View Full Version : Companion/Data Book and Mapdanas?

03-07-2009, 22:15
Well to be honest I just don't feel like spending over a hundred dollars on maps, and I already have the Companion and Data Book, although I'm not sure I need both? It seems the most important info from the Data Book is also in the Companion. :confused:

So then I'm thinking about these "Mapdanas". Lightweight, cheap, and seems like they will give me a pretty good idea of where I am, especially when paired with the Companion for in-town info. I haven't looked at these in person though so I wanted to ask if they're worth it?

So here's my ultimate question: If I go with just these Mapdanas and the Companion, I should make it right? ;) haha

SGT Rock
03-07-2009, 22:22
Should. The mapdanna only has the same information found in the Databook. The map is more like that big AT map that is 4 feet tall but cut into sections. It ain't really a map.

That said, I would get the maps. I've been in situations where none of the guides water sources were there. The guides next closest water was walking miles in either direction. But the map showed me a water sorce within 0.tenths of miles.

Think about it - if you are planning to hike for 6 months, that is like a dollar a day for maps.

03-07-2009, 22:34
I have never carried a tail map. I carry the summarized data book which tells me mileage and landmards such as roads, shelters, towns, water, and I carry copies of the atlas in case I need to come off the trail and head to town. probably a map of the presidentials would have been smart, but I forgot it. I was able to view those maps at the huts.

03-07-2009, 22:47
I only have ever carried the Data Book. Never needed maps. You'll find your way.:)

03-07-2009, 23:14
Lots of debates on this subject.
I suggest you do a search.

It's a lot like water filters/bear bagging/mail drops/hiking poles/fording the Kennebec/shelters or tenting/killing mice or thinking their cute/etc. etc. etc.:

Lots of opinions going either way. you'll have to make your decision.

Personally, i just use the data book.

03-07-2009, 23:43
Indeed, just looking for personal experience with these items specifically, and I like what I'm hearing so far! :) Thank you all! I do also have a Presidential Range map which I'll probably take with me as I head out from CT again. I don't feel like I really need a map, I just like to have a roundabout idea of where I'm at and I think the Mapdanas will accomplish that. (while keeping sweat out of my eyes! amongst other tasks I'm sure)

Although I do have that wall map SGT Rock mentioned.. maybe I can just cut that up.. save me even more.

SGT Rock
03-07-2009, 23:47
One last plug for the maps. I ain't a purist and maps make a world of difference when you want to get off the beaten path at times. Otherwise you are hiking by the numbers (guidebook point a, b, c, etc) with the rest of the pack.

Nearly Normal
03-08-2009, 04:20
I'm surprised there aint a navigation device telling you how many steps it is to the next blaze, shelter, water source, etc....whispering in your ear with explanation and history for everything you see, realtime.

......hike faster dumbass or you won't stay on schedule..... and don't pick any of those flowers you see on your left.........

SGT Rock
03-08-2009, 09:00
I've seen groups of hikers that say things like "what were you doing?" when you walk from some side trail that their guide doesn't list.

For instance - Dismal Falls. A cool place to camp. just a few tenths of a mile off the AT. The Guidebooks do list it. They also list the grocery store but if you go by just the guidebooks you will think these things are miles apart. But the better way to do it is hike the AT to the Dismal side trail. Set up camp at the falls, then walk less than a mile to the grocery store on the dirt road without a pack. It is a great place to camp and a great strategy to do it with the lest amount of effort. But you won't know that unless you have a map since none of the guidebooks show you that. Hell, see how many people hiking through that area gripe after they miss the Ribble Trail. That is a whole nother story...

