GPS and Paper Topographic maps

3:12 p.m. on November 11, 2008 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
6 forum posts

This is a repost from the gear section, I figured i might get some more responses here.

So as I understand it electronic topographic maps for areas in central america (and generally outside the US) are difficult to obtain.

So then an alternative I see is using a GPS system with a paper topographic map - find your coordinates using GPS and then find that location on the paper map.

How difficult is this in practice though?

Is the format the coordinates are provded in on the GPS compatible with most paper topographic maps?

How difficult is it to find a set coordinates on a paper topo. map anyway?

I assume there would have to be a pretty high resolution coordinate grid overlaid on the map (or you would have to be pretty good with a ruler) to find out exactlly where you are.

What about satellite maps, like the kind from google maps, can you get paper versions of those that come with an overlaid coordinate system that you can use with GPS?

Lastly is there a central web repository for topo. maps both paper and electronic?


6:41 p.m. on November 11, 2008 (EST)
4,220 reviewer rep
5,900 forum posts
4:10 p.m. on November 24, 2008 (EST)
1,195 reviewer rep
145 forum posts

Hello Almills

I have no experience with foreign topo maps, but if they are set up with UTM and the datum is available on your GPS unit, it is in theory fairly simple to determine your location using GPS and map combination. I have a nice UTM reader, $7.00 at REI. it is a clear plastic overlay with various scales. I have experience with the 1:24000 scale.

Now putting theory to reality, takes a little practice. Based on my first experience, I was about 500 feet off my mark, but I have to say i never got any closer with just map and compass. Bear in mind i am a total neophyte with navigation, but do know the basics and have used map/compass or map/compass/GPS to navigate wilderness areas for years.

I recommend:

The Book Easy GPS, very comprehensive on Map/GPS combination use. There is also a very detailed section in this book on how to use the grid reader tool. I highly recomend it.

That is about all I have to offer. good luck

February 19, 2017
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Winter Camping in VA, MD, WVA, PA? Recommendations Please. Newer: Anyone been to Jan Mayen?
All forums: Older: ALL PPWE (Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Equipment) Wanted!! Newer: blue series 1 heli jacket for trade only