How to Orienteer

Orienteering is a sport that involves wandering through the woods using two tools: a map and a compass. It is considered to be a sport, but is also known as a combination of sports brought together into one single activity. You can kind of imagine it as a giant scavenger hunt. Here are the skills and tools you’ll need to learn how to orienteer.


hiking boots, compass, map

Before going into the woods, you have to prepare yourself by making a list of items you’ll need. These items should be included in the list: hiking boots, long shirt and pants, map, compass, light weight jacket (if it’s not that cold), watch, a whistle, water bottle, and a flashlight just in case. If it’s your first time orienteering, you are probably taking a course. The employees that work there should have a list for you too.


Compass in hand

Learning to use a compass is a pretty long process. It is suggested to research a couple of different places. Of course, if you are taking an orienteering course, the instructor will probably teach you how to use your compass and map. There are also many videos that you can find on the internet that make the learning it easier and faster.


Map and compass

Orienteering maps are smaller than normal maps. They should have more information and locations written on them. For example, they will probably have waterfalls and other landmarks that are pretty well known. There are even smaller details that show fences or power lines around the area.



Your compass and map should always be pointing north. When you’re in the woods and you’re facing north, your map should also be facing north. If you are pointing south, your map should be turned around, the north of the map still facing north.


Thumb on map

While you are moving through the woods, try to use your thumb to pinpoint where you are on the map. This will help you move quicker and help you avoid getting lost.

Control Site

Control Site

When you arrive at your first control site, find the paper that shows you if you are at the correct site. Once you know that you are at the right site, take your punch card and punch in a correct hole.


end sign

When you’ve visited all the control sites, you can start making your way to the finish line. Make sure that you are holding the map and compass in the correct direction.



Attack points will help you create a route that makes you less likely to bump into another opponent. Blowing your whistle three times means that you need help. You can purchase all the items you'll need, but sometimes the orienteer course will let you borrow them for free.

Orienteering can be an exhausting sport, but once you and your body gets a hang of it, it can be extremely fun! If you don't want to do it alone, you can invite some of your friends to try it out with you!

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