Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-19-2013, 10:45 AM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: East Bay CA
Posts: 1,067
Digital maps

I'm wondering about the TYPES of online maps available, not just the apps to use them. I find it rather confusing.

I like the USFS recreation maps, but they are not always available digitally (for example, can't find Toiyabe or Fremont)(and I don't mean the USFS topos; those are great). Since I might be looking for campgrounds or places to drive these usually have the most up-to-date info on maps.

Related to those are the MVUM, motor vehicle use maps. These are inventories of roads open to us or not, and are pretty comprehensive. You can get them for free at USFS offices, and sometimes online, but they aren't usually georeferenced (i.e. you can't get lat/long on them digitally), and are rather sparse in other detail.

Better than the MVUMs, and incorporating the new data, are the CTUC (California Trail User Coalition, a group of mostly OHV folks) maps, like the ones for Jawbone here in CA, or Inyo Co. and some other places. Not sure if a similar effort is being made in other states. They are super helpful to anyone offroading, since they attempt to rate trails, and even include where you might get cell coverage.

And there are the BLM surface maps. I've used these before, but sometimes found them lacking in current info. They are often available digitally. They seem to be oriented to non-recreation users, but they're still useful.

Google and Bing are nice, but not so hot for offroad and backcountry travel, although the aerial photos can be very helpful. Some apps, as noted in our other thread, have dropped Google from their map offerings. Open Street Map and Open Cycle Map are often good, but in very remote areas they don't add much.

I haven't tried the Nat Geo maps; I once had Backcountry Explorer but after that experience I bailed on NG. The software went out of date quickly, and the maps seemed to mostly be republished USGS topos. Which were often out-of-date. Dunno if things have improved. The big atlases like the Benchmark series are sort of good (the campground listings are very inadequate, and many roads are missing), but their app apparently stinks.

Trimble seems to have their own version of USFS roads, since that's a layer in their apps, but I haven't seen them publish maps with that info, although it's available in their app.

And of course there's USGS topos, which these days you can get freely as downloads. But while great for some stuff, I don't find them the most useful for backcountry driving.

I feel the CTUC maps are the best choice, followed by the USFS rec maps. But the coverage is spotty, and of course not all land is USFS land. So it looks like I'd have to go to the BLM surface maps; has anyone used them extensively?

The other odd thing is that in some areas the BLM has other maps; in SE Oregon, for example, they publish a "sportsman" set of maps that is quite nice, but not georeferenced, and that you can download for free. Haven't seen something similar elsewhere, and I wonder why they have it and others don't.

I am wondering what other maps folks have found useful. Finding good maps is the prerequisite for then deciding what apps work best, since not all apps can use all maps (although I think Gaia GPS and PDF Maps can, but with a bit of tweaking).
__________________

__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 02:04 PM   #2
Site Team
 
daveb's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Turlock Ca
Posts: 9,894
Garage
Re: Digital maps

Why don't you like the USGS topo maps? Yes they are old but you don't find many new trails being made today.
Personally I don't like small screens for off roading so I doubt I'll ever use a handheld map device unless I'm hiking but programs like Viewranger are OK. It seems that most software out there is geared to hiking and not so much for vehicle travel.
I do like to have a USFS map on hand if possible and there is an advantage to a paper map but for the most part my computer USGS maps work fine and it's nice to mark the trail for future reference. For instance with my Terrain navigator, if I come to a 4 way split I can see if I'm on the correct path. If not I just back up and take the correct route. One spot near DV took 3 stabs at it before I grabbed the right trail. Topo maps also make it nice to triangulate from if needed. The only real problem I've had is a wash that changes from year to year but I don't know of any solution for that. In town I just rely on the Garmin. I use Google Earth for prepping but don't really need it in the field. I also never opted for the aerial photographs with my map software and I rarely use the 3-D feature.
I'm sure there will be something new one of these days and I'd like to see a software that can stack various maps on one another. It would be nice to stack a MVUM on top of a USGS map. I just completed the Miami Trail above Mariposa that I had marked the trail route on my computer maps about 4 years ago. By adding arrows around converging trails, it was much easier to run the route. Twice I was not sure we were on the right path when my navigator was telling me we were off the correct trail...he was looking at a USFS map but I followed my computer which was correct. My guess there are other programs similar to mine that don't cost as much but I have 10 years of data on my computer and I don't need anything else at this point. Next year I'll be moving into the smart phone world and will probably install a app as a backup.
__________________

__________________
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
daveb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 03:20 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: East Bay CA
Posts: 1,067
Re: Digital maps

I don't like the USGS maps because of the lack of current data. Not so much new roads; aren't many of those. It's all the CLOSED ones that have frustrated me. The USFS stuff is more uptodate on the legal routes. For terrain, yeah, the USGS can't be beat (except shaded topos and aerials are pretty cool too).

You're right about layers; they're the bomb. Trimble's apps do them; for example, using the USFS roads over topo. Or weather, or any of their other maps.

But the real winner in that category is GaiaGPS, although you need a GaiaGreen subscription ($20, but worth it if you're a map geek). You can over shading, other maps, data, all sorts of stuff. Around my house I used it with CalTopo historical 1900 topos over Google. Very cool.
__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 04:47 PM   #4
Site Team
 
daveb's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Turlock Ca
Posts: 9,894
Garage
Re: Digital maps

My PC works well for me. I have a hard enough time looking at a 14" screen and something smaller wouldn't work for me at all. I usually don't view on the highest magnification so I can get a bigger picture of the area which is a must IMO.




