Why You Should Bring a Paper Map on Your Backcountry Adventure in the Canadian Rockies


This article is sponsored by Gem Trek Maps 


Well, that was unexpected. The last time we hiked this trail, the wide gravel bed was completely dry. This time, the ridge is out of reach across a rushing river of clear, green water that will be above my belly button if I try crossing.

Disappointed, we get out the map and contemplate our next move.

Using the map from my husband’s pack, we find two alternative trails nearby with no large river crossings, doable distances and elevation for the time we’ve allocated. Plus, these trails offer a good mix of forest and open ridge to explore.

Thanks to our well-worn Gem Trek Map, the sudden change of plans still results in a glorious day of hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

Maps are always involved when we are choosing a hike or planning a backpacking route, and you can bet an adventure is in our future when you find them spread all over our table or floor.

Whether we always remember to bring the map with us, rather than kicking ourselves for forgetting it, is another story. Usually though, one of our beloved Gem Trek Maps sits in the top zipper pocket of my husband’s pack or is tucked in my sweater’s kangaroo pouch and consulted regularly.

Here’s why we love unfolding our paper maps before, during and after a trip:


Old Reliable

My iPhone dies quickly, especially in cold weather and if there are tracking apps running in the background. As annoying as that is for taking photos of the trip, it could be dangerous if I were using it to navigate. Anything dependent on batteries can’t be considered 100 per cent reliable, including the best GPS devices. Whether you forget to charge it beforehand, use it a lot throughout the day or are on a multi-day trip, having a physical map can be a trip (or even life) saver.

Even if you decide to bring a GPS device and have invested in a good one, it’s wise to have a waterproof backup like a Gem Trek Map. Besides dealing with burnt-out batteries, you can easily lose small devices, accidentally drop them in the creek or break them on rocks and need an alternative.


Pack It and Forget It

A paper map is flat, foldable, compact and lightweight. You won’t even notice it’s there once it’s packed into to your pack or pocket… that is, until you need it and are glad to find it tucked away somewhere!


Get the Big Picture

Gem Trek’s hiking maps are Canadian made, always up-to-date and full of useful information including topography contour lines, relief shading, elevations, forest service roads and trails, rivers and creeks, points of interest, parks and open and forested areas. All this information on one piece of paper puts your destination and route into the perspective of the surrounding area, allowing you to update your plans at anytime, change or find an alternative route, navigate to water, camping spots, lookouts or areas of interest and beyond!

Use the stacks of information available on these maps to track your progress, estimate how much time you need to get up or down based on the distance, elevation and steepness.


Yes, you do need to how to read it for a map to be useful to you, but Gem Trek Maps are very easy to navigate by, complete with a simple legend and everything you need to plan a trip and navigate there and back safely.

So go ahead, grab one of these Canadian Rockies maps from your local outdoor store, and plan your next adventure on paper!


This article was sponsored by Gem Trek Maps

Gem Trek Maps publishes the most accurate and up-to-date Canadian Rockies hiking and driving maps. Gem Trek driving maps will guide you to all the best-known destinations while our waterproof hiking maps will lead you through the spectacular Canadian Rockies backcountry.

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