As if Green Trails Maps weren’t already the “gold standard” of maps for Washington hikers -- who have bought almost 5 million of them over the years -- now they’re more lightweight too.
The maps in this month’s launch of the Green Trails Gold Standard Editions, made with the same waterproof and tear-resistant durability of their recent editions and printed in full color on both sides, weigh in a ridiculously-light 1.5 ounces -- an ounce less than their predecessors.(If an ounce doesn’t seem like much to you, talk to any backpacker coming out of the backcountry and ask if he or she didn’t wish that pack had been just another ounce lighter.)
When Green Trails Inc., began producing maps in 1973, its classic originals were simple, paper, 12-by-18inch versions of old USGS 15-minute maps (a reference to their 1-62,500 scale). Over the years, they’ve gotten bigger -- 18-by-24 or 221⁄2 -by-30 -- and, in addition to being waterproof and virtually rip-proof, are created in what Green Trails owner Alan Coburn calls “hikersheds.”
That is, each map is based not on the old S series boundaries but rather on encompassing a single major trail system, thereby enabling a hiker to explore the entire area without needing a second map.
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That means the scale may not be the same 1-62,500 longtime Green Trails users are accustomed to.
“We wanted to highlight an area with access points but on a scale that makes it more clear,” Coburn said. “We’re trying to make things convenient for people, and this should make it easier to plan.”
The new maps are pricier ($14) than Green Trails’ old 18 by 24 15-minute maps, which you can still buy for $8. But in addition to that new map being practically indestructible, it’s also more up-to-date with trail changes. “For most maps, particularly of popular areas, before we reprint we go out and validate the data,” Coburn said.
For the more technologically astute, Green Trails also offers map apps on iTunes via a free app (available at greentrailsmaps.com). With the app, users can purchase and download a map that they can then peruse and use -- without an Internet connection -- while on the trail.
“We’re also trying to bridge the gap between the Pack & Paddle generation” -- referring to an outdoor magazine put out by the Washington Trails Association -- “and people my daughter’s age. The big lesson we’re trying to put out there is it’s important to have a hard-copy map, because it’s unbreakable, it’s waterproof, and as we say, there’s no batteries required and it’s solar-powered. Plus, you don’t need Internet or GPS connectivity.”