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While modern technology allows us to the ability to navigate just about anywhere with the power of a cell phone, that technology depends on the availability of a wireless network, which is not always possible if you are in a rural area. On top of that, rural areas are not always as well-marked as urban ones.
A car compass can be a great way to rectify that problem so you can hit the road to anywhere feeling prepared and confident in your navigation.
You may think there’s not much to a car compass, but there is a wide variety of features and prices that can leave you feeling a little lost. However, we’re here to help guide you on your way with our list of the best car compasses currently on the market. So, let’s go through them and find the perfect one for you…
- Top 8 Best Car Compasses In 2021 Reviews
- 1 Ritchie Navigation Explorer Compass
- 2 Compass, Surface Mount, 2.75inch Dial
- 3 Universal Vehicle Smart Hud Display
- 4 Ritchie S-53 Explorer
- 5 Acecar Upgrade T800 Universal Car Hud Head Up Display Digital Gps Speedometer
- 6 B-81 Ritchie Navigation Voyager Compass 3-Inch Dial With Bracket Mount
- 7 Pyle Universal 3.5inch Car Hud
- 8 Compass, Flush Mount, 3.75inch Dial
- Best Car Compass Buyer’s Guide
- So, What Are The Best Car Compasses?
Top 8 Best Car Compasses In 2021 Reviews
If you are a fan of simplicity, then you may want to consider the first compass on our list. The Ritchie Navigation Explorer compass is small, lightweight, and easy to use.
It features a bracket mount that allows you to mount it at the perfect angle for viewing whether you have it on your car’s dashboard or on a boat. The display itself is set-up as a dial that gives you a wide view of the direction you are going and where you are trying to go.
This Ritchie compass is designed to operate normally within its environment without bottoming out due to the motion or pitch of your vehicle or boat. An internal gimbaling system keeps the dial on its axis so no matter how rough of a road or sea, you can be sure you are getting an accurate reading.
This compass uses special High Gauss Magnets that are field balanced and made specifically for this compass design. They are attached to the underside of the dial in pairs that are matched to find magnetic north. This further ensures its accuracy and a quick response time.
The best part?
All Ritchie compasses are completely repairable and backed by Ritchie’s 5-year warranty. So no matter where you go on your journey, Ritchie has you covered.
- Bracket mounted.
- Direct-read dial.
- 12V green night lighting.
- Electronics nearby can cause deviation.
- A bit small.
2 Compass, Surface Mount, 2.75inch Dial
Next up on our list of the best car compasses is another compact and discreet design from the pros at Ritchie.
The Ritchie Surface Mount Compass is designed to mount directly to any surface, whether it be a dashboard of a car or the deck of a boat. With a 2.75 inch direct-reading display, you’ll be able to clearly see which direction you are headed no matter where you place it. Just press the knobs on either side of the mount and the display will pop off for safe and easy storage.
This compass uses a Hardened Steel Pivot and Triple Cup Sapphire Jewel Movement. They are matched to provide smooth dial operation and fast lock-on, no matter what conditions you are traveling in. There are no cheap, plastic parts in this compass.
Hitting tough terrain or rough seas? Don’t sweat it…
It also comes with built-in compensators. These compensators are non-interactive magnets that are balanced and optimally spaced for accurate correction in vehicles where deviation could potentially be an issue. You won’t have to worry about how to calibrate it either as instructions are included.
Of course, all Ritchie compasses come with a 5-year warranty and are 100% repairable. So you can mount it on and endure any elements by land and sea without a care.
- 5-year warranty.
- Hardened steel pivot.
- Built-in compensators.
- Surface mounted.
- Can be difficult to calibrate.
- Small size makes it hard to read.
3 Universal Vehicle Smart Hud Display
We live in a digital age, so why not go for a compass with a little more modern flair? The Pyle Digital Mini Car Dashboard has all that and more!
Versatile and informative…
Featuring a 2.6 inch LCD display, this device has a user-friendly control interface that not only shows direction but also speed, local time, trip time, voltage and more. Your personal co-pilot situated right atop your dashboard or bow.
The Vehicle Smart heads-up display can be set-up hassle-free. Simply mount it near the dashboard and plug in via the cigarette lighter and you are up and running when you start up the car. The mount itself is designed to be universal as well. No matter what train, plane, or automobile you choose for your adventure, this display is along for the ride.
