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Best Topographical Software?

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If you are looking for US topo maps, you can't go wrong with the National Geographic Topo State Series maps. I have printed large scale topo’s from the software on a color plotter and they come out looking just like the topo's you would buy in the store. The software is expensive, but I think it is a superior product. RM


BTW: This topic should be moved to the GPS Units and Software forum.

Edited by Rocket Man
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I have used National Geographic Topo going back to when they we're called wild flower productions, Their maps are the best for topoography. While the price of thier software may seem very high, I remeber when each state was twice what it is now, as they say you get what you pay for. If you are on a budget they also offer another product called Back Roads Explorer, this will run you about $50.00 for the entire US, These maps are not as detailed as the State wide version though.

The State wide versions are 7.5 minute maps, while Back roads is a 15 minute map.


For you ac users, Natinal Geographic topo is also offered in a Mac Version.

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National Geographic TOPO is well worth the $100. You can do all kinds of stuf with the maps they print out. Change the scale, add UTM's, dowload & upload waypoints. etc. etc.

Do not look elsewhere...National Geo are teh best. The user interface is excellent and the maps are quite detailed. I've tried a few other programs and they just don't cut it. Stick wiht National Geo Topo.

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I thank everyone for the great replies. Clearly, NG is the hands-down winner! I know what to put on my Christmas list (along with snowshoes to get out out on the terrain we find on the software!).


Someone had recommended Maptech software (Maptech.com), but I wasn't sure how it measured up to the other software. I think you've steered me in a completely new direction. Thanks for the advice.


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If you have broadband, a far cheaper alternative is ExpertGPS which I love. It downloads mosaic tiles of the USGS maps from the software maker's website on the fly, which it assembles into full maps that you can pan around on, etc. It's full scans of the actual USGS maps, for the whole USA. You can zoom in and out to get different mapping levels. ExpertGPS also supports .gpx and .loc files so you can easily see caches and waypoints on the maps. It caches on the harddrive everything it downloads, so after a while, it stops going to the Internet and only needs to if you try and view an area you've never viewed before.


Although I wouldn't mind having it if it were cheaper, I don't have much use for the NatGeo maps myself. The base data is scans of the USGS maps, just like expertGPS. But NatGeo has enhanced the data so that they can do fancy stuff 3D displays. Nice, but not worth the price, at least for me. I'd probably buy if I only needed one state, but I live in the corner of a state. Which means when I'm out hiking or whatever, I have as good of a chance of being in two other states as I do in being in my home state which means I'd need to buy three copies of the software to get any decent use out of it.

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