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)

BP Accuracy is a concern to our readers, both in the user-generated map content out there and in trail maps based on USGS topos. Many topos haven’t been updated for decades, and some are no longer suitable for navigation, like quads for Alaska that haven’t kept up with changes to treeline elevation. Is there a plan to update USGS topos?

Larry The USGS is not updating the current series. However, we are designing a new product that has the same basic quadrangle design, but instead of being a printed, paper map, it’s a digital product in layered GeoPDF format . One of the layers is orthoimagery at one-meter resolution. [Ed note: Orthoimagery uses highly detailed aerial images that you can use for advanced navigation, but which can be updated faster and more often than traditional cartography. Find 17,000 GeoPDFs at nationalmap.gov/ustopo.]

Tom
We’ve had a lot of requests for putting the entire John Muir Trail on the iPhone. My first reaction was: Are you crazy? We have 13 maps between Yosemite and Mt. Whitney. I mean, it’s 220 miles—you won’t have enough battery power! But people said, “Oh no, don’t worry about it. We have solar chargers.” The number of people who are using PDAs and iPhones in the wilderness just astounds us. So we’re going that way.

Fred
That’s a good decision, I think, because we see more and more people using electronic and paper together. Most backpackers wouldn’t rely solely on an electronic device, but really want that GPS along for accuracy. I think we’re headed for a long period of combined use.

BP OK, so maps of the future will need power. What other inventions do we need?

Tom A flat, rollable, maybe even foldable piece of very thin plastic with pixels embedded in it. There are some prototypes for The New York Times, and I’d like to see one for maps—in color, with the ability to download updates. Our paper and plastic maps last for a year or two before we print them again, and one of the rules of commercial cartography is that the first map off the press is already out of date. Things happen—a road gets closed, a campground changes—and it would be great if we could get this information and update it to a living map.




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

Mid-Atlantic
Prowl the Sproul 2014
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: PhillyMike
Trailhead Register
Hiker/bear incident in GNP
Posted On: Jul 28, 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