You’ve heard of the smartphone, now get ready for the smart compass…
The compass itself is powered by GPS technology which guarantees a smooth and accurate reading no matter what. It goes beyond a traditional compass by proving driving directions when prompted. This device can truly take you anywhere.
The Pyle Smart HUD Display boasts a dual-core processor that provides real time driving data when you need it. The device will also alert you when you are speeding or when you reach 150 MPH, which is the default setting.
- Dual-core processor.
- Universal mount.
- Brightness adjustable.
- Requires power to operate.
4 Ritchie S-53 Explorer
Flashy tools aren’t for everyone. There is nothing wrong with a little simplicity if you are not tech savvy or you lack the space for something more complicated. If this rings true for you, then look no further than the S-53 explorer compass from the navigation experts at Ritchie.
This compass is manufactured with built-in compensators that are intended to maintain proper navigation regardless of the surface you are traveling on. With a portable sun shield as well as a 12-volt green nightlight, you are guaranteed accurate and readable directions at any point of the day.
Superb for slopes…
This device also rotates vertically which allows it to function up or downhill, giving you accuracy no matter the gradient you are climbing or descending. Plus with this compass being about the size of a softball, you can pretty much mount it anywhere and get going.
Its small size and weight coupled with accuracy and readability make it one of the best car compasses you can buy. Throw on Ritchie’s 5-year warranty and you are not left with many reasons not to equip yourself with this compass.
- Compact and low-profile.
- 5-year warranty.
- Quick-button push removal.
- Requires a power source for lighting.
- Users report difficulty with customer service.
5 Acecar Upgrade T800 Universal Car Hud Head Up Display Digital Gps Speedometer
Maybe you are someone who takes your road trips and navigation seriously while wanting to maintain accuracy. If so, then our next best car compass might be the one for you.
The ACECAR T800 is a high tech and multifaceted device providing you all the features you could ever need in a sleek, heads-up display. The 4.3 inch LCD screen and shows you certain information about your vehicle or environment without the danger of looking down at your dashboard.
It is also resistant to high and low temperatures, so you know it will function as you navigate through the desert or high in the snowy mountains.
Everything you need to know…
This device is designed to keep you informed not only of the direction you are going, but also your exact location by latitude and longitude as well as your current speed with the power of GPS technology. A built-in altimeter gives you an accurate reading of your current altitude if your journey is taking you higher up.
The ACECAR T800 is compatible with all vehicles, so if you need to take it from land to sea, you can do it with ease. Installation is a breeze, all you need to do is plug in the cigarette lighter connection and connect the USB to the HUD and you are ready to hit the road.
But how can you be sure this is right for you?
ACECAR offers a 12 month period for returns and refunds with absolutely no questions asked. So if this device does not meet your expectations for any reason, broken or not, you can send it back and be fully reimbursed.
- 4.3-inch display.
- Universal compatibility.
- Easy installation.
- GPS enabled.
- 12-month money back guarantee.
- Requires a power source.
Yes, you read that right, here is another Ritchie compass to accompany the others. But if you think this one is just like the others, you’d be wrong.
The B-81 Ritchie features a larger 3-inch display with an internal 12V green nightlight. This drastically improves visibility relative to the other Ritchie compasses on our list. But keep in mind that a bigger display also means more room taken up on your dash or bow.
Exactly where you want it…
This compass is bracket mounted which means you can easily mount and dismount it from the bracket. It also means that you can position it directly into your line of vision instead of having to get up and read it from above.
Like the other Ritchie products on our list, this uses a self-calibrating system that consistently points north. So even if your car or boat is shaking, turning or rolling, the compass will stay accurately oriented. The internal magnets used are highly sensitive, making even the slightest shift register.
But here’s what really sets it apart is Ritchies 5-year limited warranty. No matter where you take it and what it endures, you can have it repaired and returned in that time frame.
- Large display.
- Bracket mounted.
- 5-year warranty.
- Electronic device may interfere with magnets.
7 Pyle Universal 3.5inch Car Hud
If none of the compasses on our list so far are quite what you’re looking for, then take a look at this next one for something a little different.
The Pyle Universal 3.5 inch Car HUD provides all the essential driving data like speed and direction on its screen as well as projected in a full-color display right onto the windshield in front of you. This allows you to stay informed and in control without ever taking your eyes off the road.
