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Old 12-14-2012, 10:11 AM   #1
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Offline GPS Maps

As you may know, I like to have my GPS maps with me when I'm out in the boonies, away from cell/internet coverage. I've been using a little touchscreen laptop computer with DeLorme Street Atlas USA for street maps, and Overland Navigator for topo maps (USA) or Garmin nRoute with the BiciMapas Mexico GPS Atlas when in Mexico.

I've found a new map toy for offline map GPS usage when I don't have internet service. Let me put in a little plug for Pocket Earth for the iPhone / iPad. I've used various offline iPhone map products that let you download map tile images ahead of time for where you expect to be on your adventure, but they use up your device's memory quickly. Pocket Earth downloads OpenStreetMap maps in vector format -- so they use a lot less memory. Because the maps are stored as line segments rather than image tiles, I can easily download all of Mexico onto my iPhone. It isn't quite as good as Google Earth -- and you need an internet connection for getting directions -- but it's still very nice to see where you are when traveling internationally.



-- Geoff
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:15 AM   #2
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

Because it uses OpenStreetMaps, Pocket Earth doesn't have the greatest coverage yet for outback locations -- like dirt roads in Baja. It's best for highway and urban streets.

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Old 12-15-2012, 08:20 AM   #3
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

I use backcountry navigater on my android. Seems to have maps for just about everything.
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:17 AM   #4
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

I'm with calclimber. Back Country Navigator is great. I haven't used it in cities, but for everything else it's outstanding.
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:48 AM   #5
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

While this is not tied to navigation software and so would be limited to those old enough to remember how to read maps, you can download the USGS 7.5' maps for free from the official site <http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/> There are also historical maps available which allow you to look back at an area you want to visit for a good picture of where mining towns were, what roads were used over particular periods etc.

There are links for the smaller scale BLM land status maps as well. These are the most detail you can get as far as I know and can be downloaded onto phones as well as larger devices. A great service and a good way to get the most updated maps of an area you plan to visit. Multi-layered, tied to satellite images and easy to use.

For those of you who have amphibious SMB's or just like to get away to sea, NOAA does the same thing for the coastal charts as well though they have not yet completed converting the entire set of paper charts for the US.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:21 AM   #6
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

Thanks for the ideas -- of USGS direct download, and Backcountry Navigator. Backcountry Navigator does seem very cool, especially with the overlays you mention (BLM, etc). From what I can see, it is Android-only at this point. Overland Navigator appears to be working on a topo map app for the iPad, but it's unclear when that will be released. In any case, I'm certainly not personally sold on Apple products -- I still use a Windows PC on my dashboard. But when I'm walking around, I do have an iPhone in my pocket these days -- hence Pocket Earth.

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Old 12-15-2012, 11:29 AM   #7
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

Alright guys, so about Back Country Navigator.

Looks like it's $9.99 to buy, and then you can either use free maps, or you can buy maps

- Boundary maps for 12 western states from the Bureau of Land Management(BLM) for $7.99.
-Content from US TrailMaps for $15.99, including:
-Snowmobile Trail Maps for Snowmobiling enthusiasts,
-ATV Trail Maps
-Whitewater Trail Maps,
-Equestrian Trail maps.

Adds up fairly quickly, especially if buying maps. Have you guys bought maps, or just used open source maps?


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Old 12-15-2012, 12:01 PM   #8
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

So has someone familiar with Backcountry Navigator checked to see if you need proprietary maps or if you can use the 'Gummint' ones? That would be a powerful combo. I also use the original sat. images for 'scouting' sometimes. Varies a bit but one can usually get to the level of being able to see footpath detail.
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:02 PM   #9
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

Oh sure, I finally switch from Android to iPhone and BackCountry Navigator is only for Android. I may have to steel my Droid back from my kid just for this.

Phil
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:14 PM   #10
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Re: Offline GPS Maps

I'm using Back Country Navigator on my Nexus 7 for offline navigation. I have the roads layer for most of the Southwest states. They worked great for driving on a recent trip thru Nevada and Arizona although the accuracy gets a bit sketchy for the smaller dirt tracks.

I haven't purchased any maps yet. I'd like to have the gov. land lines layer but that's $7.99 is per state I think. If I could get all 12 for $8, I'd do it.

The shaded relief topos and air photos are great for hiking but you have to plan ahead and load them up before you leave home, while still connected to wifi.

I've also used Google maps but they are severely limited in what you can store offline. I tend to pre load them for large urban areas and rely on the open street maps for the rest.
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