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What is the Best TOPO mapping program to get?
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chris Nelson

Locale: San Francisco
What is the Best TOPO mapping program to get? on 11/27/2012 12:44:07 MST Print View

Hey all

Looking to get TOPO mapping program for Christmas this year. I know Natgeo has one and have also seen one from Delorme. What is the best one? I don't have a GPS but might get one one day. I do have a SPOT but have never used the tracking feature on it but it would be cool of it was compatible with SPOT but not necessary.

Any thoughts? thanks in advance!

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: What is the Best TOPO mapping program to get? on 11/27/2012 12:58:19 MST Print View

I'm also somewhat interested in knowing what the advantages of going with dedicated mapping software are versus using what you can find online for free (for example, I've had great luck with and - both are pretty awesome and free to use). Is it newer/more detailed maps? Better trail/POI marking?

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
check this thread on 11/27/2012 13:23:23 MST Print View

For a good recent discussion on Natl. Geog's recent Topo software package:

I haven't bought it yet, but I have a REI gift card. Hmmm.

Loki Cuthbert

Locale: Portland, OR
usable screen space on 11/27/2012 19:05:47 MST Print View

I ended up not liking "ultimate map kit". The lack of usable screen space was a no go for me. I'm thinking of going the delorme route next it's $100 but it should cover all of the USA I'd pay that for just the Oregon and Washington maps from topo! if I bought the state by state version


Erick Panger
(eggs) - MLife

Locale: Mid Life
Have a look at on 11/28/2012 04:06:36 MST Print View


I use sometimes before a trip to draw a route our take someone else's GPX file and print maps. I always use it after a trip to download my GPX file into it to save for future reference.

It's about $70 USD for the pro version.

Loki Cuthbert

Locale: Portland, OR
Finally a decent demo on 11/28/2012 09:18:06 MST Print View

One of my biggest pet peves with other topo map software is that they don't offer a demo. How am I going to know if it's worth dropping money on the software. Which has left me only buying mapping software available at rei. I'm going to definitely download topofusion when I get home and test it out.


Edited by lokbot on 11/28/2012 09:19:09 MST.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
TOPO Software on 11/28/2012 18:56:01 MST Print View

I've used Topo North America packaged with a DeLorme PN-40 GPS.
I own the Nat Geo TOPO! State for NY
I also own TOPOFusion

I haven't tried printing maps from TOPO Fusion. Frankly, I didn't know you could do a decent map with it. I like my maps to have a scale, UTM grids, and note the declination.

I liked TOPO North America's route drawing feature the best.
However, when it came to printed maps, I liked the output from Nat Geo TOPO! much better, especially when I wanted to print maps scaled to, say, 1:50,000

I'm sorry to see that Nat Geo discontinued the DVD software. I haven't tried the new Ultimate Map Kit, which is basically a discounted subscription to the online service, which now owns Nat Geo's data.

I tried the AllTrails demo. I didn't see an obvious way to specify map scale when printing. The printing options in general for the online demo seemed lacking compared to what was included in the DVD version for the PC.

I'm planning a trip to Wyoming next year. I ended up downloading USGS 1:24,000 maps in PDF format, extracting the bitmaps at 600DPI, stitching four together, cropping, then digitally scaling to 1,62500. It's not the same as what I could have done with Nat Geo. It was labor intensive, but it was also free. However, I think my time is probably worth quite a lot.

I wouldn't want to do this type of map making by hand often.

I'll have to experiment with Topo Fusion more.

Christopher Kuzak
Topo Maps on 11/28/2012 23:00:43 MST Print View

I have the older NatGeo topo program with all the California CDs. Bought it from REI some years ago. It's nice to make maps with, but I find myself using more now. It's just easier to navigate in. If you want declination, you can just look it up at NOAA's geomagnetic calculator.

As things are now, between and acme mapper, there are some good free options for accessing topo maps.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
hillmap and acme on 11/29/2012 07:57:04 MST Print View

Hillmap and acme mapper do look nice.

I like the ArcGis TOPO data for smaller scale maps, because the contour interval seems higher.

What I still don't like is that I can't seem to figure out how to specify a scale or overlay UTM grids, etc.

But I think these are great, especially since they are FREE resources.

I voluntarily teach map & compass NAV, gps nav, and trip planning to members of our backpacking club. These will be great additional resources to share.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: hillmap and acme on 11/29/2012 08:41:43 MST Print View has UTM grid overlays. I prefer hillmap due to more printing control (still a PITA), but do wish you could put UTM grids on it. When you print from hillmap, it automatically puts a scale on the map.