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REPOST: LATITUDE 40 Trail Map Series - Bob Dorenfeld

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  • geartest7000
    Hi Mike, Below is a summary of major edits that you suggested, followed by the OR test. Besides the changes indicated, I also made some minor updates
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 25, 2013
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      Hi Mike,

      Below is a summary of major edits that you suggested, followed by the OR test. Besides the changes indicated, I also made some minor updates including word substitutions, and adding or deleting phrases to make the tone more less formal or to clarify my meaning. I've added an Introduction, inspired by your comment that batteries never run out on a paper map :)

      HTML file: https://tinyurl.com/l6fckgm

      Since it'll take me longer to reshoot the map photos, I thought I'd get the text updates to you now and work on the pics in the next couple of days.

      Regards,
      ~Bob Dorenfeld


      1. Since you didn't mention it, was wondering if you agreed with my use of the "degree" symbol in the company's name only for the initial two citations. I manually edit the HTML to insert the symbol.

      2. "Latitude 40, Inc. wants their maps to be for "[e]veryone."
      EDIT – "everyone" remove the brackets surrounding the [e]

      Updated my sentence to not directly quote "Everyone.", and to begin the quote instead with the web site's text next sentence. (The brackets had indicated that the original E was capitalized in the company's text as the beginning of their sentence.)


      3. Good catch on use of quotes, and on unintentional projection in the Product Description section. I was trying to be lively but I guess it didn't come through the way I intended. Now revised to more clearly separate the map company's text from my own (using more paraphrase now), and to more clearly indicate my own experience. Does it read better to you?
      I think sometimes the passive voice could be interpreted as projection, even though I meant it to refer to the passive "me", not the map or another person. I know that not every writer or editor (in general, not just BGT) likes passive voice, but I think it's useful when used judiciously.


      4. "I have hiked close to 50% of the foot trails depicted on the map reviewed here"
      This part of the paragraph has been revised to incorporate your good suggestion to make my meaning clearer, and to add an example of an accurately depicted trail.


      5. "I also found several other mapped trails (in the Frenchman Creek alpine basin)"
      Switched word order to "(in the alpine basin of Frenchman Creek)", since not part of proper name.


      6. "I took advantage of Latitude 40's email contact form, on their website, to comment on these map issues."
      Followed your suggestion to make this a new section, "Customer Service". Revised original paragraph in Field Use to briefly summarize then refer reader to new section.


      7. "Therefore I could check the trail brief descriptions only for relevancy to foot travel."
      ah, the ambiguous 'only' (only the lonely, as someone used to sing)...
      Updated to hopefully be clearer.

      8. "Overall I am very impressed with the maps in Latitude 40's series"
      Revised to incorporate parts of your suggested sentence.

      //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////


      LATITUDE 40 Trail Map Series
      BY BOB DORENFELD
      OR
      July 15, 2013

      TESTER INFORMATION

      NAME: Bob Dorenfeld
      EMAIL: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
      AGE: 55
      LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
      WEIGHT: 142 lb (64.40 kg)

      I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier (Nordic & alpine), backpacker. I live at 7000 ft (2134 m) in the Southern Colorado Rockies where I hike between 7000 ft (2134 m) and 14000 ft (4200 m). I'll do from 4 to 12 miles (6 to 20 km) in a day, ranging as much as 5000 ft (1500 m) of elevation change. I carry up to 20 lb (9 kg) on day hikes, about 45 lb (20 kg) on backpacks. Overnights are usually from one to three nights. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.

      INTRODUCTION

      I love maps, so when I find one that's not only useful and accurate, but beautiful to look at, I want everyone to know. For navigation I hike only with printed maps - no GPS for me, no "smart phone", indeed no navigational electronics at all. (One concession is my electronic multi-function watch which contains an altimeter and barometer.) I get excited by the challenge of route-finding by reading the landscape and matching it to the map's contours and geographic features. Printed maps fold out and are easy to read, plus the batteries never run out! Read on for my review of a very useful topographic and trail information map that I bring with me on every hike I take in its coverage area.



      PRODUCT INFORMATION

      Manufacturer: Latitude 40, Inc.
      Year of Manufacture: 2010-2012
      Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.latitude40maps.com/" LINK TEXT = "Latitude 40, Inc.">>
      MSRP: US$9.75 - 11.95
      Number of maps currently available (as of July 2013): 21
      Coverage area: Colorado, USA (17) Utah, USA (4)
      Map Coverage: varies by individual map
      Size: slightly varies by map - most are 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat; 8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
      Construction: tear-resistant plastic
      Scale: varies by map
      Contour Interval: varies by map, but all include shaded relief base
      All maps include UTM & latitude/longitude grid
      Trails for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, OHV

      Map reviewed here: Salida Buena Vista Trails <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Frontside" IMAGE CAPTION = "Front of Map">>



      PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

      Map Name: Salida & Buena Vista Trails - Recreation Topo Map
      MSRP: US$11.95
      Published: 2010
      Map Coverage: all or part of 44 USGS 1:24,000 7.5-minute topographic maps
      Map boundaries are -
      North: Twin Lakes
      South: Bonanza
      East: Badger Creek
      West: Taylor Park
      Size: 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat
      8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
      Scale: 1:75,000; 1 in = 1.2 mi (2.5 cm = 2 km)
      Contour Interval: 80 ft (24.4 m) with shaded relief base
      Latest Edition: 1st (2nd edition is scheduled for later in 2013, see below in Field Use)

      Latitude 40, Inc.'s own description says that they want their maps to be for everyone: "Hikers, bikers, ATVers, climbers, backpackers, no matter who you are, if you need a good map of the trails where you're going, check us out." They claim that they extensively research each map that they design and sell, incorporating ground-proofing, local land agencies consultation, as well as talking to map users (like myself, see below in Customer Service). They use 7.5-minute data from the U.S. Geological Survey for the physical features shown on their maps. Latitude 40 says that they intend to update each map every two years to keep up with all the changes in roads, trails, and land accessibility.

      All of the available maps are printed on what the company calls "waterproof, tear-resistant plastic", and they claim that they can withstand wear and tear while being used on the trail, and in snow- and rainstorms (see below in Field Use for my notes on durability). I found the surface of the map to be slick, but I could still write on it easily with either pencil or pen.

      The maps fold out in standard fashion, with a vertical triple fold first, then with nine horizontal accordion folds (for the map that I tested). On the first vertical fold below the front is the small 4 in (10 cm) square index map covering the same area as the detailed map, but showing the 7.5 minute USGS quads used as the map base, and colored shaded-relief overlay with major features like towns, rivers, and county boundaries. Compass rose, distance scale (in feet and meters, with handy conversion formulae), and small locator map within the state are all here on the index page.

