Top 8 Best Car Compasses On The Market 2020 Reviews & Buying Guide

Don’t you just love getting directions that read something like, turn NE on 5th Street? Unfortunately, most of us cannot tell the direction we are headed without glancing at a compass. If your vehicle has such a device built-in, then you’re one lucky soul.

The best car compasses can be used in any vehicle, and help you with navigation…

When you’re in remote areas, your GPS may let you down, and your phone may not even have any signal available. In these cases, a compass can save you time, and keep you from getting utterly lost.

But with so many options available, it can be confusing trying to find the best compass for your vehicle. That’s why we have put together this list of reviews and a buying guide.

best car compasses

Top 8 Best Car Compasses On The Market 2020 Reviews


1 Ritchie Navigation Explorer Compass

The first item on our list of ideal car compasses is one of many from Ritchie Navigation. When it comes to compasses, few manufacturers produce so many options. The first that we reviewed is the Explorer Compass with a bracket mount.

Is it easy to read while driving?

Yes, this compass features a 2-¾ inch direct reading dial. This makes it easy to read, as long as you mount it in an appropriate spot on your dash. There is also a movable sun shield to help cut the mid-day glare.

It’s also easy to read at night thanks to the internal green night illumination. This is a great feature and somewhat unexpected at this price point. It comes with 12-volt lighting, but there are also 2 and 24-volt options.

How does the bracket mount?.

This option features an adjustable bracket. You can tilt, or even remove the compass from the bracket easily via the thumbscrews. This adjustment makes it a great choice if you have multiple drivers using the same car.

How reliable is this compass?

The Explorer Compass features a built-in compensator. This adjusts for deviation, and the DirectiveForce Magnets are powerful enough to provide fast heading lock-on. This is all built into the scientifically matched hardened steel pivot dial and sapphire jewel.

It also has a high-temperature composite construction, which helps to extend the range of operation. You can go anywhere and still navigate your way home. Plus, it’s backed by a 5 Year Ritchie Warranty.


Ritchie Navigation Explorer Compass

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • 2-¾ inch direct reading dial.
  • Movable sun shield
  • Internal night illumination.
  • Adjustable/removable/tiltable mounting bracket.
  • DirectiveForce Magnets and built-in compensator.
  • 5-Year warranty.

Cons

  • We would prefer it if the light was brighter for night driving.
  • Not the easiest compass to calibrate.

2 Ritchie Navigation Explorer Compass, Surface Mount

If the above listing is almost exactly what you need, then maybe this next one will be perfect. This is another option for the Explorer Compass from Ritchie Navigation. However, there is a bit of a difference that could be a real benefit for some users.

Is this still as reliable as the option reviewed above?

Yes, this features the same built-in compensator. It adjusts for deviation and has the same DirectiveForce Magnets for a fast heading lock-on. It even still has the same scientifically matched hardened steel pivot dial and sapphire jewel.

Also, it still features the same high-temperature composite construction. There is a movable sun shield and the internal night illumination. In fact, there really are only minimal differences between these two options.

What’s special about surface-mount options?

The primary difference between these two compasses is how they mount. This option features a compact, low-profile design. It does not, however, feature a mounting bracket.

Instead, this compass is meant to mount in a pre-drilled hole in your dash. It features an easy-to-use push-button release. This means you can quickly remove the compass module for storage.

It’s also available in a range of colors and backed by the same 5-year warranty.

Ritchie Navigation Explorer Compass, Surface Mount

Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • 2-¾ inch direct reading dial.
  • Movable sun shield
  • Internal night illumination.
  • Easy to remove push-button release.
  • DirectiveForce Magnets and built-in compensator.
  • 5-Year warranty.

Cons

  • We would prefer it if the light was brighter for night driving.
  • Not the easiest compass to calibrate.
  • Requires a hole to mount in.

3 Ritchie Navigation X-21WW, Sport Housing

Another great option from Ritchie Navigation is their X-21WW. While it’s from the same manufacturer, this is a totally different beast. It’s a great compass for those looking to navigate while driving.

Do you want a compass designed to be mounted in your dash display?

The best thing about the X-21WW is the display. This compass features a sport housing, which allows you to mount it in your dash next to your gauges. This means you can check your heading as easily as you check your speed.

The housing has a 2-inch diameter, which means it fits in a standard 2-1/16 inch instrument hole. We love how easily you can mount the unit, but even better is how easy it is to read. The direct reading dial is just about as simple as a compass can get.

Is it legible in the dark?

Yes, this compass also features the NiteVu green lighting for use while driving at night. For convenience, it also features an adjustable view with up to 30° of tilt.

Is this option as precise as the Explorer?

It does feature a number of the same technologies. The DirectiveForce Magnets, high temp composite construction, and scientifically matched sapphire jewel/steel pivot dial are all the same. Having said that, we found this option to be slightly less reliable in the field.


