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A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
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  1. #1
    Registered User Eywa Dude's Avatar
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    Default Do I really need maps/compass for my thru-hike?

    I don't really know if this is a stupid question or not! I've heard different points of view on this subject. Some say you need one, some say it isn't really necessary at all, and that you would have to be clinically insane to not be able to follow the trail as it is so well trodden and well marked. What about trail rerouting, etc.? To be honest, I haven't really done any real wilderness trail hiking yet, so this is something I feel I need a little more clarity on, as this may or may not affect my safety. What's your opinion? Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Plenty of people have completed a thru hike without any maps, so no they are not needed. With that said, personally I like carrying a section map so I can identify peaks in the distance, in case of an injury I can find an alternate route to the nearest town, I can estimate how far I have hiked, etc. For these benefits, I don't mind carrying the extra couple of ounces. Many people rely solely on a guidebook. The trail is very well marked in most places so you do not "need" a map to navigate. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    You don't need a map, but they can be helpful. Same with a compass. A guide, like ALDHA's Companion or AWOL's The AT Guide (many seem to like AWOL's best because of the profile and town maps), is a definite must have though.

  4. #4
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    the areas where you will be confused as to the path of the trail are mostly congested areas, picnic grounds, road intersections etc, where blazes are sometimes ambiguous or non-existent, some guide books give helpful details but the map and compass are pretty worthless for actually helping to follow the trail

  5. #5

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    If you carried all the maps that come with the Appalachian trail guides,you would be carrying 3 lbs.13 oz.(just the maps).for comparison,a 7th edition of Colin Fletcher book "The New Complete Walker" 1976 and hard bound 6.25x9.75x1.50 470 Pg.weighs 1lb 12oz.So would I carry all my maps?not at the same time,maybe 400 miles worth at one time would not be so bad,but then I like maps they read like a novel for me.And although I can name many stars and always make note the direction of travel before the end of day(should a night time emergency arrive)this is almost innate being half bloodhound.But I always bring my compass,Because...."I like it"though it is probably not necessary but recommended by most.There are also some very good choices as already noted above by others.Or you could just....follow all the other sheeple.

  6. #6
    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Complete set of maps, 4 ounces, why not?

    http://www.shop.theatguide.com/Pocke...F.qscstrfrnt03
    "The difficult can be done immediately, the impossible takes a little longer"

  7. #7
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    can you find polaris, can you remember where the sun rose? then you dont need a compass. As far as knowing what your in for up the trail just ask people as u pass by them, good conversation starter. though it is annoying when i ask someone whats ahead as far as water/killer puds and theystop and pull out there map and thier like well lets see. I mean i appreciate you trying to show me xactly whats ahead but if i wnted to waste time reading a map i woulda brought one. a simple waters bout two miles ahead or just passed some crazy downhill so get ready hump up this mntn is all i need.

  8. #8
    Registered User Sierra Echo's Avatar
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    Well if you are color blind you might experience some confusion when it comes to blazes!

  9. #9

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    no, you do not NEED maps. most of the time. however, you need to be responsible for yourself. there are so many blazes on the at as to be ridiculous, however, sometimes it's foggy, sometimes it's night, sometimes you just miss a turn. it is completely possible to get off trail no matter how well blazed any trail is. you should have maps and a compass, and know how to use them. otherwise, if you get lost, you should have to pay all rescue costs. it's just plain responsibility.

  10. #10
    Registered User Sierra Echo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kanga View Post
    no, you do not NEED maps. most of the time. however, you need to be responsible for yourself. there are so many blazes on the at as to be ridiculous, however, sometimes it's foggy, sometimes it's night, sometimes you just miss a turn. it is completely possible to get off trail no matter how well blazed any trail is. you should have maps and a compass, and know how to use them. otherwise, if you get lost, you should have to pay all rescue costs. it's just plain responsibility.
    Yeah! What Kanga said!

  11. #11
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kanga View Post
    no, you do not NEED maps. most of the time. however, you need to be responsible for yourself. there are so many blazes on the at as to be ridiculous, however, sometimes it's foggy, sometimes it's night, sometimes you just miss a turn. it is completely possible to get off trail no matter how well blazed any trail is. you should have maps and a compass, and know how to use them. otherwise, if you get lost, you should have to pay all rescue costs. it's just plain responsibility.
    Just to add, the trail can get a bit confusing in NH in the Whites. One, while it is still marked and signed as the AT in most places that I know of, the AT was/is routed over trails that existed before the AT existed. So the local DOC/AMC/RMC trail names, and there are many, for what is the AT are different. Add that there are probably 100 or more trails that intersect the AT (and run with it at times) in NH and some get confused. And should you get lost to the point of needing rescue (pretty remote possibility in summer if you ask me as there are LOTS of hikers about June through October), and are without a map and compass, you will likely get an S&R bill of several thousand dollars for being found negligent.

  12. #12
    Registered User Summit's Avatar
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    If you've got a pretty good sense of direction you can certainly do without a compass. If I spun you around a couple of times and you can't find your way out of your bedroom, then maybe not. Maps are cool, mostly for people who like to indentify stuff nearby and are visual-type people . . . like to see where the next shelter, town, etc. is. But a good set of trail data is essential in my opinion. You can always start out with the maps and compass and ditch them early if you're not using them.

  13. #13

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    I remember the 1st time I hiked (had the maps) and met a guy that was just using the state highway maps (had the trail on them).
    I though it was quite ridiculous.
    Now, I have to agree, he had a good idea.

    And a small compass to make sure you're going the right way.
    (unless the sun's out, as someone said) (yeah right. on the AT?)

    I remember coming home from a hike out west one year (to PA) and arriving by plane and coming out of the airport, it was hot, muggy and there was no sun. I kept looking for it. It was so muggy, you couldn't tell where the sun was. I wasn't used to that, having just spent the last few months in the Rockies.

    Anyway, prudent folks will take the maps.
    There will be times when they save you some steps.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  14. #14
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Nice find storm
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

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