      Back of the map with index: <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Backside" IMAGE CAPTION = "Back of Map">>

      The other vertical fold above the map front is the legend showing all of the symbols used on the map, elevation color bands (in feet), trail difficulty ratings, company contact information, and a legal disclaimer on use of the provided map data.
      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Legend" IMAGE CAPTION = "Map Legend">>

      On one of the inside folds is a feature that really sets this map series apart from many others - a brief description (in fine print, but still quite readable) of many of the roads and trails found on the map, complete with difficulty ratings, names of start and stop points, elevation change, map location, trail type (bicycle, foot, etc), a sentence or two about what makes this trail or road distinctive, plus route recommendations and warnings, if any. <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "BriefDescriptions" IMAGE CAPTION = "Trail Brief Descriptions">>

      Unfolding the map to its full extent reveals all the details of shaded relief, contour lines, natural features and their labels, trails and roads, land ownership boundaries (National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, National Park, and other Federal and State lands). Also present is information that Latitude 40 provides but not usually found on outdoor maps:
      - Trail and road difficulty ratings, from Easy to Most Difficult (in five steps)
      - Trail and road mileages between intersections and landmarks
      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Sample" IMAGE CAPTION = "Sample of Map">>

      Other data found on these maps includes all road and trail numbers, where trails are motorized (cars, OHVs or Off Highway Vehicles, motorbikes, or motorbikes only), mechanized (bicycles), or foot only (hikers, horses). All map borders include latitude/longitude markings and the UTM grid.

      Each side of the unfolded map will include either the North/South or East/West of the areas covered, as appropriate.



      FIELD USE

      For my ongoing test of a map in the series I am using the Salida & Buena Vista Trails 1st Edition, the latest available as of this writing. This is my second summer season using this map extensively, but I also use it in all four seasons. This map handles easily, folding out and back in without much trouble. Eventually all of my maps will show wear and tear on the creases and corners as they get stressed during use, especially when folding them back on the a crease to make a convenient size for carrying while also reading the area of interest. This map is no exception, but I am impressed with how well it's held up - I haven't had to tape any tears or fold-corners yet. The map has gotten slightly wet on several occasions but each time it was easy to wipe the water off and store it in my pack.

      First I'll make some general comments that apply to all of the maps in the series. I found the map visuals to be quite beautiful, it's really great to look at. Map design needs to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time. Line widths, colors, and symbols should be designed so that I can pick out only what I want to see and ignore the rest, and I found this to be the case here.

      The legend is perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Latitude 40 series of maps. As usual, when I get a new map I skip the legend and just plunge into the map details: can I read the contours OK? Can I separate the roads from the water courses? Can I distinguish mountains from valleys? Can I easily tell apart the types of roads from the trails? I was at first disconcerted by the mapmakers' choice of symbols for roads and trails - black lines (solid and dashed) are roads, red lines are four-wheel-drive roads, red dashed lines are mechanized (mountain bike) trails, and red dashed lines with yellow overlay are hiker-only trails. There are several additional road/trail variations found in the legend. However, once I used the map for several weeks running I learned these symbols and now I like them because I find them easy to quickly distinguish on the map. I prefer to hike trails not open to any motorized vehicles and really appreciate having this bit of information on the map. Sometimes I'll hike trails open to mountain bikes, but only if it's not a popular bike trail: the trail descriptions often state if they're heavily used by mountain bikes.

      One small quibble: The mileage scale is not on the Legend fold of the map, but rather on the Index fold. Most maps do put the mileage scale with the rest of the legend, so it took me a couple of uses to remember where to look for the distance scale.

      Since I am not a GPS user I cannot comment on the accuracy of the UTM grid. I do occasionally use my magnetic compass, and the indicated declination and latitude and longitude markings appear the be accurate as far as I can tell. I prefer to navigate by attention to topography, the sun, ecological setting, and of course my paper maps, so map accuracy is very important.

      Public/private land boundaries are not shown on the map, as the general map description states. However, the mapmakers have taken pains to highlight only those roads and trails that are on public land, or that are open to the public. While I like to see all road and trails shown on a map if only for orientation purposes (and some of these are shown but not highlighted), I appreciate the effort taken by the designers to guide users towards legal access for trails.

      Now, some more specific comments for the particular map under review. I have hiked close to 50% of the foot trails depicted on the map reviewed here, and of the ones I hiked, I can say that almost all of these trails are very accurately depicted for distance, location, and type of trail. For example, the Pass Ck Trail west of Salida is labeled 3.15 mi (5 km) long, which accords with my own on-the-ground estimate and is much more accurate than the U.S. Forest Service's own trailhead-posted length of 4 mi (6.5 km). The trail's creek crossings and changes in direction also match up well to my experience of having hiked this particular trail six times. The trail brief description says "Scenic high alpine lake. Trail is difficult in places. 4WD necessary to get to Pass Creek TH....Low to moderate use." All quite accurate! Although for some other trails I found that perhaps the mapmakers' "difficult" is my "moderate", or that 4WD is not really necessary to access the trailhead, these are judgment calls, and of course "your mileage may vary". But based on my experience hiking these trails it's obvious to me that extensive field checking and consultation were achieved in writing these trail descriptions.

      Since no map is perfect, I am always on the lookout for inaccuracies - and indeed I found one error where a section of trail was not shown ascending a ridge in the right location, and some other mapped trails for which I could not see any tread or trail junction. See the below section "Customer Contact" to read how I was able to successfully deal with this issue.

      I am happy with the coverage of this map: it's a large area (approximately 30 by 46 mi, or 48 by 74 km), which means I normally only need to grab one map for a selected hike. However, the trade-off is less detail for the land contours and the trail and road placements (for example, switchbacks are eliminated or generalized). But this problem is easily solved by my carrying the relevant map from another publisher at a larger scale, and printing out sections of USGS 7.5 quads which contain the best contour detail. (Maps are small, lightweight, and easy to stash, so I often carry two or three on hikes, since besides contour detail they often include other different data that can be useful in the field.)

      While I haven't checked all or even most of the road mileages, the ones I have checked (Forest Service access roads to the trailheads) are within 0.2 mi (0.3 km) of the mileages indicated on the map (which are in tenths of miles).

      I use Public Lands primarily as a hiker and Nordic skier, and do not mountain bike or drive motorized vehicles except for using my car to gain trailhead access. Therefore, I could verify the accuracy of the trail brief descriptions with respect only to my preferred mode of travel, by foot. I found the descriptions useful for hiking and for road access to the trailheads. But as mentioned above, they're also useful for me to decide which trails I'd rather not attempt given the possibility of bicycle or OHV users.

      We have several long-distance trails in our area of the state, and both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are nicely highlighted on the map.



      CUSTOMER SERVICE

      So what can go wrong with a map? Well, I had an opportunity to use the Latitude 40 customer contact form on their web site because I found an error where a one mile (2.5 km) section of the Kroenke Lake Trail was mislocated as going directly up a ridge instead of switchbacking. I also found several other mapped trails (in the alpine basin of Frenchman Creek, west of Buena Vista) that had no trace of a tread or cairns on the ground, nor any sign of the indicated trail junction. Latitude 40's website contact form was easy to use and, to my pleasant surprise, the company owners responded within one day and said that they'd checked and confirmed my observation of the Kroenke Trail, adding that they'd make the correction for the next edition. As it happens they are just getting ready to go to press for the 2nd edition of the Salida & Buena Vista Trails map, so my timing couldn't have been better. As for my other trail ground observations they are investigating whether those trails should even be shown on the map as Forest Service numbered trails, and where they should be located, if at all.

      I am impressed with the mapmakers' responsiveness and attention to detail!



