Thursday, January 12, 2012


Though a map or atlas may not technically fit in the "gear" category, it is something I could not have done my cross country trips without so I'm including them. Folding maps are great for regional or in-state rides but if you are going to be covering real ground, a good atlas is a must. Google maps is also a great tool. You can tailor directions to your own needs and print them with the related maps, scaled to your liking. This would be a bit daunting to do for a long trip but for smaller ones, I use it all the time. 
The atlas you choose can make or break your trip. The bigger, the more complete and detailed it will be. You can see a comparison below of the small and larger atlas.

This is Delaware (and Maryland) on the small atlas. You can see it is not nearly as detailed as the map below. Putting two states on a page isn't helping anything either.
 From the larger atlas, one state spread across two pages. Tons of detail, including an inset of a major city.
Here is a closer shot. This atlas had markers for camp sites, state parks, national parks/forests, hospitals and points of interest. This was a must for me. My travel plans are pretty thorough but things happen that you cannot plan for. Being able to look and find alternate campsites was a big plus. 
Here is a shot of my most recently acquired Alabama map. I make all kinds of highlights, additions, marks and numbers when a map is less detailed.

On the road to Canada, at the end of each day I would highlight the route we had taken and plan the next day. I know some folks who use a GPS on long trips. I know this wouldn't work for me, i like having the big picture and being easily able to go back and forth.


  1. Great series of posts! I am a map geek! I really like AAA paper maps, the Michelin road Atlas is probably my favorite although I don't pack it; I'll print directions from Google and keep them in a waterproof mapcase to use as my 'GPS'-AAA maps are always taken along.

  2. My big atlas is great, I won't travel with anything else (save the GPS on my phone). I also have a waterproof atlas bag (look for that in a later Gear post) that I keep bungeed on the the back of by bag. This allows me to take a quick look just by hopping off the bike and not having to dig it out.


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