PRINT A CUSTOMIZED TOPO
- Launch your mapping software. If it’s ExpertGPS and you’ve already created a route, go to Print under the File menu. Otherwise, see "Create a Route". To print maps for free, we like Gmaps Pedometer (gmap-pedometer.com), which supports satellite and topo layers and generates elevation profiles.
- Find the trailhead by searching for geographic points, park names, or cities. For help finding names, tap into the USGS database (geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic). Use the map resource box to confirm it’s the right place.
- Drop a waypoint with the trailhead coordinates into your mapping software.
- Add more points for the rest of the route, such as junctions and campsites.
- When picking topo scale, 1:100K is okay for general navigation, but the extra detail and clarity of 1:24K maps are best for tricky routefinding. Some programs allow you to build elevation profiles, including gmap-pedometer.com.
- Print your map on National Geographic’s waterproof and tear-resistant Adventure Paper ($20, sheets up to 11"x17", shop.nationalgeographic.com). If your mapping software won’t let you print topos, capture a screen grab (An image that’s an exact copy of what’s on your computer screen. To make one: PC: "Ctrl Print Scrn"; Mac: "Command-Shift-3") and paste it into your photo-editing program. Then print it. Then get new software.
BUILD A DELUXE MAP
- Open an account at backpacker.com.
- Go to backpacker.com/postatrip. Start a new trip or import a gpx file.
- Name your trip. Add description. Hit save and go to Map Editor.
- Zoom in on your trip location, then plot waypoints and draw tracks.
- When your personal overlays are done, save trip. On the view trip page, click "Print MyTopo" under Map Tools, which leads you to MyTopo.com (our partner site).
- Pick your waypoint style and track color (we prefer red since it pops most maps).
- Choose the map type (topo, color aerial, hybrid topo-photo, b&w aerial photo)
- Select your map size (up to 36" x 48") and scale (down to 1:10K). The red box shows the printed map’s edges. Move the box to your desired location.
- Choose what type of paper you want (waterproof, glossy, laminated).
- Name your map, pick a grid overlay, and decide if you want hill-shading.
- Preview the map. Then add to cart.
- If your route requires more than one topo, repeat steps 5-11 to build other maps.
- Follow the checkout process. Allow a few days for delivery.
DIAL IN LAST MINUTE DETAILS
- Check the forecast at NOAA’s weather.gov, click on your state and region, then pick a spot on the "Detailed Point Forecast" map to get current conditions and a seven-day prediction for specific elevations and backcountry lat/long coordinates.
- Find your trailhead Use Google Maps to print turn-by-turn driving directions by entering your address and the trailhead’s lat/long digits. Don’t know the exact coordinates? Bombsite them with a waypoint on Google Earth and copy the details.