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Are there any advantages using paper maps on your long distance rides?

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Are there any advantages using paper maps on your long distance rides?

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Old 04-15-18, 01:19 AM
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Obeast
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Are there any advantages using paper maps on your long distance rides?

I was looking at various GPS devices and they cost too much. I can hit a thriftstore and come with a bunch of atlas guides for like $5. I guess I can ride with these maps inside my jersey. They probably survive a few months inside a plastic sleeve protector of some type.
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Old 04-15-18, 02:23 AM
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Paper maps are easier to use because they show the big picture, where a GPS shows a small section. If you use a handlebar bag that has a clear sleeve you can have the map readily view-able. The disadvantage is having to flip pages, getting them wet or worn out and paper does not get updated, so they could be out of date and there may be better routes. Do you not have a smart phone? there are some excellent GPS apps for IOS and Android.
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Old 04-15-18, 02:29 AM
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In addition to a map, you can create a route on Google Maps and print a cue sheet from that for almost free.

I don't think any cyclist "needs" GPS. I ride cue sheets using a wristwatch instead of a bike computer odometer - technology is a convenience, not a necessity.
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Old 04-15-18, 05:49 AM
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I use paper maps exclusively. I have nothing against using a GPS, I just don't want to be bothered with the logistics of keeping it charged.
To keep weight down, before departure I'll trim the maps down to the area's I think I'll need.
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Old 04-15-18, 05:49 AM
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I'm a retrogrouch and am firmly entrenched in paper maps in my cue clip. I don't like traveling with batteries and chargers, looking for places to plug in every time I stop. I do enjoy stopping and asking directions once in a while, and asking for recommendations for places to eat, sleep, etc. You meet some nice people that way, and sometimes even get invitations. Tech removes some of the human aspect of traveling, I think.
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Old 04-15-18, 05:56 AM
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What is paper?
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Old 04-15-18, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Obeast View Post
I was looking at various GPS devices and they cost too much.
Do you have a smartphone?

If you do, you may want to install a navigation software and appropriate maps. All free.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:26 AM
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As MarcusT indicated, paper maps give you the big picture lacking on a small screen. I find that invaluable for planning a route, especially over a period of many days. In addition, some countries have detailed paper maps available with a wealth of information which I find extremely helpful. For example, in France, IGN maps have symbols which show elevation contour, roads with beautiful scenery, bike paths, castles, archeological sites, cathedrals, national parks, vineyards, caves, orchards, monuments, foreign military cemeteries, waterfalls, elevation of towns, and several other symbols. I sometimes used maps.me on my phone for navigation purposes, but not for route planning.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:48 AM
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>>>In addition to a map, you can create a route on Google Maps and print a cue sheet from that for almost free.<<<<

Disclaimer: I am not an international tourist. What I call a "tour" is a one or two day ride to the next state. If you are OK with this, read on!

While I don't have what is commonly called a "photographic memory," studying Google Maps (especially street view) ahead of time gives me a pretty complete picture of the area I will be traveling, however subconsciously some of the details may be implanted in my head. Not only does an image of the overall map stay in my mind, but so do the refreshment and bathroom stops along the way. Most of the Google Map cyclists I speak to share the same experience.

GPS, on the other hand, provides a much smaller picture of what's ahead, focusing primarily on getting you to the next turn. You may be different, but I prefer to know where I am in relation to where I want to be, for which a pre-printed Google Maps cue sheet -- or a paper map -- is much more effective.

Last edited by Papa Tom; 04-15-18 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
paper does not get updated, so they could be out of date and there may be better routes.
Paper maps will tend to be out of date in at least some spots already when you buy them. Buying them from a thrift store means they will be older and more likely to be out of date.

If you are talking about Adventure Cycling maps, there are frequently updated downloadable addenda that allow you to stay more up to date. Also most services you might need are on the maps and contact info for them is included. Since they are strip maps they do not show the big picture very well, but have wonderful detail along the route.

On long tours I pick up a state map at each state. They are often free at a welcome center if you enter the state where there is one. These maps give the bigger picture and are detailed enough for when I decide to go off of a planned route or ACA route.

Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
Do you not have a smart phone? there are some excellent GPS apps for IOS and Android.
To me using a smart phone in some manner is a no brainer these days. Even if you don't use it for turn by turn directions it allows you to research your route and any local attractions and to stay in touch with home by voice, text, or email, and a host of other things.

Even if you use a paper map (which I usually do), it is nice to do a reality check with google maps.

I tend to leave mine turned off most of the time, but do use it for in town navigation in larger towns and cities. I usually send a text or email home once a day and call every few days.
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Old 04-15-18, 11:24 AM
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For a really long distance ride, consider this: A paper map will never stop working because your GPS battery needed to be recharged and your computer or phone died. I currently own a GPS bike computer that I use for many rides. However, if I ride in unfamiliar areas by myself, I am very happy to take a paper map along with me.
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Old 04-15-18, 11:30 AM
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Souvenirs, I bought them on International bike tours over many years.

they show you places to go check out along the way to see more of where you are going..

