Waterproofing a Map: laminating or sealer?

7:31 p.m. on April 8, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

I want to waterproof a USGS topo map and I don't know which route is best. Laminating would allow me to seal the map and make marks which can be erased later but wouldn't allow me to fold the map properly. Sealing the map with something like NikWax Map Proof is another option which would allow me to fully fold the map and make permanent marks but I'm not sure how well these products work or which one is best. I'm leaning towards a sealer just cause I don't want the burden of a rolled up map on a trail. Any suggestions on which products are best?

8:34 p.m. on April 8, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

Hi cabott9,

I have used Auquaseal map sealer for several years with great results.

Folding the map doesn't seem to affect performance, plus you can always re-touch areas with a fresh coat if necessary. I go into some very wet environments and my maps have held up well.

Good question.

12:05 p.m. on April 9, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,075 forum posts

I've also used the auqaseal and found it to work well.

1:41 p.m. on April 9, 2010 (EDT)
110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

Other options would be to order waterproof maps from Maptech, or purchase a soft, waterproof map case.

3:48 p.m. on April 9, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

Waterproof maps are another option but they tend to be expensive or unavailable for less popular areas/not to the detail I want. The benefit of waterproofing maps for me is I can also print out my own maps using software or just pick them up at Sport Chalet. I'm definitely going to be using a waterproof bag for my maps in addition to waterproofing them, but I'll just stick with zip locks for now.

I've also seen waterproof paper which looks pretty interesting, and would work well with my laser printer.

Trout & Alan: thanks for the recommendation on the Aquaseal. Where are you guys buying it from? Not to many places have the map seal, but there are an abundance of places with their other leather products.

7:04 p.m. on April 10, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,288 forum posts

I have used all 3 methods (laminating, waterproof sealers of several types, printing on waterproof paper). Laminating works well, and you can indeed fold the maps. The sealers all seem to make the base color have a tinge (the white background is very off-white) as well as shift the colors, and in some cases make certain colors less visible. Aside from buying maps printed on plastic or otherwise waterproof, I find printing the maps myself on waterproof paper to work out the best by far. With NatGeo's paper (up to C size, 11x17), you can print full scale and get a large portion of a quad. Plus if you use NatGeo's Topo! or Delorme's TopoUSA (called Topo North America in the newest version 9), you can print stitched maps and put the main area you are visiting right in the center (or anywhere on the page to fit your trek). You can also print either portrait or landscape orientation to fit your map to the primary direction of your trek (section of the AT N-S in portrait, Sierra Haute Route ski crossing E-W in landscape). Plus you can print on both sides of the NatGeo paper, in case your map covers more area at the scale desired than a single page. (I do that with laminated maps by laminating two of them back to back).

The NatGeo paper is best used with ink-jets - given a few minutes to settle in and set, it is very waterproof.

As Cabott9 mentions, if you can find one of the NatGeo map kiosks, you can print out a 13x17.5 map on waterproof paper that is somewhat heavier stock than the packaged paper.

Write-In-Rain paper is good for use with laser printers, but inkjet tends to bead up on the surface. And the colors on laser color printers are often a bit off. You can get Write-In-Rain paper in rolls if you can get the use of a huge printer (if you work for a large company, you might be able to convince the repro office to do a huge print - though that is awkward to work with on the trail).

The place where I find laminating to be almost indispensable is in the land navigation courses and workshops I teach - people can handle the maps a lot without damaging them, plus being able to mark with a grease pencil and clean it off (MarksALot and Sharpies sometimes don't come off cleanly)

9:38 p.m. on April 10, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,075 forum posts

I think I bought mine from Campmor.

This is a good primer on waterproofing maps.

http://therucksack.tripod.com/landnav.htm#mapwaterproofing&carrying

10:08 p.m. on April 10, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I got mine from Half Moon Outfitters in Charleston SC. It was 6.95 for the 4 oz. size. Many outfitters have a website, it should not be hard to find this product or something like it.

Nice link alan.

5:05 a.m. on April 11, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

Bill: good to know on the different paper's quality with ink/laser printers and for some reason I never thought about printing double sided, it just makes more sense.

