Knife Hiking Fishing

You should buy topographic maps when adventuring into rough terrain

A topographic map is an accurate and detailed two-dimensional map of human made and natural features on the Earth's surface. Topography maps are used for a number of reasons, such as hiking, fishing, hunting and camping, surveying, urban planning and resource management. The characteristic that is most distinctive is the 3D shape of the Earth’s surface is modeled by contour lines. Contour lines are imaginary and connect areas of similar elevation. Contours represent the steepness of slopes and height of mountains on a 2D map surface. A variety of symbols are used to symbolize buildings, vegetation, roads, stream and lakes and both human and natural made features.

It can be very intimidating and confusing when you view topographic maps for the first time and if you plan on going on 4x4 adventures or even a sailing adventure it is wise to
buy topographic maps
and a GPS. However, if you have never made use of a topography map before, then you will find it extremely difficult to understand. Once you get the hang of it then reading the map is easy. Here is how you read a topography map – the thin brown lines are contours of similar elevation and the closer the lines are, the steeper the terrain. Along the stream beds or in valleys the contours are V shaped and the V will always point uphill. Water is represented by blue lines and forest areas and orchids have green lines. Aerial photographs added to the map are indicated by purple markings. Urban areas are red, and buildings of significance within these urban areas will be indicated separately. Black and red represent highways and roads and the topography map scale on 1:24 000 means that 1 inch equals 2000 feet. GPS’s on the other hand only tend to focus on longitude and latitude coordinate system. Mariners especially in Palau also make use of topographic maps in conjunction with other systems such as UTM, although these maps do not reveal hazards and water depths, their accuracy and detail of certain islands make them useful as opposed to other nautical instruments.

The UTM coordinated system can be found on topographic maps, although it is difficult to correlate a longitude and latitude position. As you can see, once you know what the symbols represent and the contours indicate, in no time you will be able to read your topographic map, and going into rough terrain will no longer be a frustrating experience. A topographic map will always indicate what lies up ahead of you and in turn will prevent you from having an accident or getting lost.

Oliver Ethan is a technical author. He provides useful advice through his articles on topographic maps, latest gadgets,
off road maps
and mobile apps.

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