clip on kayak compass

My current kayak doesn’t have a compass and I need to get something for a trip next week. Thinking of one of the clip on detachable types, though I suspect they are less than optimal. What are better ones and why, and what are not so good ones and why? Are there any that can be attached farther out the bow and still be seen? I really don’t want anything in my lap, for many reasons…

Brunton model 15
not fancy, but is a basic workhorse sighting compass that is light and compact, has declination adjustment and map gauges, fits in a PFD pocket and costs around $30. Still made in Sweden, I think, and has a lifetime guarantee. I have had this one for many years.


– Last Updated: Aug-14-11 2:36 PM EST –

I've used the Orca and it was fine. Placement depends on you eyesite...

Sorry, I meant deck compass
but I cant edit my title now…I always carry a spare pocket compass.

my eyesight depends on how easy it is to read. But I dont want it in my lap, so it has to be easy to read out by the front hatch, and it has to be capable of being attached there. I have a pair of perimeter line fittings out there but I’m not sure that helps me attach it.

It has clips on bungees that can be adjusted. I used mine and mounted it to the perimeter lines just aft of the forward hatch on a Caribou. I’m farsighted but had no problem reading it.

Seattle Sports SeaRover
is actually pretty decent, half the price and easier to read than the Suunto Orca.

how well fo they stay put?
I’m a little concerned about it flopping around. I may get into some surf, if at all possible. :slight_smile: I know, I should get a mounted one but it’s unlikely to happen in time…


– Last Updated: Aug-14-11 8:47 PM EST –

Easy to read, and mine is accurate.

Stays put pretty well if you don't have waves washing over the deck. Any time I expected those, I left off the compass and stowed it.

When you put the compass on, twist the bungies several times, an equal number of times for each side. Center it and align the V bump with the centerline of your kayak.

Mine has stayed in position quite well. Just check the alignment once in a while. It's easy enough to center if it's out of whack.

Should add that I do NOT put mine on the compass recess bowl. That's too far away to read. I put it closer to me, just beyond where the chart goes.

if thats the case…
Stays put pretty well if you don’t have waves washing over the deck.


I may need to rethink this and just screw one in. I dont want to lose it in surf or have it in the hold when I might need it.

The bungies and clips keep it on deck
Waves wouldn’t change that.

The only thing is that the V notch may get shoved out of alignment with your boat’s axis. Not a big deal at all. Use more twists to tension it tightly in place.

– Last Updated: Aug-15-11 6:54 PM EST –

I tried on a Sea Rover today, I really liked its large easy to read scale. But the straps are uselessly long even when fully shortened unless I mount it right in front of my cockpit, where i dont want it. Heck I can just strap any old compass there. No way to attach it near the front hatch using the provided straps. What were they thinking?

The bungies aren’t that long, if you’re talking about the Orcas.

You could tie some figure-8 knots in them to shorten even more, in addition to twisting when you put the compass on the deck.

Or cut them and heat-seal the ends, or use different bungies.

Sea Rover
I was talking about a Sea Rover, the only type available locally that I could try on. My kayak is only 13 inches wide where I want to install it, just forward of the front hatch. The Sea Rover wont shorten that much. It wont even fit aft of the hatch, so what were they thinking??? I like the straps better than bungees because bungees stretch in waves or surf so that compass could flop around. I also like the large scale size and the rubberish base it sits on. I could probably remove their straps and replace them with some of my own, or shorten theirs somehow. Eventually I’ll have to install a recess in this kayak.

Why is permanently mounted better?
I don’t really see the advantage of a permanently mounted compass. Why puts holes in the boat when a clip-on is so easy to mount, remount, remove, etc? I use my Orca both on and off the boat, and I move it fore or aft depending on what the load is (ie: where anything metallic might be).

things not screwed down
Have a tendency to get moved around or removed completely from your boat in bad conditions. There are screw/bolt on compasses that can be removed when off the water, or when you don’t need them. The base stays on.

experiment with the straps
I mount mine forward of the bow hatch at a point where the deck lines are 11" apart, with the straps adjusted to just about their shortest setting. but there are also a couple ways to criss-cross the straps behind and under the compass so that the clips are facing inboard, then you can fasten them on lines that are 6-7" apart.

yes the straps are long, but if they made them real short then that would further limit where users might be able to mount it.

I will probably buy one and find a way to make it work, until I can install a compass recess and permanent mount.

Seattle Sports
Ditto re. the Seattle Sports SeaRover.

I have a 70P installed on my Nordkapp and really like it but needed a deck compass than could be used on several of our other kayaks without mounting. I previously tried the Brunton 58 (junk, lost oil shortly after) and the Suunto Orca (hard to read).

The SeaRover has been in use for three seasons now between several boats and is easy to install and read.

Re permanent mounts
I’ve had both Seattle and Ritchie compasses on my kayaks for several years. For whatever reason I prefer not to drill holes, so I have both attached via industrial strength 3M double-sided tape. They’ve never budged, even in salt water. I suppose if I hit something hard they might come off, but under normal conditions it’s a secure set-up. Curiously, though the tape holds fast, with some effort you can peal it off the deck or compass base without damage.