Free topo maps.

Discussion in 'Geocaching' started by laboucan, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. laboucan

    laboucan Tracker

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  2. fairweather

    fairweather Scout

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    you can download 1:24000 from the usgs
     
  3. Butler Ford

    Butler Ford Supporter Supporter

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  4. Towanda

    Towanda Tracker

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    Isn't a topo map printed on standard printer paper kind of small and useless?
     
  5. SixPack

    SixPack Guest

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    You can print your own on standard paper or waterproof paper. You can also buy them on waterproof paper. Waterproof paper is available at an office supply store or buy online.

    Even on standard paper, they are hardly useless. Printed maps and a compass should be your primary navigation tools. GPS should be secondary to that - always. That's not to say that you can't use GPS to move through the forest on a planned track, but you should have mapped out your proposed course and your location before that using a paper map and compass and the map and compass should be on your person.

    If you want to use standard paper, just put your maps into an Aloksak bag to keep them dry. Plus you can write on the Aloksak bag with map markers and then wipe it off with alcohol.
     
  6. Towanda

    Towanda Tracker

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    Yes, I know how to use a map and compass. Let me rephrase the question:

    Are topo maps printed on 8.5x11 paper difficult to use because they are so small?
     
  7. SixPack

    SixPack Guest

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    Well just do the math...

    A 1:24,000 topo maps is equal to 1"=2,000'

    If we use 8 inches across and 10.5 inches up and down for the usable area of the paper, that gives us 16,000 feet across or roughly three miles and 21,000 feet up and down or roughly 4 miles.

    So for every printed 8.5x11 piece of paper you can fit 3x4 miles of 24K topo map. That works out to a very nice usable scale where you can discern all the items on the map even small streams, trails, and buildings.

    Now, 1:100,000 maps are a different story. With that you get almost 13 miles x 18 miles on an 8.5x11 piece of paper and it's not nearly as good for a day hike since minor features, like small streams will not be shown.

    Most people who use maps for hiking will have both scales of maps with them. For instance on a three day hike at 10 miles per day, I would have two 1:100K overview maps that, together, show my entire planned trek and would be a backup in case I get way off course but the 100k maps would otherwise stay in my pack, and then I'd have 8 maps that were 1:24K and I would use them throughout each day to work off of as I move along my trek.

    hope that helps
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2011
  8. pure_mahem

    pure_mahem Guide

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    I recomend 2 copies of the Topo Map regardless of which one you use. Leave one with your Base Person your person back home, with your planned course and possible side points you might be considering marked out on it. So if you get lost or don't check in by such and such a time they have something very useful for the Search and Rescue team to come and find you. Regardless of your opinions on Cell phones if you have a signal you should at the very least check in every other day. This gives you time on your 3 days with out water. Just watched a guy that went on a 9 day hike got trapped between a boulder on the 3rd day and wasn't found until the 12th day, Dead from dehydration. That is not a pretty way to go, and as I found something to think about when your heading out. I'm not saying to over worry but play it safe it's only common sense and it's only a 30 second phone call to say "Hey I'm Okay, I made it to my second waypoint, talk to you tommorrow" You could even use a Walkie talkie or what not on the Forestry/ Park Service and leave your travel plans with them with the same deal.

    Have Fun and Be Safe!
     
  9. gurnie

    gurnie Guest

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    Thank's for the link's. Now i can get them at home instead of running over to the USFWS and having them print me a big one off.
     
  10. greyhound352

    greyhound352 Guide Bushclass I

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    Thanks for all of the links.
     
  11. fairweather

    fairweather Scout

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    another suggestion i would like to make is USAPhotoMaps 2.78. I've been using it for years, and its one of the most useful navigation programs I've ever used. one of the most useful features is the utm grid you can put over the top/photo.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. santaman2000

    santaman2000 Guide

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    In my experience, YES they are useless. If you "REALLY" need a map, you need a "REAL" map.

    That said, you can go to Office Depot and they have large printers to print out whatever size you need and to true scale.
     
  13. Trekon86

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    Mytopo.com is a great one, for affordable maps with laminated or waterproofed paper.