Ritchie Navigation X-21WW, Sport Housing

Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros

  • 2-Inch direct reading dial.
  • Available in multiple colors.
  • Internal night illumination.
  • Easy to mount in standard gauge holes.
  • DirectiveForce Magnets.
  • High-temp composite construction.
  • 5-Year warranty.

Cons

  • We would prefer it if the light was brighter for night driving.
  • Requires mounting space in your dash.

4 Ritchie Navigation B-81 Voyager Compass 3-Inch Dial

For those that like the brand Ritchie Navigation but need something larger, this next entry could be ideal. The B-81, or Voyager Compass, is one of the best Ritchie car compasses we reviewed.

What makes this better than other options?

Well, for one thing, it is larger. This compass features a 3-inch CombiDamp Dial. It also comes with a bracket mount, so you can put it wherever you need it.

After all, not everyone will want to mount their compass in the same place. The adjustable and removable compass is held on the bracket with thumbscrews. This makes it easy to make adjustments on the go.

Is it as reliable as the units reviewed above?

Yes, this compass also features the built-in deviation compensator and fast heading lock-on DirectiveForce magnets. There is also the same sapphire jewel and hardened steel pivot dial movement. It’s accurate and less likely to get stuck than most of the competition.

What about visibility on the larger dial?

Once again, yes, this compass has the same features reviewed previously. The sun shield is adjustable, and the NiteVu lights up green at night. No matter the time of day, you will be able to navigate easily.

It’s also 100% repairable and backed by a Five Year Ritchie Warranty.


Ritchie Navigation B-81 Voyager Compass 3-Inch Dial

Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros

  • 3-inch dial.
  • Movable sun shield
  • Internal night illumination.
  • Adjustable/tiltable/removable mounting bracket.
  • DirectiveForce Magnets and built-in compensator.
  • 5-Year warranty.

Cons

  • We would prefer it if the light was brighter for night driving.
  • The highly sensitive magnets can be affected by GPS devices.

5 Pyle Universal Vehicle Smart HUD Display 2.6” Digital Mini Car Dashboard

Those looking for something different should check out our next entry. This is one of the best lighted car compasses available. It’s also a completely different beast when compared with the above options.

What makes this option ideal for driving?

Pyle makes their Smart HUD Display to help you keep an eye on more than just your direction. This is a 2.6-inch mini car dashboard, and it is packed with features.

How does it mount?

This system features a hassle-free plug and go setup. You can mount the display on your dashboard, and then plug it into your cigarette lighter. It automatically syncs power with your engine’s ignition.

But what you see on the Head-up display is the best part…

This unit features a 2.6-inch LCD that provides a wide range of information. It shows your speed, distance, time, and a GPS navigation compass. We like that it’s super easy to read at night and during daylight hours.

This is all provided by a dual-core processor that delivers real-time driving data. There are even eight levels of adjustable brightness for the display and speeding alarms.


Pyle Universal Vehicle Smart HUD Display 2.6” Digital Mini Car Dashboard

Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros

  • HUD with 2.6” LCD.
  • Easy to install.
  • Provides a wide range of driving info.
  • Adjustable display brightness.

Cons

  • Not the most precise compass on our list.
  • Can be difficult to read when the sun hits the display.

6 ACECAR Upgrade T800 Universal Car HUD Head Up Display

The next entry on our list of the best compasses for your car or truck is another HUD. Made by AceCar, this heads up display is known as model #T800. It’s similar to the listing just above, but with a few small differences.

What is the main difference between this option, and the one just above?

For starters, this unit is considerably larger. The TFT LCD is 4.3 inches, making it much easier to read while driving. We find this to be hugely beneficial, as it allows you to keep your eyes on the road.

What information does the larger display show?

This option shows your speed, RPM, water temperature, and a lot more. It also has a built-in compass and can show your latitude and longitude. You’ll always be able to easily tell which direction you’re headed.

Does it work with all vehicles?

Yes, the manufacturer states that his HUD is compatible with all vehicles. It also features an automatic and manual brightness adjustment. This will help with glare, so you can easily read the screen no matter the time of day.


ACECAR Upgrade T800 Universal Car HUD Head Up Display

Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros

  • 4.3” TFT LCD.
  • Provides a wide range of driving info.
  • Adjustable display brightness.
  • Shows your compass heading, and latitude/longitude.

Cons

  • Not the most precise compass on our list.
  • Requires some calibration.

7 Pyle Universal 3.5” Multi-Color Windshield Screen Projector HUD

If you’re a fan of futuristic technology, this next extra from Pyle should tickle your fancy. This is a Windshield Screen Projector Heads-Up-Display. It provides the info you need but displays it in a whole new style.

How exactly does this work?

This system features a 3.5-inch multi-color digital LED display. The info is also projected in full-color right onto the inside of the windshield. There’s no need to ever take your eyes off the road.

Is it safe to use this windshield display while driving?

