent display and easy-to-read indicators provide this model with gun-sight accuracy.
Or, if you’re a diver who loves relative navigation more, the ratcheted bezel of this model allows you to rotate it easily even when you’re wearing gloves for ease of navigation. Next comes the luminous dial of the SuperTilt which makes it a cinch for you to note the compass’s direction.
To ensure a quick response, accuracy, and tilt, the dial’s extremely strong magnets and precision bearing play their part. The large vertical angle of its housing, meanwhile, gives you viewing angles which are impossible to get with most dive compasses on the market.
Lastly, this liquid-filled model has a hose mount nut which allows you to easily attach it to the retractor – which has a quick-release buckle and gives a reach of 25’’ when extended with its stainless-steel cord. You also get a lubber line for a clear sense of direction.
If you’re one of those divers who don’t take compasses for granted – and think that they are more than an accessory to your overall console system – the XS Scuba SuperTilt deserves your attention (and money).
Twin heading indicators
Extremely strong magnets
Wide variety of viewing angles
Rotating, ratchet bezel
The Sherwood Genesis Compass is a full-tilt model which offers exceptional luminescence and other top-of-the-line features to rival any model in this review. Will it suit you? Let’s find out.
In case you were wondering how this model would fare in low light conditions, two of its features should erase your doubts. First, it has an excellent tilt range which means you can tilt your wrist to abnormal angles and the needle of this model still won’t get stuck.
Secondly, it has a sensitive faceplate whose large-indicators and light-absorbing ability means you can easily read your direction. Further sweetening the deal is the carabiner which comes in this model package. You can count on it to effortlessly attach this model to your gear.
What’s more, to increase its mounting options, this model provides two mounting clips in its package – the first of which is a no-frills plastic snap clip to attach this model around your wrist. Then there is its split key wring using which you can connect this model to your gear.
Finally, apart from boasting a Northern hemisphere design, it has an adjustable ratcheting bezel and has an automatic spring-loaded retractor. You can rely on the retractor to return the compass to its original position once you’re done using it.
With its full-tilt angle allowing you to use this model even in the acutest of angles – and a spring-loaded retractor making sure its direction remains correct – there’s no reason why the Sherwood Genesis shouldn’t be a part of your diving gear.
Adjustable ratcheting bezel
Two mounting clips
While it may not belong to as famous a brand as some of the other models in this review – and certainly not as popular – the Taiwan-made Cressi Mini SPG has all the features which you might look for in a high-end diving compass.
What differentiates this model from other compasses in this review is front glass which doubles as a pressure relief valve. Provided there’s a sudden increase in pressure inside the compass, the glass will rise slightly to let the excess pressure dissipate, thereby protecting the Mini SPG.
It has a hose mount which allows you to easily read this compass in all conditions. The magnetic card of this compass, meanwhile, moves extensively to provide you with accurate reading even when you aren’t holding the compass perfectly level.
Furthermore, while the luminous face ensures visibility even in low light conditions, a Gun-Sight window allows you to keep a more promise track of your heading. The compass also has a red lubber line to ensure proper orientation and the double pointer on its ratchet bezel makes marking your heading effortless.
Lastly, to let you attach this compass to its wrist, it comes with a wide anatomical band. Throw into the mix its 24-month limited warranty, and there’s not much wrong with this model.
Even without its 24-month limited warranty, it would have taken a special mind to doubt the longevity and performance of the Cressi Mini SPG.
Gun-sight accurate window
Rotating ratchet bezel
Wide anatomical band
Huge warranty period
Side read window? Checked. High strength magnets that give a positive response? Checked. Visible lubber line? Checked. We might go on telling you that this model means business with its features, but let’s assume that you got our point. That is: this model is made for professional divers.
What is it that makes this model a must-have for professional divers? Three features, to be precise. First, by providing ridiculously minute increments of 5 degrees, it makes sure that you don’t wander away from your target more than a few inches.
Second, with its side read window, you can read the direction without having to exert much effort. Third, with its double red highly visible lubber line, you get a top-reading accuracy which most other watches in this review could only dream of.
Luckily, the impressive features of this model don’t end there. It has an abrasion resistant bezel which is capable of withstanding maximum pressure and can rotate 360 degrees as well. The fact that it has a depth rating of 80m should further increase the reputation of the bezel in your eyes.
Finally, while most other compasses in this review are designed for Northern hemisphere use, the presence of a unique card stabilization system means you can use the Phantom Aquatics only in the Southern Hemisphere.
If you want to get your hands on a serious model – and has the budget to pay for it – the Phantom Aquatics Scuba Wrist Compass gives you plenty of reasons to go for it.
5-degree compass increments
Has a side-read window
Can’t be used in Northern Hemisphere
In case you’re thinking that this model is just a modern version of the uber-famous DGX Tech Compass reviewed above, think again. While it may have borrowed some features from its predecessor, the DGX Compass has lots of new features to preserve its uniqueness.
Compare it with the DGX Tech Compass, and you’d note that while its predecessor provided only wrist mount option, this model goes one better with its hose mount capability. This model also has a depth rating of 80m to set itself apart.
Moreover, the bezel of this model can be rotated to 360-degrees to provide wide viewing angles. It also contains both the reciprocal as well as direct index points to make the bezel easy-to-read. Also provided in the package is a rubber strap using which you can mount this model on your wrist.
