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Old Topo Maps, BLM, USGS, FS, FAA Pilot Maps, Etc. ...

Older USGS or USFS topo maps are sometimes better as they show the old roads, mining claims, mines, fire breaks, water springs, seasonal creeks, etc.. The newer topos maps have been heavily politically censored removing old roads, springs, trails, etc.. New FFA airplane pilot maps as they show most ground details including structures, power line and pipeline right of ways, etc..

Older local city, district or county maps are sometimes better because they show again older right of ways now no longer used by still useful. Also include the new ones as they show new stuff not on the old stuff. For larger scale maps the usual road atlas maps are OK but will not show local conditions. We probably have a dozen or soss maps showing SW OR USA. Fun to compare.

USGS; United States Geological Service. USFS; United States Forest Service. BLM; Bureau of Land Management. FS; Forest Service, FAA; Federal Aviation Agency.
 

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In the UK we have the Ordnance Survey shop which sells every map kind and area in the Isles.

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/

For me I use the red Landranger maps

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-and-government/products/50k-raster.html


I learnt to map read with the Landrangers, and they give lots of information like standing stones, villages, farms, and hill lines etc. There is one closer up, but I don't like that much it's way to close up for me.

For London there is a great A-Z manual that is very common, and has everything you could possible need except hill heights etc. It's basically just street names etc. There is an A5 size one of these which I have, and used a lot when I worked in London.

http://www.az.co.uk/?nid=31&iid=10849#.Vpi75_mLTrc
 

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Nice time you get a taxi or even just see one then check to see if it's an older driver.

Ask him what local maps they use when they aren't using their electronics. An experienced cabbie should have manual backups and they will always be from the most reliable map company in the region. Cabbies do not have time to muck around finding addresses and customers get real mad when paying by the inch to be taken to the wrong place. New cabbies that have that problem typically get pulled aside by an old pro and told to go buy whatever local brand of map that is most trustworthy.

My city has a map company that specializes in local street maps and they have been making them since before WW2. They update them annually and unless the city has totally ripped up a neighborhood in recent months those maps are absolutely perfect. You have to be positively blind not to be able finding an exact address with one. And this is one massive city.

In traveling I noted that in a lot of cities there were companies offering cabbies these small book maps for their hometown. Yes, they all now have GPS and cab company software to help them locate places, but most of the cab company software is based of info that these local map companies input for them. So the companies haven't died off, just evolved. Obviously this isn't for small towns, but since cabbies, especially the limousine charters, are known to make short regional runs for businessmen then likely the closest major city map company will sell a regional one too. My local map company also sells for the entire county and every surrounding county, which covers an area that's bigger than several of those small New England states combined.

If that idea fails you then look to AAA. They also sell pretty good surface maps.

I'm assuming you want surface and road maps. If it's topographical you want then USGS makes some damn good ones.
 

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One thing on Delorm and Rand McNally.
The maps sometimes has out of date information.
many of the electronic files they use are from the US Census that uses something called TIGER Files: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topologically_Integrated_Geographic_Encoding_and_Referencing

http://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/tiger.html

The files are public use and free for the taking. The problem with them is that they many times are not so accurate and in some cases outright wrong.

The means that the files were generated are heavily out dated in many respects and roads on those files may not actually be roads.
I worked with them for years and they are notoriously wrong.

DeLorm and McNally do in fact improve some of the information, but like Google Earth has a real bad habit of going cheap.

Be aware.
 

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I'm kind of a map freak.

USGS quads
National Geographic
Trails Illustrated
Delorme Gazeteer
Latitude 40
GTR Mapping

What I use depends on how I'm traveling - Jeep trail riding, hiking established trails or bushwhacking. I sometimes like to carry a basic GPS, and cross reference its lat/long to map coordinates.
 

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Buddy Up Some Local Firefighters And City Workers? ...

Local city employees and fire fighers have a way of learning up on all sorts of back door MAPS and accesses that would not be on any available map. This would include accessible storm drains, big abandoned water mains, sewers, power company vaults and runs, old underground mining claims and so on.

In big cities some stuff runs downhill for literally miles. Also dangerous to access. Also might be non legal. Anyhow, always think in three dimensions. Also the map is not the terrain. Consider seasonal restrictions also. Check out your local Jeep clubs or hiking/camping groups for timely local information.
 

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Local city employees and fire fighers have a way of learning up on all sorts of back door MAPS and accesses that would not be on any available map. This would include accessible storm drains, big abandoned water mains, sewers, power company vaults and runs, old underground mining claims and so on.

In big cities some stuff runs downhill for literally miles. Also dangerous to access. Also might be non legal. Anyhow, always think in three dimensions. Also the map is not the terrain. Consider seasonal restrictions also. Check out your local Jeep clubs or hiking/camping groups for timely local information.
Actually your dead on.
typically Planning and Zoning Dept. have such 3D maps.
Those by the way may or not be in public access. Typically any county or municipal level information is public record.

But taking a Gamin out and about and creating your maps doesn't hurt either.

Here is a link to an open source Mapping program. Its the equivalent to the ESRI 9.3 stuff.

http://qgis.org/en/site/

Make your own.
 

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I think it depends on the purpose.

For example, in both my EDC and my GHB, as well as my Urban BOB and the household kits, I keep maps of the cycling and walking paths in this region. Not only does the general map give me reference, but these could be alternate routes of travel if I must avoid roads or the roads are just unavailable to me.

In most of my full on BOBs and things like my INCH pack, I also carry maps of the mainland, the nearest main city (Vancouver) across the water, the province, and the neighboring state.

Topo maps are essential for traversing terrain.
 
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