Alan: that is an awesome website, thanks for the link I'll make good use of it.

12:42 p.m. on April 11, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I sure wish I had access to a Nat Geo kiosk, that would be great.

I have never been happy with the map size I can print at home, maybe I'm just spoiled to the larger USGS maps & I like having to deal with only one map instead of several.

I do agree it's nice to get the details from guys like Bill S. so you can learn faster without having to learn as much the hard way.

Hmmm, I should have married a gal with a big printer....

(just joking)

1:17 a.m. on April 12, 2010 (EDT)
71 reviewer rep
440 forum posts

FYI: re: Aquaseal's Map Seal product. Their website states the following:

Please note: Map SealĀ® is not suitable for maps printed on ink jet printers. It will cause the ink to run just as water does.

Have you guys who use the stuff used it on inkjet-printed materials? I've always just kept my maps in decent-sized zip-locs, but I'm considering other options. Recently started playing with the Nat Geo Topo! program.


7:31 a.m. on April 12, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I have not myself Perry, I have only used Map Seal on the standard USGS maps, the old school method I guess.

When backpacking I spend a lot of time in river gorges, and just have never cared for trying inkjet maps too much in the field, although I have several I use for planning at home. I have not yet tried the waterproof paper just because I was skeptical, but Bill's post has alleviated some of my fears.

I do have access to a larger printer actually, and may well give it a go with the waterproof paper.

I have a 4 gig flashdrive that I keep a lot of 7.5 topo maps & trail info on, I carry it with me on my road trips. That has proved quite handy a couple of times.

5:38 p.m. on April 12, 2010 (EDT)
71 reviewer rep
440 forum posts

trout--

I think Map Seal might be "medium-old school", with zip-locs "pretty old school", and "scratch it on a buffalo hide" really old school!

6:14 p.m. on April 12, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

trout--

I think Map Seal might be "medium-old school", with zip-locs "pretty old school", and "scratch it on a buffalo hide" really old school!

Haha.....yes quite correct! That was funny.

I've scratched my head before, but not a buffalo hide.

12:19 p.m. on April 13, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
50 forum posts

I have waterproofed maps in past. However, I really just like to use the available zip lock bags. You can even get them in pillow and blanket size (10-15 gal).

The reason to bag is that I like to mark the heck out of them, plotting my triangle points, miles, alti readings, references to photos, trails notes, etc.

Not only does this help me in future hikes, but to show others I meet on trail with questions of "what ahead?"

1:18 a.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

So I went out and bought the Aquaseal and I have to say that I'm really impressed. I can't wait to get out on the trail and actually field test it. Thanks for the suggestion and info Trout and Alan.

I've also gotta find some pillow and blanket size zip locks, thats BA

6:15 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
71 reviewer rep
440 forum posts

Does it work on GPS devices?

9:31 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

Does it work on GPS devices?

Zip locks or Map sealer?

I also think they would sell a lot more GPSR's if they downloaded and stored camp cooking recipes. Plus one more handy feature would be a pull out weenie roasting wire!

Why aren't they multi-purpose? Navigation + what?

10:40 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

Why aren't they multi-purpose? Navigation + what?

hahaha... that's right, everything else that makes it into my pack has to serves more than one function, why are the nav's exempt?

3:58 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

Well, just bear in mind I'm only joking here, GPSR's are certainly multi-functional. I once heard somebody say that even in the event the batteries died you could use a GPSR to hold your map down in the wind.

12:20 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
71 reviewer rep
440 forum posts

in the event the batteries died you could use a GPSR to hold your map down in the wind

<chuckle> Glad to know they never go completely without a use.

And if you're gonna include recipes, I think there oughtta be a drink-mixing bit to.

5:19 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

in the event the batteries died you could use a GPSR to hold your map down in the wind

<chuckle> Glad to know they never go completely without a use.

And if you're gonna include recipes, I think there oughtta be a drink-mixing bit to.

Yeah, I'm sure someone-somewhere has tried to dehydrate alcohol before.