One area where this model has borrowed some elements of its predecessor is its face. Like the model it has succeeded, the DGX Compass provides both the face as well as side-viewing options. Its index marks are at the same 10-degree increments and the numbers have the same black color too.
Fortunately, the similarities stop right there. Where the DGX Tech had a crisscrossed strap, this model has gone for a more traditional design. And to the question as to which one provides a more secure fit, it’s our observation that it’s your preference which will determine the answer to this question.
For the price at which it is available, the DGX Compass w/Hose provides a decent value for your money. Though there are models in this review which provide a better display.
80m depth rated
Side view window
Wrist and hose mount options
The display could have been better
The Cressi Console CP2 is a unique model in a sense that despite coming at a reasonable price, it offers twice the functionality of (almost) all dive compasses in this review. How does it do that? Check out its features to find out.
First things first, the Console CP2 is a dive compass which doubles as a pressure gauge. That means that in addition to guiding you towards your target, this model will give you accurate pressure readings to let you know the depths you might have scoured.
What we found highly useful about the design of this compass is the red, green and blue color pattern of the pressure gauge – which prepares it for instant readability. Unfortunately, the dive compass still has that age-old black-and-red pattern, which might make it difficult to read.
One thing which you can’t doubt both the dials is their durability. That’s because both of them have the same chrome-plated brass casing. You can also rig its textured boot with a bungee or a clip before securing it to your BC for a streamlined under-water profile.
Built to last and incredibly useful, the Console CP2 provides you with a unique combination of a Compass and a mini SPG. And that too at a price in which you normally get only one of these gauges.
Highly readable pressure gauge
Easy-to-handle textured boot
Chrome-plated brass casing
The Scuba Max GA04 is a full-sized wrist compass which gives you all the benefits of a typical analog dive compass at half the price. Provided you’re in the mood of getting a steal, you might not want to miss out on this model.
Starting on a low note, most users might not be aware that the GA04 isn’t designed to work under the watchful eyes of the sun. Otherwise, as some users found out after spending their money, its light-absorptivity isn’t that great.
Other than that, we weren’t able to find many faults with this model. It has a luminous display which works well even in low light conditions and the presence of a white-dial background and red direction mark makes the unit easy to read.
Also, while a cursory glance on its design might suggest otherwise, this model provides a hose mount option as well. It also has a side window to provide you with some level reading and a rubber band helps get it a secure grip on your wrist.
The Scuba Max GA04 has a large face which makes reading easier. It also provides top and side reading options and won’t disappoint you with its performance unless you expose it to the sun.
Side window for level reading
Can’t be used under the sun
How to Choose a Dive Compass?
To get your hands on the best dive compass, make sure that you keep the following things in mind:
Analog Vs Digital
Digital dive compasses, in contrast to what some people might believe, do not get our recommendation. That’s because while these compasses are hard to read and hugely reliable – as they are usually integrated with a dive computer, you have to recalibrate a digital compass every time their battery dies down.
Analog devices, on the other hand, do not need a battery so there is no need for calibration. Also, since they come as standalone devices, you can mount them anywhere on your equipment. So you can use them the moment they come out of the box.
Bigger tilt tolerance
This term denotes the degree to which you can tilt the compass without getting its needle stuck. On land, since you’ll be holding the device horizontally, you won’t have to worry about its tilt tolerance. Though that isn’t the case when you’re underwater.
That is, because, when you’re underwater – you might find it difficult to gauge your exact orientation (horizontal or vertical). So you might not be able to decide whether or not your body shape has exceeded the tolerance. Therefore, we always recommend that your compass has as big tolerance as possible.
When it comes to how you can mount the device, most compasses offer three options. The first of those is the relatively straightforward option which allows you to mount the device on your wrist. The second option, meanwhile, might let you attach the device inside a console unit.
In this way, while you’re checking your direction, you’ll also be able to check your air supply and depth. Then there is the third option which lets you install the compass on a retractable mount installed on a D-ring. So you can easily wear this model on a snorkeling tour.
Best Dive Compass – FAQs
To answer all those questions which you might have in your mind while coming here, this section comes in play:
Q: What are the benefits of a diving compass?
A: There are two major reasons why any diver would need a compass. First, it tells you the direction where you’re going and where you came from.
Second, and this benefit stems from the first, a compass makes sure you don’t get lost underwater.
Q: Digital or Analog: Which option should I choose?
A: Even though the answer to this question depends upon your preferences, we recommend that you go for the analog option.
That’s because, in addition to being easy to use and inexpensive, analog dive compasses are as reliable as their digital counterparts.
Therefore, as long as you aren’t going to spend your time in a turtle tour – as that would involve you sitting on the beach all day – go for analog dive compass.
Q: How dive compasses work?
A: Without going into technicalities, a dive compass works makes sure you are aware of its direction with its free-rotating, magnetized needle.
Always pointing towards the magnetic north, the needle lets you gauge your direction w.r.t the one it is pointing towards.
Whether you’re planning to embark on snorkeling in Molokini, looking forward to swimming with dolphins in Hawaii or just want to discover what lies in the depths of the oceans, a good dive compass is a must-have.