GeoPDF vs. GPS tracks vs. paper maps
Which of the following navigational aids would you be most likely to use when planning to ride in an unfamiliar location?
Paper or electronic maps & compass
GPS tracks with a GPS-enabled device
Just trying to prioritize some features for the new Trail Guide.
Re: GeoPDF vs. GPS tracks vs. paper maps
Traditional maps for planning, paper or digital. Always.
Originally Posted by r1de
Paper maps for planning, possibly GPS file during the ride. Is it easy to provide some way of indicating the date information (be it paper or gps file) was posted to the site so the user has an indication of whether the information is fresh or possibly stale?
Even though people like to bag on Strava, ride planning is where it comes in really handy. I'm new to the area and also new to navigating in the woods/forest (vs. the socal desert/mountains) and am constantly using Strava to plan rides.
The key is the segment leader boards (even through I have no interest in bagging segments), I'll use the map in Strava to zoom into an area I want to ride, find a segment in that area, and pull up the leader board.
Then I'll take a look at the top ten in that segment and the rides they logged while traversing the segment.
I prefer riding from my driveway and like "mini" epics so I'm almost always looking for local's rides that show nice loops with high(ish) miles and climbing, ways in and out of the trails, lesser used roads, old logging roads, green belt trails, etc.
I'll export a couple of rides to GPX and open them in Google Earth. I'll save each ride as it's own color and begin framing out the ride. Then, I'll keep Google Earth on the screen and open Strava back up and draw the ride with their ride planning tool.
They've got the ability to create and print que sheets. If the ride has a lot of pavement or FS roads, I'll print a que sheet, but primarily I'll take screen grabs of the map at all the key turns or trail junctions, print them out, and put them in a ziplock. By that point I've worked with the route enough that I've memorized the route and rarely have to check the paper maps.
Good point. Not one will vote to use them, because they don't know what they are.
Originally Posted by Tarekith
They're a newly emerging "standard" has geolocation data on a pdf map. There are free readers for computers, android, iphone that display the maps and use your gps to show you where you are on the map.
Forest Service and DNR are both using them. The most common reader is Avenza PDF maps.
I voted for paper because that's what I like for really long rides where you'll kill 3 batteries on your phone. Actually, I rarely use any kind of map or GPS, but that just means I need to explore more.
But PDF maps are really cool. I LOVE them for planning a ride that I haven't done before.
Don't want to bias the result, but I had never heard of GoePDFs either, until asked to make sure it worked on the new Trail Guide. I had to Google it to figure out what it was, and I have no readers or apps or anything that can use it (at least not yet, or that I know of). I know that GIS people and governmental agencies are moving to it, but I'm not sure how soon it's going to be before regular mountain bikers are relying on them as a primary source of navigational data. If the PDF showed the trails like a regular PDF, and my GeoPDF-unaware PDF viewer could still display it (I think both are true), then I'd happily print it out, fold it up, and stick it in my camelbak.
BTW, if anyone can recommend an app for iPhone that deals with the GeoPDF format, please let me know so I can test it out.
I'm fine using GPS for planning and I usually keep mine on the iPhone going when I ride so someone can find me if I fall and die. But for actual riding, I always prefer a paper map for the reasons stated above.
Cool to see how unique peoples preferences are....
I have used an iPhone for all my backcountry exploring, and I prefer to work that way. It's not for everybody. I've tried tons of apps and GPSKit is my favorite. Here's kind of my workflow:
- At home I load my phone with any .kml or .gps files I want, plus I'll cache all background topo maps of the area.
- Charge the phone in the car on the way to the TH so it's 100%. Turn off all apps other than GPS kit, turn off wifi, bluetooth, 3g, everything possible. This way I am getting 8hrs from the phone battery- I also have a case with a back-up battery.
The reasons I prefer this to paper maps:
- With all the background info cached, there's very little demand for battery power or connectivity. All you need is GPS signal. I have pretty much everything I've ever ridden on my phone, plus some...
- I can also save images (i.e. quick pictures of maps at TH kiosks etc) to my phone
- GPS kit tells me exactly where I am in relation to trails/roads etc.
- I can also record trails/waypoints that aren't on existing maps for future reference.
I've actually never had problems with batteries running out or not getting a GPS signal (in fact it works better than the old Garmin I had)
Like I said though, not for everybody.
I think the #1 thing is to be prepared, which means redundancy if your preferred way doesn't go as planned. That goes for routes, technology and mechanicals!
Avenza PDF maps. I use it on my iPad and Android phone, and Westra and his trail crews use it a lot.
Originally Posted by r1de
Apple App Store:
Google Play Store:
I use all three. Paper is easy to lay out on a table to plan. When I ride in the backcountry I will try to find a geopdf from the USFS website and load it into Avenza pdf maps on my iPhone. If I can find a GPS track of the specific route I want to ride, Avenza will let me overlay that track onto the geopdf map that I downloaded from the USFS website. Really handy when I'm riding in a National Forest.
GeoPDF vs. GPS tracks vs. paper maps
The Skidmap is available in GeoPDF through the Avenza store.
