I hope everyone is having a great Mother’s Day so far! Before leaving for the Appalachian Trail, I was contacted by TLC Book Tours to do a review on the new collection of Appalachian Trail maps created by National Geographic.
I have used the first map in the collection, Springer to Davenport Gap, along with my AWOL Guidebook during our first month on trail.
During the first two weeks of our hike, I regularly checked the National Geographic map at night to see what was ahead and to compare it with the AWOL guide. As time went on, it became my extra resource if needed to compare with my guidebook or in an emergency situation.
I believe that they would serve day hikers and section hikers best, but also be excellent to carry on a thru-hike for emergency purposes.
I say that day hikers and section hikers would benefit from the maps the most because each map is divided into sections of the Appalachian Trail, which gives a big picture of the area and provides other trail information.
If you were a day hiker trying to create a loop hike, the maps allow you see what’s in the area. You can also see where county lines are, topographical lines and shelter information.
As a thru hiker, a guide book like the AWOL Guide or Guthooks is extremely important, but it’s also great to supplement with a map, which is why I love the National Geographic maps. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as a guide book, but it gives big picture coverage of the area you are looking at.
Some ultralight hikers may disagree with carrying maps, but I like knowing I have another resource in my backpack in the case of an emergency. A side trail or road crossing near the Appalachian Trail could be the means of getting out of bad situation quickly.
The only con I have with the maps is the lack of listed water sources. Every shelter listed at the front of each map lists whether it has water or not, but there are no other sources listed. You can tell where rivers and streams cross the trail, but it is easier to go by a guide book for water source information.
1. Each map represents a section of the trail, which makes them lightweight and easy to carry.
2. They provide area information, including other trails, mountains and rivers in the vicinity of the Appalachian Trail.
3. These maps are handy for thru-hikers to use in addition to a guidebook for a larger view of the area and in the event technology fails.
These maps were provided for this review, but all opinions are my own.