Best Dive Compass for Scuba Diving (Reviews of 2020)

As a scuba diver, finding your way underwater may be difficult without the aid of the best dive compass. Unlike our physical environments, there are no reference objects like trees, mountains, or buildings underwater to help us get our bearings right. It is a different world where there is nothing concrete in view to refer to. This is why scuba diving compasses are important.

Dive compass is the perfect instrument to help us keep track of our bearings and to avoid getting lost underwater.

The ideal scuba dive compass is designed to make divers diving experience safe and enjoyable. In this article, we will present you with ten of the best diving compasses valuable to your diving experience. Their designs, sizes, visibility properties, and user reviews are some factors considered.

Top 10 Best Dive Compass Reviews:

1. Suunto SK-8 Scuba Diving Compass

The Suunto SK-8 is the most efficient of the Suunto SK series. Made in Finland, this device is built with a much-upgraded magnet, compared to its SK predecessors as well as several other regular compasses.

As a result, both its Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere models are more far-reaching than most regular compasses. They can be used over a wider area of the globe. It is no surprise that the SK-8 is reputed to be the most popular of all dive compasses in the world. It is an apt choice for professionals or traveling divers.

It appears that Suunto SK-8 is designed to stretch the standard of dive compasses. At +/- 30 degrees, it features a way more advanced tilt potential than that of conventional compasses around the globe. This makes it a highly reliable tool to help you navigate your way underwater in all kinds of diving conditions.

Given its highly sophisticated design, it has been proven to deliver faster stabilization underwater.The fact that it is liquid-filled makes it very quick and highly responsive in all conditions. Besides this, it is also suitable for sub-zero temperatures. This makes it a highly trusted companion in any condition underwater, especially in cases of emergency.  

The Suunto SK-8 compass features a phosphorescent compass card which makes it easy to read in low visibility conditions. Its numerals are also boldly written to ensure perfect readability and excellent navigation. It also features a firmly attached rotating bezel which helps to keep it free from dirt and to allow it to turn in all conditions.

The bezel also has compass markings in 30-degree increments, as well as indicator marks for every 5 degrees. The device also features a large and highly-illuminated side-reading window which also ensures simple, accurate, and comfortable navigation.

Another huge highlight of the Suunto SK-8 is the fact that it is available in three models – wrist mount, add-on-back, and add-on-end. This gives divers the liberty to choose the mounting option in which they prefer the device. Now, on the downside, while the SK-8 is a highly functional device, it isn’t necessarily an ideal option for divers who consider aesthetics.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Matchless tilt potential
  • Balanced for both Northern and Southern hemispheres and capable of wide usability.
  • Phosphorescent compass card that ensures high readability in low-light conditions
  • Firmly attached rotating bezel which turns in all conditions and keeps it dirt-free
  • Available in three different models with varying mount options.

2. XS Scuba Retractable SuperTilt Compass

This retractable dive compass is just ideal for anyone who is a fan of portable devices. It is quite small but equipped with a hugeand luminous interior that makesit very visible underwater and in low vision conditions. This makes it rank among the list of the most visible underwater compasses you can find anywhere.

Now, aside from its impressive visibility, it also comes with a super tilt range, just as its name suggests. This makes it easy for hitch-free navigation even while it is notbeing used in a completely flat position. It can operate just fine in high tilt angles (this isn’t a very common feature with most underwater compasses). This means divers can be confident to get the best direction from the unit in virtually every position comfortable while they are swimming underwater. It also comes with just enough compass markings that make it a lot easy to read by the average user.

Aside from its impressive visibility and tilt range, another catchy feature of this device is the fact that it is built to aid comfort. The very fact that it is a retractable dive compass makes it an ideal alternative, compared to a regular dive wrist compass. It comes equipped with anXS Scuba CL16 retractor, an in-built quick-release buckle, and a stainless steel cord extension with a pull force of 9 ounces.

The retractor ensures that it is always firmly attached to the clip when released. This helps to avoid any sort of dangling or looseness which may cause discomfort. It also offers multiple clip options; it can be attached to a diver with either a snap hook or a split ring. With its clipping options, divers can easily clip its retractor end to any D-ring on their BCD, while being able to reach for it anytime.

