I have visited the Backroads Mapbook site, and it looks like I will be spending a fortune -- I want hard copy for Alberta and British Columbia, and Garmin GPS compatible data for my handheld etrex 20 (which DW describes as "the modern high tech way to get really lost really fast," but I like it anyway). The whole package will be very expensive. (The good news is that since the US and Canadian dollars are so close in value, the conversion is very easy.)
Is this overkill? Am I missing some other lower-cost solution? I really do want access to back roads for boondocking in the forests and on Crown land when permitted -- and I really do need topo and GPS while hiking, especially if we are going into areas with less well-maintained trails (unlike the US national parks, where the volume of foot traffic often makes it impossible to lose the trail, except in heavy fresh snow). If I have to shell out a lot of money, I just will.
As always, thanks in advance for your advice. Sorry for asking so many questions lately -- but we have decided that we are looking for a semi-adventurous trip this year, while we are still relatively young (isn't 60 young??) and healthy. So that is why we are shooting for the back country of BC and Alberta, rather than sticking to more civilized and touristy areas. Those can wait till I'm 70.
Not sure about Canada but many STATES in the US can furnish low cost maps by county which include literally EVERY road, make every building that is not privately owned (includes churches, schools, grange halls businesses, cemeteries etc. These are about as detailed as I've seen anywhere. Check with the states DOT to see of the state YOU'RE interested in can help.
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I had not heard of Backroads Mapbooks before your post and after looking at there site they do seem to offer a good product though a bit expensive.
I can not offer you any alternative other that Google Maps/Earth but wanted to pass on info on another product that may come in handy if you intend to hike much.
National Geographic “Adventure Paper” Waterproof, Tear-tesistant, abrasion-tough, folds easily. Works with any inkjet printer and does not require any special inks. Adventure Paper
I think that maybe you are getting ahead of yourself, somewhat. Not that the info isn't great, but the distances are huge and unless you were going to be out hiking everyday, all day, my thought is, that you going to have great info on places you will not be going to.
BC is a big place and just getting TO northern BC will take some time, not to mention the Yukon. I think that maybe it might be best if you did a tad more advance planning, setting out the route you will be following, if all goes according to plan, and then look at the hikes you want to do..and gather that info.
The Backroad Books are great. I don't have the cd but Sue T. on here does and she could help you with that. You won't need them all, eh? Just get the ones that cover the areas you are going to be in. Oh hell, of course you are going to buy them all..or the cd, which I am guessing is the plan.
If you troll thru Amazon.ca and MEC.com, using the search areas for hiking books, you can make some great choices.
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Delorme Topo includes topo maps of at least the entire US lower 48. I'm not sure if they have Canada or not. They also sell paper map books for each US state and maybe Canada. Yeah it has Canada and Alaska, from their website:
Complete U.S. and Canada topographic maps and detailed streets
Major roads for Mexico
Over 4 million places-of-interest (POIs) in the U.S. and Canada
Extensive U.S. trails network and public lands, including BLM
It costs $99 US but they have frequent sales if you are on their mailing list.
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I can't speak for Alberta and BC, but we used the Back Road Atlas in 2007 for Atlantic Canada in New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland and found it to be extremely accurate. We like to take 4-wheel drives and the Atlas had roads indicated my GPS didn't have.
As far as hiking trails, if you are hiking on Government land, i.e. in Provential or National Parks, in our experience they usually have hiking maps available for free.
We have made 6 trips through Canada and I am sure I have seen offices similar to our BLM offices but don't remember the name. Would suggest contacting the RCMP office in the area you are planning on hiking in and see if they can direct you to the proper office to secure trail maps.
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The detail on the BR Mapbooks is comparable to DeLourme (and Benchmark), 1:250,000 or 1:200,000. However there is more text (listing rec sites, parks, trails). And BC's area is large. On the south it borders Washington, Idaho and a third of Montana.
On my last BC trip I used a volume that combines the maps of 3 or 4 of the southern books, without text, plus a volume that covers the Rockies Parks.
For hiking these books are just a start, with no where the detail of 15 or 7.5 minute (US) topos. In fact in many BC prov. parks I make more use of the trailhead maps (take a photo at the start) or the park brochure. But the books are the right scale for driving. Speaking of parks, BC Parks has some regional paper maps showing the parks. Pick those up at Visitor Centers.
The books are readily available in stores in Canada. I got my first volumes in the mid 90s from a gas station on the way to Hope.
Besides sitesandtrailsbc there is an online map of Canadian topo maps.
Interesting site. I picked an area at random, found a named recreational resource, looked at detail, loaded the interactive map and various layers. Never did get to any GPS coordinates, but there is sure a lot of info.
I often make my own info files by researching places online, making an image and word file for each place or hike in Word, and then saving that file as a PDF. When hiking, I have the PDFs stored on my iPod Touch in the Files Pro app. I also store appropriate topo map snippets there as PDFs. Works for me. Not hard copy though, although I could have printed them out at home. Sometimes I print things, carry them on hikes in big Ziplocks or in page protectors.
Re someone's comment on the DeLorme state atlases: They don't have enough detail to suit me, although I do own several of them.
Google Earth shows British Columbia, with a cursor point's GPS coordinates and elevations at the bottom of the screen.