We will advise that this system will take a bit of getting used to. Being new, that’s expected. However, once you’re used to it this, it is by far the safest car compass on our list.

It shows your speed and driving direction. You’ll never need to look at your dash again other than to check your fuel level. We couldn’t be any more enthusiastic about this product, and really wish systems like this came standard on new cars and trucks.

What powers the device?

This system runs off your car’s cigarette lighter. All you need to do is plug it in, and you’re good to hit the road. This means it works with all vehicles, which leaves very little to complain about.

It even has an integrated light sensor for automatic image balance no matter the time of day you’re driving.

Pyle Universal 3.5” Multi-Color Windshield Screen Projector HUD

Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros

  • 3.5” LED display.
  • Projects onto your windscreen.
  • Helps you keep your eyes on the road.
  • Easy to install.
  • Provides speed and direction of travel.
  • Adjustable display brightness.

Cons

  • Not the most precise compass on our list.
  • Can be difficult to read in direct sunlight.

8 Ritchie SS-1002 Supersport Flush Mount Compass

The final compass on our list of the best truck and car compasses is another option from Ritchie. This model #SS-1002 is known as the Supersport Compass and comes in a flush mount for your dashboard.

Is this the best Ritchie car compass?

Well, it was developed for offshore race boats. That means it has a few top-end features that the other Richie compasses were lacking. It’s also the most expensive option on our list by a fair bit.

What’s special about this compass?

For one thing, this option has a PowerDamp dial skirt. This prevents oscillation. It also employs larger DirectiveForce magnets that quickly lock on. The extra-large steel pivots and jewels provide a smooth, fast action.

How big is the display?

This unit is 3-¾ inch, making it the largest Ritchie compass on our list. This fits a 4-inch mounting hole and sits flush within. We like the extra-large white numerals, as they are highly visible against the blue dial.

We also like the 45° lubber lines. This is a very easy-to-read compass. At night the 12V green LED lighting takes effect, making this one of the best lighted car compasses we reviewed.

Great, so the XL display is easy to read, but is it accurate?

Yes, this system features the same accuracy that Ritchie Navigation has become known for. It has a built-in compensator to adjust for deviation. It also features an adjustable sun shield.

Plus, you get the 5-Year Ritchie Warranty.


Ritchie SS-1002 Supersport Flush Mount Compass

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • 3-¾ inch direct reading dial.
  • Movable sun shield.
  • Internal night illumination.
  • Extra-large white numbers and 45° lubber lines.
  • DirectiveForce Magnets and built-in compensator.
  • 5 Year warranty.

Cons

  • Considerably more expensive than most other options.

Best Car Compasses Buying Guide

As you can see from the above list of the best car compass reviews, there are several options available. They range rather widely in style, which is the first point to consider. Here we will explore the main features in further detail, to help you choose the right car compass for you.

Do You Prefer a Traditional or HUD Style Car Compass?

HUD, or heads up display, compasses are considerably more modern. They allow you to see your directional info with just a quick glance. We like the ease of use these provide.

We also like that many HUDs will provide additional information. This can include your current speed, distance traveled, RPM, and possibly a great deal more depending on the model you choose.

car compasses

Traditional Compasses, On The Other Hand, Tend To Be More Accurate

Many of them can also be easily removed from your vehicle for use navigating on foot. However, traditional compasses can be thrown off by your built-in car or truck GPS. You’ll need to be careful where you mount these, but in general, they are more precise.

Another Aspect To Consider Is Its Mounting System

Some options will mount on top of your vehicle’s dashboard. Others are meant to fit directly into your dash. If you go with the latter style, you’ll need to ensure you order the right size to fit your gauge holes.

Visibility Is Crucial When Choosing a Compass For Your Car or Truck

We know that this may seem obvious, but if you can’t read the compass, then it’s not of much use. The larger the device, the easier it will be to read. You’ll also want to consider night modes, as we all do a fair bit of navigating in the dark.

Some Compasses Require Calibration

This can be a real pain, though, in most models, it’s been simplified over the last few years. Traditional compasses use magnets to find North, and thus do not require any calibration.

HUD compasses, on the other hand, will need to be calibrated. This is often not overly difficult. However, it is another step that will need to be completed before it can offer you any useful information.

Before We Announce Our Winner

We have other reviews that may interest you. Check out the Best Mechanic Gloves, the Best Bug Tar Removers, and the Best Bluetooth Headsets for Drivers reviews.

Back to car compasses…

Final Thoughts on The Best Car Compasses

The best car and truck compasses will help you navigate your way in the world. There are many options available, and they each have their advantages. Hopefully, our list above has helped you find the right compass for your vehicle.

If you’re still in doubt that you can make a good decision, we’ll help you out. The…Ritchie Navigation B-81 Voyager Compass 3-Inch Dial with Bracket Mount… is our top choice. It is easy to read, easy to mount, and one of the more precise options.

Here’s to never losing your way.

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