Add a Little Spice to Your Outdoor Routine
December 25th, 2016 by Curtis Condon

Orienteering maps have more detail than regular maps, including trails, buildings and elevation contours. Even things as small as boulders, fences, pits and springs appear on orienteering maps.
Map courtesy of Columbia River Orienteering Club

Once in a while, it’s fun to add a change of pace to outdoor workout routines to break up the monotony. One way to do that is with orienteering.

Orienteering is called the “thinking sport” because it combines mental challenges with physical ones. It is an activity for young and old, athlete and nature lover.

Participants are given a map of the event area with various terrain features circled and numbered. The object is to find all of the terrain features—in order—as quickly as possible. Competitive participants run from point to point, while most people enjoy the course at a more leisurely pace.

Multiple courses are offered at each event. They are set up on the basis of experience, with something for beginners as well as advanced participants.

Map-reading skills are more important than knowing how to use a compass. The compass is primarily used to orient the map to the terrain or to determine direction of travel. Most organized events provide brief training sessions for newbies, including how to use a map and compass in tandem.

There are two orienteering clubs in Florida: Florida Orienteering in the Orlando area and Suncoast Orienteering in the Bradenton area. The clubs hold events from late fall through the end of spring.

For more information, visit the Florida Orienteering website at It also features information about events hosted by Suncoast Orienteering.

Outdoors 101: Use Caution With Cotton

Cotton socks are comfy for relaxing or kicking around, but they may not be the best choice when picking up the pace. Cotton sucks up sweat and water, clings to the skin when wet and dries slowly. Those properties increase the risk of blisters. Synthetic and light merino wool socks are better choices for active sports.

Bike Tires: Rotate or Not?
Rotating car or truck tires is highly recommended because it evens out wear and extends tire life. However, bike safety advocates do not recommend rotating bicycle tires, since it can be hard to keep track of mileage and wear. Instead, they suggest replacing tires as they wear out.

There’s No Time Like the Present for Bargains
January is one of the best months for shopping. Most outdoor stores have a deep-discount section, such as the bargain cave at Cabelas. They often have more selection right after Christmas than at other times of the year, due to holiday closeouts and overstocked items.

Mail-order retailers offer the same kind of deals in spades. Two companies you should check out online are Sierra Trading Post ( and Campmor ( Both retailers offer lots of closeout specials this time of year.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
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Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.