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squeezebox
01-11-2016, 17:28
does anyone carry paper maps?
I bought a set of maps in 2010, they are pretty much waterproof. They are fun to look at at home. But the couple of oz here and there issue makes me question their worth on the trail. I saw someone with the smart phone app. Way Cool!! The " you are here " arrow was very impressive. Along with the 14 or so mail drops, or bounce boxes, a lot of logistics. I would nor trust my ex-wife or son to act in a responsible fashion to provide them for me. Geez!! Maybe I answered my own question.
At least thank you for letting me vent!!

soumodeler
01-11-2016, 18:01
I still generally don't carry them, but after having to get off the AT in the Smokies between Fontana and Clingmans Dome (no road access) without a map of the area I understand how valuable they can be. I had an AWOL guide that told me where side trails were, but not where they went. I needed to got off for medical reasons and either had to hike back to Fontana (15 miles) or ahead to Clingmans Dome or take "a side trail that intersected with another trail that takes you to Cades Cove where there is a Ranger Station" according to a ridgerunner. Right before I took the wrong trail someone showed up with a park map and we figured it out. That map seriously saved me a lot of extra time and suffering. AWOL is ok as long as you are on the AT. Not so much for the surrounding areas. Not really a problem with AWOL, but at least saying where a trail went would have been very helpful, especially in an area with no road access.

Grandscale
01-11-2016, 18:23
I always carry a photo copy of the AWOL guide section that I am hiking. Not sure if that counts or not. I will use maps when I visit other parks and trails for the first time. My pre trip planning is done with a combination of maps, google earth, and internet research (forums, etc.).

Lachlan
01-11-2016, 18:27
I used the maps on my previous thru hike and will definitely used them again on my next one.

JohnHuth
01-11-2016, 18:42
I almost always carry paper maps. I now download USGS quads in PDF format, and then use Illustrator to put in lines of magnetic variation, separated by 1 mile each. I then print them out on more waterproof paper and carry them with me.

sliverstorm
01-11-2016, 18:57
I feel naked without a topo map available. A map on my GPS will work in a pinch, but I don't count on my phone.

If you don't want to carry full topo maps, you could consider a trail map, which is often much smaller & lighter. But not much use if you lose the trail.

Cotton Terry
01-11-2016, 18:59
I'll be using maps, the Guthook AT app, and AWOL's AT Guide. Each have their own positives worth the few ounces they weigh.
- Maps: As soumodeler said, maps are invaluable for showing where the roads and connecting trails actually go. The maps are useless until you need them, but when you do need them, they're invaluable.
- Guthook AT app: Great for the 'you are here' function, which is especially helpful. Also has other nice features that compliment maps and the AT Guide.
- AWOL's AT Guide: Provides good information on towns and services as well as verification for the app.

soumodeler
01-11-2016, 19:03
Oh, and I forgot to add that there was no cell service to look up the trail info I needed. That would have helped, but you can't count on cell service in the mountains!

jimmyjam
01-11-2016, 19:06
I carry the long strip maps sold on AWOLs site. They're all the map you need.

Coffee
01-11-2016, 19:08
I always carry paper maps. Electronics can fail and they are hard to use when it is freezing. I do use map apps as well. They are nice when they work.

LoneStranger
01-11-2016, 19:08
Always carry a map and compass even though I almost never need to use them. I've been toying with an app lately for the gps features, but I don't think I'll stop carrying the map. Most of my maps weigh less than an oz and if that ever becomes too much to carry I'll probably have to get off the trail anyways :)

JumpMaster Blaster
01-11-2016, 19:33
I have fallen in love with the National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps of the AT. Even if I don't carry the entire map (3.2 ounces), I scan or copy and print the entire area I'm hiking. Those one or two pages get folded up along with a few pages copied out of AWOL's guide. They have a little less detail I too want to know what other roads/trails intersect and especially where they go. I use Guthook's AT guide, but that only shows so much.

shelterbuilder
01-11-2016, 20:13
Another paper map user checking in! Electronics can fail for a number of reasons, but paper (especially the waterproof kind) works under any conditions. Also, there are times when you need to get off the trail in a hurry, and the A.T. maps (as well as most topo maps) will give you that option.

PennyPincher
01-11-2016, 20:17
I have always carried maps. Once it probably saved our lives as it allowed us to find water off trail which was not mentioned in the guide books. We would have had severe dehydration issues otherwise.

squeezebox
01-11-2016, 20:23
Thanks for the pro-paper maps comments. But geez the 14 or so map mail drops or the bounce boxes are going to be a PITA. What did you do to get the maps to you?
Thanks!!

NewHeart
01-12-2016, 06:47
I just into this, I just ordered the AT Guide and I didn't order the additional maps. I figured the Guide would be all I would need. Was I wrong?

NewHeart
01-12-2016, 07:11
And as long as we're talking navigation, I have not bought my compass as of yet. Any recommendations?

Heliotrope
01-12-2016, 08:08
Maps are also great reading in your shelter at day's end.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Traveler
01-12-2016, 08:58
To weigh in as well, I carry paper maps for any trail section (AT or others) I am doing. The weight of a couple of pieces or so of paper in a baggie just does not add that much weight. Electronics absolutely fail, which I think most everyone here has had an electronic failure at some point, usually at the worst possible time (a traditional Murphy gift). Being able to see the area I am in, both on the trail and around it for a few miles makes sense on a lot of levels and is, if nothing else, a good back up.

I am not against electronic maps, but having electronics failure miles from anywhere in remote areas has provided some good lessons. There is no education in the second kick of the mule.

