Mapping Resources for plotting your next Expedition

Posted by Brian Gustad on Jun 3rd 2022

Mapping Resources for plotting your next Expedition

Mapping is vitally important to any expedition. Its now easier than ever to print your own high quality maps for cheap. Here are a few resources to use while planning your next Expedition.


Caltopo is a free digital mapping website with incredible functionality. It offers numerous map layers, including shading overlays which bring more depth to topographic maps, increasing your visual perception of contour lines. It has measuring and drawing tools, and many other data functions. You can select the specific area you want to print, set it to a size scale,and choose Lat/Long or UTM grid reference lines. 

You also have the ability to save a map with a URL, so you can share your map with anyone. Something I use this functionality for is to create a trip itinerary for the trip such as the parking spot, planned route, and trip specific notes. I can then send this URL to my wife via text before I leave for a trip. Should something happen and I not return by the time I specified, she can quickly send this link to Search and Rescue. This helps SAR crews immensely as most searches are based on just the recollection from the loved one who called 911. Searches are solved with data, and a map with specific points to start from can get Search Crews on the ground faster, hopefully in time to render aid to the lost victim.

Waterproof Copy Paper is an excellent resource on waterproof printer paper to print your maps on. They have a handy paper comparison page that will help you choose the best kind of paper for your application. One thing to note is that most of them do not work with pencils. The Rite In the Rain Printer Paper does work with pencils, but you can only use a laser printer instead of an inkjet printer to print your maps. So there are tradeoffs between each type of paper.

Dont have time to get your waterproof paper in time for a trip? Toss that map in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag to keep it dry.

Mapping Tools

This is a list of resources for mapping tools such as protractors, scales, and reference cards.