Paper Maps Advantages

Advantages of Paper Maps

In the digital cartography age, it’s easy to overlook traditional paper maps.

Nowadays, they’re becoming obsolete like old floppy disks.

But they still serve their purpose in our day in age.

Here are 3 advantages of paper maps over their digital counterparts.

1. Paper maps don’t run out of battery power

GPS Navigation Apps Here WeGo

GPS receivers are great for navigation and getting to where you want to go. But in a survival situation, paper maps provide a reliable backup to GPS receivers, smartphones, or tablets.

It’s in those gridlock situations where you lose battery power or your signal, that paper maps can be a savior. Coupled with a compass, you can orientate where you are.

Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to find paper maps. For instance, you can’t find a Road Atlas at your grocery store anymore.

2. Set up and markup is easier

paper map

When you’re in the field, it’s sometimes just easier to markup a paper map. Then, you can digitize it in the office and worry about it afterward.

Setup of field apps like Esri Collector + Survey123 or QField takes time and expertise. You have to prepare all the layers, and even for offline usage

But paper maps are quick and easy to get ready. When you laminate a paper map, it becomes waterproof. Then, you can roll it up in your backpack and use it during a rainstorm.

3. Paper maps give you better spatial awareness

atlas

Over-reliance on GPS has eroded away our spatial awareness. You become more focused on your phone, and less on your overall surroundings.

When you follow directions from GPS apps or navigation systems, you don’t gain a full understanding of your environment. Instead, you become dependent on technology.

Despite its convenience, GPS receivers make us less aware of our surroundings. The broader scale and greater details in paper maps give us an advantage in geographic perception.

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7 Comments

  1. Let’s not forget about accessibility! Digital maps are great and I use them frequently…But not everyone is able to use them. Options need to be available to everyone – with various disabilities, paper maps are the best option. There are hundreds/thousands of different disabilities out there other than vision loss, hearing loss, and mobility loss, and all those people with disabilities have the right to the same information in whatever way they need to receive it. Digital accessibility has come a long way and continues to improve and I will continue to use them, but paper maps (at least for now) are absolutely necessary.

  2. Anon, I think you missed the point. They still serve a purpose was the message here.
    Are you looking to burn all the paper books too? Maybe get rid of board games because we have video games? Why walk at all if we have cars? Heck, might as well throw out my dishes, we can use IVs for nutrients, no?

  3. Hello, I am looking for a map of The USA and Mexico together. I would like it to have the states for both highlighted.

    Thank You,

    Art

  4. Each to their own. Full-time users doing a lap of Australia can wisely invest in digital maps and a Sat phone and a PIRB and the optimum cell phone service. All good if it all works in rugged terrain and paper maps will save you.
    If you are an occasional traveler it seems hardly worth going digital when one up-to-date hard copy map will reliably suffice.

  5. GPS is certainly nice to have and I use it regularly while driving and on my Garmin watch while hiking.
    In my opinion paper maps is a necessity as a reliable backup.

    I went camping this weekend and it turns out my phone couldn’t get a signal for many miles, my GPS was still tracking but I couldn’t set destinations and was in an area I had never been before. A paper map would have been nice to have! Needless to say, I just purchased a few maps!

  6. Sorry, but once GPS were invented, paper maps are long phased out. How else do you think Google Maps exist for a reason? Even most newer cars have that via USB with a smartphone. Plus, Google Maps update streets and locations, paper maps can’t do so because they’re obsolete and outdated. For people still using paper maps… sooner or later you will learn to leave the past behind and move on to newer and better things. Facts are facts.

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