MockingJay
01-12-2016, 09:11
There are times when I'm hiking along with my map folded in my pocket and I'll stop to try to figure out where exactly we are and then my hiking buddy will walk up with his phone in hand and say, "We're 2.5 miles from the shelter or there's 2 more big climbs before we get to the road crossing". That stuff drives me crazy because that's what I go to the woods to get away from. I enjoy pulling out the map at the end of the day to see all I've walked over or study the terrain for the next day. Maybe it's the feeling of being self sufficient and knowing that I've earned every mile. Ultimately, though, I think the absolute best thing about carrying a map is the feeling you get every time you walk off of one.

colorado_rob
01-12-2016, 09:30
Maps are also great reading in your shelter at day's end.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Agreed, I get a ton of enjoyment at the end of the day from perusing a local detailed map.


And as long as we're talking navigation, I have not bought my compass as of yet. Any recommendations?I've always just owned and used the simple little 1 ounce Silva, very much like this one. Never understood the need for anything heavier. You really only need a pointing needle and a straight edge if you have to do any orientation or triangulation.

http://www.amazon.com/Silva-Starter-1-2-3-Compass-CLEAR/dp/B000YDWPA6/ref=sr_1_9?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1452605109&sr=1-9&refinements=p_89%3ASilva

I always carry a map and a compass EXCEPT, when I hiked the AT, I did not carry maps, except in the White Mountains and Maine. The AT, being an extremely well marked and popular trail, has been the single exception.

Old Hiker
01-12-2016, 09:34
Yes.

Carried/will carry ATC paper maps for each state or two - depends on how many maps per state.

Also carried/will carry AWOL's Guide. Nice to cross ref at times.

full conditions
01-12-2016, 09:39
On my New England section hike last summer, I was on top of the fire tower on Glastenbury Mountain, had my map out and was identifying various landmarks when a couple of thru hikers came up and joined in. They had only rarely been able to identify the landscape they were looking at the last several months and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being able to for a change. When I mentioned that the maps I was using were available from the ATC they seemed genuinely baffled - had never heard of either. Paper maps are a source of real pleasure for me - I study the landscape before, during and after every hike I do and the experience is so enriching to me that I cant imagine not carrying them. I dont have to carry them - I like using them.

soilman
01-12-2016, 09:44
I always carry a map and sometimes a compass. The AT was confusing around Devils Fork Gap with a lot of jeep roads and other trails. I pulled out my map and figured out where the trail went. Saved me time. My experience is that many attempting a thru hike do not carry maps. On my thru hikes I would mail my maps. I only missed one that I had mailed to a hostel. I sure missed having a map during that section.

JohnHuth
01-12-2016, 12:07
Compasses - I go with a Suunto MC 2DL, they're more expensive, but the bearing is great, and it has some nice features. If you use one with a mirror, you need to learn how to use this feature properly, but I find that these have the most precision.

I tend to not like lensatic compasses because they're difficult to use as protractors on maps, ones with transparent baseplates are much easier to do the same operations on the map as you do in the 'real world'.

Just a word of caution: topo's can sometimes be wrong. Trails can be rerouted. I had one case where a stream was indicated flowing in the wrong direction, but caught the error. Redundancy of information is important when navigating.

Water Rat
01-12-2016, 12:15
And as long as we're talking navigation, I have not bought my compass as of yet. Any recommendations?

+1 for Silva or Suunto. You don't need anything fancy, just reliable. I have used both, but my Silva has been with me for many hikes.

Water Rat
01-12-2016, 12:27
I just into this, I just ordered the AT Guide and I didn't order the additional maps. I figured the Guide would be all I would need. Was I wrong?

Not wrong... On the AT, you can get by with just the guide book pages and a map of the area. The maps can be picked up separate. The "AT specific" maps are really good maps to have if you are interested in your elevation for any section of your hike and if you enjoy looking at maps. When I started hiking on the AT I did it with other maps, but I came to really enjoy the specialized maps for the AT. On one side you have the trail map. The other side provides you with an elevation chart. These are nice for planning purposes and for figuring out what kind of terrain is just ahead of you. http://www.shop.theatguide.com/Pocket-Profile-full-set-for-AT-PPFS.htm


A little more expensive, but the trail geek in me loves the book and map sold via the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (as well as other retail stores). I leave the book at home, but it has a lot of fun facts and information for each state. If there is something that really intrigues me, I make note of it on my xerox copies. https://www.atctrailstore.org/catalog/iteminfo.cfm?itemid=209&compid=1

PennyPincher
01-12-2016, 12:29
And as long as we're talking navigation, I have not bought my compass as of yet. Any recommendations?

I carry a Suunto A-10. Very light weight. And While I have almost never needed it on the trail, I would never go without it. If you are in bad weather and get disoriented in your direction it could be fatal. Most items I carry need to be used on every trip or they face being ejected from my pack on the next hike - first aid and maps and compass stay regardless if I ever use them.

sliverstorm
01-12-2016, 15:20
Never understood the need for anything heavier. You really only need a pointing needle and a straight edge if you have to do any orientation or triangulation.

Things like mirrors and adjustable declination can be nice. The mirror helps you on accuracy for shooting very far away landmarks, and set-able declination makes your life a little easier if you are taking many readings. But I wouldn't really recommend either feature to a compass novice.

PennyPincher
01-12-2016, 15:23
Things like mirrors and adjustable declination can be nice. The mirror helps you on accuracy for shooting very far away landmarks, and set-able declination makes your life a little easier if you are taking many readings. But I wouldn't really recommend either feature to a compass novice.

and quite unnecessary on the AT.

Skyline
01-12-2016, 15:41
Waterproof maps, along with the torn-out sheets (or photocopies) of the AT section or other trail I'm on from one of the guidebooks is the way that's always worked for me. I see no reason to go all electronic just to be trendy.