If walking through nature, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of the great outdoors isn’t quite enough for you, then orienteering could be just what you need in order to make your outdoor pursuits more interesting.
What is Orienteering?
Orienteering is an outdoor sport that requires a good selection of skills in order to complete the set challenges. As the activities that take place under the banner of orienteering involve following a set route, navigating from point to point, your map reading and compass skills will be essential. Additionally, as the activity involves travelling at speed along the course, your fitness levels will also be tested.
Depending on the type of orienteering you take part in, you will need a selection of other skills to be able to meet the challenge. There are many variations on the traditional on-foot orienteering that have been developed over the years. These include travelling by canoe, mountain bike, skis or while mounted on a horse.
When it comes to foot-orienteering, there are many different types of event held. These include night orienteering, street courses and long a short distance events. It really is a great way to add variation to regular outdoor activities such as trekking and running.
Essentially any activity that involves racing against the clock while using a map to visit set points along a route can be considered orienteering.
What Kit Do you Need?
The version of the sport you want to take part in will affect the amount and type of kit you will need. In most instances, especially for those taking part in foot orienteering, your regular outdoor sportswear will suffice, along with a compass and a pen. Maps are provided by the event organisers and are plotted with the route in advance, or at least the first marker.
In addition to your clothing, taking some essential supplies with you such as mountain fuel food can make the adventure even more enjoyable. If taking part in a night event then obviously suitable lighting equipment will be required.
As the focus is on racing against the clock, and your fellow competitors, wearing lightweight and flexible gear is more important than being protected from the elements by a warm jacket.
How to Get Started
Getting started with orienteering, especial the on-foot kind is very easy. There are numerous national bodies in many countries around the world and there is also the World Orienteering Championships to set your sights on. For the beginner though, finding a local club through the British Orienteering Foundation is a good place to start as there are 120 to choose from.
Many clubs can be joined for a nominal fee which gives you access to a whole calendar of events of varying degrees of difficulty. Not only is it a great way to spend time outdoors, but orienteering is ideal for increasing your fitness levels and meeting likeminded people.