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How to Get Free Survival Maps

This article provides updated information on how to obtain a free survival map. Our previous article was published several years ago, and we will continue to update it as new map resources become available.

Get a Map Online

Downloading maps from online sources is a convenient way to get free survival maps. Here are two of our favorite 7.5-minute maps with slight variations:

  • National Geographic USGS maps – This excellent resource allows you to print a quad of your local area by simply entering your town or zip code and selecting the desired quads for printing. The PDFs provided include adjacent quads, making it easy to print specific areas. These maps are traditional USGS maps but with the addition of hill shading.
  • USGS US Topo Quadrangles – This resource allows you to download the maps used by the USGS and Department of the Interior. The topographical style of these maps provides more detailed information with additional lines and fewer colors compared to the NatGeo maps. Furthermore, these maps are regularly updated.

If you reside in an urban or suburban area, you may also need a street map. The best resource for easily printing street maps is:

  • OpenStreetMap – While not as precise as minute maps with topography, OpenStreetMap is sufficient for most people's needs. You can choose the desired scale and print maps with roads and other relevant details.

Additionally, you can always print physical copies of Google Maps if you prefer.

Print Maps

You can print the downloaded maps on any printer, but using a color printer is recommended. The maps are optimized for standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper. If you don't own a printer or prefer not to use your own, you can access printers at work, school, or public libraries.

Consider printing extra copies for yourself, as well as for your friends and family. Maps are not only practical but also visually appealing, making them worth having in abundance.

Alternatively, you can request free maps from various states. For example, my home state of North Carolina offers a free highway map that will be shipped to you within 5-6 weeks.

Mark Your Maps

Take a close look at the printed maps. What good are they if you can't identify any landmarks or your own location on the map? Circle important landmarks and annotate the map as necessary. Customize it to make it easy to use when you need it. Feel free to write additional information in the margins if needed.

Some people advise against marking personal places on maps in case they are lost, but that level of caution is unnecessary. You can mark whatever you want on the map as long as it doesn't clutter it too much.

Protect Your Maps

Protecting the printed maps is essential to ensure their longevity and usefulness. Consider the following options:

  • Ziploc Bags– The most commonly used and cost-effective option. While not completely waterproof, Ziploc bags can usually keep the maps safe inside a pack or kit.
  • Waterproof Bags– These bags are more effective at protecting the maps from moisture than Ziploc bags, but they are also more expensive. Waterproof bags eliminate the risk of leaks or condensation.
  • Lamination– Laminating the maps allows them to withstand various weather conditions, spills, sweat, and other potential hazards. Professional lamination services are available, but you can also use adhesive laminated sheets as a more accessible alternative. Although adhesive laminates are not as durable as thermal laminates, they provide better protection than plain printing paper.
  • Waterproof Paper– Printing the free survival maps on waterproof paper is the most effective option, albeit more expensive if printing numerous sheets. Before printing on waterproof paper, you may need to modify the maps using computer software, as it can be challenging to write or draw on the paper with anything other than a permanent marker. Rite in the Rain paper, commonly used by the military and law enforcement, is our top recommendation after conducting a review of weatherproof paper.

Review for Changes

Although this step is not immediate, it is important to keep it in mind. Periodically review your maps to ensure their accuracy. Not only can roads and structures change, but even streams and lakes can be altered over time. If significant changes occur, simply repeat the previous steps to obtain an updated map.

We recommend making a note to review your maps whenever you reassess the associated survival kits. For instance, if you are checking the expiration dates on your bug out bag checklist, be sure to include checking your maps in the process.

The Final Word

Title: How to Get Free Survival Maps
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Published Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2024 11:43:19 +0000

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