To aid comfortable and trouble-free navigation, the XS Scuba retractable compass also features a side view window. This makes room for simpler and more direct navigation, especially while setting the lumber line. In summary, it is one of the best bets for divers who prefer to retractor-mount their scuba dive compass, instead of wrist-mounted options. However, it is not an option at all for divers who prefer wrist-mounted compasses.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Has sufficient compass markings which make it easy to read
  • Has a luminous interior which makes it visible in low vision conditions.
  • Comes with a retractor, quick-release buckle, and a steel cord extension.
  • Really impressive tilt range
  • Multiple clip options.

3. Oceanic Wrist Mount Dive Compass

The Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass is a top choice for divers who prefer wrist-mounted compasses to other mounting alternatives. It comes with long, sturdy, but elastic scuba compass wrist mount (strap) which can be stretched to suit your wrist, irrespective of size. This makes it comfortable, easy to put on, and firm enough to hang solidly on the wrist. Besides, this also means it is a perfect fit for all wrist sizes.

Divers can comfortably wear it on their wrists without having to adjust or re-adjust it over and over again. It is also very light-weight, thus putting less pressure on the diver.

Besides the comfort of its wrist straps, Oceanic Wrist Compass is also built to ensure enormous visibility and readability in any condition. First, it has quite an enormous face which makes room for large bezel face, very visible lubber line, and easy-to-read compass markings. It also features a stupendously bright luminescent floating card which makes it visible irrespective of how hostile the visibility conditions are underwater.

All you need do is to expose it to some light just before using it in any low visibility condition. If properly “charged,” it can stay illuminated for several minutes. You can charge it by simply exposing it to your torch for around 30 to 40 seconds. This should be enough to keep it illuminated for a long time – arguably seven longer faster than other regular alternatives. This feature is particularly vital if you are considering night diving.

With its smooth movement and quick response design, the Oceanic Wrist Mount compass is a highly reliable tool for emergencies.Compared to lots of other scuba diving compasses, its card is less finicky and can work just smoothly in several positions. It also comes with a side-view window, which serves as a veritable reading alternative, particularly in situations where it’s difficult to use the top view.

In summary, Oceanic Wrist Mount compass is built to be worn comfortably and to be visible even in the darkest nights. It is a reliable tool for effective navigation even in unfavorable conditions.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Comes with a luminescent floating card that absorbs light and gets illuminated about seven times faster and longer than regular scuba dive compasses.
  • Large ratcheting bezel
  • Clear compass markings and visible lubber line.
  • Comes with top and side views.
  • Highly comfortable wrist straps.

4. Aqua Lung Compass Module for the Northern Hemisphere

The Aqua Long Compass Module is a top choice for divers who prefer compasses they can install into their instrument consoles. It ranks among the best console-mount scuba diving compasses you can find anywhere.

Unlike several other console-mount compasses, it is built to fit into any underwater instrument console. This gives you less reason to worry about losing it in the ocean. It is also a highly preferable option for divers who are passionate about the readability of their compasses. It features clear and solidly-written numbers that can be easily read from any reasonable distance. Besides, its fluorescent markings also help make it usable in even low-light conditions.

Another very attractive feature of the Aqua Lung Compass Module is the fact that it is comfortably lightweight. This means it puts less pressure on the instrument console, helping for the diver’s comfort underwater. Its side-view window is also large and fluorescent-marked to ensure easy and direct navigation.

Not only is it just comfortable and readable, but it is also a device to rely upon in times of emergency. It is quite fast, highly responsive, and stabilizes just fast enough to help divers make quick decisions.

The device comes with a 360-degree ratcheting bezel which aids in the navigation process. It is built to function effectively and efficiently in the most unlikely conditions. The high functionality of the device is unquestionable. However, on the downside, users have found the markings smaller than that of other compasses. Divers who are used to other compasses with larger markings may struggle to get used to it.

Another downside of the compass is that a few other compasses are much more effective for low-light navigation than it is. Also, the fact that it has no other alternative apart from its console-mounting model is another turn-off for many divers. Nevertheless, besides these slight faults, the Aqua Lung Compass Module ranks among the very best underwater compasses for scuba diving.