      SUMMARY

      Overall I am very enthusiastic about this Latitude 40 series map covering the mountain range near my home in Salida, CO. The map I reviewed here, Salida Buena Vista Trails: Recreation Topo Map is now my constant companion whenever I hike in the mountains covered by it. I'll even consult it just for the road directions and ratings if I'm driving in an area but not hiking. The map folds out and back very well, and has proven to be very durable without tearing or ripping despite lots of use in the field. Despite a moderate learning curve for the trail and road symbols I found the map data to be easy to read and understand with minimal effort, and a pleasure to look at just for the big geographic picture. No map is perfect, and I am impressed with how the mapmakers dealt with my reporting on one trail location error and a couple of other possible trail numbering or location issues. Although they did not quite meet their deadline of publishing the next edition within two years of the first, publishing deadlines tend to be flexible, and I'm looking forward to the next edition of this fine map which should be available soon.





      This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
      Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
    • Mike Mosack
      Hi Bob, This is a good report. I like your html and you’ve covered the map pretty well and the report is easy to read and follow along. I do not think you
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 27, 2013
      • 0 Attachment
        Hi Bob,

        This is a good report. I like your html and you’ve covered the map pretty well and the report is easy to read and follow along. I do not think you need to reshoot the photos, but if you do, I should have a look at them in another test report first.

        So here are your edits in the usual format...
        EDIT – must change
        edit – my recommended changes “if” you agree
        comment – is just that.

        “All of the available maps are printed on what the company calls "waterproof, tear-resistant plastic", and they claim that they can withstand wear and tear while being used on the trail, and in snow- and rainstorms…”

        EDIT – remove the hyphen after snow…



        “For my ongoing test of a map in the series I am using the Salida & Buena Vista Trails 1st Edition, the latest available as of this writing.”

        EDIT – Remove the, “For my ongoing test” since you are actually doing an OR and not partaking in a test series. Otherwise, readers might confuse this and expect another report on your “ongoing” test when in fact; you are only completing one report.



        “Eventually all of my maps will show wear and tear on the creases and corners as they get stressed during use, especially when folding them back on the a crease to make…”

        EDIT – “folding them back on the a crease” Remove either the “the” or the “a” so that this reads better.



        “The map has gotten slightly wet on several occasions but each time it was easy to wipe the water off and store it in my pack”

        edit – Are you storing the map or the water you wiped off? Just seems to read the latter to me.



        “Map design needs to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time.”

        EDIT - I think “assemble” is an incorrect use for this context. Maps are incapable to assembling, but they can “display” as an example…



        “Well, I had an opportunity to use the Latitude 40 customer contact form on their web site because I found an error where a one mile (2.5 km) section of the Kroenke Lake Trail was mislocated as going directly up a ridge instead of switchbacking.”

        EDIT – One mile actually equals 1.6 km. Was this also an error that you contacted Customer Service about or was this your typo? This sentence reads as if it was only the trail routing that was in error.

        So if you would please attend to these you can upload when you are ready. Please remember to delete the test copy. Thanks for your OR!
        Mike



        HTML file: https://tinyurl.com/l6fckgm

        Since it'll take me longer to reshoot the map photos, I thought I'd get the text updates to you now and work on the pics in the next couple of days.

        LATITUDE 40 Trail Map Series
        BY BOB DORENFELD
        OR
        July 15, 2013

        TESTER INFORMATION

        NAME: Bob Dorenfeld
        EMAIL: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
        AGE: 55
        LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
        GENDER: M
        HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
        WEIGHT: 142 lb (64.40 kg)

        I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier (Nordic & alpine), backpacker. I live at 7000 ft (2134 m) in the Southern Colorado Rockies where I hike between 7000 ft (2134 m) and 14000 ft (4200 m). I'll do from 4 to 12 miles (6 to 20 km) in a day, ranging as much as 5000 ft (1500 m) of elevation change. I carry up to 20 lb (9 kg) on day hikes, about 45 lb (20 kg) on backpacks. Overnights are usually from one to three nights. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.

        INTRODUCTION

        I love maps, so when I find one that's not only useful and accurate, but beautiful to look at, I want everyone to know. For navigation I hike only with printed maps - no GPS for me, no "smart phone", indeed no navigational electronics at all. (One concession is my electronic multi-function watch which contains an altimeter and barometer.) I get excited by the challenge of route-finding by reading the landscape and matching it to the map's contours and geographic features. Printed maps fold out and are easy to read, plus the batteries never run out! Read on for my review of a very useful topographic and trail information map that I bring with me on every hike I take in its coverage area.

        PRODUCT INFORMATION

        Manufacturer: Latitude 40, Inc.
        Year of Manufacture: 2010-2012
        Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.latitude40maps.com/" LINK TEXT = "Latitude 40, Inc.">>
        MSRP: US$9.75 - 11.95
        Number of maps currently available (as of July 2013): 21
        Coverage area: Colorado, USA (17) Utah, USA (4)
        Map Coverage: varies by individual map
        Size: slightly varies by map - most are 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat; 8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
        Construction: tear-resistant plastic
        Scale: varies by map
        Contour Interval: varies by map, but all include shaded relief base
        All maps include UTM & latitude/longitude grid
        Trails for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, OHV

        Map reviewed here: Salida Buena Vista Trails <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Frontside" IMAGE CAPTION = "Front of Map">>

        PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

        Map Name: Salida & Buena Vista Trails - Recreation Topo Map
        MSRP: US$11.95
        Published: 2010
        Map Coverage: all or part of 44 USGS 1:24,000 7.5-minute topographic maps
        Map boundaries are -
        North: Twin Lakes
        South: Bonanza
        East: Badger Creek
        West: Taylor Park
        Size: 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat
        8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
        Scale: 1:75,000; 1 in = 1.2 mi (2.5 cm = 2 km)
        Contour Interval: 80 ft (24.4 m) with shaded relief base
        Latest Edition: 1st (2nd edition is scheduled for later in 2013, see below in Field Use)

        Latitude 40, Inc.'s own description says that they want their maps to be for everyone: "Hikers, bikers, ATVers, climbers, backpackers, no matter who you are, if you need a good map of the trails where you're going, check us out." They claim that they extensively research each map that they design and sell, incorporating ground-proofing, local land agencies consultation, as well as talking to map users (like myself, see below in Customer Service). They use 7.5-minute data from the U.S. Geological Survey for the physical features shown on their maps. Latitude 40 says that they intend to update each map every two years to keep up with all the changes in roads, trails, and land accessibility.

        All of the available maps are printed on what the company calls "waterproof, tear-resistant plastic", and they claim that they can withstand wear and tear while being used on the trail, and in snow- and rainstorms (see below in Field Use for my notes on durability). I found the surface of the map to be slick, but I could still write on it easily with either pencil or pen.

        The maps fold out in standard fashion, with a vertical triple fold first, then with nine horizontal accordion folds (for the map that I tested). On the first vertical fold below the front is the small 4 in (10 cm) square index map covering the same area as the detailed map, but showing the 7.5 minute USGS quads used as the map base, and colored shaded-relief overlay with major features like towns, rivers, and county boundaries. Compass rose, distance scale (in feet and meters, with handy conversion formulae), and small locator map within the state are all here on the index page.