With the standard thru-hiker guidebooks there will be lots of things out there that are not listed but you will walk past that have no explanation whatsoever. They are not listed because you don't need them to hike up the AT from A to B. But sometimes it is nice to know what is on those side roads or trails that could be helpful, interesting, or fun. Just like I said above when it came to water. This is just one "for example" but when I was hiking in the end of the drought last year one of the water points that was listed and I was going to camp at was dry. I could have gone like 4 more miles with no daylight left or gone back up the AT that I had already done a couple of miles (and trust me, after you have walked 2 miles you do not feel like going back the other way just so you can do them again the following morning). But since I had a map I knew there was a side trail about 0.1 miles up from where I was planning on camping, and that side trail had a creek running beside it within 0.5 miles - so I hiked down there knowing that the creek probably started earlier than the blue line on the map. I ended up only going about 0.2 or 0.3 off the trail and had a great campsite.

Of course I never would have found it with just a guidebook.

Another for instance - in Virginia we had a bad storm over a couple of days. Flash flooding, tornadoes and stuff, and some bridges were wiped out and the creeks were not safe to ford. Got to one of these places and there it was. A swollen creek over it's banks by a good bit with no bridge. So I could either sit there and wait for a day or so or go back to the last road and find a way around. With my map I was able to see that the AT hugged one side of the creek (and I had walked it years before) but the last road crossing basically hugged the other side of the same creek (it is a big creek, you cannot see the trail from the road and vise versa). And if I walked the road I would be able to walk about 2 miles down it and at that point there was actually a trail head and parking area for the AT which would allow me do go right back on. The trail head was also not listed since the AT didn't cross it and thru-hikers didn't need to know it.

So here is the end of my point. If you hike the trail and nothing goes wrong during the hike, then yes you can absolutely hiker by the numbers as long as you stay on the trail and only get off it where the guidebooks show you places to get off.

You will probably get in the same grove as everyone around you - sort of like being in a herd - that said the "herd" isn't a gaggle of people that are always together, but you will probably see what I mean. So when the herd hits bad weather they all tend to get off the trail and go to the towns together. When the herd hits a nice place to camp, everyone tends to stay at the same place. But if you hit anything that is difficult you will end up with the herd solution to it if you happen to be in the herd at the time.

03-08-2009, 10:59
Point taken. You almost have me buying the maps!

You sure you don't work for the map people? ;)

SGT Rock
03-08-2009, 11:09
Nope. I will admit I am map bias. I love the freedom maps give me.

Another true story. Hiking in VA, the AT starts hoping back and forth across the Bluegrass Parkway. I looked at my map and realized I could be doing the dance up and down over it or get on the road. So I got on the road. Great views, picknic tables, no traffic. I occasionally got a glimps of the AT as it was down low with no view, or heading out to some shelter. But I got all the scenic overloooks. I endd up running into some of the AT thru-hikers that I had been playing tag with in that area. They were doing the guidebook by the numbers thing and were hiking the AT instead of the road they wanted to be on - not wanting to take a chance at losing the AT. They wanted to do what I was doing, but they didn't have the tool to figure out how.

I told them where they could get back on the AT before they lost it for good - then they thanked me and got to walking the road for a couple of miles. But they missed doing it for probably about 6 miles they could have enjoyed.

Just another example of how a map can help. Again, you can just go with a databook or guidebook and make it without any need for this sort of thing. But after 700 miles of woods with the occasional cool view having the option to walk most of the day looking at something besides trees is a nice change of pace. It won't ruin your hike if you don't, but it might make something differn't to stick out in your mind for you to remember years later.

03-08-2009, 12:33
Well thank you for that, the point of our hike is really more scenic and relaxed than being crazy about walking every step of the trail, so I would really appreciate those things I think. It is me and a buddy anyways, so I guess we could split the cost and it wouldn't actually be that much. Well this is why I started this thread, so thank you very much!

SGT Rock
03-08-2009, 12:35
Look for a used set. Last years or even maps a few years old will still be over 99% correct.

03-08-2009, 13:16
Thanks. Anyone reading have a used set for sale?

SGT Rock
03-08-2009, 13:18
You may also get lucky and find some in hiker boxes along the trail. Those are free.