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Waterproof Paper discussion June 2020
By Michael Croxford (ONZ ELO) - Thu 15 Jul 2021 5:29pm

Map Papers

A Paper on Paper (feedback appreciated)

Michael Croxford

A recent discussion between a group of mappers, event organisers and competitors in New Zealand regarding paper has produced some technical advice for clubs when considering which paper to use for events big and small.

The main piece of advice is horses for courses. If you are doing a small number of prints for a local event and do not have access to high-quality printers then standard white copy paper with plastic bags is sufficient. If you are doing larger events or graded competitions then Pretex or Teslin are recommended for foot orienteering. We make a couple of comments regarding other formats like Adventure Racing or Rogaines but don’t touch on Mountain Bike Orienteering.

The only way to really find out which paper to select is to get your printer to print some samples on the paper of your choice, give the map the multiple folds and crease test and run it under a tap and possibly put it through the washing machine.

One club tends to use Pretex for orienteering and Teslin for Rogaines. This is because they have their own printer and cutter, run pre-entries only and purchase their own paper stocks. Just be mindful that this has volunteer resourcing implications for your club.


The new 2021 ONZ Rules state that maps must be protected against moisture and damage. The map must be printed on good, possibly water-resistant, paper (80-120 g/m2). All non-water-resistant maps must be enclosed by sealed bags of at least 70-micron thickness.

In mid-2018, ISOM 2017 Appendix 1 – CMYK Printing and Colour Definitions Version 1 was released. For offset printing, a coated paper 100-120g per square metre is recommended.

For laser printing, it is important to use paper for colour laser printing 100-110g per square metre. These can be found on the market several types of plastic paper that can be used both for offset and laser printing. Attention shall be given to a smooth surface and the folding capability. Testing of paper in real competition conditions with wet weather circumstances is highly recommended.

Essentially there are four different options for paper in NZ (although there is a fifth internationally):

  • Good quality white copy paper with a weight of 80-120 gsm
  • NeverTear: a waterproof paper made from a bright white polyester
  • Pretex: a waterproof paper made from a selection of pulp and synthetic fibres (polyamide and polyester) used in combination with a special impregnation
  • Teslin: a waterproof synthetic paper
  • G-Print paper is recommended by the IOF PrintTech project (not widely available in Oceania)

Teslin has been the waterproof paper of choice for many years including the New Zealand Orienteering Champs in 2021, Southern Orienteering Week (Blenheim based events) and the South Island Champs 2021 in Central Otago. Pretex has recently been used by some clubs and at major events; in particular PAPO at the New Zealand Orienteering Champs in 2019, Southern Orienteering Week (Christchurch based events) in 2021 and the Queens Birthday 3-Day in Christchurch. Pretext has been the paper of choice in Australia for many years. NeverTear has become increasingly available through commercial printers, although has only been used for a few major events in New Zealand.

Below are some general comments from experienced mappers, event organisers and orienteers on different aspects of the different papers.

Feel of map

Pretex and Teslin are both nice to hold in the hand and fold easily. This is a key factor in paper selection for foot orienteering due to the key technique of map reading of folding and thumbing the map. NeverTear is too rigid and doesn’t fold easily, meaning that if you don’t have a firm grasp on the map it can sometimes spring open. It also is cumbersome for orienteers that tend to scrunch their maps instead of folding them neatly. Some orienteers have commented that Pretex can feel slimy when wet.


All paper types are generally okay for print quality, except that some print runs of Teslin can have a slight yellowing of the whites on the map. It isn’t known if this is a paper quality, printer or pdf writer issue, and further investigation is needed. Testing paper before committing to large purchases is recommended. There have been some negative comments about ink adhesion on NeverTear in the wet.


As a general rule of thumb, good quality white copy paper is the least tough option. Even in plastic bags for water-proofing the paper can tear, crease and lose detail.

The water-proof papers have different pros and cons. Teslin paper can tear in one direction with a bit of effort as it is made from plastics. This may be an issue with snags on barbed wire fences, although this hasn’t been reported before. At the recent Marokopa Heads 4-Hour Rogaine, the Teslin paper didn’t lose ink on the folds, mud and blood adhesion was minor and there was no sign of ink bleed from being in wet conditions, although it was reported that the paper was a bit crinkled which made legibility tricky in places.

Pretex is chemical impregnated paper and can crack along fold lines meaning detail can be lost. It is possible to tear, although you need to try. Water can also seep into the paper particularly if left in standing water in map trays before an event. As a result, the paper can take on some water, in at least one event this meant that the paper became easier to tear.

Printing issues

Pretex and Teslin both need to be fanned during printing so they don’t stick together inside the printer causing jams. Some printers have problems when using paper cut from larger sheets as the edges can become sticky and the printer can pick up multiple pages. This can be avoided in small runs by manually ‘fluffing’ the paper before inserting into the printer or by purchasing more expensive small runs pre-cut to size.

For the toner to adhere well to the paper the temperature needs to be hotter than normal and it is recommended to over-specify the paper thickness to slow down the printing speed to achieve this.  The brand of toner is also relevant for ink adhesion with Xerox or OKI  products recommended.


The price of Teslin is generally the most expensive option and depends on the number of sheets you purchase. Large sheets can be bought from BJBall but require a minimum order of 700 full-size sheets to get it reasonably. These sheets can be cut to size to create 9 A4s or 4 A3s.  Teslin is also available through OfficeMax, with 115gsm A4 and A3 available, but there can be supply problems so order well in advance of your event if you are supplying the paper separate from your printer.

Pretex is imported from orienteering suppliers in Australia. Supply is very reliable and reasonably priced.

Standard Copy Paper and NeverTear are definitely the cheaper options.


As well as the events above, Teslin has been used for the 2017 World Masters Orienteering Champs and the 2017 Oceania Champs both in Auckland. Orienteering Waikato has used it for their Rugged Rogaine Series.

Pretex has been used increasingly since the 2019 NZ Orienteering Champs in Oamaru and is used by Orienteering Taranaki for many of their club events. It was also used for the last ARC 24-hour who were very happy with the paper’s performance.

Other types of paper

Recently a product called Digituff was used for the Rangitikei Adventure race. At 125gsm, it seemed to be similar in feel as NeverTear. One competitor reported that it was not ideal, certainly tough but stained quite badly with the mud and blood (a frequent comment from that particular orienteer!?!).

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