General Principles

Where is it best to get your maps for AccuRoute?

The answer to this question depends on the type of runs you do — on-road or off-road — and whether you own an optical scanner.

If you do own a scanner then you may find it best to scan in portions of your own paper maps. A map scale of 1:25,000 is ideal, although it's really best to experiment with map and scanner resolutions yourself. As a general guide, a resolution of about 300dpi offers a good balance between file size and fine detail in the image. Save the image in JPG format wherever possible, or failing that, GIF. Use BMP as a last resort - the file sizes will be excessive.

Free map sites on the Web are useful sources too. Their real advantage comes from covering many more areas than your own paper maps, from allowing you to download directly to your PC rather than having to use a scanner and, of course, the fact that you don't have to pay any money for them. All the ones listed below offer sufficient detail for road runners, but only two — the US Geological Survey and the UK Ordnance Survey — provide off-road trails and contours as standard.

FREE Map Sites

When on any of the following map sites, you normally have to enter the zip/post code or address of the area you want to view. Use the zoom-in functions to get a scale which covers all the area with sufficient detail, or manually tile together adjacent hi-res images.

Once the map is displayed, save it onto your hard disk by right-clicking on the image and selecting "Save Picture As". Your web browser will automatically recognise the type of file — usually JPG, GIF, or BMP — and save it in this same format. If you have a choice between these three, choose JPG or GIF over BMP

In the occasional case where the map image can't be saved in one of these three formats, or if the scale is not found within the border of the map, a different technique will be required. In this case, you will need to take a snapshot of the entire screen (use ALT+Print Screen) and paste into an image-manipulating package such as Paint (found under Program Files/Accessories on the Start menu). If desired, crop the image, then "Save As", making sure to choose JPG, GIF, or BMP format.

If you are aware of any other good map sites, please contact us and we'll add them in the future.

Global websites

Maporama - street-level mapping in just about every country on Earth. Scale on each map.
Multimap - Coverage of most major countries. Scale on maps.

Websites Covering Major Western Nations - USA, Canada, Europe etc

MSN Mappoint Formerly MapBlast. Ability to choose size of map on page. Scale is off-map. No footpaths.
Mapquest - Scale on map, but not a tremendous amount of fine detail - Uses MSN Mappoint engine

Specific to USA

US Geological Survey - THE place to download your maps from if you live in the US. Scanner-quality 1:25,000 contour maps of the entire USA available to download for free.

Once on the website, enter your town name in the Search box. You'll get a list of town names matching yours and what maps are available for each. Go for "topo" (contour) map if one is available. You will have to capture the screen to get your image (instructions), but it's a small price to pay for the sheer image quality.

Plus, as if the contour maps weren't enough, you can also download satellite images with incredible 1 metre resolution. Tile together adjacent satellite images to form one large hi-res picture, more accurate than any map.
(Thanks to Tim Hall for bringing this technique to our attention.) - Excellent street-level coverage of US. Scale on maps. - good for US, but have to use a screendump to get the scale on the image. No footpaths. - Only 25 maps can be downloaded per person

Specific to UK

Ordnance Survey - UK's national mappers. Can get down to 1:25,000 scale for free. Contours, footpaths all included. Use this site if you live in the UK. - excellent coverage of UK streets, but no coverage of footpaths and trails

Specific to South Africa (With thanks to Pieter O.)

Tiscali World Online
Shell Geostar

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