Kayak compasses?

-- Last Updated: Aug-20-07 1:21 PM EST --

I need to get a replacement compass for my kayak. The boat has the molded in mounting spot for this compass - http://www.thecompassstore.com/70p.html - but it is expensive. I haven't found a similar mounting compass for less money and didn't know if one existed.

If I go back to a clip on one, are there any that are better then others, or in that style are they all about the same?

Brunton or Silva
My girlfriend’s Necky Chatham 16 also has a spot for a compass. The dealer recommended either the Brunton 70P or the Silva 70.

I ordered a Brunton for about $100 with shipping, but it was back ordered for about a month (supposedly it shipped today).


silva now owns brunton
…one big compass conglomerate…

they are not cheap…maybe you can find one on ebay?

70P looks so cool…
You can find them for around 90 or 100


The Brunton 70
Seems to be the only one that bolts into the square recess of most composite boats that have that recess in them.

What compasses that clip onto the boat most rival the Brunton 70 in ease to read, quality and durability if one doesn’t want to the spend $100+ ?

I use a Brunton
but saw this one at West Marine. $54.99. Don’t know much about Ritchie. May be fantastic. I’m a Brunton girl all the way, too much time with them in the field taking strike and slope data.


The Brunton 85R ($89) mounts, though not to the square area on most decks. I use the 58 kayak that has 4 bungees that strap on. I like it because the mounting area on my Tempest seems a long way away from me…and because I can take it from boat to boat with ease. Good luck!-Toddy

Orca for about $40
I also have one of theses on other boats and it has worked well. Kinda like putting a Midas muffler on your Mercedes though.


I’d say this is one time just to spend the money and get the right one. It’s expensive but you won’t regret it. You’ll always have it right there and ready to go when fog comes or any other situation, and you wish you hadn’t left it in the trunk. Shop around and you might find a deal.

70P vs Orca
I’ve owned both the 70p and the orca compasses and either of them will meet your needs for kayak navigation, however when you put them side by side the difference in quality is readily apparent and justifies the extra cost of the 70p.

I agree and …
to me the white lettering on the black background is easier to read. It may just be my preference however. If yo want to go the strap on route the best thing to do is try different compasses on your boat while you are sitting in the cockpit. The best one is the one you can easily read from the cockpit. They are all well made.


the orca-i have seen a couple lost
into the drink as offerings to the “sea slut”(the b**ch that makes the weather so bad sometimes-i learned about her on a schooner)…

the bungee held version:

the compass part itself was not/is nto attached well to the yellow/black housing/base…and if you get the housing/base tipped up-not flat onthe deck and something pushing on the top of the housing/base a wee bit (think of a t rescue while emptying theboat out) then the compass itslef can/has dropped out…and then there is a cool little rubber storage area that would be perfect for a compass on your deck!


Nice to have it permanently attached.
I dropped an Orca, didn’t notice and ran over it with my car… Duh…

Seattle Sports - Wonderful
I just bought and used the Seattle Sports SeaRover removable deck compass and am very impressed. I find it much easier to read than the Orcas, handles a lot of heel, seems to attach well, and is significantly less expensive.

With my old eyes, I like the ability to mount my compass close, but with spare blades and a chart case on deck, it is a bit hard to find room.

I bought mine from Northwest Outdoor Center in Seattle, although it doesn’t show up in their online catalog, but it is also at REI.


strap-on’s are nice
if your vision is going and you can’t read numbers off the bow of your boat.

In addition to the Orca, Brunton makes a nice little black strap-on that sells for about $45. As for people who have Orcas fall off their boat or drive over them, I don’t know what to say.

What makes a good compass…
1) Is it well dampened (i.e., has nice slow movements, even when being tossed around on the deck of a boat)?

2) Are the numbers large enough to read from where it’s mounted?

3) Are there enough graduations to make taking a bearing practical (e.g., checked off every 10 degrees with numbers every 20 degrees).

4) Does the card still move freely when the compass is titled at odd angles?

You’ll find the Nexus 70p will pass most of these (some find it hard to read). The Orca and the cheap Seattle Sports model don’t even come close to comparing…

The beauty of the recessed compass is that you can read your compass while sighting over the bow…rather than looking down at your deck. Your compass is always with you (can’t forget it!) and doesn’t get banged around during rescues.

Go for the 70!

Problems reading compass…
For navigating, it’s much better to have your compass as far forward. This allows you to keep your eyes on the water and helps prevent sea sickness. The closer to the bow or front hatch, the better.

For that reason, if you can’t read the compass, the better solution is to get one with bigger numbers (rather than moving a compass with even smaller numbers closer to you.)

If you can’t read the numbers on a 70P (and keep in mind that in kayak navigation, paddling course 235 usually means keeping the compass between 220 and 250), then Brunton makes a compass I have used called the 85R.

It’s almost an inch larger on all sides, and the dome has a magnifier that makes the already large numbers even easier to read.

The base has holes so it can be mounted to any flat surface. I used this compass on a boat that didn’t have a recess. I converted it to a strap on model by glueing a little minicell foam to the bottom (so that it would lay flush on the slightly curved surface of the deck) and simply ran shock cording through the base, added clips, and attached the compass to to my deck lines.

Here’s the 85R:


turn the boat over
I store my kayuaks deck-down and transport them on their side.

How will that affect the compass?

Is the compass a sphere that will adjust to any angle or is it like a flat-card that if left on edge for a time, screwes up the compass?

I’ve had my 70P for four years and still no problems. Truthfully, my kayak spends most of its hours sitting upside down on a rack and the compass rights itself even in this position.

Over this past summer, a couple of times I’ve had to give the deck right near it a little whack to get it back into position (right side up again) but it works fine and reads correctly.

Are these compasses adjustable for magnetic declination, or must charts be purchased that use magnetic north?

Around here the deviation is about 19 degrees east so you add 19 to the magnetic reading to get the true or subtract 19 from the true to get the magnetic.

… yea I double checked this before posting.

… but you could draw mag north lines all over your chart if you wanted.

I used to do a lot of running compass lines through the forest and geologic mapping using compasses that you could set and forget. They do have advantages.