A hiking map is quite useful, of course, if you plan on going on a hike!
There's a number of things to think about for your hiking adventure.
There are different types of maps to consider before planning and setting out on
your hike. There's tons of information on the internet. Just do a
Google search, and you'll likely come right to one with the specific
trail and map that you need. That's one way to access your information.
There are more specific ways to have a hiking map that's better for your needs. You may want to keep the map - have a hard
copy to catalog it for future reference or to keep an archive. You can print out your map on paper resistant to ripping or water
damage. Then you can have it accessible in your backpack.
Cell phone apps are on the go maps, and typically pretty user-friendly. More here>
A hiking map and compass are essential tools.
Topographical maps are valuable, and can be incorporated into your
map. The topographical information can be input as background
details into the map. The information is important in some
trail routing, as elevation changes affect hike timing and effort. That
knowledge can take you a long way - figuratively and literally!
What are the mapping options?
- Commercial Maps - For purchase at a map production facility. They can help you find exactly what you need - good customer service. Their maps will be excellent, easy reading. If you're planning ahead, this is a great option. If you're setting out on the spur of the moment, not so much. The map needs to be prepared & gotten to you. If it's a local facility, it may work - but they may have restrictive opening hours. Also, they will tend to have the most common popular routes available. If you plan on some back-country routes - they may not have them, or it will take extra time to get you the map.
- Map Software - If you do a lot of hiking and backpacking, this is probably worth it. It's an investment of money and time. They start at about $50. You must learn how to use all of the options to make it efficient for you. Once you learn it, you can customize so much for your own needs. Design the map you want, put in way-points, notes, personalized points, etc. Then you print it out to your own desires!
- Online Maps - As mentioned, so many are available. Searching is a best method. One good site to check into is called Waymarked Trails. Hiking trails are shown throughout the US, plus all around the world! You can also access other types of routes. It has printing capabilities, and it works with GPS. See it by clicking here!
Hiking Map Cell Phone Apps
Cell phones are an integral way of life now. Can they be useful as a hiking map? Actually, it may be. Let's see what the options are...
Apps are available to access hiking maps.
- Back Country Navigator Pro - Available for Android platforms. Using GPS navigation. There are very good choices of topo maps from the US. You can insert way-points. It uses GPS functionality, so it doesn't depend on the likely unavailable cell service to be usable on the trails.
- Motion X - For iPhone. Works with GPS, so available without cell service. Must research the map you need, and then download it before hitting the trail.
- Outdoor Navigation - For Windows Phone. Possibly the best option for this device. It's still somewhat limited in functions compared to those for Android & iOS. Provides maps and a compass, trail details. Works with GPS.
- Navigator - Blackberry platform. Good option here. Works with GPS to provide mapping information.
- All Trails - As the title says... all kinds of categories for trails: birding, when camping, horseback riding, hiking, dog-friendly, beach, cave, running, walking, hiking - even more! You get it! Can upgrade above free version for even more perks. For Android or iPhone.
- Every Trail - User focused app for Android or iPhone. Map out any kind of hike or walk through GPS. Then share your experience via photos, reviews, tips, etc.