What do you need to bring to start Orienteering?

To start with you don’t need to bring much. A typical course will not take more than an hour, so you don’t need to take a back-pack or food out on the course itself.

To enjoy the event, you will need to be prepared for a walk/run in the bush:

  • Wear comfortable jogging or walking shoes
  • Comfortable outdoor clothes
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen on bright sunny days, a rain coat in wet weather
  • Bring drinks, and perhaps a picnic, for after the event (water stops are provided on the longer courses)
  • A change of clothes for after the event, if desired

Other items may be bought, or hired cheaply, at the event:

  • A plastic whistle (a simple safety precaution in bush areas)
  • A plastic bag for the map, in wet weather
  • A compass (not really necessary, for our introductory courses)

Your entry fee includes the cost of the special orienteering map, and you do not have to be a member of a club or the state association to participate.

The nature of orienteering is such that you are in a relaxing parkland or forest environment and a picnic lunch is a great way to finish (or start) off the day. Bush events also often have some food and orienteering related equipment for purchase.

Don't worry if you have never read a map or used a compass before; the basic skills are easily learnt and experienced orienteers will be able to assist you at your first event.  Speak to the person at the registration table who can assist.   


Don’t Bring: In keeping with our policies and because of the requirements of many landholders, we do not allow smoking, dogs or the lighting of fires at our events. We also encourage our participants to be environmentally conscious at all times. 


Specialised Equipment

If you love the sport and become a regular, you will be interested in getting “all the right gear”.

Orienteering specific gear starts with:

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Compasses
  • Leg protection


Sturdy footwear such as joggers is adequate for those beginning orienteering.  There are a wide variety of special orienteering shoes available but many people find that trail running shoes are also quite suitable, especially on the typically hard Australian ground. Ankle support can also be an issue and some orienteers find comfort in a range of ankle braces or strapping techniques.

Orienteering specific clothing

Orienteering clothing includes a range of products designed to cover the body and protect against vegetation as well as being comfortable. Clothing ranges from “suits” made from lightweight, breathable nylon or lycra to more modern use of fitted coolmax materials and tights.


Compasses are used primarily to assist the orienteer to navigate around the course and to provide a reading of magnetic north for map orientation (Note: some world champions are famous for not using a compass at all!).


Standard Style Base Plate                                               Thumb Compass

Traditional Orienteering Compass

The classical competition compass is a base plate model with rotatable housing. The rotatable housing allows for the taking of accurate bearings. Markings for different scales may also assist distance estimation. Base plates are generally used by placing on the map and rotating the map and housing as required. Models vary in terms of needle stability, needle speed and extras such as colours, scales, fixed or rotatable housings.

Thumb Compass

Thumb Compasses are ideal for those who don't need much in their compass.  The thumb compass provides a straight and wide needle for easy and fast reading and is generally only used to orientate the map accurately. Many elites prefer the thumb compass.

Leg protection

Some orienteers choose to wear gaiters in more densely vegetated bush orienteering areas. Gaiters are designed to protect your legs against the vegetation and small branches that are on the ground.  They typically cover the leg below the knee. Knee high socks are typical in “lighter” areas.

Your local club member will be able to assist you more.