        Back of the map with index: <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Backside" IMAGE CAPTION = "Back of Map">>

        The other vertical fold above the map front is the legend showing all of the symbols used on the map, elevation color bands (in feet), trail difficulty ratings, company contact information, and a legal disclaimer on use of the provided map data.
        <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Legend" IMAGE CAPTION = "Map Legend">>

        On one of the inside folds is a feature that really sets this map series apart from many others - a brief description (in fine print, but still quite readable) of many of the roads and trails found on the map, complete with difficulty ratings, names of start and stop points, elevation change, map location, trail type (bicycle, foot, etc), a sentence or two about what makes this trail or road distinctive, plus route recommendations and warnings, if any. <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "BriefDescriptions" IMAGE CAPTION = "Trail Brief Descriptions">>

        Unfolding the map to its full extent reveals all the details of shaded relief, contour lines, natural features and their labels, trails and roads, land ownership boundaries (National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, National Park, and other Federal and State lands). Also present is information that Latitude 40 provides but not usually found on outdoor maps:
        - Trail and road difficulty ratings, from Easy to Most Difficult (in five steps)
        - Trail and road mileages between intersections and landmarks
        <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Sample" IMAGE CAPTION = "Sample of Map">>

        Other data found on these maps includes all road and trail numbers, where trails are motorized (cars, OHVs or Off Highway Vehicles, motorbikes, or motorbikes only), mechanized (bicycles), or foot only (hikers, horses). All map borders include latitude/longitude markings and the UTM grid.

        Each side of the unfolded map will include either the North/South or East/West of the areas covered, as appropriate.

        FIELD USE

        For my ongoing test of a map in the series I am using the Salida & Buena Vista Trails 1st Edition, the latest available as of this writing. This is my second summer season using this map extensively, but I also use it in all four seasons. This map handles easily, folding out and back in without much trouble. Eventually all of my maps will show wear and tear on the creases and corners as they get stressed during use, especially when folding them back on the a crease to make a convenient size for carrying while also reading the area of interest. This map is no exception, but I am impressed with how well it's held up - I haven't had to tape any tears or fold-corners yet. The map has gotten slightly wet on several occasions but each time it was easy to wipe the water off and store it in my pack.

        First I'll make some general comments that apply to all of the maps in the series. I found the map visuals to be quite beautiful, it's really great to look at. Map design needs to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time. Line widths, colors, and symbols should be designed so that I can pick out only what I want to see and ignore the rest, and I found this to be the case here.

        The legend is perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Latitude 40 series of maps. As usual, when I get a new map I skip the legend and just plunge into the map details: can I read the contours OK? Can I separate the roads from the water courses? Can I distinguish mountains from valleys? Can I easily tell apart the types of roads from the trails? I was at first disconcerted by the mapmakers' choice of symbols for roads and trails - black lines (solid and dashed) are roads, red lines are four-wheel-drive roads, red dashed lines are mechanized (mountain bike) trails, and red dashed lines with yellow overlay are hiker-only trails. There are several additional road/trail variations found in the legend. However, once I used the map for several weeks running I learned these symbols and now I like them because I find them easy to quickly distinguish on the map. I prefer to hike trails not open to any motorized vehicles and really appreciate having this bit of information on the map. Sometimes I'll hike trails open to mountain bikes, but only if it's not a popular bike trail: the trail descriptions often state if they're heavily used by mountain bikes.

        One small quibble: The mileage scale is not on the Legend fold of the map, but rather on the Index fold. Most maps do put the mileage scale with the rest of the legend, so it took me a couple of uses to remember where to look for the distance scale.

        Since I am not a GPS user I cannot comment on the accuracy of the UTM grid. I do occasionally use my magnetic compass, and the indicated declination and latitude and longitude markings appear the be accurate as far as I can tell. I prefer to navigate by attention to topography, the sun, ecological setting, and of course my paper maps, so map accuracy is very important.

        Public/private land boundaries are not shown on the map, as the general map description states. However, the mapmakers have taken pains to highlight only those roads and trails that are on public land, or that are open to the public. While I like to see all road and trails shown on a map if only for orientation purposes (and some of these are shown but not highlighted), I appreciate the effort taken by the designers to guide users towards legal access for trails.

        Now, some more specific comments for the particular map under review. I have hiked close to 50% of the foot trails depicted on the map reviewed here, and of the ones I hiked, I can say that almost all of these trails are very accurately depicted for distance, location, and type of trail. For example, the Pass Ck Trail west of Salida is labeled 3.15 mi (5 km) long, which accords with my own on-the-ground estimate and is much more accurate than the U.S. Forest Service's own trailhead-posted length of 4 mi (6.5 km). The trail's creek crossings and changes in direction also match up well to my experience of having hiked this particular trail six times. The trail brief description says "Scenic high alpine lake. Trail is difficult in places. 4WD necessary to get to Pass Creek TH....Low to moderate use." All quite accurate! Although for some other trails I found that perhaps the mapmakers' "difficult" is my "moderate", or that 4WD is not really necessary to access the trailhead, these are judgment calls, and of course "your mileage may vary". But based on my experience hiking these trails it's obvious to me that extensive field checking and consultation were achieved in writing these trail descriptions.

        Since no map is perfect, I am always on the lookout for inaccuracies - and indeed I found one error where a section of trail was not shown ascending a ridge in the right location, and some other mapped trails for which I could not see any tread or trail junction. See the below section "Customer Contact" to read how I was able to successfully deal with this issue.

        I am happy with the coverage of this map: it's a large area (approximately 30 by 46 mi, or 48 by 74 km), which means I normally only need to grab one map for a selected hike. However, the trade-off is less detail for the land contours and the trail and road placements (for example, switchbacks are eliminated or generalized). But this problem is easily solved by my carrying the relevant map from another publisher at a larger scale, and printing out sections of USGS 7.5 quads which contain the best contour detail. (Maps are small, lightweight, and easy to stash, so I often carry two or three on hikes, since besides contour detail they often include other different data that can be useful in the field.)

        While I haven't checked all or even most of the road mileages, the ones I have checked (Forest Service access roads to the trailheads) are within 0.2 mi (0.3 km) of the mileages indicated on the map (which are in tenths of miles).

        I use Public Lands primarily as a hiker and Nordic skier, and do not mountain bike or drive motorized vehicles except for using my car to gain trailhead access. Therefore, I could verify the accuracy of the trail brief descriptions with respect only to my preferred mode of travel, by foot. I found the descriptions useful for hiking and for road access to the trailheads. But as mentioned above, they're also useful for me to decide which trails I'd rather not attempt given the possibility of bicycle or OHV users.

        We have several long-distance trails in our area of the state, and both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are nicely highlighted on the map.

        CUSTOMER SERVICE

        So what can go wrong with a map? Well, I had an opportunity to use the Latitude 40 customer contact form on their web site because I found an error where a one mile (2.5 km) section of the Kroenke Lake Trail was mislocated as going directly up a ridge instead of switchbacking. I also found several other mapped trails (in the alpine basin of Frenchman Creek, west of Buena Vista) that had no trace of a tread or cairns on the ground, nor any sign of the indicated trail junction. Latitude 40's website contact form was easy to use and, to my pleasant surprise, the company owners responded within one day and said that they'd checked and confirmed my observation of the Kroenke Trail, adding that they'd make the correction for the next edition. As it happens they are just getting ready to go to press for the 2nd edition of the Salida & Buena Vista Trails map, so my timing couldn't have been better. As for my other trail ground observations they are investigating whether those trails should even be shown on the map as Forest Service numbered trails, and where they should be located, if at all.

        I am impressed with the mapmakers' responsiveness and attention to detail!

