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Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > Accessories > Brooks Range Map Tools > Test Report by Shane Williams

Brooks Range Map Tools
Test Series by Shane Williams
Initial Report: October 17, 2011
Field Report: January 8th, 2012
Long Term Report: March 11th, 2012


Initial Report

Tester Information:

Name: Shane Williams
Email: sherpa[dot]colorado[at]gmail.com
Age: 37
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)

Bio:

As a child I lived in the last house on a dead end street. Just beyond my house was a wilderness area. I started hiking and exploring there, and I've never stopped. I started backpacking in the South Eastern Appalachian Mountains, including portions of the Appalachian Trail. Today I primarily hike in the Colorado Rockies. My pack weight is approximately 30 lbs (13.61 kg) to 50 lbs (22.68 kg). I often carrying more gear than necessary hoping that I wonít need it. I enjoy weekend excursions into the High Country with friends and lower elevation day trips with my family.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Brooks Range
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://brooks-range.com/

MSRP

All in One Map Tool: $18.00 USD
All in One UTM Reader: $11.95 USD
Field Organizer: $19.00 USD
Emergency All-in-One Latitude/Longitude Ruler: $4.95 USD

Field Organizer:

Product Features

  • Light Weight
  • Weather Resistant
  • Full height interior pockets
  • Pencil, Pen, Temperature Probe Holders
  • Ideal for Brooks-Range Ski Guide Cards (SGC's) and All-in-One Map Tools
  • Orangizer for all maps and field books

Product Overview

The field organizer is a light weight organizer to hold the Brooks-Range map tools, compass, writing utensils, snow study tools, snow temperature gauge, thermometers, maps and field books. Itís constructed with a yellow rip-stop nylon material and has a heavier 1.5 in (3.8 cm) red nylon webbing that can be used to fasten the organizer closed like a book. The webbing has sewn hoop and loop on the underside and the Brooks-Range logo on the exterior side. There are 7 pockets in total, 6 of those are full height pockets constructed to house the Brooks-Range map tools. The remaining pocket is 4 in (10.16 cm) by 3 in (7.62 cm) and is positioned on the right interior panel. This pocket is the perfect size for holding a compass or folding magnifier. The holders for writing utensils or snow temperature gauges are located on the front exterior and the left interior panel. Each of these holders can hold up to 3 items. Sewn to the top center is a 12 in (30.48 cm) by 0.5 in (1.27 cm) strip of webbing that is designed to act as a book mark. The field organizer has a height of 7 in (17.78 cm) and a closed width of 4.5 in (11.43 cm). The field organizer weighs 1.2 oz (34 g)

(Courtesy of www.Brooks-Range.com)

All in One Map Tool:

Product Features

  • Extended Rulers
  • Compass Rose
  • English To Metric Conversion
  • Slope Indexes
  • Designed to fit into a pocket

Product Overview

Supported Scales:1:20,000-1:24,000-1:25,000-1:30,750-1:50,000-1:62,500-1:63,360-1:100,000-1:125,000-1:250,000

The Brooks-Range All-in-One map tool is a 4 in (10.16 cm) wide by 7 in (17.78 cm) high sheet of durable non-glare plastic that has the printed black and red markings denoted scales or measurements. These include 10 distance scales in miles and kilometers, 10 slope indexes, 10 UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) scales and a standard to metric conversion chart. The UTM scales are marked every 10 m (32.81 ft) in black and every 100 m (328 ft) in red. This is to aid in quickly determining a location. When utilized properly itís possible to pin-point a location within 3 m (10 ft). Positioned in the center of this Map Tool is a nicely sized compass rose with a single black tick mark for every degree and a red tick mark every 64 degrees. As an additional feature, the tool can also be utilized as an inclinometer.