11:09 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
71 reviewer rep
440 forum posts

Oh, haven't we all tried that? It turns out to be only slightly more complicated than time travel, as best I can tell. But once we start successfully contacting alien beings on some of these exoplanets we're finding, I'm sure one of the first things we'll learn will be how to freeze-dry ethanol for long interstellar trips. Will no doubt lead to a full reconsideration of the phrase "ultra-light".

11:25 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

HaHa!

I'll have to admit I've never laminated a large map, are there any secrets? Tips?

11:04 a.m. on April 18, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
39 forum posts

HaHa!

I'll have to admit I've never laminated a large map, are there any secrets? Tips?

I used to do this all the time in the army. Big roll of clear contact paper, cut it slightly bigger than the map, the tricky part is not getting big air bubbles. If the map is really big just overlap the contact paper. Easiest to have a helper hold the laminate in a U shape just above the map. Work slowly from the center to the ends smoothing it as you go. Repeat on the back side (you could laminate two maps together back to back) and trim off the excess edges, but not too close or water will seep in to the paper. You can use permanent marker on it and it will come off with rubbing alcohol. I never had any map get ruined by water in 10 years of doing this and it would be out in the rain for days sometimes.

12:13 p.m. on April 18, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

Thanks gdurheim,

I think that I may do this with a couple of my wall maps.

I'm also intrigued with one of my buddies methods of keeping maps in roll up blinds in his study. These are mounted one above the other in a rack on the wall, and to view a map you just pull the appropriate blind down.

11:08 p.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts

I carry a map and a coordinates list full-time in the main pouch of a backpack where it needs protection from careless loading/unloading. A Coghlans waterproof pouch has done it for me since 1995 and is still like new.

They are stronger than the ziplocks in my kitchen, have a very positive seal and a 24" looped flat-braid cord for carrying alone for quick reference.

The one I use measures overall 13.75"x10.5"; interior 12.5"x10.125" and weighs 2.7 oz.

I have no connection with Coghlans.

Herb

4:17 a.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

I found some "Zippies" Heavy Duty XX-Large Zip Lock Bags that measure 2ft x 20in the other day at a local Dollar Tree. These things are great! They hold a USGS Quad almost perfectly (had to fold the top/bottom one row to fit)

5:30 p.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
447 reviewer rep
277 forum posts

I've used Thompson's Water Seal & Ultra Water Seal to waterproof maps for years. It is FAR cheaper than Mapsafe and works every bit as well.

6:54 p.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I found some "Zippies" Heavy Duty XX-Large Zip Lock Bags that measure 2ft x 20in the other day at a local Dollar Tree. These things are great! They hold a USGS Quad almost perfectly (had to fold the top/bottom one row to fit)

Yep, we have a dollar tree close by my house, they have those at our store too.

6:55 p.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I've used Thompson's Water Seal & Ultra Water Seal to waterproof maps for years. It is FAR cheaper than Mapsafe and works every bit as well.

I hadn't thought of that, but your right, it would be much cheaper.

4:33 a.m. on April 23, 2010 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

I've used Thompson's Water Seal & Ultra Water Seal to waterproof maps for years. It is FAR cheaper than Mapsafe and works every bit as well.

I saw that on some websites but wasn't too sure about it. Are you using just the regular old brush on wood sealer?

2:33 a.m. on May 25, 2010 (EDT)
5 reviewer rep
20 forum posts

My personal favorite method is the USGS quads and ziplocks, as many have said, but I've been curious about the print-it yourself waterproof paper. Do you think Kinko's/FedEx might have a large enough copier to make a good sized map?

7:29 a.m. on May 25, 2010 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,285 forum posts

As an altrnative to folding maps, consider rolling them up and inserting them in the core of your rolled sleeping mat.
Ed

1:40 a.m. on June 29, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
34 forum posts

I just found this thread and wanted to suggest another option I've used before--you can upload to, and have your map printed at, a FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's) and have them laminate it for you. It's not the cheapest option but the result is bombproof, if a bit heavy and difficult to fold. I've done this for maps I've rendered through MyTopo.

