2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
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.

Backpacker Magazine – June 2008

New Tools, New Rules: Plan the Perfect Trip

Every great trip boils down to this: Picking an ideal location, capturing memorable moments, and bragging about it. Here's how to get started the high-tech way.

by: Evelyn Spence, Jason Stevenson, and Kris Wagner

Plan the Perfect Trip | Get Maps and Go | Websites and Tech Tools

Find a Hike

  • Search trip reports, view photos, and consult maps and GPS tracks (A log of location-based electronic breadcrumbs recorded by your GPS. Most devices can save multiple tracks) at,,, and

  • Browse national park highlights at

  • Google the web's wisdom by typing in exactly what you want ("best waterfall hikes in the Olympics").

Create Route and Download it to Your GPS
First, you need the best mapping software. Our map editors create and review thousands of digital trips every year, and they rely on ExpertGPS (, $50). It supports nine leading GPS brands, has the best track-editing tool, and comes with free software updates. Here's how to use it.

1. Open ExpertGPS and create a new file. You can start with no data, or download existing GPS info from or another mapping site.

2. Bombsite (To place a waypoint on a digital map by eyeballing its location. The map's underlying software produces coordinates for each bombsited spot that you can then send to your GPS) waypoints on key spots like trailheads, campsites, and hard-to-find passes. Switch between topo and aerial views to determine the best locations for your points.

3. Use the track tool to draw routes between your saved waypoints and to estimate mileage. Tip: Merge your tracks to save memory on your GPS.

4. Type short descriptions (20 words or less) into waypoints and tracks by clicking on them.

5. Save the file, then connect your GPS to the computer.

6. Under the GPS menu in the software, select Send to GPS, then pick waypoints and tracks to download to your device.

Preview Routes in 3D
Never used Google Earth? It's an amazing–and addictive–tool. You can see remote terrain up-close at any angle, which lets you scout off-trail routes, secluded campsites, and potential hazards. Here's how:

1. Download it (free,

2. Type a location ("Yosemite") in the Fly To search box, then use the tilt, rotate, and zoom controls (top right of screen) to create different views.

3. Turn on extra layers to see place names, park highlights, photos, real-time weather, and nearby roads.

4. Mark potential campsites and crux passes by dropping points (yellow pins) with your cursor. See "Manually Enter Key Waypoints" (below) on how to enter those coordinates into a GPS.

Manually Enter Key Waypoints
Scored the coordinates for a secret fishing hole? Add it to your GPS by typing the digits into a new waypoint. The icon will appear at the correct spot on the map. Important: Match your map datum (The terrain survey used to match features on the ground to coordinates on the map. Two most common datum: NAD 27 and WGS 84) and coordinate system before entering any point. Confirm coordinates from an unfamiliar source by checking them in Google Maps.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Tell me about new boot trends!
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Rocky Mountains
Backpacking Trip in the Beartooths
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer

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

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:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions