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The best topo mapping software?

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I'm looking to pick up some software to help me look at at print topographical maps for caching and hiking. My current GPSr doesn't have mapping function, so I'd love to have good detailed maps, preferrably with lat/long, UTM, or NAD coordinates that will help me out, as well as show trails, roads, etc.


I've been kind of looking at Delorme TOPO and National Geographic TOPO!. So far, I've kind of been leaning towards Delorme, since you can get a lot more than one state for a decent price.


Unfortunately, I can't seem to find demo versions to actually determine which I prefer, and will offer me the best features.


Has anyone used either/both of these packages and can give me advice on which one will provide me with maximum functionality?



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I have both programs, and by far, if you're gonna use it for navigation while hiking, etc., buy the National Geographic Topo! software.


DeLorme's offering is nice, but is based only on 1:100K scale USGS maps. National Geographic's offering is essentially scanned in 1:24K USGS maps and is MUCH more detailed as far as topography, trails, rivers, lakes, streams, etc.


DeLorme's user interface is a little nicer, but National Geographic's works fine once you get the hang of it. In fact, I have a somewhat older version of Topo! (waiting for an upgrade CD to arrive) and the new version might be improved as far as the interface goes.


Both can print good maps, just add a color printer. And if you have a cable for your GPS you can even upload/download waypoints you have created on the software.


It's a steep $99 MSRP for the National Geographic software, but if you catch a good sale at REI, Amazon, or use online GPS retailers (4x4books.com, etc.), you can score a good deal and shave $20-30 off the list price.


Worth every penny, despite being expensive at first! :D

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While NG gets the nod for detail, I think you can make a good argument for Delorme for value. If you want coverage for multiple states, NG Topo can add up. If you were to want to load the maps onto a GPS, it would be no contest--only Delorme has a GPS that will take a detail map file for display. With NG Topo you'll be limited to exchanging tracks, waypoints, and routes.


Another plus I can think of for Delorme is that the program will do autorouting, including trails if you wish. Another thing I like about the program is that you can add your tracks to the program database as routable trails.

Edited by embra
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If you have a Pocket PC PDA and live in the US, I recommend a GPS mapping program called Backcountry Navigator.


While its really not designed for highway navigation, it rocks for hiking, geocaching and other outdoor GPS needs.

The program costs 30 bucks and you get all the 100Kand 24K topo maps you can download for free. Oh yeah, aerial photos can also be downloaded at no extra cost.

Waypoints and tracks can be recorded as GPX files. GPX files can be imported and exported.

Geocaching files are handled well and paperless geocaching is a breeze.


Check it out at www.geocaching.com

Edited by rlridgeway
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I use National Geographic TOPO. I have not tried delorme. National Geographic State version has 5 levels of map detail. Level 5 being 1:24000. I have AZ (6 CDs). I also purchaced the US version that has 1:100,000 for the entire US. It is only $75 at REI and that is a great buy. It's 18 CDs. I highly reccommend getting both since if you get the state version it will give you the max detail. Remember one thing when purchacing. This software can only load your POI onto maps and send POIs, tracks and routs with no icons to the GPS. it cannot send maps to the unit. you will need your garmin SW for that. But for printing out maps or making pdfs to share with others it is outstanding.

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If you have one in your area I also recommend checking out Half Price Books. The one down the street from me has the HG Topo state series for $10.00 each. They had a limited number of course; only California, Mississippi and New Mexico. That was just at this one store so I don't know what may be at the other store.

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