The Next Generation of Maps
For us paddlers, maps are at the very core of our trips.
In advance we use them for planning, on our trips we use them for navigation, and afterwards we use them to reminisce about all the places we’ve been. On the flip side, the fact that they play such a pivotal role means that they act as gatekeepers; if something isn’t on the map, it might as well not exist. As a result, from early on, I made it my priority (second only to accuracy) to make my maps as detailed as possible – including things like points of interest, travel times, unofficial starting points and routes… the list goes on! While these weren’t necessarily features that paddlers had been asking for, they ended up helping people have better, more interesting trips.
Behind-the-scenes business issues, and my resulting departure from Jeff’s Map, meant that I didn’t have a chance to release any new maps for well over 3 years. Thankfully, that was merely a temporary setback!
Late last year, I teamed up with my good friend Deki and his brand new company, Unlostify, to create a next-generation lineup of camping maps unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!
With 13 major new features – including everything from a special whiteboard coating to Glow-in-the-Dusk inks – these maps will empower you to have even more engaging and enjoyable trips regardless of your interests or level of experience.
#1 – Plan Side vs. Trip Side
Early on, we had an epiphany; it’s simply not possible to make a great map that’s optimized for both planning and navigation. Since planning a trip is all about the big picture (“what route should I pick?”), it requires a map that gives you an overview of all of your options. On the other hand, navigation is focused on your current specific route (“should I go left or right?”) and therefore requires a map that gives you a detailed understanding of your immediate surroundings.
That’s when the light-bulb went off!
Why not include TWO maps, one on each side of the sheet? Not only has this allowed us to better tailor each map to the task at hand, it also gave us the space we needed to add a ton of brand new planning-specific features.
#2 – Whiteboard Coating
With so many places you could go and so many things you could see, planning a trip is all about exploring and comparing your options.
Typically, that meant pulling out a pad of paper, going back and forth between the map and paper, scrawling down a bunch of potential itineraries, and then scratching things out as you change your mind and hone your trip.
While you could do that same thing with our maps, we have a better solution!
The special whiteboard coating we’ve added allows you to make notes and draw potential routes directly on the Plan Side of the map with a whiteboard (dry-erase) marker. Then, when you’re done, you can simply erase them!
#3 – Route & Starting Point Difficulty
When it comes to choosing a route, one of the first things you’ll have to do is pare down your options. To make this easier than ever, we’ve colour-coded each route and starting point by difficulty.
Whether you’re a park veteran seeking a hardcore challenge, or a complete novice looking for an easy first trip, you’re bound to find this incredibly handy.
Not only will this save you a ton of research if you’re unfamiliar with the park, but the fact that you can see difficulties at a glance makes it quicker and easier than ever to filter out routes that aren’t in line with your expectations (easy or hard), and find the ones that are.
#4 – Portage Difficulty
While our route difficulties already take portages into account, it can still be handy to have access to more detailed information too.
For instance, while you might be interested in a reasonably difficult trip, you may still want to cap the number of ‘killer’ portages you do in a day, or simply do the hardest ones earlier in the morning when you’ve got more energy.
Accordingly, we’ve marked the portages that actually feel particularly steep.
This isn’t merely about how much elevation you gain, but how quickly you gain that elevation, and whether or not there are flat spots where you can take a break mid-climb (the same things that a friend would intrinsically take into consideration if you asked them).
#5 – See the Silence
Many of my previous maps included icons showing you where you could find various sources of noise – roads, cottages, motor boats, etc.
The thing is, nobody is actually looking to find noise. Just the opposite – they’re looking to find solitude and seclusion.
While our new maps still include roads and buildings for navigational purposes, the Plan Side features an all-new, easy-to-see, coloured ‘Seclusion Grid’ that summarizes, at a glance, how noisy, busy, and built-up a route is.
#6 – Points of Interest
For as long as I’ve been making maps, I’ve always included as many points of interest (POIs) as I possibly could; old ruins, enormous waterfalls, ice cold spring water – the list goes on.
Interesting sights and experiences like these can really add an extra dimension to a trip, but until now, spotting them on the map has always been a bit of a cat and mouse game.
Even the most devout paddlers have told me that they’ve found a ‘new’ historic site or set of pictographs years after they first picked up one of my maps.
To solve this problem once and for all, we’ve created two new features – Guide Boxes and ★ ratings.
Guide Boxes are our on-map search system, and are each split into two halves. While the top half summarizes all of the POIs that are available on the map, the bottom half focuses on the most impressive ones.