    Topozone is now defunct or no longer free.
    PMZ
     
  14. IdahoBackwoods

    IdahoBackwoods Guide

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    Nobody has mentioned the one that I use: www.topoquest.com

    The maps download as .tif files, which I can then crop into smaller maps, each of which fits on 8.5" x 11" paper, using an image editing app like Photoshop or Pixelmator. The little cropped maps are unreduced, so they have the same resolution as the original, and I save them as .jpg files.

    Then I print the little maps that I need for my hike. I often coat them with stuff that is sold for waterproofing maps, which seems to be the same as acrylic floor polish.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. fairweather

    fairweather Scout

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    I agree Mytopo is great. very fast turn around, and shipping. plus you can upload gpx info and have it printed right on the map.
     
  16. AncientNCO

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  17. Two Bears

    Two Bears Banned Member Banned

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    I have to disagree about a GPS being your primary. A map & compass should be a backup for the GPS not the other way around. I'm old enough to have used a map & compass BEFORE GPS was avaliable to the general public, or better put probably,, affordable and as good as they have been for the past ten years give or take a few years. As long as you put maps on the GPS you can have any scale you want with all of the detail. Extra batteries are all you need.
     
  18. injun51

    injun51 Guide

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    Very cool, thanks everyone for this invaluable info.
     
  19. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    To go back to Towanda's original point, i think you can fiddle with the printer settings or crop the photo and get the image, which WOULD measure roughly 18" on a side, to print off (usefully, since it will be "to scale") on 4 different pieces of paper, not one 18" square scaled down to fit on a single (and therefore too small to be useful) 8 x 10.

    Thanks, laboucan, for the original post. free is usually good.
     
  20. Akela

    Akela Scout

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    As a former Army Terrain Analyst, one of Murphy's Laws is "The area of interest always lies at the intersection of 4 map sheets."

    The useful "size" is determined by the limits of the area you are operating in and the desired level of detail provided by the map scale. You can always copy, paste, slice and dice base maps (paper maps) or any portions thereof to make them handier to use, and you can accordian them together in booklet form for those times when you travel "off the edge" of one sheet and onto another. Many of the available software programs are useful, and it's best to try a few of them to decide which is the most user friendly for your individual needs. If you don't like using maps inside of ziplock bags, you can buy adhesive laminating material in rolls to help waterproof your maps (we called it combat acetate).

    There are very good reasons why map/terrain association and basic navigation using map and compass is still taught.
    GPS is a handy tool, and we used it long before it became readily available on the civilian market. And while the hande held GPS units are fairly reliable, you should never place your own life or anyone elses on the line by relying upon an electronic device that can fail unexpectedly at any moment for any number of reasons. Be safe out there.
     
  21. Adam A.

    Adam A. Tracker

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    Took a little fiddling with- but a great resource; Thanks!

    Is there a way to change which layers are included in your map? or might we need a paid subscription?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  22. Dux

    Dux Banned Member Banned

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    Spot on. Exactly what I've been doing for decades.


    Have never used a GPS. Probably never will. No need.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  23. mwaterous

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    Wait just a dang minute now, that's a dot ca web site. Those are Canadian maps. Canadian. Nothing can live up there, it's too cold; so what would you possibly need with a Canadian topographical map?!
     
  24. SwampYankee64

    SwampYankee64 Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Just to dovetail off a super point by Akela, GPS is a great add on to landnav, but can't be a primary. At my old job we were looking at GPS tech for the US and I will give an example of what I am talking about. The Sats that we have in orbit right now for GPS are mostly about 25 years old +/- and their signal strength when the finally get to earth is pretty weak. A delivery guy out of the terminal by Liberty AP in NJ messed up the whole airports GPS with a little jammer that he was plugging into his dash so his boss wouldnt know he was going off route for a booty call. I'm not saying that they are going to start jamming GPS or anything, just that it is a VERY fragile technology and prone to let you down at the worst possible time. A decent compass and map will definitely help you out and is much less prone to failure.
    s/f
    Buzz
     
  25. DitchDoc

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    Thanks to all of those that have posted in this thread. Very helpful.
     
  26. j69charger500

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    Someone in another mentioned http://caltopo.com and it has became my favorite. Best part about it is that it will set up your maps in a downloadable PDF. Just thought i would throw it out there as i didn't see it mentioned.
     
  27. MWLanga

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    Caltopo is probably the best for canadians that don't want to pay for topo software or topo maps.
     
  28. WolfRidgeArmory

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    Great post! Thanks for the link!
     

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