11:13 a.m. on June 30, 2010 (EDT)
200 reviewer rep
649 forum posts

I have taken them to my local printing shop and he sticks them on the paper you speak of and he only charges me a buck a piece. Normally I just make what map or maps I want with NG Topo Explorer, print them to Adobe PDF, then save them for future use and print what I need and put them in a zip-loc. I have used satin finish photo paper and that holds up pretty well too.

10:49 a.m. on July 1, 2010 (EDT)
200 reviewer rep
4,139 forum posts

Yes, I use Ziploc bags for carrying my maps. It works well. I have not tried laminating a map with anything since the early 80s. And I save and print mine either from the USGS map locator site at

http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/usgs/maplocator/(ctype=areaDetails&xcm=r3standardpitrex_prd&carea=%24ROOT&layout=6_1_61_48&uiarea=2)/.do

or use my favorite map page at www.mapcard.com

12:06 p.m. on July 1, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,288 forum posts

My personal favorite method is the USGS quads and ziplocks, as many have said, but I've been curious about the print-it yourself waterproof paper. Do you think Kinko's/FedEx might have a large enough copier to make a good sized map?

FedEx Office (which took over and renamed Kinko's) can print up to really huge sizes for blueprints (which aren't blue anymore) and posters. I have had them copy really large sheets, so they will have no problem with any map you would want to carry with you. And yes, they will laminate really huge sheets as well. I have had them laminate large quads back to back (so I could have a single 2-sided map of adjacent quads) and folded them to fit in the map pocket on top of my pack. The problem with a map in a pack, though, is you lose contact with the map. Too many people hike for several hours between looks at the map, and then have problems locating themselves on the map. Better to keep the map out and in hand, referring to it constantly.

Kinko's generally does not have waterproof paper (except for the banner material). But you can get Rite-in-the-Rain laser printer/copier paper in fairly large sizes (up to 24x36 inch) (you may have to order in bulk). I find it works best in laser printers, but some "ink jet" printers will work (as you might guess, water-based inks just bead up, but dye-sub and pigment seem to work ok). For maps, I mostly use National Geographic's "TOPO!" paper which works very well on my old ink jet which uses water-based inks, as well as on my newer large format pigment ink jet. You can get it up to B size (11x17 inch).

10:15 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I'm going to try some Nat Geo paper myself, it sells for $20.00 a pack (25 sheets) at REI. Does anyone know if you can get it cheaper?

On another note, I repaired and sealed a deck on the rear of a friends house this past week. I had almost 2 gallons of Olympic Deck Sealer left.

I poured some Olympic in a small jar and it looks identical in color & viscosity to my bottle of Aquaseal Map Sealer. They both state they are water based.

Aquaseal Map Sealer - $6.95 for 4 fl. ozs. Works out to about $1.75 per ounce.

Olympic Deck Sealer $56.00 for 5 gal. Works out to about .44 cents per ounce.

I used the Olympic Sealer to do 2 maps yesterday, and the initial results seem identical the the Aquaseal Map Sealer. I'm going to lay one of each outside tomorrow and hit them with the hose end plant mister we have.

So if you or someone you know is fixing to seal their deck, you might consider trying to get a small amount.

11:09 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,148 forum posts

Trout, how much did the sealer effect the color and contrast of the map lines? I haven't used a map sealer yet, but really want to try it. I usually just use a ziplock bag, but not having to worry so much would be really nice.

(ps- do you mind it when someone like myself shortens your trail name to "Trout" for brevity?)

12:46 p.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

Hey Gonzan, no I don't mind at all. You or anyone else can call me whatever you like, just don't call me late for supper!

When using both the Aquaseal & the deck sealer the treatment darkens the map only slightly, once dry they have a semi glossy sheen to them, and the map paper feels a little different, starchy maybe. I have no difficulty reading the maps I've treated.

The maps I've sealed fold or roll just fine and really do repel water quite well. Water just beads up on them.

I've read some reviews that say they thought the deck sealer was not as durable, and others that state it is. Just looking at the two fluids they look identical.

10:39 p.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,148 forum posts

Thanks Trout, I will have to try that soon.

September 1, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Can Anyone Help Me???? Newer: MSR Carbon - can this hiking pole be saved?
All forums: Older: Blacks Mountain Tents Newer: Mt. Adams/Piker's Peak