Despite of the impressive development of new Technologies, a good old paper map is still your best hike partner.
As you can see also in my website, it is fantastic to use a GPS track to see whenever you want your exact position and altitude, and now we have a lot of instruments that allow us to check it: smartphone, smartwatch, smart-everything, … but let me say that nothing will substitute a paper map. Why? Firs of all because a digital instrument can anytime have some problem that make it does not work perfectly (low battery, bug, system down, inaccurate GPS, and similar).
And then, if you fully use a paper map, you will obtain a lot of useful informations about the territory you are going through. Which? First let’s take a look to the maps the market offers.
In Italy there are 2 top publishers for hiking maps, that for decades have been the reference points for all hikers:
You can easily find any map in bookshops or general stores in all Dolomites villages.
How To Choose Your Map
To choose your map you have to follow some easy and smart steps:
- Choose the area you are going to hike: usually maps report the area they cover with a progressive number. The areas often overlaps to avoid any “black hole”. A good idea is to check if the area you are interested in is positioned in the center of the map. A peripheral position or near the edges is an indication that your path couldleave out of the area covered by the map.
- Choose the correct scale reduction: the most common scale reductions are 1:25.000 and 1:50.000. The firts one reports a smallest area in a more detailed view, the second one a biggest area in a less detailed view. A 1:25.000 scale reduction is absolutely preferable to see any important detail of your path.
- Buy a recent map: in a medium period (10-15 years) some path could change significantly, due to landslides, landslips, changes of the territory, so using old maps provided by your friends in previous trips to Italy could be not a good idea.
- Check if the map reports the number of paths: it is almost obvious, but it is better to say the same … the maps must contain the numbers of the paths, which are essential for proper orientation during the excursion
- Check if the map reports the elevation contour lines: This is another important point. The map must show the elevetion contour lines to allow you to properly evaluate the land slopes of your hike.
Now you are ready to take your map! In another article we will see how yo ise correctly and fully a hiking map.