How To Fold & Take Care Of Your Blazer
How to Fold and Care for a Topo Map
Topographic maps or topo maps display not just major terrain features and distances but also show you the contours of the land. The closer together the contour lines on a topographic map are, the steeper the elevation change between them. The contour interval, or how much of an elevation change each line represents, is always printed in a topo map's margin. Your topo map is a useful tool for planning backcountry travel routes, and in case of emergency, it's also one of your best tools for planning a way out.
Select a clear, zip-close plastic bag for storing your map.
- The larger the bag the better, because it'll leave more of the map visible through the bag's surface. You'll be able to read the topo map without taking it out of the bag, which protects it from wet conditions and also provides some protection against abrasion.
- Gallon-sized bags are ideal.
Lay the map face down on a table or other flat surface.
Fold the top edge of the map down to meet the bottom edge.
- Peek at where the fold sits before you run your thumb lightly along the crease. You can resituate the fold somewhat, if necessary, to avoid running the crease along any critical features you expect to use for navigation.
- Don't overdo the crease; the more you crease the paper at the fold, the faster the paper will break down and tear or become harder to read.
Lay the plastic bag flat on the folded map, one edge flush with the folded edge of the map.
Move the plastic bag so that its edge extends a half-inch past the folded edge of the map.
Hold the plastic bag in place with one hand as you fold the top layer of the map up, creasing it along the near edge of the bag.
- If you struggle with using the plastic bag as a guide for folding, cut a piece of cardboard to about the same size as the plastic bag and use the cardboard as a guide instead.
- The folded layer in the middle should be a half-inch shorter than the length of the bag (or cardboard guide). This ensures that the map will fit easily into the bag once it's folded.
Extract the bag from inside the fold and lay it on top of the new fold, with the edge of the bag overlapping the uppermost fold by a half-inch.
Fold the top layer of the map down toward you again, creasing at the far edge of the plastic bag.
Extract the plastic bag and set it aside.
Fold the uppermost layer of the map up, creasing in line with the crease of the layer directly below.
Continue folding the uppermost layer of the map back and forth until it's completely accordion folded.
Turn the map over and repeat the accordion-fold process on the other side, using the plastic bag as a guide.Once the entire map is accordion-folded lengthwise, repeat the accordion-fold process widthwise until the topo map folds down into a square that fits inside the plastic bag.
- If you must write on your map, fine-point mechanical pencil is precise enough not to overwrite important lines and won't smudge the way some ink does.
- You can also use a permanent marker to draw on the outside of the plastic bag, marking up the map without actually permanently marking the map. This is a good way of illustrating your route during a planning session.
- If you don't need to take the entire topographic map on the trail, don't. Photocopy the relevant portion, fold the photocopy as directed above, then pack it into the bag. The less you tote the actual topo map around, the longer it'll last.
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