Key Features of the Product:

  • It fits perfectly into the instrument console.
  • Features fluorescent markings on the compass card which aids easy navigation in low-light conditions.
  • Large side-view window which aids in easy and comfortable navigation.
  • 360-degree ratcheting bezel which helps for accurate navigation
  • Very lightweight and easy to install

5. Sherwood Genesis Compass and Accessories

Sherwood Genesis Compass is a top choice for any diver who fancies a highly functional retractable dive compass. It comes with several huge features for accurate navigation. First, it features an automatic spring-loaded retractor that helps keep it firmly attached to the BCD and prevents it from sagging.

The retractor cable is made from coated and highly-powerful nylon cable, making it impressively durable.It is also easy and comfortable to pull (when required) and release (after use), thanks to its unique “auto-retract” feature.

To present divers with mounting alternatives, it comes with two mounting connector options – a clip and a keyring. Both options are equally effective in keeping the compass firmly and safely attached to the diver without the risk of having it fall off.

To ensure that divers find it easy to navigate their way underwater, Sherwood Genesis Compass is equipped with a double line lubber line. It also features a ratcheting bezel with twin heading indicators. These make for excellent readability for just any diver, irrespective of the visibility conditions in the ocean. Its luminescent dial makes this even more astounding – divers can always get the clearest direction with relative ease. It comes in a Northern hemisphere compass design.

Since it is also liquid-filled, Sherwood Genesis Compass is trusted to offer full-tilt action underwater. With its aid, you sure can always navigate your way even when it is not flatly positioned or when positioned in the most severe angle. It also comes with a side-view window, thus offering the diver top and side view options.

Besides its huge functionalities, it is also very durable, attractive, and aesthetically appealing. Given the fact that it is extremely easy to read and use, it is a highly preferable device for divers who are without much underwater navigation experience.

Divers who are not passionate about wrist or console-mounted compasses will surely find this product perfectly ideal. It comes with a one-year limited warranty. On the downside, it has been said to be quite expensive. Nevertheless, considering its functionalities, it is arguably in the rank of the most cost-effective underwater compasses there is.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Extremely strong and highly durable retractor cable.
  • Two mounting connector options: clip and keyring
  • Features double line lubber line and ratcheting bezel with twin heading indicators.
  • Liquid filled for maximum tilt potential
  • Designed and balanced for the Northern Hemisphere.
  • It comes with a one year warranty.

6. Oceanic SWIV Compass Module

The Oceanic SWIV compass is a rare composite of top-notch functionalities, convenient and simple design. One of the key highlights of the product is its proprietary design which ensures very quick responsiveness and fluid movement. This helps a diver avoid vertigo or frustration while underwater. Its extremely rugged design makes it just ideal for tough and seemingly-unfavorable conditions.

The high readability of this device is another noteworthy feature. It comes with a few distinct characteristics that make this possible. These areits high visibility lubber lineand its reciprocal and direct index points. Coupled with these is the device’s OceanGlo luminescent floating card, which absorbs light and shines seven times faster and longer than other alternatives. These ensure that the compass is bright enough for use even in the darkest atmospheres.

A less than a minute exposure to a dive light or torch should be sufficient enough to keep it glowing for several minutes. The device’s large ratcheting bezel as well as its bold and clearly-written numbers also play considerable roles in its visibility. Its side-view window also comfortably reflects the same clarity and readability as its top view.

The Oceanic SWIV compass is also very light-weight and is always comfortable to carry with you when diving underwater. Another huge advantage of the device is the fact that it gives divers a range of mounting options. You can either put it in a console, mount it with a scuba compass wrist mount, or make use of retractor mount. Any of the alternatives should be just good enough for, at least, average efficiency.

While the Ocean SWIV compass is reputed for its efficient design, high readability, self-luminous card, but it has also been trailed by a few downsides. Compared to several other underwater compasses, it doesn’t stay firmly attached to its boot. Another serious downturn is the fact that it has a very low tilt potential or tolerance. It needs to be positioned flatly so as not to get stuck, and to provide accurate navigation information. 

