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Why Kayakers Use Topographic Maps

WHY USE A TOPO MAP: When planning a kayak trip in unfamiliar territory a map will be a good place to start. A map can be very handy even if you are familiar with the area. The best maps, other than charts, are topographical maps. In the US they are produced by the US geological survey, and called USGS topo maps for short.

Maps can inform the "amphibious" kayaker with details on shore, as well the contours of the body of water you are paddling in. You will be able to find potential camping spots, landings, fresh water sources, put ins, take outs, and locate both public and private lands.

The problem has always been to find these topo maps for your area. (There are more maps than you can even imagine.) Then you must piece together the assortment of maps. Invariably your kayak or hiking trip will skirt the borders of several maps. Then you have to figure out how to bring and used three or four large paper maps while seated in the cockpit of your kayak.

NOW WHAT: For use in the field, you could put your waterproof map in a large zip lock bag or see through chart case. What? It's waterproof! Well yes - but this will keep your map at is best no matter what. I have found that you should not dry the map while folded, it will stick. Thoroughly dry the map before folding, or let air dry unfolded. These maps hold up very well without a case, can be handled somewhat ruffly in the field.

Symbol legend for U.S.G.S. Topographical Maps & other information can be found on MyTopo.com's homepage, using the FAQ link. Scroll down to "Symbol Legend" for a link to the U.S.G.S Topo map symbols.

Related Articles:
Planning Your Route and Finding Your Way with Kayak Navigation by Tom Holtey

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