(Courtesy of www.Brooks-Range.com)

All in One UTM Reader:

Product Features

  • Extended Rulers
  • Compass Rose
  • English To Metric Conversion
  • Slope Indexes
  • Designed to fit into a pocket

Product Overview

Supported Scales:1:20,000-1:24,000-1:25,000-1:30,750-1:50,000-1:62,500-1:63,360-1:100,000-1:125,000-1:250,000

The physical characteristics of the All-in-One UTM Reader are similar to the All-in-One Map Tool Pro. The width and height measurements are 4.25 in (10.8 cm) by 7 in (17.78 cm) and comprised of the same non-glare plastic. The All-in-One UTM Reader and the All-in-One Map Tool Pro have a couple of similar scales represented but the UTM Reader has a couple of extra scales not contained in the Map Tool Pro. The UTM Reader has 12 distance scales, 14 Slope indexes and 12 Universal Transverse Mercator scales. The markings of these scales follow the same standard as found in the other Map Tools from Brooks-Range. The UTM Reader also contains a compass rose as well as the standard to metric conversion chart.

(Courtesy of www.Brooks-Range.com)

Emergency All-in-One Latitude/Longitude Ruler:

Product Features

  • Light Weight
  • Simplifies Latitude and Longitude readings
  • Scaled for International use

Product Overview

Supported Scales:1:20,000-1:24,000-1:25,000-1:30,750-1:50,000-1:62,500-1:63,360-1:100,000-1:125,000-1:250,000

The Emergency Latitude/Longitude Ruler has been designed by mountain guides and cartographers to easily determine the hours, minute, seconds latitude and longitude location. The physical sizing is consistent with the other Brooks-Range tools and fits nicely into the Field Organizer. The dimensions are 4 in (10.16 cm) by 7 in (17.78 cm) and constructed of foldable paper to suite needs of any of the various 10 supported map scales

(Courtesy of www.Brooks-Range.com)

Initial Impression:

Upon receiving the Brooks-Range Map Tools and Field Organizer I found them to be in excellent condition without any rips, tears, stains or defects. In initially previewing the All-in-One Map Tool Pro and the All-in-One UTM Reader I was overwhelmed, but after a few minutes of study reading the tool became easier and more clear. One thing that I really like about Map Tools is that they follow a standard pattern and layout, so if youíre familiar with one, the others will be familiar. Itís also worth mentioning that these tools are only applicable in certain parts of the world, namely the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Japan. These tools certainly contain several important features that would well equip a back country traveler. I look forward to using these tools and getting to know their features more fully during this testing series.

Field Report: January 8th, 2012

Field Conditions:

During this series of testing Iíve utilized the Brooks-Range Map Tools for 1 overnight trip to the Sawatch Mountain Range in Central Colorado, a series of day hikes around Colorado Springs as well as general planning and topo evaluation. During my trip to the central mountains of Colorado I ascended the 14ers Mount Belford and Mount Oxford. This trip was the most significant during this testing series as it required the most planning. I utilized the Brooks-Range Map Tools during this planning in attempts to estimate elevation slope and difficulty of terrain. I also used it to plot points and garner UTM coordinates. The terrain for this hike was varied, but mostly tame for the Rockies. I did encounter snow which covered portions of the trail, making navigation a little more tricky than simply ďfollowing the dotted lineĒ. Temperatures for this trip ranged from 18 F (-7 C) and sustained wind speeds of 30 MPH (48 kph), which yielded a wind-chill between -5 F (-20 C) and 5 (-15 C). Elevation gain during this ascent was 5800 ft (1768 m) with an overall distance of 11 miles (17 km). The Terrain was Class 2. Other outings during this series were mostly comprised of orienteering while trail running and/or hiking in Ute Valley open space located in Colorado Springs.

Field Report:

During this series Iíve become acquainted with the set of Brooks-Range Map Tools as Iíve used them to plan for trips as well orient in the field. With these tools having a 10 scale range, I havenít had a chance to utilize each of the supplied scales, but have utilized them on 1:24,000 as well as 1:25,000 maps. The map tools are fairly easy to use once the Map Tool has been properly matched with the appropriate scaled map. One of the things that is most attractive about plotting points via UTM coordinates is that if properly utilized it will give a point within 10 m (32 ft). I wasnít proficient to that level of accuracy, I did get within 25 meters (82 ft).