        SUMMARY

        Overall I am very enthusiastic about this Latitude 40 series map covering the mountain range near my home in Salida, CO. The map I reviewed here, Salida Buena Vista Trails: Recreation Topo Map is now my constant companion whenever I hike in the mountains covered by it. I'll even consult it just for the road directions and ratings if I'm driving in an area but not hiking. The map folds out and back very well, and has proven to be very durable without tearing or ripping despite lots of use in the field. Despite a moderate learning curve for the trail and road symbols I found the map data to be easy to read and understand with minimal effort, and a pleasure to look at just for the big geographic picture. No map is perfect, and I am impressed with how the mapmakers dealt with my reporting on one trail location error and a couple of other possible trail numbering or location issues. Although they did not quite meet their deadline of publishing the next edition within two years of the first, publishing deadlines tend to be flexible, and I'm looking forward to the next edition of this fine map which should be available soon.

        This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
        Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • geartest7000
        Hi Mike, I reshot the photos for better resolution & clarity, new HTML is posted. https://tinyurl.com/l6fckgm Also made revisions as noted, and full text
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 28, 2013
        • 0 Attachment
          Hi Mike,

          I reshot the photos for better resolution & clarity, new HTML is posted.
          https://tinyurl.com/l6fckgm

          Also made revisions as noted, and full text follows below.

          EDIT – remove the hyphen after snow…
          >>DONE

          EDIT – Remove the, "For my ongoing test"
          >>Now reads: "The map I'm reviewing in the publisher's series is the Salida & Buena Vista Trails..."

          EDIT – "folding them back on the a crease"
          >>Removed "the"

          edit – Are you storing the map or the water you wiped off?
          >>Now reads: "...wipe the water off and store the map in my pack"


          "Map design needs to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time."
          EDIT - I think "assemble" is an incorrect use for this context. Maps are incapable to assembling, but they can "display" as an example…
          >>Remove ambiguity by changing "design" to "designers"


          ...where a one mile (2.5 km) section of the Kroenke Lake Trail...
          EDIT – One mile actually equals 1.6 km. Was this also an error that you contacted Customer Service about or was this your typo? This sentence reads as if it was only the trail routing that was in error
          >>Revised to substitute "short" for the actual distance, since the trail routing was the problem, not the distance.




          ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////


          LATITUDE 40 Trail Map Series
          BY BOB DORENFELD
          OR
          July 15, 2013

          TESTER INFORMATION

          NAME: Bob Dorenfeld
          EMAIL: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
          AGE: 55
          LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
          GENDER: M
          HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
          WEIGHT: 142 lb (64.40 kg)

          I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier (Nordic & alpine), backpacker. I live at 7000 ft (2134 m) in the Southern Colorado Rockies where I hike between 7000 ft (2134 m) and 14000 ft (4200 m). I'll do from 4 to 12 miles (6 to 20 km) in a day, ranging as much as 5000 ft (1500 m) of elevation change. I carry up to 20 lb (9 kg) on day hikes, about 45 lb (20 kg) on backpacks. Overnights are usually from one to three nights. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.

          INTRODUCTION

          I love maps, so when I find one that's not only useful and accurate, but beautiful to look at, I want everyone to know. For navigation I hike only with printed maps - no GPS for me, no "smart phone", indeed no navigational electronics at all. (One concession is my electronic multi-function watch which contains an altimeter and barometer.) I get excited by the challenge of route-finding by reading the landscape and matching it to the map's contours and geographic features. Printed maps fold out and are easy to read, plus the batteries never run out! Read on for my review of a very useful topographic and trail information map that I bring with me on every hike I take in its coverage area.



          PRODUCT INFORMATION

          Manufacturer: Latitude 40, Inc.
          Year of Manufacture: 2010-2012
          Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.latitude40maps.com/" LINK TEXT = "Latitude 40, Inc.">>
          MSRP: US$9.75 - 11.95
          Number of maps currently available (as of July 2013): 21
          Coverage area: Colorado, USA (17) Utah, USA (4)
          Map Coverage: varies by individual map
          Size: slightly varies by map - most are 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat; 8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
          Construction: tear-resistant plastic
          Scale: varies by map
          Contour Interval: varies by map, but all include shaded relief base
          All maps include UTM & latitude/longitude grid
          Trails for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, OHV

          Map reviewed here: Salida Buena Vista Trails <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Front" IMAGE CAPTION = "Front of Map">>



          PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

          Map Name: Salida & Buena Vista Trails - Recreation Topo Map
          MSRP: US$11.95
          Published: 2010
          Map Coverage: all or part of 44 USGS 1:24,000 7.5-minute topographic maps
          Map boundaries are -
          North: Twin Lakes
          South: Bonanza
          East: Badger Creek
          West: Taylor Park
          Size: 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat
          8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
          Scale: 1:75,000; 1 in = 1.2 mi (2.5 cm = 2 km)
          Contour Interval: 80 ft (24.4 m) with shaded relief base
          Latest Edition: 1st (2nd edition is scheduled for later in 2013, see below in Field Use)

          Latitude 40, Inc.'s own description says that they want their maps to be for everyone: "Hikers, bikers, ATVers, climbers, backpackers, no matter who you are, if you need a good map of the trails where you're going, check us out." They claim that they extensively research each map that they design and sell, incorporating ground-proofing, local land agencies consultation, as well as talking to map users (like myself, see below in Customer Service). They use 7.5-minute data from the U.S. Geological Survey for the physical features shown on their maps. Latitude 40 says that they intend to update each map every two years to keep up with all the changes in roads, trails, and land accessibility.

          All of the available maps are printed on what the company calls "waterproof, tear-resistant plastic", and they claim that they can withstand wear and tear while being used on the trail, and in snow and rain storms (see below in Field Use for my notes on durability). I found the surface of the map to be slick, but I could still write on it easily with either pencil or pen.

          The maps fold out in standard fashion, with a vertical triple fold first, then with nine horizontal accordion folds (for the map that I tested). On the first vertical fold below the front is the small 4 in (10 cm) square index map covering the same area as the detailed map, but showing the 7.5 minute USGS quads used as the map base, and colored shaded-relief overlay with major features like towns, rivers, and county boundaries. Compass rose, distance scale (in feet and meters, with handy conversion formulae), and small locator map within the state are all here on the index page.

          Back of the map with index: <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Back" IMAGE CAPTION = "Back of Map">>

          The other vertical fold above the map front is the legend showing all of the symbols used on the map, elevation color bands (in feet), trail difficulty ratings, company contact information, and a legal disclaimer on use of the provided map data.
          <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Legend" IMAGE CAPTION = "Map Legend">>

          On one of the inside folds is a feature that really sets this map series apart from many others - a brief description (in fine print, but still quite readable) of many of the roads and trails found on the map, complete with difficulty ratings, names of start and stop points, elevation change, map location, trail type (bicycle, foot, etc), a sentence or two about what makes this trail or road distinctive, plus route recommendations and warnings, if any. <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "BriefDescriptions" IMAGE CAPTION = "Trail Brief Descriptions">>

          Unfolding the map to its full extent reveals all the details of shaded relief, contour lines, natural features and their labels, trails and roads, land ownership boundaries (National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, National Park, and other Federal and State lands). Also present is information that Latitude 40 provides but not usually found on outdoor maps:
          - Trail and road difficulty ratings, from Easy to Most Difficult (in five steps)
          - Trail and road mileages between intersections and landmarks
          <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Detail" IMAGE CAPTION = "Sample of Map Detail">>

          Other data found on these maps includes all road and trail numbers, where trails are motorized (cars, OHVs or Off Highway Vehicles, motorbikes, or motorbikes only), mechanized (bicycles), or foot only (hikers, horses). All map borders include latitude/longitude markings and the UTM grid.

