What Should I Bring?
The only piece of equipment you really need to go orienteering is your brain. However, the following may also be useful:
- Compass: Helps you orient the map to North and take bearings. You can also rent one for $1.
- Suitable footwear: Light hiking boots or running shoes. For advanced courses, studded shoes such as baseball or soccer shoes are recommended for traction on steep slopes.
- Clothing: Dress as you would normally for a hike that might take you through some brushy areas. The beginner's (White) course generally sticks to trails, but other courses may go through fields and forests.
- Water/snacks: Water is almost always available, but you might want to bring your own for convenience and to drink on the course.
- Soap & water: Many Bay Area parks have poison oak, which you might encounter on any course except White, although it's mainly a risk on the advanced courses. If you're sensitive to poison oak, it's a good idea to wash off as soon as possible after you finish orienteering, so bring water and Tecnu (https://www.teclabsinc.com/products/poison-oak-ivy/tecnu) or another soap.
Note that you should not bring a GPS unit. Orienteering is a map-reading exercise, and GPS is neither used nor allowed. There are no coordinates on the map, so a GPS unit wouldn't be useful anyway. However, you can wear a GPS watch that records your track (as long as it does not have a display of the track)—in fact, you're encouraged to do that if you have one, so you can upload your track to RouteGadget after the event (i.e., so you can compare your routes with those of other entrants).
Should I Bring My Dog?
Taking your dog for a run on your orienteering course may seem like a great way to exercise the dog and have fun. However, experience has shown that dogs and competitive orienteering are generally incompatible. For this reason BAOC discourages dogs on most orienteering courses.
If you are a recreational orienteer on a beginning-level (White) course that stays on trails, bringing the family pet may be appropriate if park regulations allow it, the dog is used to crowds, and you are planning to walk, rather than run or jog. Dogs may also be appropriate at urban orienteering settings, such as city streets, city parks, and school campuses. Please use common sense. If in doubt, check with the event director before the event to discuss your particular situation.