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Curious, does anyone still use paper topographical maps?

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Curious, does anyone still use paper topographical maps?

Old 01-22-16, 11:06 PM
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Curious, does anyone still use paper topographical maps?

Does anyone still tour with paper topographical maps?

Cheers
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Old 01-22-16, 11:38 PM
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I don't and I don't have ready access to a full collection, now.

BUT - - - -

Let me tell you that there ain't nothing like leaning over a map room table with a full map in front of you.
I miss the ability to see the bigger picture at a glance. You could start with 250s, then work down to 100s,
and when you saw interesting possibilities, get down to the 7.5 minute maps.

Celia Pratt at the Map Collection at Wilson Library in Chapel Hill is my guardian angel.
During my early years touring in the 1980s, she allowed me unprecedented access.
And I spent way too much time at the map collection at K.U. during grad school.
It's an addiction that online maps just can't assuage.
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Old 01-23-16, 12:04 AM
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When planning a route I like to look at a topo map, still fly with sectionals and do calculations with a slide rule. My teenage son says that a new tablet when I was his age was not electronic, but made of stone. Hmmmm, have an idea for his birthday in a few weeks?
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Old 01-23-16, 12:14 AM
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Yes.
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Old 01-23-16, 07:00 AM
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I use Topo! software for my state and often print my own maps when needed for hiking. I don't think I've ever taken topo maps on a bike tour, though. I guess it depends on your style of touring.
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Old 01-23-16, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man
Does anyone still tour with paper topographical maps?
Sometimes for backpacking, never for touring. I might reconsider for a real back country MTB tour though.
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Old 01-23-16, 07:46 AM
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Paper maps ... yes.
Topographical maps ... no.
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Old 01-23-16, 08:26 AM
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We use paper maps to draw the route we've travelled. Then we keep the maps. But topo maps? no.
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Old 01-23-16, 09:43 AM
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The best maps for touring that I have used are the IGN 1:100,000 series in France. They have a wealth of information, including topo lines.

Cartes IGN - Géoportail
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Old 01-23-16, 10:01 AM
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When I rode Pacific Coast, I had an electronic (non-paper) topo map on my 7 inch tablet. In the evening it was nice to be able to spend a few minutes looking at the next day route to see where the worst hills would be.

Backpacking, yes.
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Old 01-23-16, 10:15 AM
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Yes, especially for trip planning. Don't usually haul them with me while traveling though.

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Old 01-23-16, 11:19 AM
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I don't use the USGS topo maps, but I do use the Delorme state atlases for tour planning. They aren't true topo maps, but do show elevation and other features. I'll color photocopy the pages I need to take with me. I'ts definitely helpful for tours in the NW going through more rural areas. If I'm doing a lot of touring in a particular National Forest, sometimes I'll take that specific map. They are bulky, though.
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Old 01-23-16, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
I use Topo! software for my state and often print my own maps when needed for hiking. I don't think I've ever taken topo maps on a bike tour, though. I guess it depends on your style of touring.
ditto

They also back up my GPS when backpacking or ski touring; and I also carry a real (magnetic) compass.
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Old 01-23-16, 03:06 PM
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British Isles Ordinance Survey Maps are great.. Big Panel size .. (this was 1997)

Bought a New One in Book Sellers as I Rode off the edge of the last one.
now have a map collection..

Delorme maps are Topographical indicating shapes and steepness of hills,
But the ones I have in the US are in State Atlasses .. (California takes 2 Books.)

Of course Now there are Digital Products from both sources
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Old 01-24-16, 03:12 PM
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I use paper maps - and topo ones if they are available. The altitude contour lines are not as important as the other info on them. I use them when touring in outback Australia where mobile (cell) coverage is not reliable and neither is internet coverage. Besides, I can look at the map at anytime - day or night. That is why I also carry a led light for my head.