          Each side of the unfolded map will include either the North/South or East/West of the areas covered, as appropriate.



          FIELD USE

          The map I'm reviewing in the publisher's series is the Salida & Buena Vista Trails 1st Edition, the latest available as of this writing. This is my second summer season using this map extensively, but I also use it in all four seasons. This map handles easily, folding out and back in without much trouble. Eventually all of my maps will show wear and tear on the creases and corners as they get stressed during use, especially when folding them back on a crease to make a convenient size for carrying while also reading the area of interest. This map is no exception, but I am impressed with how well it's held up - I haven't had to tape any tears or fold-corners yet. The map has gotten slightly wet on several occasions but each time it was easy to wipe the water off and store the map in my pack.

          First I'll make some general comments that apply to all of the maps in the series. I found the map visuals to be quite beautiful, it's really great to look at. Map designers need to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time. Line widths, colors, and symbols should be designed so that I can pick out only what I want to see and ignore the rest, and I found this to be the case here.

          The legend is perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Latitude 40 series of maps. As usual, when I get a new map I skip the legend and just plunge into the map details: can I read the contours OK? Can I separate the roads from the water courses? Can I distinguish mountains from valleys? Can I easily tell apart the types of roads from the trails? I was at first disconcerted by the mapmakers' choice of symbols for roads and trails - black lines (solid and dashed) are roads, red lines are four-wheel-drive roads, red dashed lines are mechanized (mountain bike) trails, and red dashed lines with yellow overlay are hiker-only trails. There are several additional road/trail variations found in the legend. However, once I used the map for several weeks running I learned these symbols and now I like them because I find them easy to quickly distinguish on the map. I prefer to hike trails not open to any motorized vehicles and really appreciate having this bit of information on the map. Sometimes I'll hike trails open to mountain bikes, but only if it's not a popular bike trail: the trail descriptions often state if they're heavily used by mountain bikes.

          One small quibble: The mileage scale is not on the Legend fold of the map, but rather on the Index fold. Most maps do put the mileage scale with the rest of the legend, so it took me a couple of uses to remember where to look for the distance scale.

          Since I am not a GPS user I cannot comment on the accuracy of the UTM grid. I do occasionally use my magnetic compass, and the indicated declination and latitude and longitude markings appear the be accurate as far as I can tell. I prefer to navigate by attention to topography, the sun, ecological setting, and of course my paper maps, so map accuracy is very important.

          Public/private land boundaries are not shown on the map, as the general map description states. However, the mapmakers have taken pains to highlight only those roads and trails that are on public land, or that are open to the public. While I like to see all road and trails shown on a map if only for orientation purposes (and some of these are shown but not highlighted), I appreciate the effort taken by the designers to guide users towards legal access for trails.

          Now, some more specific comments for the particular map under review. I have hiked close to 50% of the foot trails depicted on the map reviewed here, and of the ones I hiked, I can say that almost all of these trails are very accurately depicted for distance, location, and type of trail. For example, the Pass Ck Trail west of Salida is labeled 3.15 mi (5 km) long, which accords with my own on-the-ground estimate and is much more accurate than the U.S. Forest Service's own trailhead-posted length of 4 mi (6.5 km). The trail's creek crossings and changes in direction also match up well to my experience of having hiked this particular trail six times. The trail brief description says "Scenic high alpine lake. Trail is difficult in places. 4WD necessary to get to Pass Creek TH....Low to moderate use." All quite accurate! Although for some other trails I found that perhaps the mapmakers' "difficult" is my "moderate", or that 4WD is not really necessary to access the trailhead, these are judgment calls, and of course "your mileage may vary". But based on my experience hiking these trails it's obvious to me that extensive field checking and consultation were achieved in writing these trail descriptions.

          Since no map is perfect, I am always on the lookout for inaccuracies - and indeed I found one error where a section of trail was not shown ascending a ridge in the right location, and some other mapped trails for which I could not see any tread or trail junction. See the below section "Customer Contact" to read how I was able to successfully deal with this issue.

          I am happy with the coverage of this map: it's a large area (approximately 30 by 46 mi, or 48 by 74 km), which means I normally only need to grab one map for a selected hike. However, the trade-off is less detail for the land contours and the trail and road placements (for example, switchbacks are eliminated or generalized). But this problem is easily solved by my carrying the relevant map from another publisher at a larger scale, and printing out sections of USGS 7.5 quads which contain the best contour detail. (Maps are small, lightweight, and easy to stash, so I often carry two or three on hikes, since besides contour detail they often include other different data that can be useful in the field.)

          While I haven't checked all or even most of the road mileages, the ones I have checked (Forest Service access roads to the trailheads) are within 0.2 mi (0.3 km) of the mileages indicated on the map (which are in tenths of miles).

          I use Public Lands primarily as a hiker and Nordic skier, and do not mountain bike or drive motorized vehicles except for using my car to gain trailhead access. Therefore, I could verify the accuracy of the trail brief descriptions with respect only to my preferred mode of travel, by foot. I found the descriptions useful for hiking and for road access to the trailheads. But as mentioned above, they're also useful for me to decide which trails I'd rather not attempt given the possibility of bicycle or OHV users.

          We have several long-distance trails in our area of the state, and both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are nicely highlighted on the map.



          CUSTOMER SERVICE

          So what can go wrong with a map? Well, I had an opportunity to use the Latitude 40 customer contact form on their web site because I found an error where a short section of the Kroenke Lake Trail was mislocated as going directly up a ridge instead of switchbacking. I also found several other mapped trails (in the alpine basin of Frenchman Creek, west of Buena Vista) that had no trace of a tread or cairns on the ground, nor any sign of the indicated trail junction. Latitude 40's website contact form was easy to use and, to my pleasant surprise, the company owners responded within one day and said that they'd checked and confirmed my observation of the Kroenke Trail, adding that they'd make the correction for the next edition. As it happens they are just getting ready to go to press for the 2nd edition of the Salida & Buena Vista Trails map, so my timing couldn't have been better. As for my other trail ground observations they are investigating whether those trails should even be shown on the map as Forest Service numbered trails, and where they should be located, if at all.

          I am impressed with the mapmakers' responsiveness and attention to detail!



          SUMMARY

          Overall I am very enthusiastic about this Latitude 40 series map covering the mountain range near my home in Salida, CO. The map I reviewed here, Salida Buena Vista Trails: Recreation Topo Map is now my constant companion whenever I hike in the mountains covered by it. I'll even consult it just for the road directions and ratings if I'm driving in an area but not hiking. The map folds out and back very well, and has proven to be very durable without tearing or ripping despite lots of use in the field. Despite a moderate learning curve for the trail and road symbols I found the map data to be easy to read and understand with minimal effort, and a pleasure to look at just for the big geographic picture. No map is perfect, and I am impressed with how the mapmakers dealt with my reporting on one trail location error and a couple of other possible trail numbering or location issues. Although they did not quite meet their deadline of publishing the next edition within two years of the first, publishing deadlines tend to be flexible, and I'm looking forward to the next edition of this fine map which should be available soon.