European map publishers sell thru book shops US maps in gas stations are not so good , AAA club member maps are just a bit better...

Adventure cycling sells maps of their researched routes, with annotations of interest to cyclists , like where bike shops are..





....

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Old 04-15-18, 12:51 PM
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Plan on the computer and write out the cue sheet each evening for the next day. I don't carry a GPS and won't carry one either. It would be fun to do a bike tour without the laptop but the family won't let me go that long unless I stay in tough. I don't carry a cell phone on and I won't carry a cell phone on me...unless it might be being used for mp3 player???? on an unactivated cell phone. Debating the mp3 player right now, haven't did it in the past but I am contemplating it for future reference. I have the unactivated cell phone at home...
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Old 04-15-18, 03:26 PM
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I have nothing against using a GPS for a tour, but I have always relied on paper maps.

At the start of each day of a multi day tour, I spread out my maps on a table. On a sheet of paper, I sketch out an anticipated route, including alternatives. I include just enough detail to get me where I hope to get to.

I fold the sheet into an accordion, and slip it into my map holder. As often as needed, I refold my schematic map. If I get disoriented, I pull out the big maps.

I haven't had the experience of discovering that a paper map was out of date, but of course it could happen. But a GPS system may not be foolproof. While driving, Google Maps once led us to the wrong destination. We had to check a ten-year-old paper map to get back on track!
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Old 04-15-18, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I'm a retrogrouch and am firmly entrenched in paper maps in my cue clip. I don't like traveling with batteries and chargers, looking for places to plug in every time I stop. I do enjoy stopping and asking directions once in a while, and asking for recommendations for places to eat, sleep, etc. You meet some nice people that way, and sometimes even get invitations. Tech removes some of the human aspect of traveling, I think.
Using a GPS or smartphone is not mutually exclusive with meeting people and it is not responsible for removing the "human aspect of traveling." Humans are responsible for removing the human aspect of traveling.

Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
For a really long distance ride, consider this: A paper map will never stop working because your GPS battery needed to be recharged and your computer or phone died. I currently own a GPS bike computer that I use for many rides. However, if I ride in unfamiliar areas by myself, I am very happy to take a paper map along with me.
Paper maps quit working when they tear or get soaked and soggy. Nothing is infallible.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:24 PM
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I prefer maps on paper, for the bike, car, and motorcycle. I traveled cross country for work for years, and ride long distance on motorcycles for fun, and paper maps give a better overview. On a bicycle, you really aren't going so fast on tour that you need turn by turn directions.

One thing I hate about most online maps, is the orientation of the map. I prefer North to be up, South to be down, West to the left, and East right. It is much easier to visualize where you are going that way.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:34 PM
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I use both paper and gps stuff on a phone or tablet.
both are great and have their uses.
I also still like showing a map to a local and starting a conversation when asking to confirm something-its a big part of my bike travelling experience, talking to folks.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:48 PM
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I got big panel maps and a water resistant cover made for nav charts for boats.

clear packing tape preserves the print where it is folded and refolded repeatedly..

With a compass handy , you flip the map around , so you are looking at the map like you are seeing the place around you.. right to your right, etc.

(unless you exclusively head North).. good maps and all nav charts have a compass rose to orient you to magnetic north,

rather than the physical 90 degree north latitude of the pole, which is not the same..







....
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Old 04-15-18, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
One thing I hate about most online maps, is the orientation of the map. I prefer North to be up, South to be down, West to the left, and East right. It is much easier to visualize where you are going that way.
That is an option with most gps apps including google maps on android.
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Old 04-15-18, 08:42 PM
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I am surprised by the proportion of paper maps fans.

Try to navigate across Tokyo with a paper map and post your experience so I can learn.

Paper maps are ok in some circumstances, but inferior to electronic maps in all respects with the exception, maybe, of lighting a campfire. The debate would be like comparing pencil paper to a spreadsheet.

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Old 04-15-18, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
In addition to a map, you can create a route on Google Maps and print a cue sheet from that for almost free.

I don't think any cyclist "needs" GPS. I ride cue sheets using a wristwatch instead of a bike computer odometer - technology is a convenience, not a necessity.

IME using Google Maps & printing cue sheets is more convenient than GPS which has never been optimized for the niche touring market. A cheap GPS can be handy to find location when off-track but a phone can do that too. I always use cue sheets--that way one can leave the phone/GPS off & not have to fuss with batteries or recharging.
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Old 04-15-18, 11:32 PM
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Paper maps have some advantages, but we use all the aids available to us: cell phones, paper maps, google map, etc. There are a lot of places with no cell coverage.





Google map and GPS also have limitations. While touring in Poland, Google map led us down several miles of muddy road to this set of steps. The road we wanted was up at the to of this hill.

