in ,

The Ultimate Orienteering Basics Guide

People love the outdoors as nature brings a sense of stillness and calmness, and in a world where everyone is running on the blades of the clock, it becomes important to recollect your thoughts and get some peace and tranquility!

Orienteering Basics
image courtesy:

However, when people go for recreational activities such as camping, hiking, or mountaineering, they wander in unfamiliar terrain.

In this quest to find peace of mind or get close to nature, they sometimes get lost in the woods, and this is when their navigational skills are tested. This is when orienteering basics comes to their rescue! It is an adventure sport where one must navigate from one point to another using a map and a compass.

There should be a handful of essentials that ought to be in your backpack once you venture out! People often take their clothes, snacks, and water along with them. However, they need to catch up on something, which is a navigation tool!

We live in a firm grasp of technology. We tend to be too dependent on cell phones when we venture out. We need the art of compass and map navigation.

Why learn orienteering?

It is important to learn orienteering to be able to navigate properly. Some of the diehard orienteers are campers, hikers, and trail runners.

While learning orienteering, you will also learn many skills, such as surviving through obstacle-ridden terrain, exploring new landscapes, and many other things. During orienteering meets, the participants rely on a compass, and their map and GPS are forbidden.

What should you wear?


It is recommended to go for clothing that will not only protect you from the elements of nature but also something comfortable. The base layer garments you wear should be tight-fitting. Thus, they will remain in one place while you run!

Not only that, but they will also wick the sweat away when you run! If you are unfamiliar with the terrain where the race is taking place, you should go for full-length T-shirts and trousers.

These will protect you from the sticks and thorns! During your event, it is also recommended to carry a waterproof layer of clothing just in case of drastic weather changes.


One of the most essential pieces of the orienteering gear is a sturdy pair of running shoes! Go for the ones that provide ultimate protection and grip.

Avid hikers and campers go for the shoes with short rubber studs! These shoes are made from durable materials!

Orienteering Basics – Guide


When you apply for an orienteering course, you will be asked to fill out a registration form with all your details. It will also have some common questions, such as whether you are a novice camper or a seasoned one, and many other things.

At the end of the form, you will be asked to sign a waiver, pay, and choose your orienteering course, which caters to all your requirements.


After signing up for the course, you will get a map that will cover the rocks, the terrain, the places, vegetation, and man-made features. One interesting feature about these maps is that they are much more detailed than the standard ones!


Many organizations use an electronic punch, which keeps track of one’s visit when they insert an electronic timing stick. The map will also provide a detailed/thorough description of all the topographical features on which one can easily find the controls.


The main aim of orienteering is to navigate all the points in a disciplined order properly. This should be done in the fastest way possible. If you are a beginner or a novice, you will be receiving a course that has a terrain that is way-marked with notable features and trails.

After you become a little seasoned, you will receive landscapes that force you to level up. This is when your orientation skills are put to the test! It may include some hurdles in your path.

However, you should take this up as a challenge and steer further to pave your path towards glory!

The finishing line

After completing the course, you will get a control card at the registration desk. You will get all the details of your expedition. How precisely you were able to navigate, how much time you took, and how efficiently you were able to carry out the course.

What are some of the basic orienteering skills one should not miss out on?

Using a map

The type of map which helps you visualize the given area as well as the terrain is called a topographic map. These maps are distinct from the standard maps as they have elevations, water bodies, vegetation, and contours.

This map offers a wealth of orienteering information. It shows the topography of the area by using contour lines, and the closer the distance between the lines, the steeper the slope is!

Using a compass

Many avid campers and hikers use a thumb compass. This compass considers the natural tendency of the orienteer to hold the compass and the map in the same hand. The other hand, other hand is left to help balance while climbing, hiking, and indulging in adventures while at the camp!

This thumb compass is extremely popular amongst the people who have been actively participating in adventure sports over the years! Following are some of the advantages of the thumb compass:

  • One can use the compass and the map in the same hand.
  • One will easily be able to gauge the location well due to ease of understanding.
  • Compass can be easily carried via a thumb strap.

It is important to hold the thumb compass in alignment with the body and follow the bearing line accurately.

Final words

It is a great joy to walk through forests and fields. It helps people navigate their way through the outdoors, leads to wider cognitive development in kids, and helps them in planning and problem-solving.

When one learns to navigate through wilderness independently, he automatically becomes self-reliant. Thus, he becomes ready to handle any situation nature throws at him! Even in unprecedented weather conditions, he can put his skills to the test and find his way out of the forest!

Written by Emma Parker

Hi, I'm Emma Parker, a passionate outdoors enthusiast and blogger. I love nothing more than exploring the great outdoors and sharing my experiences with others.

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

How to Get Better at Rock Climbing

How to Get Better at Rock Climbing?

Outdoor Insect Repellent

How to Effectively Use Outdoor Insect Repellent