Canada Maps for the backroads to never get lost
Plan your Canada road trip with the best Canada maps available. All maps I recommend I use myself.
As much as I love Google maps, I also enjoy sitting on the floor with paper Canada maps spread out around me. I spend hours planning the best route to take and the places to visit during my next backcountry wilderness adventure.
With a marker, I highlight my preferred route and I dream.
Later when I return my travels, the maps tare my souvenirs and help me remember places I’ve been to and the people I met along the way.
Outside of towns and in remote areas in Canada, Wifi access is often non-existent. Therefore, I don’t rely on cell phone apps to check on my travel route.
Part of my trip planning is to check what maps are available for the region I want to explore.
For certain regions, like the Yukon and Northwest Territories, the map supply is limited. I tend to buy all the maps available.
What kind of Canada maps should you buy?
I have used many different Canada topo maps over the years; from paper maps to Backroad Mapbook maps on my Garmin GPS, and travel apps on my phone.
Topographic Maps, (Canadians call them topo maps for short), are what you will absolutely need if you are hiking off-track or driving off-road.
Topo maps come in a range of scales. Most of the topo map sheets are in 1:250,000 and 1:50,000 scales. For some areas, you can get maps as detailed as 1:2,500, but they are not available for all the regions in the backcountry.
Commercial Canada Maps
Whenever I’m stuck and lost in a remote area, I’m grateful to have a paper map with me and I don’t have to rely on my GPS.
My Garmin car GPS doesn’t show all the small roads and even less so in northern Canada. On my cell phone with a 5-inch screen, it’s hard to read directions.
Don’t get caught using your cell phone while you’re driving a car, it could cost you a lot.
The Canadian law says: “A person must not use an electronic device while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a highway.” Officers nail a high number of drivers every year under the distracted driving law.
Paper maps might be out of fashion, but having one will keep you safe.
There are various map series on the market. The main difference between the map series is map scale and map detail.
Map detail means the kinds of topics or information that each map series focuses on.
When I travel, I always have more than one type of map. I nearly always have an AAA Road Atlas in my car, as well as a Backroad Mapbook (BRMB) for the area I’m in.
My Garmin Oregon with uploaded backroad maps I use when I drive off major highways and on hikes. I always check whether there is a Go Trekkers Map available for the area I’m heading to.
1. BRMB – Backroad Mapbooks
The Backroad Mapbooks series is the go-to source when it comes to Backcountry Canada maps. Backroad Mapbooks are loaded with user-friendly topographic maps and outdoor adventure information.
You’ve probably seen their paper Mapbooks on shelves at convenience stores.
These popular map books contain the most detailed Canada maps plus extensive trails and regional information on hiking, camping, angling, snowmobiling, hunting, skiing, paddling, ATVing, and much, much more.
The Backroad Mapbooks are available for different regions. If you spend lots of time in one region and you want to explore the backcountry, investing in a Backroad Mapbook will be worth it. They are available in bundles as well for a discounted price.
If you travel across Canada, then it doesn’t make sense to buy all the Backroad Mapbooks. Buy a Backroad Mapbook for the area where you will spend the most time in the backcountry, camping, hiking and backcountry, paddling, or other backcountry recreation activities.
Complete area topographic map coverage at 150 000 – 250 000 scales (province and region dependent).
Check the BRMB website and give the backroad maps a try, you sure will love them. They often have discounts when you buy Mapbooks bundles.
2. Waterproof Backroad Maps
The Waterproof Topo Maps are a blown-up version of the maps you’ll find in the Backroad Mapbooks, allowing for easier reading and better scales, starting at 1:160 000.
You can take a water-resistant, region-specific map along on your outdoor adventure and navigate with confidence.
These tear-resistant, waterproof, large-format adventure maps highlight popular recreational areas showing hunting management units, logging roads or bush road systems, trails, parks, boat launches, ATV and snowmobile routes, and more. These waterproof maps are currently available for areas in BC and Ontario.
Check out Waterproof maps for more details.
3. BRMB Web Map and App
The BRMB Web Map and App platform is one of the best out there for your backcountry adventures. It’s possible to use the Web Map / App free of charge but all the features you want and need are hidden inside the PRO version. They offer a 30-day trial to give you a taste of the app, so you can try it out before you buy.
Once logged into the PRO account you will have all the features you always dreamed of. Satellite and Topo maps Canada-wide are available, for backroad, fishing, hunting, paddling, parks, recreation sites, trails, ATV, snowmobile, wildlife, and winter adventures.
Signing up for an account you will get Free, unlimited basic platform access. After the one-month free Pro plan, you can choose a monthly, yearly, or three-year plan.
Check out the BRMB website for pricing.
4. Backroad GPS Maps
Backroad maps for your handheld Garmin GPS are also available are available for all provinces. The Backroad GPS maps boast the most detailed and comprehensive coverage of Canada available to recreational users. They are the most complete maps available from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.
The GPS maps contain up-to-date outdoor recreation information including contour elevations and summits, logging roads, trails, parks, rivers, lakes, and lots more.
The maps are compatible with Garmin GPS and Garmin Basecamp, these backcountry GPS maps let you navigate in the wilderness with confidence.
I purchased the British Columbia backroad maps for my Garmin Oregon 600, and they are what they promise to be. Check them out Here.
5. Gem Trek Recreational Maps
Gem Trek Recreational Maps come in two different series: Go to Driving
Maps and Go to Trail Maps.
Go to trails map is a full-colour, user-friendly recreational map showing all the hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. They are also loaded with valuable visitor information, including mountain lodges, campgrounds, points of interest, and even picnic areas. These maps are ideal for hikers and cyclists, as well as touring vacationers who want a detailed map of the parks.
Driving Map is for the traveller who wants a level of detail far beyond what’s on a regular road map. Relevant visitor information included on the maps makes planning your trip easier and takes the guesswork out of getting around while you’re there.
Scales: Between 1:20,000 to 1:400,000, depending on the area covered.
Gem Trek Maps focus on particular routes, not on general areas.
Shop for Gem Trek maps HERE
6. MapArt Backroad Atlas
I often have a MapArt Backroad Atlas in my vehicle for the particular province I’m at.
Explore the West with the new Calgary to Vancouver Atlas from the CCC map series, GPS compatible with back road map coverage from Seattle to Vancouver all the way to Calgary!
This kind of map is essentially a road atlas. I have no idea where ‘backcountry’ came into the picture.
You find most roads, with many attractions, but the atlas is not geared towards recreation.
The atlas also has some city maps which might come handy.Scales: 1:500,000
Visitors Information Centres
Remember, always stop in at the Visitor Centre when you get into a town. Pick up brochures and a free selection of maps they have available. They are always of good quality with local information.
Examples are the printed Provincial Park Maps, available for different regions. They give an excellent overview of the area with hiking trail suggestions and possible activities.
Many maps are available online if you search for the province you’re planning to visit.
I hope you’ve found this page useful for planning. I welcome feedback and suggestions of any other Canada maps that you’ve found helpful in your backcountry travels.
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