OK, so there was a gaping hole in our Gear Guide: No actual guides; not even a single map. Well, those days are over, folks: we've just added more than 500 new guidebooks, trail maps and software titles that'll talk to your GPS units.
Topo! Explorer Deluxe.
We added the GPS software first, but Murphy's Law and Microsoft have trained us to expect batteries to die and software to crash at the moment of greatest need, so we immediately moved on to old-fashioned paper maps and guidebooks.
The categories are straightforward: A section for skills books (a fave: identifying animal skulls) and maps and guidebooks divided by geography that succinctly define how Americans see Planet Earth: North America and all the rest. Global outdoors coverage is on the to-do list, of course, but we're going with what we know before taking on the whole world. Each region has separate sub-categories for books, paper maps and software.
We're doing all this at a pivot point in the history of technology moving into the outdoors: iPhones, Blackberries and other gadgets are already GPS-enabled, and mapmakers like Tom Harrison are already developing applications that will allow our cell phones to do the one thing a map can't: tell us where we are right now. Sure, GPS unit owners have done this for years, but they are few compared to the cell-phone-owning masses.
The pluses and minuses of iPhones in the woods will give us plenty to talk about at Trailspace. The technology is so new that we haven't even added these new electronic mapping systems to our Gear Guide. But we plan to.