That’s where the ★ ratings come in. While there are tons of POIs on each map, some are more interesting than others. By labelling and ranking them as either ★, ★★, or ★★★, it’s easier than ever to get a sense of not just what’s around, but which POIs are worth a detour.
#7 – Starting Points Demystified
Not all starting points are made equal. While some have showers or valet parking, others require a high-clear 4×4 vehicle and involve parking on the side of a random logging road.
While these sorts of crucial differences are summarized right on the map, we’ve also created a set of special web links that contain up-to-date information on each starting point, and go into a lot more detail than is possible on the map.
#8 – Easy-to-Read Design
Thanks to the high-contrast colour scheme, extra-large icons and text, and enlargements for areas that are a bit too cluttered (up to 4x!), these maps are incredibly easy to read.
While that might not sound like much, this is one of those things that will pay dividends day in and day out. After all, regardless of whether you’ve got older eyes, or you’re simply trying to see your map while it’s lying on the bottom of the canoe – if you can’t read it, you can’t use it.
P.S. As an added bonus, they’re even colourblind friendly!
#9 – Glow-in-the-Dusk Inksrinted using special Glow-in-the-Dusk inks.
Not only do they appear super bright in daylight, making them easy to see from a distance or in dim lighting, but they appear even brighter and more vibrant at twilight!
(These special inks are so bright that your computer screen is literally incapable of displaying them; you’ll need to pick up a copy of one of our maps – ideally at dusk – to see what they actually look like.)
#10 – “Your First Trip Ever”
“There are just so many symbols, icons, rules…”
If you’re a first-time camper, you might find yourself experiencing ‘information overload’. That’s why we’ve added a simplified & guided planning process to the maps just for you!
With a focus on the basics, it teaches the fundamentals of trip planning, while simultaneously working to help you develop the skills you’ll need to plan your own trips in the future.
#11 – Incredibly Dense Contour Lines
The Problem: Most other maps have a 10m or 20m contour interval, meaning that they can easily hide hills as tall as a 5 or 6 story building.
Our Solution: We use a 5m contour interval on our Killarney map, and a 2.5m contour interval on all of our other maps.
Plus, to make it easier to pick out big hills from a distance, we’ve lightly shaded them in – the taller the hill, the more colourful it appears! Not only is this great for navigation by canoe, but it also makes it super easy to pick out the valleys if you’re bushwhacking.
#12 – Accurate Creek Widths
Particularly handy if you’re looking to go exploring off-trail, all of the creeks and rivers on the map are scaled according to their real-life widths.
If they’re wider in real life, they’re wider on the map!
#13 – Super Light, Super Strong
While these new maps are waterproof, tear resistant, and buoyant – similar to other maps I’ve created in the past – the new material these maps are printed on is both stronger and almost half the weight!
So far, Unlostify has maps available for Killarney, West French River, Kawartha Highlands & Massasauga. They are available for purchase at Algonquin Outfitters or through the Unlostify website where you’ll also find digital downloads for free.
The Algonquin Map(s)
While their upcoming Algonquin maps aren’t ready as of yet, they should be by spring 2019 season. We’re hoping to have a sneak peek for you at this Feburary’s Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show on Feb 22-23-24th 2019. To be notified when they’re available, head on over Unlostify.com and sign up for their newsletter (at the bottom of the page), or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The highly anticipated Algonquin Maps by Unlostify will be available this spring at Algonquin Outfitters; Brent, Huntsville, Lake of Two Rivers, Lake Opeongo and Oxtongue Lake stores as well as online. Here’s a little sneak peak until you can get one in your hands.
It took more work, and therefore more time, than we expected, but we think that’ll just mean an even better map as a result!
Here’s a couple pictures to give you a little taste of what will be coming in the next few months. Hope this gets you excited as it does us. I’m sure you guys can guess what it is! 😉
We can’t wait for the warm months to come back, so we can all get back out there and stick some paddles in the water!
– From the (two) Unlostify guys 😎🤓
Jeff: A lifelong paddler, Jeff has spent over 600 days exploring and mapping Ontario’s canoe routes – formerly as the author of Jeff’s Map, and now as the co-creator of Unlostify.
Deki: In a matter of months, Deki went from going on his first canoe trip ever, to travelling off-trail and bushwhacking. Unbeknownst to him, this newfound love would set him on the path to founding Unlostify and teaming up with Jeff.