GeoPDFs are cool for exploring on an iPad. I haven't invested in many, but I think I will in the future. I like paper maps, and have quite a few, but there is a convenience factor with having them all on a tablet.
I haven't tried using one on the phone. Generally, I haven't had need for a navigational aid. Most of the rides that might otherwise be candidates involve well-defined drainage and USFS trails, so if you have a halfway developed sense of country and direction, you shouldn't get lost.
What is GPS signal? Ground Penetrating Sonar?
Seriously ... I have a cell phone (just a phone) which usually doesn't get any cell coverage out in the woods. Paper for me. PDFs I print out.
I always use paper maps for everything, but I also use my gps(with map software)to take a bearing off something I can't see then transfer it to the paper map.I just can't wrap my head around the emaps on that little gps screen.
Paper maps for me. Mostly that I already know how to use them. I do record with a GPS device, but it's a watch, and not one of the ones that displays maps. I haven't been motivated to look for apps, although I do have a smart phone.
Sometimes I download maps and print parts of them.
I use MotionX GPS, and I've had great luck with it everywhere. Bend, Leavenworth, all kinds of way out places where I'm far from any cell signal. Only place it ever a dropped a signal for me was st eds of all places :)
Yep, I've been doing a bunch of polling re: maps and GPS's over the last few years and rarely does anyone know what a GeoPDF is. So here it is... it's awesome!
+-side: It tackles the paper, the GPS and the battery issues/needs. You can print it if you want paper and you can have it on your phone and track where you are on the map if you want that. Rarely do you have to pay for them. No need for a cell signal and no need to pre-cache your maps.
Downside: only GIS nerds can create them right now :). You can download them for free from the USFS and the USGS and many other land managers are posting them. Check out DNR's geoPDF for Cap Forest. All the Oly Pen trails now have geo-PDFs on the USFS site. Soon there will be an app or PC-based program to create them me thinks.
I'd love it if someone could test out Avenza GeoPDF on a Droid. Still don't have any feedback on how that works. Works awesomely on an iPad and a little buggy but still great on an iPhone.
I still prefer paper, especially Green Trails when possible. Of course not everything is on a paper map so PDF's or riding with someone who knows a trail are also good options for me.
GeoPDF vs. GPS tracks vs. paper maps
I spend a lot of time in the backcountry summer & winter and use a combination.
PC and/or iPad (Topo! On PC or Trimble Outdoor's My Topo Maps on iPad) to plan trips/routes, then I bring paper (waterproof, 1:24,000, UTM gridded from MyTopo.com) custom printouts for area in question, on trip.
Use iPhone w Avenza or Trimble Outdoor Navigator (both geo-enabled) apps w downloaded PDF as emergency backup or when I need to locate myself on a map- very handy for that feature alone. GPS radio on iPhone does not require a cellular signal.
Would really appreciate geo enabled PDFs on the new Trail Guide- they are becoming the standard for sure. Thanks for polling!
Very interesting read. I also love the individuality of the people riding. I prefer GeoPDF and a GPS. I have Avenza PDF Maps (thanks Mike W.), and an old Garmin GPSmaps 60. I use the GPS for 2 reasons: there are places that don't have cell reception and I don't want to pay for data; just too darn expensive. I grew up with paper & compass and don't use it any more because it just gets to expensive, and it takes up too much room. If your non laminated map gets wet, what a mess. With an iPod Touch or phone it is small and convenient.
From what I read you can make GeoPDFs with Adobe Acrobat 9 or later. My understanding is that you create a PDF of your map and trail and then reference 4 map coordinates on the PDF. They made it sound so simple even a mountain biker could do it. I guess you could create a PDF of your GPX file by running it through one of the PDF generating printer programs and open it in Adobe. If you did it on a Topo map you would have the coordinates that you needed to reference. At least that it is my theory. Slim
No surprise here... Paper over plastic.
But, I've turned to Google Earth a lot to "preview" the area and get a 3D view of terrain and actually view the trails on the East side of the mountains with less tree cover for example. Zooming in and out of Google Earth is slightly addictive IMHO. I've found that maps on a hand held are just too small for the bigger picture and there's no way I'd ride the backcountry with an iPad. Like FM said earlier, preparation is key. I've seen several folks over the years trying to look at a phone map for the first time and having difficulty figuring out where they are.
Hey SlimL, Adobe took that capability out of Acrobat starting at Rev 10. As far as I can tell, the only easy way to make GeoPDFs is with expensive GIS software. But... making GeoTIFFs (also works with Avenza PDF Maps) looks doable. I've found a few complicated/techy ways to do it and I think there is a simple way with http://www.qlandkarte.org/. Going to check it out when I have a chance.
Originally Posted by SlimL
Planning trips...I'll use way too many paper & electronic options. Sometimes even resort to throwing rune stones... ;-)
Another option that I recently used in Montana was MTBproject.com. Although the list of trails is small, it does the provide location on the trail plus has a nice altitude profiling option to view. I liked that feature in figuring out how much more altitude I had left when I was running out of air at 7,000-8,000 ft level.