Deck compasses

Any suggestions for compasses that will fit in the molded-in compass well on the decks of many sea kayaks? The Brunton 70P is pretty expensive, so looking for somewhat more affordable options with large numbers.

70P is it, to my knowledge
Good to get on the Spring Sale in Hyde Park, NY. :slight_smile:

Other option is to bring it closer with a clip on like the Brunton 58K. This is what I usually use as I use multiple kayaks.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Ritchie V-527
I believe the Ritchie V-527 will fit the compass recess. Caution: I have not tried this compass, but it’s about half the cost of the Brunton.

About the same …
At a glance, it looks to me like the Ritchie is only $20-30 less than the Brunton, and I’m not sure the numbers are any easier to read.

Regardless which model you choose, you may find this installation article helpful:

Paddle safe!

True 'nuff
You can get the Brunton for under $70 at Adorama, 46% off list.

Garmin GPS 72H – Marine…Garmin eTrex 10 GPS

Search for a discount with marine maps

The compass is obsolete…and stays behind the deck bag or deck detritus

Wal vs REI


– Last Updated: Mar-23-15 6:36 AM EST –

...let's rely on a device that's likely to fail, become unreadable or lose connection when you need it most. Compasses will never be obsolete, because they ALWAYS work. While I like having a GPS in my car, I had one for paddling and it ultimately ended up in a drawer somewhere. Relying on electronics without any backup is foolish, a lesson that hopefully you won't have to learn the hard way.

1 Like

Very true.

– Last Updated: Mar-23-15 6:55 AM EST –

There is no substitute for map and compass and the skills to use them. The GPS is a wonderful convenience, and I use it a great deal, but if you are going into places that you could not get out of safely if your GPS fails you then you need to think long and hard about your mortality.

Brunton 58
When my old compass finally wore out after 31 years of faithful service (now-extinct model; cannot be replaced), I went with the Brunton 58, removed the attached bungees and clips, and affixed it to the deck with U Glu double-sticky material. Just fine.

I second the motion to always have a magnetic compass on your deck (and another in your kit as a fallback–a simple hiker’s compass will do). For me, the marks of a real sea kayaker you meet on the water are sprayskirt, PFD, decklines, and a deck compass-- here’s someone who looks like they know what they’re doing.

The profile of the Ritchie is very different than the spherical back of the Brunton 70P.

I’d make a mock up of the rear of the Ritchie to ensure it fits without having to do more drastic modifications.

Good to know of Ritchie XP-99 for surface deck mount applications since the Brunton 85 was retired.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

compass as backup GPS primary
You can have it both ways. Bring a compass as your backup with charts/topo. I have been using handheld GPS’s for over 15 years and mine have never failed when needed. But there so cheap plus I upgraded to a better one so I now carry two GPS’s.

Get one on sale. Not so expensive and a sound investment. It’s the best for the intended purpose, cheaper than a PFD, paddle, etc. and will last and last. I have and use a GPS. They are certainly useful. But all my sea boats have a 70P.

70P mounting
My 70P came with sharp pointed sheet metal screws. I replaced them with small stainless button head machine screws with nylock nuts. The sheet metal screws sharp points could poke a hole in dry or float bag pretty easily on a well stuffed boat.

A good check to do on group trips is check everyone’s compass while the boats are all parallel lined up on the beach. A steel thermos or cooking pot in the front hatch is enough to send someone off course on a long crossing. I’ve seen this happen and split up groups on long compass course crossings.

same here
Those looked painful. I did the same as you but used acorn cap nuts with a plastic insert.

my kayak has a deck compass out there for me to navigate with when paddling…paddling is essential. Paddle or Brownsville.

But the GPS sets the bearing for the compass. A compass cannot set the bearing.

Nor does the compass show you where you are in relation to the depth contours both below, ahead and an hour from now. The importance of this reading is paramount. Depth contour paddling equals speed gained. The difference between knowing depth/speed and not knowing at all over a day or years…distance covered with contour speed will be in hindsight important, possibly critical.

If you are unschooled with depth/contour/speed, consider paddling uptide on the back eddy. With the depth chart marine map equipped GPS YOU ARE ON THE EDDY.

that is a snort and giggle worth $250.

There are GPS moments. Here mainly from not holding the unit level but also from unknown causes due to operator error resolved from square one with the deck compass or even the GPS compass.

Now the 78 has 3 way compass compensation so not holding the until level when tired/distracted is less eventful.

I have an external antennae as with satellite radio but more robust. The 78 will enter a dry bag with the external coax running out thru a nylon fitting bolted to the bag sides, the ant runout to the bow somewhere.

Does this work in the canyon ? Yes and no but better than wearing the ant or unit on your head, reliable with more continuous receptions.

An infrared link to your sunglasses is next.

now we’re talkin’
I’m thinking about finding a compass with a globe of the right size, such as some of the Ritchie models that are half the price of the 70P, and taking it apart.

That’s the 537 template,
you need the 527. It’s designed for the kayak compass recess.

Off by a digit. That makes more sense.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I agree - but
you should be careful not to be in a state of denial about your ability to actually use map and compass to get out of the place you got yourself into with the gps. They do fail on occasion.