North American and European touring is certainly different, and "less wild", than outback Australia, but man alive you should see the incredible sky and sunrises and sunsets in the outback
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Old 01-24-16, 03:25 PM
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Yes where decent ones are readily available. Like Fletsbob says, the Ordnance Survey maps in the UK are superb for anyone who's touring here.
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Old 01-24-16, 06:33 PM
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Back in the 20th century I used Topos for backpacking but even back then I considered them too heavy and unnecessary for bike touring. In the 21st century I use GPS with digital topos for backpacking and GPS/Phone digital maps for bike touring. For a transition period I carried paper map backups but have finally come to the realization that they aren't necessary especially for touring.
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Old 01-25-16, 06:37 AM
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FYI for those 15 minute USGS topo maps, I'd suggest that you get yourself a U.S. Army manual entitled Map Reading and Land Navigation. It explains all of those marking on the topo that you didn't know about. You can get a copy on ebay fyi. And it explains the attendant use of the standard U.S. Military Lensatic Compass. Very handy.
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Old 01-26-16, 09:36 PM
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I am not typically a luddite but I do not use digital maps. Why? A few reasons....

1) Digital maps scroll with you, keeping you in the center. The world revolves around you on a digital map whereas you have to figure out where you fit into the world on a paper map.

This may seem a minor quibble. I believe it is a big deal.

2) Lifehacker did a post that is unbelievable to those of us who remember pre-smartphone days. I prefer independence to dependence.

Wean Yourself Off Your GPS Dependency and Actually Find Your Way Around

3) A huuuuuuuuge part of travel for me is creating those important mental connections.

How Driving a Taxi Changes London Cabbies' Brains | WIRED

4) Most importantly, I want to figure out how to get from A to B. This is a skill that is so much more than being just about maps. Using landmarks to determine north/south/east/west. Asking directions. Feeling that discomfort that comes with getting lost or not being sure. Making mistakes teaches lessons. This is the essence of critical thinking. It really is the difference between figuring it out vs. following directions. Gaining confidence by puzzling over problems vs being given answers to the hard problems. Those are two very different things.

I guess I'm a map luddite. So be it.
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Old 02-13-16, 07:21 PM
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Hey, somebody plagiarized my previous post and wrote it up as a story for the New York Times....

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/op...ot-a-road.html
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Old 02-14-16, 10:01 AM
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If Im on an ACA route then yes, they have topo info on them. Otherwise no. I have all map sections scanned into my tablet and only carry paper maps as a backup in the bottom of my pannier, so "using" is a fluid term.
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Old 02-14-16, 10:19 AM
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I've toured over large pars of N America and Europe with paper maps in the seventies and eighties. I still have a lot of them becaused I mailed them home when I was through with a section. I still prefer paper maps although I don't do long tours anymore. I guess being able to navigate with a map and compass is a lost art.

There might be a lot of lost people if there is an Electromagnetic pulse. I read somewhere that the miltary is still keeping celestial navigation skills alive just in case the whole GPS system is knocked out by either a hostile event or a solar storm. If it happens I'll be ready; I've got a lot of maps.
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Old 02-14-16, 10:29 AM
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My Big Panel Ordinance Survey maps , to preserve what is printed on the fold lines after multiple re-foldings,

right after I got them I used clear packing tape over the fold lines..
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Old 02-14-16, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man
Does anyone still tour with paper topographical maps?

Cheers
I don't carry too many paper maps these days, but I do have a tablet with something like ~50gb of topo and other misc. maps of the US and Japan. I have a plotter at home too, so it's not a big deal to make full size printouts of whatever I need, usually with any extra information I want on top of that.


Originally Posted by ironwood
I've toured over large pars of N America and Europe with paper maps in the seventies and eighties. I still have a lot of them becaused I mailed them home when I was through with a section. I still prefer paper maps although I don't do long tours anymore. I guess being able to navigate with a map and compass is a lost art.

There might be a lot of lost people if there is an Electromagnetic pulse. I read somewhere that the miltary is still keeping celestial navigation skills alive just in case the whole GPS system is knocked out by either a hostile event or a solar storm. If it happens I'll be ready; I've got a lot of maps.
The surveyors, GIS guys and cartographers I know were all trained on analog equipment to start with. I know a lot of civil engineers and geologists who are at least somewhat familiar with a lot of the older equipment too.

Last edited by manapua_man; 02-14-16 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 02-14-16, 07:29 PM
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I use topo maps where possible. UK Ordnance Survey have really accurate details, same for all maps in NW Europe. Some other maps may look accurate, but map and ground may diverge at times. Sometimes this is a deliberate policy.
Topographic detail is useful in forest trails, where landmarks are not available.
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