With USFS maps and the like I have to wear glasses to see them and nighttime plain sucks. My computer screen brightness can be lowered enough not to bother me yet I still can watch my tracking.

There are some cons to the system but overall it suits me well. I just wish they would upgrade their program. I'm guessing there just isn't enough marketability for off road travel.
Attached Thumbnails
DSC07522.jpg  
__________________
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
daveb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 06:35 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: East Bay CA
Posts: 1,067
Re: Digital maps

Here's a screen shot of GaiaGPS, using a combo of USFS topo and USGS aerial photo:



Rob
__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 08:13 PM   #6
Site Team
 
daveb's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Turlock Ca
Posts: 9,894
Garage
Re: Digital maps

The track marks on my map were done by me. Does your mapping allow you to track and mark the trails via GPS Rob?
__________________
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
daveb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 10:08 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 533
Re: Digital maps

At least for the maps I have accessed recently, the USGS are about as up-to-date as it gets. They make available various editions, with the most detail available on the older, hand-surveyed maps. But there is still plenty of detail on the more recent ones, plus they are digital files and so can be manipulated more easily. I think I remember reading that these were done by computer from recent satellite photos and were either revised or created in the last couple of years. The USGS also offers software for layering as sat. images, topos or a combination.

I agree that the screens on most handheld devices are too small to be of much use. Plus, with my iPod touch I couldn't access the full files with GaiaGPS unless I had a wireless signal, even though I had spent an age downloading them all to the iPod. I gave up on GaiaGPS at that point, especially since they didn't answer my email question about it.

I would definitely buy a dedicated device for map reading and navigation alone. It would have to have a decent sized screen and be able to be rolled or folded small enough to slip in a pocket. Any updates on flexible screens? Couple that with a processor/memory chip that as a separate unit from the screen would only need to be the size of a quarter and you'd have a winner....
witoke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2013, 10:57 PM   #8
Site Team
 
rionapo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 990
Garage
Digital maps

As noted, no one's building new trails (or mountains, for that matter) so the 7.5's remain my favorites. In fact, they tend to show old trails and roads the newer maps ignore. I liked Topo! for trip planning but National Geo pulled the plug on it though the software still runs and the maps sre great. I also like to d'ld the USGS stuff, combine them in Photoshop and crop to my desired area. Save as, load to phone/iPad and print.


-------
Fresno's 1st 2012 Ford van.

RB E350 6.8L V-10 4WD w/Front Air Lockers
PH Top, Kyocera solar with Zamp portable unit

(If we'd bought the winch, we'd make a fortune pulling cars out of the snow.)
__________________
-Don-

“Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places. And this is a beautiful place.”

— Dave Martínez
rionapo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2013, 08:49 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: East Bay CA
Posts: 1,067
Re: Digital maps

The USGS maps are fine, as I've noted, but the USFS updated quads in their areas in the 90's, and depending on what you're looking at they may be more up-to-date. In fact none of their topos are older than 2009, per MacGPS, and many have been updated in 2011-2013. In areas near developed areas, or where land use has changed (all those wilderness area restrictions in the western deserts), this makes a difference; in the middle of the John Muir trail, not so much. Different tools for different jobs.

And, since they are USFS generated, they have stuff like the route numbers on the 4WD roads. Super handy when you're in a mesh of logging roads. They are essentially free so why not have the latest? I do like using some of the old topos to find old features (BTW don't throw away those old AAA "Indian Country" maps; they reputedly have info that has subsequently been deleted.

Here's a USGS:



And here's the USFS. Note the route numbers. Some contours have also changed, probably not enough to make a difference for our uses. The intermittent waterways are more prominent, as is highway 6. I like the fonts better too.



This was all done in about 5 minutes at Caltopo, BTW; unlike PhotoShop, it has a bunch of tools specific to maps. I exported this down to a JPG; on my Mac I printed to a PDF for better quality.



Rob
__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2013, 09:26 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: East Bay CA
Posts: 1,067
Re: Digital maps

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
The track marks on my map were done by me. Does your mapping allow you to track and mark the trails via GPS Rob?
GaiaGPS does save tracks and can overlay those on maps, if that's what you mean. But by "mark" I assume you're talking waypoints, and it will do that as well. One screen for navigation is sort of oriented towards someone hiking, biking or running, since it has pace, elevation, etc. But if you are on the map screen it behaves like a road route GPS app, giving you heading, distance from track, distance and some other stuff. A cool feature is that I can show a local hike on a map. If I go to it in "saved" routes, I can click "driving directions" and it will throw me in Apple Maps and give driving directions to the start.

For actual planning, I still like Trimble Elite, since it has this nice feature that allows the route you're drawing to snap to roads. Then it syncs to your device. But CalTopo is really the bomb; has USFS, USGS, NPS visitor maps, topos back past 1900, viewshed analysis (can you really see the Sierra from that campsite?) and all kindsa stuff. You can import them into PDF maps, but they are not georeferenced (but again, GaiaGPS uses the same layers).

And witoke, I originally didn't like the app much either. But it has improved by orders of magnitude. And their customer service was way more responsive. I get the feeling (total speculation here) that some dude made it and now it's run by a group of more professional people.
__________________

__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:20 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×