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#62667 - 03/22/06 10:22 PM Topo Map Software
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...
Before I splurge on Topo map software I want to see if anyone at ETS has hands-on experience and opinions on topo map software for the USA. I intend to purchase Delorme Topo USA v 6.0 when it comes out in a few weeks. AFAIK, one of the minor flaws up through v 5 is that elevations may not be as precise as some would like – that’s not a concern for me.

I intend to use the software to do map recon for potential trips, route planning, custom maps for personal backpacking trips and for scout backpacking trips, etc.

At the consumer end of things, this seems to be the most suitable software available and the cost is quite reasonable. Suggestions and feedback appreciated.



#62668 - 03/23/06 12:48 AM Re: Topo Map Software
tfisher Offline

Registered: 01/29/01
Posts: 186
Loc: Illinois, USA

I use this for both personal and on my Search Team's mapping needs.
If you want the job done right call "Tactical Trackers"

#62669 - 03/23/06 01:50 AM Re: Topo Map Software
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...
Dang, Ted, that critter is EXPENSIVE! No doubt you like it! <img src="/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> I'm sure I would, too! Really impressive feature set.

Maptech, IIRC, is the one that has about the best elevation data. And getting the photos via subscription keeps them more current on that stuff. Maptech claims down to 1m / pixel resolution... we flew the county at that res in color last year and our city at approx 6" / pixel resolution - I'm mildly curious to see if our investment turns up in someone else's data set.

Closer comparison to Topo USA wouldn't be the Pro version; it would be the standard version:
http://www.maptech.com/land/terrainnavigator/index.cfm - have you used that version? If so, how do you like it?

Back to cost - that's kind of a big deal to me. Pro is $299/state and regular is $99/state. Topo USA is $99 for all states. National Geographic's topo software is superficially similar to MapTech's and both used scanned maps. I prefer vector-based digital images if I can get them - that's a plus in my mind with the Topo USA. <shrug> I like some of the features in MapTech, so.. that's why I'm looking for info.

So... let me guess - you have Illinois dataset for sure... <trying to figure out what he can trade Ted for a couple of custom map files> <img src="/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

Thanks for the info!


#62670 - 03/23/06 02:14 PM Re: Topo Map Software
billvann Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/10/01
Posts: 780
Loc: NE Illinois, USA (42:19:08N 08...
Our trrop Scoutmaster purchased Topo USA to tie into his GPS (I'm not sure what model). I don't have any details but he said he was a bit dissapointed. I can forward your personal email to him for further info if you's like. (then you could summerize for the forum).
Willie Vannerson
McHenry, IL

#62671 - 03/23/06 02:56 PM Re: Topo Map Software
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...
Willie, please do so. thanks!


#62672 - 03/23/06 03:44 PM Re: Topo Map Software
Nomad Online   content

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 481
Loc: Just wandering around.
I use the Delorme topo series. As with most of my stuff, it is the older series. In total, I regard it as worth the $$. Again, be careful about uploading maps to a GPS, check that before you buy as I mentioned in the other thread. It does not accept the entire GPS waypoint data from the garmin units. Not sure about other brands. Just lat/lon. identifier. Track and routes are transferable both ways.

That said, I use the maps almost daily. Usually I print out the area and do preliminary GPS/Map coordination. Two copies of the maps (one for me one for Gloria). I keep track of our movements on the paper map (with data from the GPS etc) as we go. Then when I get back, I load the track from the GPS into the program and see how well I was doing with my field work.

I find the detail OK, but no map has everything. I would buy another set, and probably will.

...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

#62673 - 03/23/06 03:58 PM Re: Topo Map Software
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2141
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I have Delorme's Topo USA, National Geographic's Topo! (Illinois and Wisconsin only), and ExpertGPS, and they each have their advantages and disadvantages.

The best topo map software I've seen is NG's Topo! State Series, but that comes on a state-by-state basis, and each state costs about $100, so I'd suspect it is too expensive for your needs. That said, it does provide the best map quality that I've seen, so that is why I have it for local use.

ExpertGPS is software (http://www.expertgps.com) that is designed to work with your GPS. It provides a place to store waypoints and routes, upload/download them from/to a GPS, and it also provides on-line USGS topo maps and aerial photos (from Terraserver I think - at no extra cost) on which you can mark the waypoints and routes. The newest version can supposedly also used scanned in maps, though I haven't played with that yet. It is really nice software for only $60. If nothing else, it is a fantastic tool for storing GPS waypoints for later use and for easy generation of routes using topo maps. I heartily recommend it. Keep in mind that the topo maps are ONLY available when connected on-line.

I'm not sure what to say about Delorme's Topo USA. I use Delormes Street Atlas USA ALL THE TIME, but I found the accuracy of Topo USA to be poor enought that I use ExpertGPS instead. As a matter of fact I don't even have Topo USA loaded on my PC anymore. It isn't a bad product, it is just that the scanned USGS topo maps available on ExpertGPS are so much more accurate and detailed.

Now if Delorme would merge Street Atlas USA and Topo USA, that would be very cool and I'd use that for sure. One of the things about Street Atlas USA that drives me nuts is that it won't provide UTM coordinates. Dumb!

If you do NOT have to run the software off-line (not on the internet), then I'd go with ExpertGPS. If you DO need to run the software off-line, then I'd go with Topo USA.

Get both if you can ... use Topo USA for visualizing the routes & running off-line, but then use ExpertGPS for managing waypoints and routes.

If you do get Topo USA, strongly consider getting the DVD version if possible. Swapping out CD's is a pain.

#62674 - 03/23/06 04:39 PM Re: Topo Map Software
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...

Between your comments, KenK's, and everyone else's so far, I have decided to wait a few weeks and order Topo USA version 6 http://www.delorme.com/topousa/whatsnew.asp

(The current version blurb is here: http://www.delorme.com/topousa/default.asp

And I note enhanced GPS capability, specifically with Garmin units...

Speaking of which, I decided to save up for a new Garmin 76Cx or 76CxS. For the small difference in cost between it and the 60CxS... they're both a little spendy. Well, if I find a killer deal on a 60Cx or CxS, that would be fine, but I'm aiming for the 76.

KenK, Thanks for the tips! I think the new version of TopoUSA is supposed to address some of your concerns. After I get it and use it for a while, I may follow your advice about the other software - I saved the link. BTW, I am certain that I read a review in which the author stated that she finally figured out how to put the whole Topo USA on her hard drive and not have to swap CDs in and out, so maybe there is a way for you to do that. I will buy the DVD version when it comes out, regardless.

Thanks to everyone for the advice, experiences, and tips!


#62675 - 03/23/06 06:16 PM Re: Topo Map Software
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...

#62676 - 03/23/06 11:14 PM Re: Topo Map Software
cedfire Offline

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 659
Loc: Orygun
I have an older version of the DeLorme Topo USA program and it was $100 with about 7 or 8 CDs. I think they now put it all on one DVD.

After looking at the maps, it sure looks like DeLorme just took 1:100K series maps to suit their purposes (similar to what Garmin did with their MapSource Topo program). The other scales 1:24K, etc., don't appear the same as USGS topos. Contour intervals appear to be guesstimated when less than 1:100K. The one thing DeLorme has going for it is the draw tools and routing tools have plenty of features and are easy to use. The 3D model option in is also pretty slick.

I also have the state version of National Geographic's Topo program. The maps are detailed and are scanned USGS topos. The draw tools and routing tools on the NG software leave a bit to be desired. Kinda clunky.

It would be great if they would combine the software of DeLorme Topo USA with the maps of NG Topo.

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