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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

BACKPACKER Map Maker iPad app

Plan hikes and backpacking trips, plus other outdoor adventures like never before on detailed, interactive topo maps and aerial photos.

by: The Backpacker Editors

Backpacker's Map Maker iPad App
Backpacker's Map Maker iPad App

If you’re like us, you fire up your laptop and spend hours poring over maps—reliving past trips and plotting new adventures. Now you can do both on BACKPACKER’s Map Maker iPad app.

Loaded with colorful, richly detailed topos, aerial images, and street maps you can cache on the tablet, this powerful tool lets you import trips and GPS data, drag-and-drop waypoints, zoom in on that key river crossing on your dream trip in Alaska's Brooks Range, and much more. Sync with our smartphone app BACKPACKER GPS Trails (
iPhone and Android) for a complete in-field navigation experience.
  • View seamless topo maps by MyTopo. MyTopo takes the base maps offered by the USGS and enhances them with shaded relief from the most up-to-date information available for topographic mapping. Topo maps are 1:24K scale in the Lower 48 states, 1:63K in Alaska and 1:50K in Canada. Get instant access to more 70,000 topographic maps in the US and Canada
  • View aerial imagery by Bing Maps. Our Bing Maps content license allows you to store maps on your device for use in remote backcountry areas without a data connection.
  • Two maps are better than one. In dual mode, Map Maker lets you overlay two map types on top of each other for the best trip planning experience. Utilize five map types: street, hybrid, terrain, topographic and aerial.
  • Cache up to 500MB of maps for offline viewing. No network connection is needed once you store your maps on your iPad.
  • Search for peaks, mountain passes, creeks, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, cities and more. Thousands of places can be instantly found on a map.
  • Get the best of digital maps and old-school paper maps. Pair maps you create in Map Maker with a custom waterproof map printed by MyTopo.
  • Mark waypoints with a simple drag-and-drop of your finger.
  • Add and edit waypoint notes.
  • Use the ruler to measure trip distances.
  • See how far it is from the trailhead to your camp to a mountain summit and beyond. See how far waypoints are from your current known location.
  • Press the digital compass to see a screen-sized compass overlaid onto your maps.
  • Display coordinates in latitude and longitude in three formats (DD, DDM, DMS). Or, view coordinates in UTM, the metric-based coordinate system preferred by the US military and adventure racers.
  • Match the map datum with your paper map. WGS 84 and NAD 27 are supported. Copy and paste coordinates from your favorites websites, guidebooks, or Google Earth.
  • Customize your iPad display for right- or left-handed users.
  • Switch between metric (km, kph) and national units (mi, ft).
  • View your current compass heading and declination.
  • Pre-plan trips and auto-sync them to the Trip Cloud. Our free cloud services allow you to access trips from any computer or device.
  • Open trips you planned in Map Maker in BACKPACKER GPS Trails, our outdoor navigation app built for iPhone and Android. Learn more at
  • Edit trips at, in our Map Maker iPad app or in our Backpacker GPS Trails app and see the changes the next time you connect to the network.
  • Import GPS files (.gpx) into your online account and within seconds see and edit them in Map Maker.

Please visit to download and get complete instructions and view tutorials. We’d love to hear from you. Post your comments and suggestions at

The BACKPACKER Map Maker app is part of the Trimble Outdoors Network.

BACKPACKER Map Maker is designed and optimized for the iPad and iPad 2. It works on both the Wifi and 3G models but the Wifi models lack a GPS chip required to show your exact location. Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.

Some older accounts are not compliant with this iPad app. Please shoot us an email at and we’ll fix your login problems.

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