          This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
          Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
        • Mike Mosack
          Hi Bob, Nicely done. The reshoot of the images really turned out well. I improved detail helps a lot. I have no additional edits for you. You can upload your
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 28, 2013
          • 0 Attachment
            Hi Bob,
            Nicely done. The reshoot of the images really turned out well. I improved detail helps a lot.
            I have no additional edits for you. You can upload your OR. Please delete the test folder version.
            Thanks and have a great day.
            Mike

            From: geartest7000
            Sent: Sunday, July 28, 2013 8:34 AM
            To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [BackpackGearTest] REPOST: LATITUDE 40 Trail Map Series - Bob Dorenfeld


            Hi Mike,

            I reshot the photos for better resolution & clarity, new HTML is posted.
            https://tinyurl.com/l6fckgm

            Also made revisions as noted, and full text follows below.

            EDIT – remove the hyphen after snow…
            >>DONE

            EDIT – Remove the, "For my ongoing test"
            >>Now reads: "The map I'm reviewing in the publisher's series is the Salida & Buena Vista Trails..."

            EDIT – "folding them back on the a crease"
            >>Removed "the"

            edit – Are you storing the map or the water you wiped off?
            >>Now reads: "...wipe the water off and store the map in my pack"

            "Map design needs to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time."
            EDIT - I think "assemble" is an incorrect use for this context. Maps are incapable to assembling, but they can "display" as an example…
            >>Remove ambiguity by changing "design" to "designers"

            ...where a one mile (2.5 km) section of the Kroenke Lake Trail...
            EDIT – One mile actually equals 1.6 km. Was this also an error that you contacted Customer Service about or was this your typo? This sentence reads as if it was only the trail routing that was in error
            >>Revised to substitute "short" for the actual distance, since the trail routing was the problem, not the distance.

            ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

            LATITUDE 40 Trail Map Series
            BY BOB DORENFELD
            OR
            July 15, 2013

            TESTER INFORMATION

            NAME: Bob Dorenfeld
            EMAIL: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
            AGE: 55
            LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
            GENDER: M
            HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
            WEIGHT: 142 lb (64.40 kg)

            I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier (Nordic & alpine), backpacker. I live at 7000 ft (2134 m) in the Southern Colorado Rockies where I hike between 7000 ft (2134 m) and 14000 ft (4200 m). I'll do from 4 to 12 miles (6 to 20 km) in a day, ranging as much as 5000 ft (1500 m) of elevation change. I carry up to 20 lb (9 kg) on day hikes, about 45 lb (20 kg) on backpacks. Overnights are usually from one to three nights. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.

            INTRODUCTION

            I love maps, so when I find one that's not only useful and accurate, but beautiful to look at, I want everyone to know. For navigation I hike only with printed maps - no GPS for me, no "smart phone", indeed no navigational electronics at all. (One concession is my electronic multi-function watch which contains an altimeter and barometer.) I get excited by the challenge of route-finding by reading the landscape and matching it to the map's contours and geographic features. Printed maps fold out and are easy to read, plus the batteries never run out! Read on for my review of a very useful topographic and trail information map that I bring with me on every hike I take in its coverage area.

            PRODUCT INFORMATION

            Manufacturer: Latitude 40, Inc.
            Year of Manufacture: 2010-2012
            Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.latitude40maps.com/" LINK TEXT = "Latitude 40, Inc.">>
            MSRP: US$9.75 - 11.95
            Number of maps currently available (as of July 2013): 21
            Coverage area: Colorado, USA (17) Utah, USA (4)
            Map Coverage: varies by individual map
            Size: slightly varies by map - most are 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat; 8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
            Construction: tear-resistant plastic
            Scale: varies by map
            Contour Interval: varies by map, but all include shaded relief base
            All maps include UTM & latitude/longitude grid
            Trails for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, OHV

            Map reviewed here: Salida Buena Vista Trails <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Front" IMAGE CAPTION = "Front of Map">>

            PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

            Map Name: Salida & Buena Vista Trails - Recreation Topo Map
            MSRP: US$11.95
            Published: 2010
            Map Coverage: all or part of 44 USGS 1:24,000 7.5-minute topographic maps
            Map boundaries are -
            North: Twin Lakes
            South: Bonanza
            East: Badger Creek
            West: Taylor Park
            Size: 38 in x 25 in (97 cm x 64 cm) flat
            8.25 in x 4.25 in (21 cm x 11 cm) folded
            Scale: 1:75,000; 1 in = 1.2 mi (2.5 cm = 2 km)
            Contour Interval: 80 ft (24.4 m) with shaded relief base
            Latest Edition: 1st (2nd edition is scheduled for later in 2013, see below in Field Use)

            Latitude 40, Inc.'s own description says that they want their maps to be for everyone: "Hikers, bikers, ATVers, climbers, backpackers, no matter who you are, if you need a good map of the trails where you're going, check us out." They claim that they extensively research each map that they design and sell, incorporating ground-proofing, local land agencies consultation, as well as talking to map users (like myself, see below in Customer Service). They use 7.5-minute data from the U.S. Geological Survey for the physical features shown on their maps. Latitude 40 says that they intend to update each map every two years to keep up with all the changes in roads, trails, and land accessibility.

            All of the available maps are printed on what the company calls "waterproof, tear-resistant plastic", and they claim that they can withstand wear and tear while being used on the trail, and in snow and rain storms (see below in Field Use for my notes on durability). I found the surface of the map to be slick, but I could still write on it easily with either pencil or pen.

            The maps fold out in standard fashion, with a vertical triple fold first, then with nine horizontal accordion folds (for the map that I tested). On the first vertical fold below the front is the small 4 in (10 cm) square index map covering the same area as the detailed map, but showing the 7.5 minute USGS quads used as the map base, and colored shaded-relief overlay with major features like towns, rivers, and county boundaries. Compass rose, distance scale (in feet and meters, with handy conversion formulae), and small locator map within the state are all here on the index page.

            Back of the map with index: <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Back" IMAGE CAPTION = "Back of Map">>

            The other vertical fold above the map front is the legend showing all of the symbols used on the map, elevation color bands (in feet), trail difficulty ratings, company contact information, and a legal disclaimer on use of the provided map data.
            <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Legend" IMAGE CAPTION = "Map Legend">>

            On one of the inside folds is a feature that really sets this map series apart from many others - a brief description (in fine print, but still quite readable) of many of the roads and trails found on the map, complete with difficulty ratings, names of start and stop points, elevation change, map location, trail type (bicycle, foot, etc), a sentence or two about what makes this trail or road distinctive, plus route recommendations and warnings, if any. <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "BriefDescriptions" IMAGE CAPTION = "Trail Brief Descriptions">>

            Unfolding the map to its full extent reveals all the details of shaded relief, contour lines, natural features and their labels, trails and roads, land ownership boundaries (National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, National Park, and other Federal and State lands). Also present is information that Latitude 40 provides but not usually found on outdoor maps:
            - Trail and road difficulty ratings, from Easy to Most Difficult (in five steps)
            - Trail and road mileages between intersections and landmarks
            <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Detail" IMAGE CAPTION = "Sample of Map Detail">>

            Other data found on these maps includes all road and trail numbers, where trails are motorized (cars, OHVs or Off Highway Vehicles, motorbikes, or motorbikes only), mechanized (bicycles), or foot only (hikers, horses). All map borders include latitude/longitude markings and the UTM grid.

