How to Use A Map When the Internet Fails

By: Tom Malone

It's inevitable: at some point on any given adventure, your perfectly-planned map app will lose service or take you in the wrong direction. So, what do you do when that happens? Use a paper map, of course! Here's a quick refresher course on how to use map scale to get you where you want to go:

Map Scale
  • Map scale helps determine how far one location is from another
  • The scale is different on each map, depending on how zoomed in or zoomed out the map is
  • A map’s scale is usually located in the bottom corner of the map itself
  • The scale key shows what one inch on the map really represents on the actual piece of land
    • Oftentimes, map scales will show inches per mile and centimeters per kilometer, so make sure you’re aware of which measurement you’re looking for

To find the distance from one location to another using the map’s scale:
    • Find the map’s scale key (usually in the bottom corner of the map)
    • Find the scale key in miles
    • Using a ruler, measure the distance in inches between your given locations
      • (EX: Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts is 10 inches)
    • Using the map’s scale key, determine how many miles equals one inch
      • (EX: One inch equals 300 miles)
    • Multiply the number of miles per inch by the number of inches between your given locations
      • (EX: 10 inches X 300 miles = 3,000 miles)
    • There's your answer!

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