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Old 04-15-18, 11:41 PM
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i like to research a route ahead of time. google maps, crazyguy, agoda, etc.
never bothered with a gps on tour, rarely carry a cellphone.
try to find most recent paper maps, and make daily route sheets while on tour.
2-3 days worth of route goes in the hbar bag clear cover, map safely stowed.

as we all know, the plural of anecdote are data.......

for the longest time, the googlemaps showed highway 23 in laos as a major paved
highway. paper maps showed a long section as a dry season only track with notes
indicating two bridges were down.....bombed in the late 60's to cut off the ho chi
minh trail. nothern crossing passable by small local ferry in dry season only, can
wade across the south in the dry season.

last time i was there (2015) the northern bridge was being replaced, nothing south.
i would assume the chinese engineers have completed the bridge by now.
tripadvisor from december 2017 shows no signs of work at the southern bridge.
latest googlemaps satellite views show no bridge construction at either crossing, but
still shown as a highway, now with a broken link at the northern water crossing.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g3337424-d13236717-Reviews-Prince_Souphanouvong_s_Bridge-Salavan_Salavan_Province.html

this is the highway between the two downed bridges (the southern part before it turns
into sandy jungle trail), and the northern construction site.

tripadvisor sez: "This road is truly awful. It’s a combination of red dirt, sand and bone jarring sharp golf ball sized rocks. We managed (just barely) to do this by regular motorbike but it is risky as there is hardly any civilisation or infrastructure along the way, nary a village let alone a shop to repair a tire. We noticed a few sections have been graded so there is a possibility that the road may be sealed at some point."
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Old 04-16-18, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
...The debate would be like comparing pencil paper to a spreadsheet.
There's a place for both. I'm reminded of my boss and mentor when spreadsheets were just becoming common. He told me the worst mistakes he saw were spreadsheet mistakes. It's too easy to miss a very significant digit. He trained me to use a pencil and paper first to estimate the result. Then use the spreadsheet for speed and accuracy.

(At my next job, I was at a bid opening for a large contract. The winning bidder had made a stupid spreadsheet error in the millions of dollars column. He should have had the same boss.)

In navigation as well, there's a place for both methods. Nobody should blindly follow GPS directions. People have died doing that.
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Old 04-16-18, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I am surprised by the proportion of paper maps fans.

Try to navigate across Tokyo with a paper map and post your experience so I can learn.

Paper maps are ok in some circumstances, but inferior to electronic maps in all respects with the exception, maybe, of lighting a campfire. The debate would be like comparing pencil paper to a spreadsheet.
I think its fair to say that the people who respond here are those who still like using paper maps, so that skews teh responses a bit.

re your Tokyo example-absolutely, I dont own a proper gps unit, but as others have shown on this forum in the past, urban settings is really where its going to be a huge help and time saver. In medium cities that I have biked into during my Latin America trips, I found my phone or tablet gps feature a great help to place myself when unsure , or to confirm things, and I was using either preloaded country maps with free app Map.me or using google maps when I had data service on my phone (in Mexico this last trip).

but I would counter the "maps are useless" view with personal experience with folks who rely on and or are just used to using gps stuff- maybe because I grew up doing outdoor stuff and am visual, but I have found that some people need to check up on their gps much too often, or believe or follow blindly what it says.
I know this is a generalization, but Tokyo aside, a large percentage of bike travelling doesnt require that much precision, ie its more like- follow route 14 along to X town, continue on rt 14 to Y town, then take rt 11 to Z town, sort of thing.

I do not have a dyno hub, or even carry a top up battery unit, so its also nice to know that I dont have to have my electronic units even on for most of the day, and if I do need to use them, in 30 sec my phone can be on, so there is an advantage to not using these devices if charging availability is perhaps remote.

also, in my last trips, I often was out of cell phone service, but yes, a regular gps unit even on my tablet will work in these conditions using offline maps.

and I do come back to liking a good old paper map to show and discuss with people, maybe I have this view because having travelled in Latin America, and not wanting to use "flashy or expensive" doodads when talking to local people.
Yes, in Mexico anyway, just about everyone has a smart phone today, so perhaps my argument is weak, but I still like how when looking at a paper map with someone at the side of the road, we can both see the large picture aspect of a map, and like I said earlier, I like the social interaction with someone with a map.

I completely understand that in areas where its not easy to have a map, or you have to have many many maps, electronic is obviously a help, but if possible to have one, it is just nice to have a real paper, non breakable, non battery dependant map to go over and not worry about battery life.

remember too, older devices can have battery issues as well, meaning they can go from a good charge to hardly anything suddenly, which can be a reality for some people and their device, leaving you with no maps at all.

I truly believe there is a place for both in todays world, gps is fantastic and a huge help, but its still cool holding a real map, but maybe Im an old fart.....
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