One of the key elements in our way of travelling, “Overlanding”, is the ability to discover remote locations, find adventurous small roads, camp on isolated places and be far away from everybody else. In theory the only thing you need is a good detailed map like a topographic map. This will tell you everything you need to know about a the terrain you are roaming. What kind of surface height, is it a dead end road, … I’m a big fan of using plain old maps, we use them on all our hikes. I’m quite skilled reading and interpreting topographic maps.
Even if you are using digital apps or specialised GPS devices, knowing how to read and interpret a map is key. Most advanced GPS devices also use topographic maps so that’s a skill you won’t waste your time on. If you want to know more on reading and understanding maps head over to the Navigation reading list.
The downside of paper maps is that they become outdated at a certain moment. In Belgium for example some regions haven’t been updated since 1995, a lot has changed since then. Another issue is bringing a whole library if you are travelling wide areas.
And last but not least, if you are wandering around the continent and just go where the wind blows, it’s kind of heard to prepare a set of maps if you have no destination set out.
Luckily we moved over to the digital era and tons of apps with updated digital topographic maps are available. I have some of them on my phone: GAIA GPS, Topo GPS, etc…
But i’m not a big fan of using those apps as main source of navigation. I like to use my phone for music, calling, looking up information of the area we are in, messaging in the car, … and you need constant cellular connection to navigate. Now I know you can download pieces of maps to your device but as mentioned before, if you don’t know where you are heading, that’s no use.
One of my most anticipated buys from the last few years was definitely the Garmin Overlander. I’ve seen similar devices on youtube channels in Australia and the United states but could get anything near that functionality here in Europe.Continue reading “Garmin Overlander”