Why We Use Topographic Maps
As you can see from our site’s structure and checklists, we think that knowing where you are when hiking and camping is extremely important. Many times it is even more important than taking water and food with you - since knowing where you are, what the trail and terrain have in store for you and the distance that you plan to travel impacts the amount of water and food that you should carry. Over the years numerous people took what they believed was a sufficient amount of water and food with them into the backcountry only to exhaust it when they lost their way and did not have the maps or navigation knowledge to find their way out.
Although we normally try to have at least a small trail map, even for “local” trails that are unfamiliar, the maps that we prefer for longer distances are topographic maps since they are more detailed and show the terrain too.
For topographic maps we use the "Topo Maps" IOS app by Phil Endecott. It's been around since 2009 and gives you direct access to 70,000 USGS and Natural Resources Canada topographical maps that you can download to either your iPad or iPhone. The maps cover The United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada. Most of the US maps have a scale of 1:24,000 and the Canadian maps are 1:50,000. One really nice feature is that the app will automatically “stitch” together maps at their boundaries so that you don’t need to flip back and forth between multiple maps.
Topo Maps also downloads the terrain data that you can view in a range from "flat" to "exaggerated" in a 3D shaded map display. The app contains a database of more than a million place names, which you can search to find the right map or individual features on those maps. It also supports waypoints (waypoint files can be downloaded from the internet), GPS location, adjustable solar shading due to the sun’s position and terrain visibility calculations.
You can find more details about our views on Navigation, and gear/apps that we use, on the Hiking/Navigation page.
If you want to see more detailed information here's the URL for the "Topo Maps" website:
Added Downloadable Hiking, Camping and Shooting Gear Checklist PDFs to Site
Everybody that has been Hiking, Camping and Shooting for a while has a list of gear that they always take with them on their adventures. For some people their method of keeping track of this gear is to keep it all in one place. Others make a checklist to ensure that they have everything that they need. We do both.
Based on our experience the gear that you need for Hiking comes in 10 categories, Camping has 10 categories and Shooting gear comes in 17 categories:
To make it easier for you we have added downloadable PDFs of the Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear checklists that we use. The checklists include the types of gear that we think you need in each of these 37 categories..
Our website also has the details on the specific gear that we use (304 items from these 37 categories at latest count), the reasons that we selected it and links to Amazon, or other locations, where you can buy the gear.
You can find these downloadable PDF checklists on the main Hiking, Camping and Shooting pages.
Bought New StrongSuit Q-Series Enforcer TAC Gloves
On some occasions it makes sense to wear gloves while shooting. For us the problem has always been finding a pair of gloves that protect your hands and provide a good grip – while not getting in the way of performing the manual functions required by loading and shooting a firearm. At the Great American Outdoor Show we saw some StrongSuit Q-Series Enforcer TAC gloves that looked like they would meet our needs – so we bought a pair.
You can find the details about these gloves on the Shooting/Range Items and Tools page.
Bought New Instamold Custom Molded Earplugs
Although we have both Howard Leight ear muffs and stock earplugs, sometimes the ear muffs seem to get in the way, and since the stock earplugs do not always stay firmly seated enough to reduce the noise they cannot be worn alone. So, after seeing custom earplug booths at many trade shows over the years, we decided to give them a try. The custom earplugs that we finally purchased are Insta-Mold® Custom Molded ear plugs. We think that these should do the trick.
You can find the details about these earplugs on the Shooting/Safety Items page.
Bought New Klymit Pillow X Recon Blow-up Pillow
During our last camping trip I once again used a bunch of clothes in a stuff sack for my pillow. As always this approach got the job done, but was not the best experience. So while I was at the Great American Outdoor Show I decided to look at blow-up camping pillows and bought the Klymit Pillow X Recon.
You can find the details about this blow-up pillow on the Camping/Sleeping page.
Bought New Sleeping Pads for Wife and Daughter
For the past few years my wife and daughter have used traditional air mattresses to provide protection from the bumpy and cold ground. Although a little heavy for long hikes, they have met all our needs. But now that my daughter is 14, and our camping hikes are starting to get longer, we decided to replace their air mattresses with lighter weight sleeping pads.
Since the Klymit guys were exhibiting at the Great American Outdoor Show I talked to them about balancing the need for comfort and cold weather protection with weight. Based on our discussion I bought two Klymit Insulated Static V Lite sleeping pads.
You can find the details about these sleeping pads on the Camping/Sleeping page.
Photos from Our 3 Days at the GAOS
This week we spent 3 days at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg Pennsylvania where over 1,100 exhibits filled 650,000 square feet of exhibit space displaying all sorts of products related the outdoors - to include camping, RVing, fishing, boating and hunting.
To support the “Largest Outdoor Show in the World” the show exhibitors came from all across the United States and 9 other countries to display their gear and services in the following major categories:
- Outdoor Trip Outfitters – 144 exhibitors
- Hunting Accessories – 86 exhibitors
- Firearms and Accessories – 78 exhibitors
- Camping & Apparel – 56 exhibitors
- Archery – 39 exhibitors
- Travel & Tourism – 37 exhibitors
- Fishing – 17 exhibitors
- Knives – 14 exhibitors
- RVing – 7 exhibitors
- Boating – 5 exhibitors
If you were interested in outdoor sporting activities then this was the place to be.
Here are some of the photos that we took of the show during the days that we were there (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
Great American Outdoor Show Products
Well, we made it back from the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg Pennsylvania just ahead of Winter Storm Niko and the 14” of snow that it dropped here in New England. The show was great since there were over 1,100 exhibitors and 650,000 of exhibit space.
In addition to all of the major manufacturers, many retailers and lots of outfitters, there were several interesting smaller products. The ones that we liked the best were:
- Klymit sleeping pads
- Dry Case waterproof bags
- Uncle Flints survival kits
- Zeko Shoes
- Xpocket jacket/storage sling
- CampMaid Dutch Oven
- GearTacK9 dog walking device
- Gun Genius research site
- Instamold Earplugs
- StrongSuit Gloves
- Law Tactical folding stock adapter
- Slide Fire bump fire stocks
- United States Concealed Carry Association (USCAA)
Here are a few photos of these items – but we’ll be writing up more detailed reviews after we finish unpacking and shoveling the latest snow (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
Launched A Facebook Page for HCS
Last summer we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting (HCS) website. This year we're taking on Social Media. First up was Facebook - so last week we launched our Facebook page. Take a look if you want to see what we are up to - or if you want to see the latest in Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear and adventures.
You can get to our new Facebook page by clicking either the Facebook icon in the footer of our website or here: Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook Page
What's On This Page?
Here's where we post reviews, questions, answers, thoughts and other information that's of general interest to our followers in a blog format.