There is two things I do before I head out into the woods, especially before I head out into areas I’m unfamiliar with: First, I check out the area using Apple’s Maps apps, both on my iPhone and the version on my Mac. The satellite images are pretty good, and the 3D effect you can get helps me get a read on the terrain.
Second, I make sure I’ve loaded up the topographical maps for the area into my Topo Maps app by Phil Endecott. This iOS app for iPhones and iPads has a fantastic mix of basic location tracking features — without getting too complicated or cumbersome. It uses scanned versions of USGS maps, plus can seamlessly let you move from two maps when your location is on the edge of a map.
The downside to USGS maps is that they’re often 20 or more years old, but still, when you’re lost in mountains, knowing where you’re at on a topo map can be the difference between getting back to camp, to the truck, or spending a night out lost and cold.
Check out the full review of Phil Endecott’s Topo Maps at Man Makes Fire.
Alternately, just go get it at iTunes now. It’s totally worth $7.99.