compass image by JCVSTOCK-ES from

The magnetic compass has been around for hundreds of years. Historically, sailors found compasses particularly useful at night when clouds blocked the stars. Magnetic compasses are still popular today and are used by hikers and sailors. Proper care will keep a compass functioning for many years.

Store a magnetic compass away from computers and other electrical devices that can generate magnetic fields. Exposure to magnetic fields can damage a compass.

Keep a magnetic compass away from heaters and do not store in a hot place such as a car. Heat can damage the inner workings of a magnetic compass, resulting in poor performance.

Carry a magnetic compass so it does not come in contact with cell phones or pocket radios. Store the cell phone or radio in an adjacent pocket or a pocket in a jacket. The speakers in cell phones and other devices can demagnetize the needle on the compass.

Avoid dropping or bumping the compass on a hard surface. Dropping or bumping the compass may damage it and impair its ability to function correctly.


  • Before using a magnetic compass, test it for known headings to make sure it is working properly. When hiking in a remote area, take two compasses in case one becomes damaged.