Key Features of the Product:

  • It comes in a proprietary design that ensures very quick responsiveness and fluid movement.
  • Self-luminous materials like high visibility lubber line and an OceanGlo luminescent floating card which ensures very high nigh-reading potential.
  • Large ratcheting bezel for easier navigation.
  • Bold and clearly-written numbers to enhance readability.
  • Top and side reading

7. Oceanic Side Scan Compass Module w/Clip Mount

The Oceanic brand is reputed for manufacturing some of the most popular dive equipment in the world; this includes some of the best scuba compasses. Now, the Oceanic Side Scan compass module is surely one of their top products.

The product is equipped with key features to ensure hitch-free navigation. Just as with other Oceanic underwater compasses, it features the OceanGlo luminescent floating card. This makes it a highly preferred device for night diving or excellent navigations during moments of limited visibility.

Also, bear in mind that the OceanGlo floating card absorbs light and shines seven times faster and longer than regular floating cards. This means the device can glow for several minutes after only a brief exposure to a flashlight.

Not only does this device come with a self-luminous card, but it with other features which enhance its overall readability. Its high visibility lubber line ensures that the diver can keep track of all indications. Also, its large bezel face features compass headings in 30-degree additions, with indicator marks at every 10-degree.This helps to further enhance its readability. Its proprietary design (which is peculiar to most Oceanic compasses) is also a very attractive feature of this device. This ensures quick response and movement underwater.

The size and weight of this device is also another attractive feature. At just 0.09 pounds, it is a comfortable choice to opt for, if you are particular about just moderate weight. It is also medium-sized; it isn’t bulky by any standard at all. It is just the apt choice for buyers who are looking for average-weighted and medium-sized (neither too big nor small) compasses. In summary, it is one of the most reliable retractable dive compasses you can find anywhere.

Despite the device’s accuracy, top-notch readability, responsiveness, etc., users have found a few faults with it. Many users have complained about the unreliability of its tilt range or potential. It is likely to get stuck when positioned at extreme angles. A few users have also complained about its tendency to get broken easily. Hence, it has to always be handled with some care.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Self-luminous OceanGlo luminescent floating card for quality long night reading and charges seven-time faster than other cards.
  • Proprietary design for smooth/quick response and movement.
  • High visibility lubber line and large bezel face with compass headings in 30-degree additions.
  • A lightweight and moderate-sized compass
  • Side view windows for side reading

8. XS Scuba Highland Bungee Mount Compass

If you aren’t a fan of the conventional mounting options like a retractor, wrist mount, orconsole, then this product is just apt for you. The XS Scuba Highland compass was manufactured by the XS Scuba brand in Italy.

The fact that it is a bungee mount compass makes it perfectly suitable for divers who want to try something new or want something unconventional. Besides, its total simplicity makes it a very direct and less-complex option. It can be mounted with either two separate loops or one continuous loop. The device comes with a 30-inch (76 cm) long 4 mm thick bungee cord, long enough for fitting mounting and effective underwater use.

Just as you’d expect of any top-notch compass, this product features a self-luminous luminescent face which helps it glow even at night. It also features a side-view window, which is also self-luminous, giving divers a top and side view options to choose from. Its markings are clearly and boldly written to enhance easy reading. Its large ratcheting bezel also projects headings written in 30-degree numbered additions, for clearer and easier navigation. Its top-notch accuracy is another notable feature of the device. The device is calibrated for the northern hemisphere.

At just 0.02 pounds, XS Scuba Highland Compass is one of the most preferred options for divers who are careful about excessive weight. Given the fact that it is a bungee mount compass, it is a highly preferred choice for divers who crave a light portable compass. After use, it can be easily kept in your pocket. It also comes at a very reasonable and budget-friendly price.

In summary, this device is a composite of unique bungee mount features, lightweight, high readability, accuracy, and portability. However, it has been trailed by a few downsides, as have been observed by several users. Due to its poor tilt potential, it tends to get stuck sometimes, especially when positioned at extreme angles. It is also not as strong as several other compasses.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Bungee mount compass -- comes with a 30-inch (76 cm) long 4 mm thick bungee cord for easy and effective mounting.
  • Extremely light and portable.
  • A self-luminous and luminescent face which helps for easy night reading.
  • Large ratcheting bezel for hitch-free navigation.
  • Side-view windows
  • Relatively affordable

9. Scubapro FS-2 Wrist Mount Compass

Going by its features, the Scubapro FS-2 compass is easily one of the very best dive compasses you can find anywhere. Interestingly, it is not solely confined to the wrist mount model.