Day or night…
The 3.5-inch multi-color digital LED display comes with integrated light sensors for automatic image balance for clear readout and visibility during daytime or nighttime driving. Installation is also hassle-free, simply plug in to a cigarette lighter and you can be on your way.
This device was made for convenience. The Head-Up Display auto powers on/off when you start or shutdown the vehicle, so there’s no need for extra steps. You can also easily switch between KPH or MPH speed units if needed. This device also features a speed alarm, taking your safety to the next level.
With a built-in Dual Core processing chip, this device provides you with reliable real-time data received via GPS which ensures pinpoint accuracy of your speed and direction.
- Windshield projection.
- Speed sensor.
- Dual-core processor.
- GPS enabled.
- Power source required for functionality.
8 Compass, Flush Mount, 3.75inch Dial
Last but not least on our list of the best car compasses is (you guessed it) another compass from Ritchie. However, this compass is unlike any other.
Specifically, the readability of the text sets it apart from the rest. The display text is bright white and is set upon a blue dial. This contrast makes the dial visible from afar. Beyond that, the compass is tilted at an angle, so you don’t need to look at it from above to get a reading.
Superb for night time use…
The Ritchie Navigation Compass also comes with an internal night light. This means that the internal globe of the compass lights up with a neon green light. This further increases the visibility of the compass when operating during the night.
As we have already stated, Ritchie has an excellent calibrating system. This compass features High Gauss magnets that automatically orient themselves towards the geographical north. They are highly sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field. But again, keep this in mind when placing it next to any magnetic devices that could interfere with the accuracy.
But what’s the real story?
Keep in mind that this compass may not give as accurate readings as others because the compensators used aren’t perfect. This means that slight deviations can occur. But, the deviations are usually minor and won’t throw you completely off course.
- Large display.
- Night lighting.
- Highly visibly text and dome.
- Electronic devices may cause deviations
Best Car Compass Buyer’s Guide
Now that you are ready to set off on your next navigational challenge, it’s time to get hold of the best car compass for your needs. We have offered you many options on our list, but it can be difficult figuring what really goes into making the ideal compass.
No two drivers or captains have the same needs when it comes to navigation, which is why we have put together this handy buyers guide to help you make the most informed decision.
Type Of Compass (Hud Or Traditional)
There are two types of compasses: traditional and digital. Traditional compasses are pretty straightforward and are perfect for the person who simply needs to have an accurate reading of the direction their heading.
Digital compasses come in the form of a Head-Up Display (HUD). These digital displays show you driving data such as mileage, time, direction, and even a speedometer. Sometimes they can come equipped with GPS technology. These are great options for people looking for a modern flare to their device.
Many compasses come with mounting brackets that, while others do not. These allow you to mount the compass directly to the dashboard. It’s important to purchase a compass that has one so that you can have your compass in a solid position.
HUDs usually only require you to plug the cable into the cigarette lighter and mount it wherever you wish. Because of this, most HUDs have universal compatibility with any vehicle that has a cigarette lighter. Some traditional compasses can be found with a universal bracket. But those usually require tough installation. That said, a HUD is much easier to mount and use.
Traditional compasses are fairly superior when it comes to calibration. These compasses use magnets to keep the needle always pointing to the geographic north. Since they don’t require electricity to operate, they calibrate immediately.
When it comes to a HUD, it will take more time, usually a few minutes, to set properly. The problem with that is that you don’t even know when the compass is calibrating. So you’ll have to wait a little while before setting off.
Traditional compasses tend to improve visibility by increasing the contrast between the dial and the markings. Beyond that, many traditional compasses come equipped with night lighting that can improve visibility when driving at night.
HUDs are automatically more visible because they usually come equipped with an LCD display that allows you to adjust the brightness. The display is also much larger than a traditional compass. However, the HUDs depend on electricity to function, so if your vehicle or boat does not have a cigarette lighter, you’d be better off going traditional.
As we mentioned before, a lot of traditional compasses feature night lighting. Night lighting is the best for drivers that drive at night. But it is especially useful for boats because, in a boat, electricity is not always reliable.
Of course, a HUD uses LCD backlighting to create the same feature but it is not always dependable. You will need to figure out when and where you will be using the device before deciding on night lighting.