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Canada Maps for the backroads to never get lost

Plan your Canada road trip with the best Canada maps available. All the maps I recommend I use myself.

Canada Maps - hiking

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 scale. 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 at. 

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

Backroad Map Book Canada Maps

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.

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).

Price: $25.95 per book

Check the BRMB website and give the backroad maps a try, you sure will love them.

2. Waterproof Backroad Maps

Backroad Maps Waterproof

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 tale 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 Navigator

The BRMB Navigator is the leading-edge GPS navigation app from the publishers of the Backroad Mapbook series. You get access to recreation maps with 10,000+base scale topographic maps of all Canadian provinces, as well as satellite, terrain and street maps.

The BRMB Navigator app is available for IOS or Android devices.

They offer a 30-day trial and after that, it gets somewhat expensive.

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

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 maps show 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 are 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 the general areas.

Shop for Gem Trek maps HERE

6. MapArt Backroad Atlas

Canada maps Map Art

I often have a MapArt Backroad Atlas in my vehicle for the particular province I’m at.

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

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!
Scale: 1:250,000

These Canada maps are essentially a road atlas. I have no idea where ‘backcountry’ came into the picture.

Visitors Information Centres

Remember, always stop in at the Visitor Centre when you get into a town. Pick up brochures and 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.