PaperWhat: Paper topo maps come prix-fixe style from Natural Resources Canada or loaded with specific info from private companies.
Pros: They never need a battery, Internet connection or cell reception. They look good on the wall. And you can draw on them.
Cons: They get stained, ripped and lost, and they’re hard to store.
Sources: Find government map distributors at nrcan.gc.ca; Gem Trek Publishing
OnlineWhat: Websites allow you to create your own customized topo maps and print them.
Pros: You can pick the area you want to cover and the size of the finished map, with whatever info you want, and then export it for free or a small fee.
Cons: Map size and quality are limited by your printing ability. And you can’t import waypoints.
Sources: MapSherpa.com; atlas.nrcan.gc.ca
GPSWhat: Depending on the hand-held GPS model, topo maps are either included or added afterwards (for a price) and they show your location.
Pros: The maps are integrated with the GPS device, so you can plan routes ahead of time or export waypoints for other users. (The Magellan eXplorist 610 Canada includes Canadian topos.)
Cons: They are small and battery dependent.
Sources: Magellan; Garmin
CDs and DVDsWhat: Digitized topos offer varying levels of information on trails, roads, POIs and more.
Pros: You get many maps—usually by province—in one place. You can stitch them together, add your own trail info, then download the result to your GPS. (Mapitfirst links trails to guidebook descriptions.)
Cons: Expensive one-time cost. And if you don’t have a GPS, you have to print the map.
Sources: Mapitfirst; Backroad Mapbooks; ETopo
PhoneWhat: Individual maps built by users can be downloaded from an App store before heading out of cell range.
Pros: You can zoom in on maps loaded with information on trails, roads and POIs, while built-in GPS shows where you are. And you can buy them anytime from iTunes.
Cons: A small screen gives you a small map. Plus, you need to download the map beforehand, and it’s limited to your phone’s battery life.