Saturday, 15 February 2014

SplashMaps



Good waterproofs have become even more of a walking necessity in the last few months with our rather soggy winter continuing to win the battle over snow and sunshine. Waterproofs are not just about jackets and trousers however but about maps and recently I tested a Splashmap.

SplashMap
When it arrived in the post it was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting something with a waxy coating that still looked and felt like a traditional map. What I received was something much more innovative.  This map is more like a tea towel in texture than a map and it confounds all perceptions of map-reading as it can literally scrunch up and fit in your jacket pocket.

The map-scale is 1:40,000 and my one covered the east region of the South Downs. This is an area I am quite familiar with. With the special marker pens available you can draw your route onto the map (rather like you would on a GPS system) and then after your walk you just put it in the washing machine and it comes out as good as new and ready for the next route to be drawn. There is a legend to the map on the label at the side.
Map legend
I can hardly remember the last time I went for a walk without it raining at some point and the SplashMap certainly lived up to its claim of being waterproof and because of the type of fabric it is, you don’t get big raindrops sitting on just the part of the route you are looking at – they just disperse.

It does take a bit of getting used to as when you hold the map out to check ahead, there is no rigidity to it like a traditional map. As I mentioned before, it is like a tea towel so you have to hold it taut. It is a lot easier to look at smaller areas than a usual map as you can fold it however you wish in moments.

You can choose from a range of areas on the website covering the most popular walking areas of the UK, particularly National Parks and the range is expanding all the time. Most of the standard maps you can buy ready-made are 1:40,000 (although they are just starting to launch a 1:25,000 range). However, for serious walkers, you definitely need the 1:25,000 scale and the good news is you can “make your own map” area at that scale and the process of doing that online is simple. This is perfect for covering those areas you walk most often so you only have to use one map on a walk. I would definitely recommend that one over the standard versions.

I think this product is a real winner. It is so innovative, practical and light and as long as you can let go of all your perceptions of traditional maps. It is a perfect all-weather map.

Splashmaps are available from SplashMaps

Price: £18.99 for the standard maps and “make a map” versions are £28.99

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