Last year while watching a video by Wallace Hunter (from Hike, Bike, Dale!) I noticed that he was using these tiny elevation profile maps to help guide he and his wife along the AT on their thru-hike. I immediately came apart and knew that I had to find out more about these. I watched his video over and over, pausing it and trying to zoom in on the name across the top of the maps…I just needed enough to Google something… And then, a little while later, I found myself at the Antigravity Gear site, and had found what I was looking for!
At this time, these Pocket Profile maps were not available for the entire AT, but rather a few hundred miles covering the southern states (although now they are available for the entire trail, as well as the BMT and the JMT too). I went ahead and ordered the first one, which covered the state of Georgia. (Since then, I have also picked up numbers 1 & 2 as well.)
The thing that intrigued me about these maps is that they are basically an elevation profile map, which I have found to be my favorite “map” to use (on particular trails). I have found that the traditional maps are quite big and can be time-consuming to get to, then unfold, find where I am, determine how much father I need to go, then fold it back up and put it away again. (At least on a regular basis…) As well, if I simply follow information found in data books, I have no clue as to what I really have in front of me. Of course there are other sources, but a simple elevation profile has been my favorite source of information…
So, for this single feature, this map is obviously very appealing to me. But there are other appealing features as well! The most obvious is that it only weighs 0.2 oz. But the construction is pretty impressive too. These maps are printed on a lightweight, water proof/tear proof plastic, so I don’t have to worry about then becoming destroyed after the first little rain while on a trip…or having to baby them until the end of my trip.
At this point, I have used all 3 of them pretty extensively. I have not covered quite all of the miles on the maps, but I have covered a majority of them. After using them, I must say that despite all the features that I love about them, they are still not perfect. For the most part, I have found that the actual line that connects the dots on the elevation profile are not always accurate. At times, I have found that when I was expecting to go very up or down hill, it would be the opposite. The mileage and the actual listed elevation seems to be accurate, but the in-between is a bit fuzzy at times. (I wonder if they were to add an extra page or 2 to the map, if this extra room would allow a more accurate elevation profile. Of course it would add a little weight, but I would be willing to take the weight penalty for a bit more accurate description…)
Anyway, despite the sometimes inconsistent reading, I am still happy with the maps. As I mentioned earlier, on particular trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, I am quite fine with these maps. These trails are for the most part very well maintained, and even blazed, so it is ok for me that they are a little off sometimes…
The map is a simple map to read. One side of the map is the actual elevation profile where as the opposite side is a very simple, top-view map. There is very little detail listed on the top view map, and as with other elevation profile maps, the only information on the elevation side is information that directly interacts with the given trail. Considering this, before I leave out on a hike, I will compare notes on these Pocket Profile maps with a larger, more in-depth topo map of the area. At this point I will make notes of possible bail out points as well as anything else that I would find important that may not be marked on these maps.
So, I am happy to use these maps for the trails that they are made for. Unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of trails that they are made for, but as much as I get to get out and hike, the ones available now will suffice for me… 🙂
So, have you used one of these maps, and if so, what do you think of them?
Thanks for reading!