I basically like to bomb into forest and set up the tent. While doing this last time I ended in the forest with clay as ground, it had a lot smaller and bigger puddles and I was main meal at mosquito buffet.

I would like to avoid this next time, so my question is: if I have maps (Google and OSM) in front of me, is there a way to interpret a map to figure out what conditions are?

I live in Poland and I ask in Polish context, but I would like to know more in general.

  • 1
    @BenCrowell, I updated the question. Aug 2, 2020 at 20:12

3 Answers 3


As far as I know there is no way on google maps or open street maps to determine what the soil type is in any particular area, you would need a geologic map (e.g. this one)for that, and even then it is only going to give you a suggestion as to what it is as geologic maps are usually concerned with rock types, though they can also cover sedimentary deposits such as clays and alluvial deposits.

Clay in particular is a problem for pooling water as they are very fine sediment which is fairly water-impermeable, making it hard for water to drain away. Clays are often, but definitely not always found in river valleys and similar situations.

You can however interpret some things from google maps if you turn on the contours and/or satellite images. With the contours - the closer they are together, the steeper the terrain, and the less likely it will be that you have water depositing on the surface. However, this can also mean that an flattish area (such as you might want to camp on) in the middle of a steep one might pool water.

The satellite images can tell you what sort of cover to expect - trees, bushes, grass. Sometimes vegetation can give you an indication of what is lying below the surface - for instance swamp cypress almost always grow near water in flat lands - so you would want to avoid those, whereas pines tend to prefer steeper terrain.

  • Many thanks, it was hard to pick solution from those good answers, but your was more extensive and involved many factors, so once again thank you and others for the help. Jul 31, 2020 at 14:57

Mosquitoes require water, so look for proximity to swamps, lakes or slow rivers. Elevation contours would also help, you are less likely to end up in a boggy area if it's on a slope. I am not sure what else you can deduce from a map here, mostly I'd look for trail reviews/ask on forums for a particular location during a specific season. Good idea to review contour and riverbeds in any case while camping - you don't want to camp in a flash flood area.


Your best bet is to find a local topographic map.

Google maps cannot even provide the right house numbers in my area, let alone topographic feature reliability.

Depending upon where you live, there should be a govt agency that will publish topographic maps that should show in more detail what the local landscape is. More information on topographic maps here:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.