How to Choose a Dive Compass [Guide]

How to Choose a Dive Compass [Guide]


One essential tool that every diver should have is a dive compass. The dive compass serves as a reliable navigation aid, guiding divers through the intricate underwater landscape. In this guide, we will delve into the key considerations when choosing a dive compass that suits your needs and preferences. Let's dive right in!

Choosing the Right Dive Compass

When it comes to selecting a dive compass, there are several factors you should take into account to ensure you make the right choice. Let's explore these considerations step by step.

1. Determine Your Navigation Needs

Before embarking on your quest for the perfect dive compass, it's crucial to understand your navigation requirements. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Will you be diving in open water or navigating through underwater caves?
  • Do you need a compass for recreational diving or technical diving?
  • Will you be using the compass primarily for day dives or night dives?
  • Are you a beginner or an experienced diver?

By clarifying your specific navigation needs, you can narrow down your options and focus on compasses that are best suited for your diving adventures.

2. Consider the Type of Compass

There are two main types of dive compasses: wrist-mounted and console-mounted. Each type offers its own set of advantages, so it's essential to consider which one aligns with your preferences and diving style.

Wrist-Mounted Compass

A wrist-mounted compass is worn on your wrist, providing easy access and convenient readability during your dives. This type of compass is compact and lightweight, making it an excellent choice for recreational divers or those who prefer a minimalist setup. Wrist-mounted compasses are typically attached to a wrist strap, ensuring they stay securely in place throughout your underwater explorations.

Console-Mounted Compass

A console-mounted compass is integrated into a diving console, which also houses other important gauges like a pressure gauge and a depth gauge. This type of compass offers a comprehensive all-in-one solution, providing easy access to multiple instruments in a single location. Console-mounted compasses are favoured by technical divers or those who prefer a more comprehensive dive computer setup.

3. Assess Durability and Construction

When choosing a dive compass, durability is paramount. The compass should be able to withstand harsh underwater conditions and resist the corrosive effects of saltwater. Look for compasses made from robust materials like high-quality plastics or metal alloys. Ensure that the compass is sealed and waterproof, allowing it to function flawlessly even at significant depths.

4. Evaluate Readability

Clear and precise readability is crucial for a dive compass, as it ensures accurate navigation underwater. Consider the following factors to assess the readability of a compass:

  • Luminosity: Look for compasses with luminescent markers or dials that glow in low-light conditions. This feature is especially important for night dives or dives in low-visibility environments.
  • Large Digits: Opt for compasses with large, easy-to-read digits. These will allow you to quickly and accurately determine your heading.
  • Optical Quality: Ensure the compass has a high-quality lens or window that provides clear visibility without distortion. A scratch-resistant and anti-glare coating can further enhance the optical quality of the compass.

5. Test for Accuracy and Stability

Before making your final decision, it's crucial to test the accuracy and stability of the dive compass. Place the compass on a level surface and observe if the needle settles consistently on the same heading. Check if the needle is responsive and quickly adjusts to changes in direction. A reliable and stable compass will ensure accurate navigation during your dives.

6. Evaluate Additional Features

While the core functionality of a dive compass lies in providing accurate headings, some compasses come with additional features that can enhance your diving experience. Consider features such as:

  • Built-in Dive Slate: Some compasses include a built-in dive slate, allowing you to take notes or draw diagrams underwater.
  • Side-Reading Window: A side-reading window provides a convenient way to view your compass heading without having to hold it directly in front of you.
  • Navigational Bezels: Certain compasses have rotating navigational bezels that allow you to set and track your desired course more easily.
  • Attachment Options: Check if the compass comes with different attachment options, such as clips or bungee cords, to suit your personal preference.


Choosing the right dive compass is crucial for safe and successful underwater navigation. By considering factors such as your navigation needs, type of compass, durability, readability, accuracy, and additional features, you can find a compass that perfectly suits your diving style. Remember to test the compass for stability and accuracy before making your final decision. With the right dive compass by your side, you can explore the depths with confidence and precision. Happy diving!

Click here to check Dive Newcastle's range of dive compasses.