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41 votes
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What advantage does the what3words coordinate system have over other, traditional systems?

They don't really pitch it as a replacement for lat/long, but more postcodes and street addresses. A building number and postcode can (and has, IME) have an entrance on a different street, under a ...
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29 votes

Why would one choose to use a Harvey map rather than an Ordnance Survey map?

Well, if you've ever tried walking in countries like Spain or Italy, we should celebrate the fact that we are spoiled for choice. You can always get by with an OS, so why would you ever choose Harvey? ...
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  • 11.6k
27 votes

"Official" providers of topographic maps per country

Europe Austria: The Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen (BEV, "Federal bureau for metrology and surveying") publishes the ÖK50 series in scale 1:50000, covering the whole country. ...
22 votes
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How can I know what a road will be like?

But does that mean it's a decent dirt road that an ordinary car can handle, or is high clearance and/or 4x4 need? How would I go about finding out? You ask locals. It's the only way. No map will ...
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  • 26k
17 votes
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Difference between a "path" and a "footpath"?

A path indication on the map means that when the mapper mapped it there was physically a path on the ground. It gives no indication as to who is or is not allowed to use that path. The brown ...
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16 votes
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Calculate true north with a compass and map

There are several ways to determine true north, especially when you have a map and compass: Competent maps, like most intended for backcountry hiking, will have the magnetic declination marked. This ...
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  • 21.3k
15 votes

Would there be any practical uses of a geological map for a hiker/backpacker?

I thought about this for a while, but to be honest I can't see many immediate uses for backpackers that wouldn't be covered by other means and sources more effectively. For example, if the only ...
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  • 12.1k
15 votes
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Maps showing forest type

OpenStreetMap OpenStreetMap provides information about the type of forest. The information is stored in the tag leaf_type, which has the following values: broadleaved needleleaved mixed leafless ...
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  • 266
13 votes

How did people make topographical maps in the pre-modern?

While Rory Alsop's answer points exactly to the method followed by cartographers and geologists before the invention of GPS and other modern techniques, I'd like to make a point that it was done with ...
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  • 31.5k
13 votes
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How did people make topographical maps in the pre-modern?

What you describe is exactly how it was done: Accurate measurement of distances and angles Obviously, measuring distances on flat ground is relatively straightforward: you use a known length ...
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  • 24.4k
13 votes

Why would one choose to use a Harvey map rather than an Ordnance Survey map?

I've used OS 1:25k and 1:50k extensively in the UK. I also have a little experience of using 1:40k Harveys maps (Lake district, for mountain marathons). I have been impressed with the Harveys: in ...
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  • 2,240
13 votes
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OS Map Symbols - Black Dots

According to the Ordnance Survey legend, those are BOUNDARIES Civil Parish (CP); England or Community (C); Wales See page 6 of the legend under boundaries. There are no other small black dots on the ...
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12 votes
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Is Gaia GPS inaccurate for distances?

GPS is simply not a good way to measure trail distance. This is because the raw GPS fixes have a lot of noise on them. If you take them literally, then you get a much longer distance than you ...
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  • 21.3k
12 votes

When using a compass, why not follow a degree mark without rotation?

The old style pocket compasses worked just like that. The problem: If you use a compass without using that arrow -- just using the degree marking on the dial, your error will about triple. If ...
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11 votes

Is there a (long-distance-) trail without any available maps?

Of course, there are many long-distance hiking trails without any available maps. As far as I'm aware, none of the European long-distance trails have dedicated end-to-end maps, unless you count ...
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  • 26k
11 votes
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What is dead reckoning when navigating with a map and compass?

What is dead reckoning? Dead reckoning is the skill of moving along a specific bearing for a specific distance - eg, to walk 350 meters on a 25 degree bearing - without reference to any major feature ...
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  • 11.6k
11 votes

How is elevation gain and change measured for hiking trails?

There are three different ways of describing elevation gain/change for hikes. The least useful – and sadly a very common – method is simply to subtract the starting elevation from the ...
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  • 3,855
11 votes

What advantage does the what3words coordinate system have over other, traditional systems?

Another use of What3words are outdoor scavenger hunts or geocaching riddles. It is much easier to make riddles that have certain words as a solution rather than numbers. You can use it for a ...
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  • 211
11 votes

How can I know what a road will be like?

The easiest way is to just drive it. You need a "certain tolerance" for minor wear and tear and bumps to your car and some cars are better suited than others, but with a bit of patience and ...
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9 votes
Accepted

How did cartographers map out shores before modern times?

The topics of navigation and cartography are two sides of the same coin, and there are entire books written about each. It is interesting to study the history of cartography because it very ...
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  • 1,738
9 votes

Difference between a "path" and a "footpath"?

On Ordnance Survey maps in England and Wales, the brown background shows access land: see this legend. On such access land, access on foot is permitted anywhere. You cannot cycle here. A path is a ...
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  • 26k
9 votes

Would there be any practical uses of a geological map for a hiker/backpacker?

It may not be relevant in too many places, but… Hot springs! I'm heading to Iceland again this year and I will carry a colourful jarðfræðikort (geologic map) with me: Source: ISOR (available ...
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  • 26k
8 votes

When is the best time of year to find the North Pole?

Ignoring the difficulties of travel (in summer you may need a boat, in winter, skis), then the current weather will make more difference then the season. Given the correct time and standard navigation ...
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8 votes

Is Gaia GPS inaccurate for distances?

There are two main things that can go wrong with gps accuracy. The first is the quality of the signal, which can be less than for a dedicated gps unit (less space for an antenna and other design ...
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  • 22.5k
8 votes

What is dead reckoning when navigating with a map and compass?

Basically, it is using compass headings and distance traveled to navigate to points without intermediate known locations. For instance if you were to start from camp and travel directly east for 4 ...
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8 votes
Accepted

With what unit are river flow speeds indicated on the Genshtab Soviet military maps?

It's meter per second. See the more detailed legend explanation at this huge pdf The text means "Arrows that show rivers' flow direction (0.2 is a speed of the flow in m/s)"
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  • 1,478
7 votes
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Taking only the part that I need from OSM to my Garmin

The easiest option is to use this website: Garmin.Openstreetmap.nl It has an option to select just the map tiles you want, so you can get a map for a fairly small area if you want. To do this, choose ...
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  • 854
7 votes
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Measuring actual distance walked on a map (Allowing for changes in height)

Pythagoras is actually exactly what you would use, approximated as finely as you need for accuracy. What I mean by approximated, is: If you are following a continuous incline, you really only need ...
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  • 24.4k
7 votes
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What free/open source maps can I put on my Garmin etrex vista HCX for walking in southern spain?

I would consider using OSM as they are available for garmin devices.
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