Top three Survival Compasses put to the Father Son Prepper test!
Which Compasses did you guys choose and why?
We wanted to see if we could find a suitable compass that was at once both rugged and CHEAP! With most of the gadgets and gear we use coming from china one of my main fears (and I think dad will agree with me) is inferior gear. When you need the gear you NEED it. But like us you guys and gals don’t have infinite amounts of cashola to give to china. So we wanted cheap! In fact I am one of the cheapest people I know. (in case you guys forgot) So we picked the cheapest compasses that looked decent on Amazon and had great reviews.
Here are the basic judgement criteria.
Ease of use with map
One of the main functions of a compass is to use a map to find your way. We thought it would be important to let people know just how our compasses did when used with a map. We pulled out a BLM map and used each of these compasses to find a bearing across the valley we live in. This is important because we highly advocate using maps of your surrounding areas. And if you have little to no landmarks you might need maps even more!
This is huge for us! We want preppers to use these things and if they weigh 6lbs no one is going to carry them. This category also includes lanyards, size, and shape. Its my belief that if the compass is slim and light I will more likely carry it, or even more likely not hate carrying it. When traversing woods or swamps you will likely need to use the compass several times an hour depending on density, so the neck lanyard is well worth it.
This category was pretty simple. We wanted to make sure the needles swung freely. We also wanted to make sure these survival compasses would point in the right direction. You might be thinking “well don’t they all?”. The answer may surprise you. This category also includes sights. Not the ease of use but the actual availability of a sight.
This is one of those categories that we feel is essential. My choice for top compass actually rested on this category alone. We did manage to break all the compasses (no sledge hammers were used) but the one that held the most resistance got my seal of approval for top compass. Just imagine having one or two compasses and dropping one down a small cliff and finding it useless. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.
Ease of use on Sights
Last category and maybe the least important. Granted sights are a huge part of the process and some people swear by them. I do know that a sight isn’t a must have. So we added this category lightly, but we did it for the readers who love to use them.
OUR TOP PICK
Ease of use with map 2
Ease of use with sights 5
The Mps or Military prismatic sighting compass did well and in my opinion it is by far the best choice for a bugout or survival situation. It did very well in the durability and portability categories. The Military prismatic sighting compass is also equipped with nice sights giving it a perfect 5 in ease of use with sights. Some of the benefits of this compass that should be very important to preppers or survivalists are: a pouch, a folding cover, and a lanyard. The folding cover is really the charm of this compass. It far surpasses the durability of the others when dropped from 12 feet onto concrete (see tests below) With the cover shut it received almost no damage which makes this our top pic for preppers or survivalists.
The Military prismatic sighting compass does come with some problems. The folding cover adds a significant amount of weight to the compass. Also the lanyard has no break away clasp, so keeping it around your neck (where I like to keep mine) is a bad idea. The thickness of the compass keeps me from sliding it into a book or a small pocket on my bug out bag. I hate things that stick out because fitting them in your bag is a pain.
First Runner up
Ease of use with map 5 (made for maps)
Ease of use with sights 0 (has none)
UST Deluxe Map Compass Benefits
The benefit of this compass should be apparent to any knowledgeable prepper or survivalist. The thing is very small and very thin. You could fit this with your survival books, or in a side pocket. The fact that its more than half as much cheaper than the MPS compass means that you can stuff 3 or 4 or 5 in your bag. The UST has 2 other features that I love in a compass. First it has a breakaway lanyard. I will most likely be carrying one of these around my neck, I don’t want to die because my compass caught on a bush while climbing near a cliff. (and neither do you) Second it has a built in magnifying glass. How awesome is that? You can start fires and find your way! This compass is built for maps, so naturally it comes with a ruled side, and its see through. These things make map reading and direction finding pretty easy.
The UST has a few problems. The thing is fairly fragile. In our tests we noticed that it broke pretty quickly when dropped to a concrete surface. It also doesn’t include a sighting glass or scope at all. So sighting directions will be a little bit harder.
Ease of use with map 3
Ease of use with sights 4
Lensatic Compass Benefits
Ok so this compass is basically the MPS but cheaper and lighter. So one obvious benefit: price. This thing is pretty dang cheap. It goes for around 7 bucks on amazon. (check it out here) I also like that this compass has no fluid inside. The floating dial sits on a needle. This made for an interesting development in our tests. (See below)
The compass is cheap. Its made of cheap plastic and has some accuracy problems with fast direction finding. This thing came in last because of these problems. I don’t recommend this compass unless you want a LOT of them for cheap, and you need the sights. Otherwise the UST is a better choice.
Survival compass test!
Will it freeze or will it shatter. You guys might be surprised. So for this test we put (prepper girlfriend) up on a 12 foot ladder. And we dropped the compasses to a concrete patio. We wanted to simulate some of the conditions from our surrounding area. We live in a high desert area. So in the winter we can see temperatures ranging from -12f to 120f in a common yearly cycle. Also we have tons of rocky terrain, so dropping a tool or item to a hard surface is a real deal for us.
THE DROP TEST!
So in this test we dropped the three separate compasses about 9ft. We didn’t give her any direction as to dropping angle or any of that. We thought it would keep her somewhat random.
The test was pretty devastating to my compass investment. 50$ dollars spent on breaking stuff for the Father Son Prepper Community? (Also John and Tony get to break stuff!)
The Quick Rundown on the Drop Test. (more detail and pics below)
Here is the quick rundown of each test.
Military Prismatic Sighting Compass
- Drop 1 Cover Closed (PASS) No damage
- Drop 2 Cover open (FAIL) Many pieces broken
- Drop 1 (FAIL) Fluid loss and cracks (pics below)
- Drop 2 (couldn’t we had to save our second compass for freezing test)
Drop 1 (pass) This compass did something odd. It jumped off its pin. All we had to do was pop it back on.
Drop 2 (Same thing)
final drop notes:
My favorite compass is the UST plastic guy. But from these tests the Military Prismatic Sighting compass did very well. But lets take a few points into consideration.
#1. We know that drops and dings can break these compasses. Every one has shown some weakness.
#2. The cost of these three compasses vary.
#3. The MPS is heavier and bulkier than the others by quite a bit.
Conclusion: Buy several of the USTs or similar light thin compasses. That way if you are careful you can have a few backups.
The Freezing Test
So believe it or not there was no damage from freezing! A few bubbles formed when placed in about -10 F. But disappeared when room temperature.
The freezing test was a success!
Final Article Conclusion.
The way you want to use these compasses is almost as important as the compass itself. For instance if you wanted to take your family, or class out to show basics the UST would be best. If you wanted a bit more of a rugged compass for your personal use you would pick the MPS. If you had a younger family member who just wanted one to play around with I would suggest the lensatic by engineer. The official Father Son Preppers recommendation will go to the Military Prismatic Compass, but I may stuff a few of my bags and kits with the Ultimate Survival compasses. I like how thin and light they are.
How do you feel? Let us know in the comments below!