Oct 4, 2012 at 6:05 am #1294691
I just found out about a new National Geographic Map Kit that is supposed to cover the entire United States with unlimited print outs and give you a one year pro membership on AllTrails.com. It is a retail product and only $40. REI is supposed to offer it, but I don't see it on their website yet. Considering that I spent over $40 on maps this year alone, I'm seriously considering it as an option to build up my map arsenal.
Does anyone have this product yet?Oct 4, 2012 at 9:11 am #1918133
You need to be a little careful when purchasing something that claims to have all topo maps for the U.S.A.
The issue is scale. If the map scale is really good like a backpacker wants or needs, then the entire database size is huge. If the map scale is worse, then the database fits storage easily, but it won't show you the necessary detail. Plus, if you don't know what scale you need, you shouldn't be wasting your money on anything.
–B.G.–Oct 4, 2012 at 10:27 am #1918161
I think to have access to maps after the first year you have to buy a yearly membership to alltrails.com PRO for $50/year. Natl. Geog does not make this very clear.Oct 4, 2012 at 11:05 am #1918165
Thanks for pointing these issues out. I did give Natl. Geog a call to clarify about the new product.
1. It will be available retail in REI stores. You cannot buy this kit online. Give them a call to find out where it is available in your area. http://www.natgeomaps.com/contact.html
2. The $40 gets you a one year Pro Alltrails.com membership only. You will have to renew your membership after one year if you want to continue.
3. Yes, you will have unlimited printing for one year from their online database. You will not have to download any database or software onto your computer.
4. The scales of maps available on Alltrails.com is 1:500,000 , 1:100,000 & 1:24,000
5. I asked if all three scales are available for the entire country and they said yes, but with hesitation. Kind of makes me wonder if 1:24,000 is available for the entire country.
Seems to me it might be worth a shot for one year to print out a bunch of stuff.Oct 4, 2012 at 11:25 am #1918170
Many years ago before National Geographic came to the party, there was a software company in San Francisco called Wildflower Productions, and they marketed a product called TOPO! (that should not be confused by similar names on similar products). This software product interfaced with several different map database products. For example, there was one map (on CD-R) for each of the major national parks in the USA. I had those, and I had the entire California set of maps from coarse scale down to 1:24000 fine scale, and this took up a dozen CD-R disks. This took place about the same time (ten years ago?) that Wildflower sold out to National Geographic, so suddenly the NG logo or copyright appeared on everything. Within my computer and within the set of CD-R maps beside it, I had 99% of everyplace where I operate. If I traveled much more to other states, then this would not be practical.
When the map database is somewhere else like on a web site, there are advantages and disadvantages. That allows the vendor to update the maps, if they have a mind to do that. Unfortunately, most of the maps come originally from USGS, so the vendor probably doesn't want to fool around with updating the topo data. Some subscribers don't mind paying bucks per year to have access to these. Some don't even mind the online connection times to download the maps. I believe that most of the online topo maps are available for free.
Fundamentally, electronic topo maps available to your desktop computer are great tools, especially if you have a wide-format color printer. If you try to access fine scale topo maps purely from a small-screen portable device, it will become an exercise in futility.
–B.G.–Oct 8, 2012 at 10:15 am #1919173
@lokbotLocale: Portland, OR
I don't have much experience with maps or navigating with maps, but I'm trying to teach myself so I decided to buy the "Ultimate Outdoor Map Kit". I made this decision because I live in Portland and I didn't want to have to shell out $100 to buy the Washington and Oregon Topo! packs.
I'm not very impressed by this "software" at all. It's entirely accessed by the alltrails website. The user interface is super simplified and it's pretty easy to access the maps that you want to see. My biggest problems with the service is that there is no full screen option. You really only get to use about half of your screen to pan around the map. I feel that the "Route Planner" is useful, but limited by the simplicity of it. I would think that there would be a better way to trace a trail than to have to click on it every 1/4" to be able to keep accurate distances and elevation gain. When printing I would like the option to adjust the margin I don't feel that it is necessary to have such large boarders and would probably trim them.
What I do like is the "Trails Illustrated" maps that are very well marked with highlighted trails and points of interest. Not sure how much I'll be using this function if I become proficient in using traditional USGS topo maps.
These are screen shots so you can see what I'm talking about.Oct 8, 2012 at 11:38 am #1919195
Thanks so much for showing those screen shots of the print screens. I see there is a drop down menu that says 8.5" x 11"…does this mean there is the option to print 8.5" X 14" ?
I'm thinking this might be a great tool for planning day hikes or weekend trips… but for longer trips, a real map is probably more desirable.Oct 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm #1919204
I've stated this before. The electronic map on the screen is great for trip planning and for records. The paper map is best to carry with you on the trip.
On most computer application software like this, the printing options are not dictated by the software. They are dictated by the printers that you have installed, and the options within those printers. As an example, some printers won't even give you an option for 8.5×14 inches, or they will do B&W but not color.
If you find that your application software offers you too few print options, then you can install an Adobe PDF editor program and (export) "print" to a PDF file. That just makes a new electronic map file, and you can then print the PDF and scale it the way you want it onto the paper.
From my mapping software, I export the map as JPEG, then take that into Photoshop and have my way with it for the paper print. For custom maps like this, it is very useful to have a large-format color printer.
–B.G.–Oct 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm #1919290
@lokbotLocale: Portland, OR
the printing options are 8.5"x11, 8.5×14, and 11"x17".
-LokiOct 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm #1921326
I work at AllTrails so I know quite a lot about the MapKit, and just have a few things to add.
For those who have smartphones (iPhone or Android), they can view TOPO and Trails Illustrated maps with the AllTrails apps on their phone, even offline. And when offline, the current location pin will still be visible on the map because the GPS will still function, so it's a great navigation tool as long as your phone has a charge (perfect for day hikes).
With MapKit you can browse across landscapes and instantly pull up the TOPO map, anywhere in the US.
As noted above, the Trails Illustrated maps are incredible and if you live near an area with good TI coverage, you're pretty set with the best maps out there.
If anyone has any more questions, let me know I'm more than happy to help.Feb 4, 2013 at 7:47 am #1950640
@jchensLocale: North GA
I've been looking into this software and other sources for printing custom USGS topo maps. Does anyone else have thoughts about the AllTrails platform versus Nat Geo's old Topo! software?
I'm mainly looking to print topographic maps for several off-trail areas. I want to print maps at 1:24,000 scale, like a standard USGS 7.4-minute quads, so it seems like this would work pretty well. I would just print the free ones available from USGS, but it never fails that my area of interest ends up being on the border of two or three different quads. I hate carrying around so many maps and having to flip between them all. The Trails Illustrated stuff is a nice bonus.
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