SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

The Future of Maps

Four cutting-edge cartographers--from Google's explorer-in-residence to Tom Harrison himself--help us chart the course of the next revolution in wilderness mapping.

by: Kris Wagner and Jonathan Dorn

Peter Birch's map of attempts on Mt. Ritter.
Peter Birch's map of attempts on Mt. Ritter.
Peter Birch. (Jamie Kripke)
Peter Birch. (Jamie Kripke)
Tom Harrison.
Tom Harrison.
Fred Zahradnik. (Kreg Ulery)
Fred Zahradnik. (Kreg Ulery)

Imagine maps that change as fast as conditions on the ground. That’s just one of the revolutions envisioned by today’s leading cartographers and navigation experts, who joined BACKPACKER for a roundtable discussion led by map editor Kris Wagner and editor-in-chief Jonathan Dorn.

THE PARTICIPANTS
Peter Birch Explorer-in-residence at Google and director of the company’s Geo group
Tom Harrison Established Tom Harrison Maps 23 years ago, specializing in maps of California parks and recreation areas  
Larry Moore A USGS cartographer since 1981 and current manager of the US Topo project
Fred Zahradnik Since 2007, About.com’s expert on GPS products, services, and trends

BP Next things first: What will trail maps look like 10 years from now?

Peter The map of the future will be something that shows the information that you’re most interested in—at that moment. If you want to go mountain biking this weekend, you’ll get a map that shows exactly—and only—what you need for that task. Instead of a “one map fits all” approach, you’ll get something that’s unique, current, and customized.

Fred
They’ll be what I like to call “living maps”—connected, with images, video, and personalization . And as GPS becomes a built-in commodity for an array of electronic devices, these maps will know your location.

BP Is there a risk of putting too much info on a map?

Tom Absolutely. Making a successful map is about knowing what to leave off. The standard USGS 7.5-minute quad has a lot of information for different reasons. For instance, the USGS often includes data like county boundaries and land grants. But most hikers don’t care about land grants or townships. With recreation maps, you also need to consider your customer. Maybe some want bicycle routes, but not everyone. You can make a map visually too busy. It’s a subjective thing to strike that balance, and that’s where the art comes in.
Peter This problem is very similar to web search. You have this vast amount of information out there, and you’re trying to figure out what the most relevant piece is. I think that we’re going to get a lot of really interesting signals [as we see how people use Google Earth and other web-based mapping tools]. For example, if you’ve recently done a mountain-bike ride, you might want to know other people who have done that ride—and what other rides they’ve done. And you might want to show those rides on a map. With the web, we have so many extra pieces of information to manage. The big challenge: How do we know what’s relevant?




Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

lol
Nov 24, 2011

hi

Greg
May 29, 2010

I like to have all trails on maps. They can provide a reference point for navigation or an escape/rescue route if someone becomes injured. You can leave the county, ownership or hunting lease info out for me.. I own TOPO! software but I feel the maps are limited by the amount of area I can print. They are great for the one hike or bike ride.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Gear
What Should I Do About A Table And Chairs?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Trailhead Register
Who's Working this weekend...?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions