Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places
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#1 Posted : Monday, July 26, 2021 8:20:00 AM(UTC)

Im a newbie, traveling to BWCA in late August. What suppliers have best maps for fishing, wayfinding, features?






Ben Strege  
#2 Posted : Monday, July 26, 2021 9:57:33 AM(UTC)

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They all are good and have similar features. I usually have more than one type of map with me. They all have mistakes, but they have different mistakes on each, so getting more than one type allows you to compare. I also print out maps from this site in addition to getting a printed map. (I do not recommend using only maps from this site since these are meant for planning, not navigation.)

One difference is the scale. Fisher, Voyageur, and True North have a scale of 1 1/2 inches per mile. McKenzie has a scale of 2 inches per mile, so it is more "zoomed in" and shows more detail. This also means you cannot fit as much on one map.

They all break up the BWCA differently. I usually get the map that I have to buy the least number of maps to cover my trip.

Voyageur maps are big. They are the same scale as Fisher, but they print them on large sheets of paper, so they cover the entire BWCA in 10 maps. If you want fishing info, I would pick up one of these since they have a chart showing which fish are in the lakes. (Info from the DNR, so only as accurate as the DNR surveys.) These are/were my go-to maps for a long time. A couple of problems I have run into with the maps. First, I have an older edition of the maps, and I had some problems with campsite locations. This may have been fixed in the most recent edition, though. Second, the maps break up the BWCA weirdly (in my opinion) in a couple of spots. For example, on one popular loop, you may have to bring 4 Voyageur maps to cover the trip. On those trips, I opt for a different one. Finally, I have had trouble finding the maps recently. I don't know what happened to them, but I have not seen them at many outfitters.

I have come to love the True North maps. Their unique feature is that they are made out of cloth. It is great for stuffing in my pocket on portages and such. The problem with cloth, though, is that compass work is difficult. I am never quite sure if I have it laid out correctly or if it is stretched too much to get a good bearing. When I need to use a compass, I use a different paper map. The cloth is great for on-the-go navigation, which is mostly what I do. True North are quite a bit more expensive than the other maps ($25 per map), but I like picking one up for my trips.

#3 Posted : Friday, August 6, 2021 4:52:26 PM(UTC)

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I strongly prefer Voyageur maps. I've found very few errors, and the ones I did find were inconsequential. The two McKenzie maps I've used had serious print registration problems. The contour lines and some of the lake boundaries were off by as much as 1/8" which translates to about 50 feet. It makes the map very confusing to read.
#4 Posted : Saturday, August 7, 2021 4:47:01 AM(UTC)

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I always take McKenzie and Fisher as backup in a different pack. I like the larger scale and I'm used to them.

BTW for Quetico, the most recent edition of the Chrismar map a must, since the Q tend to move portages from to time.
Chris Hoepker  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, October 12, 2021 11:38:44 AM(UTC)

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Being somewhat of a map fan, I can’t resist commenting on this.

When I started canoeing in the early 90’s, I purchased about all the map types available – McKenzie, Fisher, Canadian and U.S. topos, etc. and then when digital maps came out, I purchased several of these – namely ETOPO, CANTOPO, and TOURATECH. Since Paddle Planner entered my life, I’ve put all the old stuff away. After a while, the paper stuff found its way to recycling and the digital stuff hasn’t been opened for years and years.

Using Paddle Planner’s maps with Trimble MyTopo background, planning a route on a reasonably sized monitor is a pretty nice experience. Having the 1 km grid allows quickly making a rough estimate of a distance. Whether you need a grid or not, the campsite and portage data on the Paddle Planner maps are pretty darn up to date and accurate because of the contributions of people who are out there in woods and is certainly better than is possible on some printed document that was put in print years ago.

There is another gigantic advantage of using Paddle Planner to plan trips: The photo feature! People like me have posted photos of some portages so you can see what the entry looks like from the water and/or see how much fun the portage actually is.

Back in the 90’s when I started canoeing it didn’t take long to see the problems with using big paper maps outside – they needed to be folded and refolded and the scale was generally too small. An even bigger problem came to light on a trip in Woodland Caribou when one big lake with lots of islands and bays was centered on the intersection of 4 quadrangles. (As a result, we got really screwed up.)

It didn’t take me too long to solve the problem. Out on the lakes and in the woods I use 8.5 x 11 maplets on waterproof paper printed both sides. These maplets typically hold about 7 x 9 km of terrain. I’ve found this particular scale reasonably readable with my 70+ year-old eyeballs.I make overlapping maplets of my entire route and pay particular attention to having a maplet to cover tricky geography.

While paddling, I have the maplets in a waterproof case with a window on one side. The case is buckled to the crossbar immediately in front of me. On portages, I just leave it buckled to the crossbar.

I used to make the maplets by screen grabbing from a composite of topo maps on which I had entered campsite and portage info. But now that there is a background with grid on Paddle Planner, my future canoeing maplets will be screen grabs from there.

Incidentally, I also use maplets for hiking and ski touring here at home in Switzerland. These I get from screen grabs on the website. The route planning aid of distance calculation is similar to that on Paddle Planner.
thanks 1 user thanked Chris Hoepker for this useful post.
Ben Strege on 10/12/2021(UTC)
#6 Posted : Monday, November 8, 2021 5:52:34 AM(UTC)

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I think fisher.

Edited by user Tuesday, November 9, 2021 8:10:29 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

thanks 1 user thanked alvaradojosephin for this useful post.
Wally13 on 11/10/2021(UTC)
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