There are a gazillion hiking apps out there and whilst many of these platforms are great, a hiking map remains an essential part of your hiking kit for various reasons:
- A map doesn’t run out of batteries, as opposed to cellphones
- A map doesn’t require connectivity
- A map, when waterproof, doesn’t die because of water and rain
- A map allows you to study the area you want to explore beforehand, helping you to plan your route.
- You can use your map to determine your position and distances from your destination and the nearest exit routes in case of an emergency.
- Use your map to plot a shorter route if you are running out of time
- You can use your map to assist fellow hikers who may be lost or are just wanting to know more about the route they are on.
- A map is useful to find landmarks and places of interest on your route
- A map allows you to tell emergency services and search & rescue personnel or SafetyMountain Tracking volunteers where you in case of an emergency
Important things to remember when using hiking maps:
- Use your map in conjunction with an app or/and a compass.
- When reading your map, always face north (use your compass to assist you).
- In windy conditions, never use your map when you are close to an edge. It may blow out of your hands. The same applies to coastal walks: be careful not to lose it over the water.
- Understand the map’s symbols and scales.
- Know how to interpret contour lines and contour intervals. These indicate cliffs, valleys, saddles, ravines, koppies etc
- Contour lines also indicate altitude.
- Please take special care of your map, and keep it dry at all times.
The most reliable hiking maps in South Africa are the ones are made by Slingsby. These have been tried and tested and are used by the Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR). Most of them are waterproof and tear proof.
Please click here for more information about these useful maps.