Orienteering is a competitive sport that combines racing with navigation. It involves participants finding their way between various checkpoints, known as controls, as quickly as possible with the help of a map and compass. The route between the controls is not predetermined, making strategic planning and navigation skills crucial. Orienteering can take place in a variety of terrains, from urban areas to dense forests.


  • Physical Fitness: Improves cardiovascular health through running or walking and enhances physical endurance.
  • Mental Sharpness: Develops critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills as participants navigate the course.
  • Outdoor Skills: Enhances knowledge of map reading, compass use, and understanding of geographical features.
  • Environmental Appreciation: Encourages exploration and appreciation of different natural and urban environments.


  • Websites: International Orienteering Federation (
  • YouTube Channels: IOF Orienteering
  • Mobile Apps: Orienteering training apps like MapRunF provide virtual orienteering experiences.
  • Books: “Discovering Orienteering: Skills, Techniques, and Activities” by Charles Ferguson and Robert Turbyfill (available on Amazon)

Best Age to Start

Orienteering is suitable for children as young as 7-10 years old, as they can begin to understand map reading and navigation. It’s a family-friendly activity that can be adapted to all skill levels.

Equipment and Materials

  • Compass: Essential for navigation. Cost: $20-$100.
  • Orienteering Map: Provided at events. Individual practice maps vary in cost.
  • Running Gear: Comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for the terrain. Cost: $50-$150.
  • Whistle: For safety in remote areas. Cost: $5-$10.
  • Monthly Cost: Participation in local orienteering clubs or events may have fees, typically $5-$20 per event.
  • Membership Fees: Joining an orienteering club or national organization can offer additional resources and event access. Fees vary by region.

Starting Tips

  • Begin with introductory courses offered by local orienteering clubs to learn basic navigation skills.
  • Practice map reading and compass use in familiar areas to build confidence.
  • Start with easier, shorter courses and gradually increase difficulty as skills improve.
  • Participate in local orienteering meets to gain experience and learn from more seasoned orienteers.

Mastery Requirements

  • Compete in and complete courses of varying difficulty and terrain, including international competitions for advanced orienteers.
  • Demonstrate advanced map reading and navigation skills under competitive conditions.
  • Contribute to the orienteering community through coaching, course setting, or volunteering.

Famous Orienteers

  • Thierry Gueorgiou: A French orienteer, considered one of the greatest orienteers of all time with multiple World Orienteering Championships gold medals.
  • Tove Alexandersson: A Swedish orienteer, known for her dominance in both ski orienteering and foot orienteering with numerous World Championship titles.

To achieve mastery in orienteering, consistent practice and participation in a variety of events are essential. Developing advanced navigation skills and physical fitness enables participants to tackle more challenging courses and compete at higher levels. Engaging with the orienteering community through clubs and events can also provide valuable learning experiences and opportunities for growth.


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