One of the features of the Map Tools that I found to be most useful was the Slope Indexes. This feature provides a way to determine the angle of slope by simply evaluating the map. The slope index is a series of line measurements that, when matched to the contour lines of a map, can give indication of the slope angle. This is particularly useful when trying to determine the level of effort with a given route. It can also be useful when evaluating a slope to determine the chances that a portion of the route could be susceptible to avalanching. In addition, itís just a nice feature to have. Sometimes itís hard to determine the slope of the current terrain. By having a tool like this and evaluating on a regular basis, it removes the guess work.

The Brooks-Range Map Tools have all proven to be resilient and durable during this testing series. They have not chipped, cracked or faded and have remained functional even in colder climates at elevation. The Field organizer has also performed well in the field without ripping, tearing or fraying along the seams.

Plotting Mount Belford

Summary:

The Brooks-Range Map Tools are a great all around tool set for navigation and orienteering. Loaded with features for the majority of map scales found in the US and Canada, they bring a ton of functionality with minimum weight. I look forward to using them while venturing into snow country during this next test series.

Long Term Report: March 11th, 2012

Field Conditions:

During the final series of testing Iíve utilized the Brooks-Range Map Tools for 1 overnight trip to the Sawatch Mountain Range in Central Colorado where I attempted an ascent of Mount Missouri. This ascent entailed back country skiing from a road closure to the Missouri Gulch Trail head. Once at the trail head steeper terrain required something with flotation, so switching to snowshoes proved useful. This ascent was cut short when deep snow drifts were encountered. These made travel time consuming and difficult. Eventually the realization set in that a summit attempt wasnít going to happen, and I abandoned the pursuit just above 11000 ft (3353 m). Temperatures ranged from 18 F (-7 C) to 40 F (4 C). Round trip duration was approximately 12 hours. In addition to this overnight back country trip I also utilized these tools to plan for upcoming trips as well as plotting points for trail running around the Colorado Springs area including Ute Valley and Palmer Park open spaces.

Field Report:

The Brooks-Range Map tools have proven to be simple to use navigation tools loaded with features and functionality without the bloat of unnecessary add-ons. I really appreciate the minimalistic selection of materials and design that meets a specific needÖnavigation.

At the conclusion of this testing series, the Brooks-Range Map tools are still in good condition with a lot of use left in them. Of the tools included in this set the All-in-One Latitude/Longitude Ruler incurred the greatest degree of impact. Since its paper rather than the plastic material of the other two tools, itís more susceptible to crumpling. With that being said itís still in useable condition and hasnít torn. The All-in-One Map Tool Pro and the All-in-One UTM Reader are in excellent condition and they havenít show abnormal signs of wear or fading. The Field Organizer is also in good condition, but is showing understandable signs of wear. The one place where the field organizer seems to have shown early signs of wear is the sewn book mark. The bottom had a loose string, which lead to fraying, all be it minor.

With the Brooks-Range Map Tools, itís obvious that they have been designed for functionality. With their wide range of applicable map scales they are geared to meet the needs of most standard maps. These tools are also loaded with just about every feature needed to make critical navigational decisions. The features that I found to be most beneficial were the slope-scale, UTM Grid and Compass Rose.

In pursuit of Mount Missouri

Summary:

At first glance the plethora of multi-colored scales and numbers may seem intimidating, but after a few minutes of familiarization, the usability becomes obvious. These tools are light-weight, durable and easy to use. It would be hard to justify not keeping these tools in my pack. Iím sure the Brooks-Range Map Tools will be guiding me on many adventures to come.

This concludes my Long Term Report. A special thanks to backpackgeartest.org and Brooks-Range for the opportunity to be part of this test series.



Read more reviews of Brooks Range Mountaineering Equipment Co gear
Read more gear reviews by Shane Williams

Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > Accessories > Brooks Range Map Tools > Test Report by Shane Williams



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