One of the characteristics of Orienteering as a sport is the specific cartography required, for Foot Orienteering, MTB Orienteering and Ski Orienteering. Therefore, all official events on the IOF competitive calendars must be organized with Orienteering Maps.

The production of Orienteering maps is carried out according to the rules defined by the IOF. These specifications are defined in four different documents, depending on the nature of the event:

AcronymSpecificationCurrent versionLast updateDisciplines
ISOMInternational Specification for Orienteering Maps2017-2, revision 5September 2022Foot-O,
ISSprOMInternational Specification for Sprint Orienteering Maps2019-2, revision 5September 2022Foot-O,
ISMTBOMInternational Specification for Mountain Bike Orienteering Maps2022 revision 2February 2023MTB-O
ISSkiOMInternational Specification for Ski Orienteering Maps2019November 2019Ski-O
 “ A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams.” – Gilbert H. Grosvenor. National Geographic editor  

You can read in the ISOM introduction that “Orienteering is a sport in which the competitor (orienteer) completes a course of legs between control points in the shortest possible time, by navigating aided only by map and compass. As in all forms of sport, it is necessary to ensure that the conditions of competition are the same for all competitors.”.

It is essential that the map is detailed and precise in order to allow courses to be drawn on it that test the navigation skills of orienteers.

The information contained in the map must be relevant to the athlete’s needs, in the sense that it must not contain excessive details or lack important elements.

It is also very important that the terrain is rich in elements that create navigation challenges for athletes.