A retractor mount model of the same device is also available. This and a few other astounding features make it one of the most popular compasses of recent times. It is built to enhance a comfortable navigation experience.

A very notable highlight about the Scubapro FS-2 compass is the fact that it is equipped with some of the most sophisticated compass technologies. Thanks to its floating magnet technology, it features a matchless operating freedom angle that puts it ahead of several other conventional compasses.

Given this, it can work for both Northern and Southern Hemispheres (regular compasses are only calibrated for either of the two). This makes it the ideal compass for professionals or divers who may be likely to carry out their diving adventures over a wider area of the globe.

The device comes with a highly impressive tilt potential of up to 35 degrees. Hence, it doesn’t necessarily have to be flatly positioned for effective navigation. The compass’ ratcheting bezel has a rotating potential of 360 degrees. The bezel is easy to operate and can be easily twisted even with thick gloves. It also features compass headings in numbered increments of 30 degrees, with indicators for every 10 degrees in-between.

The compass is also a top choice for divers who are particular about aesthetics. It is attractively designed with long unique dials and an interestingly-shaped bezel. It also comes with a scratch-resistant and durable oil-filled polycarbonate case that ensures it stays clear and radiant.

To ensure clear reference in low-light conditions, its dials are highly luminous. Its side-view window also features this luminescent display with large and clear bearing indicators. Amazingly, the product comes with a 12 months limited warranty.

On the downside, the product is a little bit too pricey, and may not be affordable for many divers. Also, the figures/numbers on the card are not exactly large enough and can be difficult for some to read.

Key features of the Product:

  • Calibrated for both Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
  • Stupendous tilt potential of up to 35 degrees
  • Scratch-resistant and durable oil-filled polycarbonate case
  • Highly Luminous dial for readability in low-light conditions.
  • 12 months limited warranty by manufacturers

10. Scuba Choice Diving Dive Compass with Retractor

The Scuba Choice Diving Dive Compass is another fairly-priced retractable mount compass. It comes with a few very unique key features that distinguish it from the pack. One very notable feature is the fact that it comes with a retractor attached to its side. Also, interestingly, it comes with two clips. This means, while one is being used to attach the compass to the diver’s BCD, the other can be used to hold something else.

For instance, you can attach your dive flashlight to the other clip, while the compass is attached to your BCD. When retracted, the device can extend by an extra 24.5 inches and would fasten immediately back to position when released.

To ensure easyreference, at 2.5 inches, the compass diameter is large enough. Its figures and readings are also clearly projected. Furthermore, it also comes with a double line lubber line which ensures that divers find it easy to read it and navigate their way underwater. To cap this up, it is built to be constantly self-luminous; it glows in the dark. This makes it another ideal compass for night diving.

Another addition to this device’s easy-to-use navigation features is the fact that its dial rotates at 5-degree increments. It also comes with a side-view window as an extra option to its top-view. Amazingly, despite its unique features, it comes at a fair price. It also comes with a 30-day warranty against all manufacturer defects. Hence, a user can have the product freely repaired or replaced by the manufacturer, if the compass turns out defective within 30 days of purchase.

Despite its unique quality, the Scuba Choice Diving Dive Compass is not without a few downsides. First, the clips are not particularly strong. They can easily get damaged and broken when exposed to some level of pressure. Poor tilt potential is another challenge that users have had with it. It may be impossible to get an accurate bearing from the compass when it isn’t flatly positioned. Also, its side-view window is a little too small and not properly positioned for perfect visibility.

Key Features of the Product:

  • Comes with a retractor and two clips attached to it.
  • Double line lubber line to aid in accurate and hitch-free navigation.
  • It glows in the dark and is suitable for night diving.
  • Comes with a 30-day warranty against all manufacturer defect
  • It can extend by 24.5 inches when pulled from BCD.

