Friday, November 19, 2010

My Equipment Part 1: White Mountain National Forest Maps

It's been a while now since I've hit the trail. I'd say about two or three weeks and it's killing me. I haven't got out because there's a lot going on in the Searl house these days. I've been extremely busy running errands and working on house projects. Almost as much as I miss getting out and hiking, I miss writing in this blog. With me, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. I usually go on a hike and then I enjoy writing about it here. Well, since I know the days that I will be able to find time to hike will come less frequently than in the summer months, I really don't want that to hinder my writing in this blog. So what will I write about? Who knows!!! But, I guarantee it will be related to the trail in some way. This week, I'd like to start an ongoing series regarding my hiking equipment. Some people may think it's a boring topic...but I LOVE my equipment. So, I'm share what I carry into the woods (and my opinions of it) with you.

Maps are one of my favorite pieces of equipment and something that I consider a necessity for anyone entering the woods. I pick up new maps whenever I can, and for all different regions that I may find myself at a trailhead. If I find a good hiking map online, I print it out. If I see a new map in EMS that features characteristics that I don't currently have, I purchase it. I even have my father buying me historical USGS maps of New Hampshire in antique stores.

Some of my map collection

When hiking the Whites, I make sure I have two maps with me at all times. The first is Map Adventures White Mountains Waterproof Map (4th Ed.). This is a great map and has a lot of useful characteristics. The colors that make up the map are great. It uses lighter colors for the landscape and background, while the trails are highlighted in a very bright red. The color scheme really makes mapping out a hiking route easy. Another great trait of this map is the fact that all of the White Mountain peaks are on one of two sides. This makes it ideal when I'm on the summit and want to identify the peaks surrounding me. As we all know, on a clear day, you can see straight across the State. With this map, you can easily name every peak in view.

My Map Adventures map. The new 4th Ed. just came out!

Another set of maps I like to carry with me is the Appalachian Mountain Club's White Mountain Map Kit. This kit is made up of four individual maps (back and front), which focus on different regions within the Whites. One of my buddies, Curt, suggested I pick these maps up for the main reason that they are pretty indestructible. Being made of Tyvek, they are completely waterproof and tear resistant. Recently, I've also come to the conclusion that the AMC White Mountain maps have great trail detail. Every little turn, brook crossing and switchback are highlighted. I certainly haven't found this to be true of all maps.

My AMC White Mountain Map Kit

Comparison (see below), AMC Map Detail of Falling Waters Trail - Very Detailed

Comparison (see above), Map Adventures Map Detail of Falling Waters Trail - Less Detailed

So, when it comes to mapping out my routes and identifying peaks on the summit, I turn to my Map Adventures map. However, when trying to figure out where I actually am on the trail, I always reach for the more durable and detailed AMC map. Carrying two maps may seem redundant, but one extra map certainly doesn't add that much weight to my pack.



  1. I am a map fiend also, but some of that topo detail on your maps WAY outshine what I have. Can never have too may maps. I get a lot of my stuff online, so that hinders the quality a bit.

  2. Hi Casey, You're not alone. A lot of my maps are printouts off line too. Especially, in the southern NH region. There are no good published maps of these ranges, so I use website maps mostly.

    These specific maps I have highlighted are definitely the Cadillac of maps. I think they make these with so much detail because the WMNF is so popular for hiking. On any given day, on a popular trail, you can find hikers from all over the globe.