How to Use a Map

Breakdown...

Another outdoor skill that can benefit you to level up in the outdoors is map skills. What is a map? A 2-dimensional representation of a 3-dimensional space. A pictorial representation of what is in the real world around us.

They represent robust physical elements like roadways, bodies of water, mountains, buildings. Natural areas like state forests and national forests may show in green. The map may show where campgrounds are.

One thing we look for on maps is the legend that tells us what icons represent. You’ll see the scale of how many feet or miles are represented in an inch. It also shows which direction on the map is north. Most often, the north is at the top. Then west is to the left, east to the right so he’s gonna fix that on this map here

A person using a map for outdoor recreation would want to see elevation: how the land rises and falls. This is a kind of map called a topographical map. Imagine that you are flying in a plane, looking down at a mountain. Then you trace lines that are equally spaced from top to bottom every time there’s a change in elevation. We call these lines contour lines.

Now you want to take those lines you drew and translate them to a page. That page full of contour lines is a map, showing the change in elevation of a 3-dimensional space. Every time the elevation goes up or down so many feet — often in increments of 50 — the map has another line. So if the ground is going up and down steeply, the lines will look closer together. If the lines look farther apart, the ground is flatter and more gradual.

For More Information...

Searching Availability...

Our Sources...

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Gear We Like...