            Each side of the unfolded map will include either the North/South or East/West of the areas covered, as appropriate.

            FIELD USE

            The map I'm reviewing in the publisher's series is the Salida & Buena Vista Trails 1st Edition, the latest available as of this writing. This is my second summer season using this map extensively, but I also use it in all four seasons. This map handles easily, folding out and back in without much trouble. Eventually all of my maps will show wear and tear on the creases and corners as they get stressed during use, especially when folding them back on a crease to make a convenient size for carrying while also reading the area of interest. This map is no exception, but I am impressed with how well it's held up - I haven't had to tape any tears or fold-corners yet. The map has gotten slightly wet on several occasions but each time it was easy to wipe the water off and store the map in my pack.

            First I'll make some general comments that apply to all of the maps in the series. I found the map visuals to be quite beautiful, it's really great to look at. Map designers need to assemble an incredible variety of visual information, most of it competing for your brain's attention all at the same time. Line widths, colors, and symbols should be designed so that I can pick out only what I want to see and ignore the rest, and I found this to be the case here.

            The legend is perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Latitude 40 series of maps. As usual, when I get a new map I skip the legend and just plunge into the map details: can I read the contours OK? Can I separate the roads from the water courses? Can I distinguish mountains from valleys? Can I easily tell apart the types of roads from the trails? I was at first disconcerted by the mapmakers' choice of symbols for roads and trails - black lines (solid and dashed) are roads, red lines are four-wheel-drive roads, red dashed lines are mechanized (mountain bike) trails, and red dashed lines with yellow overlay are hiker-only trails. There are several additional road/trail variations found in the legend. However, once I used the map for several weeks running I learned these symbols and now I like them because I find them easy to quickly distinguish on the map. I prefer to hike trails not open to any motorized vehicles and really appreciate having this bit of information on the map. Sometimes I'll hike trails open to mountain bikes, but only if it's not a popular bike trail: the trail descriptions often state if they're heavily used by mountain bikes.

            One small quibble: The mileage scale is not on the Legend fold of the map, but rather on the Index fold. Most maps do put the mileage scale with the rest of the legend, so it took me a couple of uses to remember where to look for the distance scale.

            Since I am not a GPS user I cannot comment on the accuracy of the UTM grid. I do occasionally use my magnetic compass, and the indicated declination and latitude and longitude markings appear the be accurate as far as I can tell. I prefer to navigate by attention to topography, the sun, ecological setting, and of course my paper maps, so map accuracy is very important.

            Public/private land boundaries are not shown on the map, as the general map description states. However, the mapmakers have taken pains to highlight only those roads and trails that are on public land, or that are open to the public. While I like to see all road and trails shown on a map if only for orientation purposes (and some of these are shown but not highlighted), I appreciate the effort taken by the designers to guide users towards legal access for trails.

            Now, some more specific comments for the particular map under review. I have hiked close to 50% of the foot trails depicted on the map reviewed here, and of the ones I hiked, I can say that almost all of these trails are very accurately depicted for distance, location, and type of trail. For example, the Pass Ck Trail west of Salida is labeled 3.15 mi (5 km) long, which accords with my own on-the-ground estimate and is much more accurate than the U.S. Forest Service's own trailhead-posted length of 4 mi (6.5 km). The trail's creek crossings and changes in direction also match up well to my experience of having hiked this particular trail six times. The trail brief description says "Scenic high alpine lake. Trail is difficult in places. 4WD necessary to get to Pass Creek TH....Low to moderate use." All quite accurate! Although for some other trails I found that perhaps the mapmakers' "difficult" is my "moderate", or that 4WD is not really necessary to access the trailhead, these are judgment calls, and of course "your mileage may vary". But based on my experience hiking these trails it's obvious to me that extensive field checking and consultation were achieved in writing these trail descriptions.

            Since no map is perfect, I am always on the lookout for inaccuracies - and indeed I found one error where a section of trail was not shown ascending a ridge in the right location, and some other mapped trails for which I could not see any tread or trail junction. See the below section "Customer Contact" to read how I was able to successfully deal with this issue.

            I am happy with the coverage of this map: it's a large area (approximately 30 by 46 mi, or 48 by 74 km), which means I normally only need to grab one map for a selected hike. However, the trade-off is less detail for the land contours and the trail and road placements (for example, switchbacks are eliminated or generalized). But this problem is easily solved by my carrying the relevant map from another publisher at a larger scale, and printing out sections of USGS 7.5 quads which contain the best contour detail. (Maps are small, lightweight, and easy to stash, so I often carry two or three on hikes, since besides contour detail they often include other different data that can be useful in the field.)

            While I haven't checked all or even most of the road mileages, the ones I have checked (Forest Service access roads to the trailheads) are within 0.2 mi (0.3 km) of the mileages indicated on the map (which are in tenths of miles).

            I use Public Lands primarily as a hiker and Nordic skier, and do not mountain bike or drive motorized vehicles except for using my car to gain trailhead access. Therefore, I could verify the accuracy of the trail brief descriptions with respect only to my preferred mode of travel, by foot. I found the descriptions useful for hiking and for road access to the trailheads. But as mentioned above, they're also useful for me to decide which trails I'd rather not attempt given the possibility of bicycle or OHV users.

            We have several long-distance trails in our area of the state, and both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are nicely highlighted on the map.

            CUSTOMER SERVICE

            So what can go wrong with a map? Well, I had an opportunity to use the Latitude 40 customer contact form on their web site because I found an error where a short section of the Kroenke Lake Trail was mislocated as going directly up a ridge instead of switchbacking. I also found several other mapped trails (in the alpine basin of Frenchman Creek, west of Buena Vista) that had no trace of a tread or cairns on the ground, nor any sign of the indicated trail junction. Latitude 40's website contact form was easy to use and, to my pleasant surprise, the company owners responded within one day and said that they'd checked and confirmed my observation of the Kroenke Trail, adding that they'd make the correction for the next edition. As it happens they are just getting ready to go to press for the 2nd edition of the Salida & Buena Vista Trails map, so my timing couldn't have been better. As for my other trail ground observations they are investigating whether those trails should even be shown on the map as Forest Service numbered trails, and where they should be located, if at all.

            I am impressed with the mapmakers' responsiveness and attention to detail!

            SUMMARY

            Overall I am very enthusiastic about this Latitude 40 series map covering the mountain range near my home in Salida, CO. The map I reviewed here, Salida Buena Vista Trails: Recreation Topo Map is now my constant companion whenever I hike in the mountains covered by it. I'll even consult it just for the road directions and ratings if I'm driving in an area but not hiking. The map folds out and back very well, and has proven to be very durable without tearing or ripping despite lots of use in the field. Despite a moderate learning curve for the trail and road symbols I found the map data to be easy to read and understand with minimal effort, and a pleasure to look at just for the big geographic picture. No map is perfect, and I am impressed with how the mapmakers dealt with my reporting on one trail location error and a couple of other possible trail numbering or location issues. Although they did not quite meet their deadline of publishing the next edition within two years of the first, publishing deadlines tend to be flexible, and I'm looking forward to the next edition of this fine map which should be available soon.

            This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
            Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.





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