Dive Compass Buying Guide

Even though scuba dive compasses are important to our diving adventures, getting the wrong one may turn-out counterproductive. An easy and hitch-free underwater navigation may be impossible if you aren’t making use of any compass with certain key specifications and features.

This is why it is of utmost importance to consider a few key details before going ahead to make a purchase. Here are some of the most important factors to consider before buying your choice scuba dive compass:

The Dive Compass’ Brand

If you care about purchasing a durable and reliable compass, the brand plays a fundamental role. Brands like XS Scuba, Oceanic, Scubapro, Suunto, etc. are reputed for manufacturing some of the most reliable scuba compasses. Hence, before buying a compass, it may be very vital to ascertain if its manufacturers have a track record of other reliable products.

Location or Balance Zones of the Dive Compass

It is important to note that compasses are built to function within certain areas of the globe. Most compasses are calibrated to function accurately in either the Northern hemisphere or the Southern hemisphere. This is why it is important to only buy a compass that is balanced for the zone you are diving in. However, this begins with finding out what zone you are in.

Size of the Dive Compass

The size of a compass may be really important for a few reasons. First, to some extent, it determines the compass’ readability. A small compasstends to have a small face, bezel, dials, and numbers written on it. However, these tend to appear bigger and clearer in larger compasses. Hence, larger compasses may be more preferable for divers with poorer vision.

A compass size may also be determined by the individual diver’s wrist size (for wrist-mounted compasses). If you have a really large wrist, going for a smaller wrist-mounted compass may just not be ideal. Similarly, if you have small wrists, your best bet is a small compass.

Suitability for Night Diving

Of course, if you are likely to engage in night diving, it is just apt to go for a dive compass that is built to enhance night readability. The ideal compass for night diving is one which either features a luminescent floating card or with markings and numbers are made from self-luminous materials. Most self-luminous compasses may require you to “charge” them by simply exposing it to your diving flashlight.

Dive Compass’ Tilt Potential

This is one of the most important features you can get from a compass. The ideal compass should feature a tilt potential of +/- 30 degrees. A high tilt potential ensures that your compass card spins freely, helping you navigate your way, without you having to always position it flatly.

Dive Compass’ Mounting Options

It is very important to consider what mounting option is most effective or convenient for you. While some divers prefer retractor-mount compasses, others are most-comfortable with wrist-mount options. Nevertheless, what is important is for you to go for an option that ismost-convenient for you. Few variations you can choose from include console-mounted compasses, retractor-mounted compasses, slate/board-mounted compasses, bungee-mounted compasses, and gauge-mounted compasses.

Analog Dive Compass vs. Digital Dive Compass

Analog dive compasses are manual clock-like and stand-alone compasses which have balance zones and require no battery. They represent the conventional concept of a compass. With the aid of features like bezel, lubber line, North arrow, the regular analog compass is a much easier tool for navigation. The fact that they require no battery, and can be conveniently mounted in different ways is a key reason why many people prefer them.

The regular digital scuba compassis usually integrated into dive computers. An amazing fact about these compasses is that, unlike analog compasses, they do not have balance zones. They can be calibrated to function effectively for just any zone, thanks to their user calibration feature. A diver only has to calibrate it in the region where it is intended to be used. A change in the region may only necessitate a recalibration for the new region.

While a digital dive compass may be suitable for all Northern and Southern hemispheres, analog compasses are much more preferred for their accuracy and simplicity.

The Best Dive Compass: Final Verdict

Considering its matchless features and its general user-friendliness, our top pick is the Scubapro FS-2 Wrist Mount Compass. First, the fact that it comes in two different models with different mounting options (wrist-mount and retractor-mount) opens it up for more divers. Its universality is even further proven with its balancing for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres! This simply means, irrespective of where a diver is located, the compass can work just accurately!

The Scubapro FS-2 Wrist Mount Compass is also attractively designed to aesthetically suit the regular diver. The fact that it comes in a scratch-resistant face means it can maintain its smooth face for a long time. Its large bearing indicators coupled with its luminescent display make it the ideal readable device for the regular diver. Its high tilt potential and top-notch accuracy are some of the most-wanted compass features. To cap these up, it comes with a 12-month manufacturer warranty! These make the device an all-round excellent device for the regular scuba diver.

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