If you have a camping trip or a large hike coming up, chances are you are going to need a map.
Although electronic devices can be helpful when you’re lost, you won’t want to rely on one to follow trails at all times when you are out in the wilderness.
A map is an essential tool which has been around for centuries.
The only real downside to a map is that it is not waterproof, and with the first sign of rain, you may end up with a soggy piece of paper that is nearly impossible to read.
Luckily, there are some ways to waterproof a map so that you will always have a clear view of where you are headed and where you came from.
How to Waterproof a Map
Step 1: Collect Supplies
To waterproof your map, you are going to need a few supplies and workspace as well.
- A paper map
- Camp Dry product
KIWI Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellant (Pack of 2)
- KIWI Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Protect provides a tough, long lasting and breathable water protection that becomes odorless when dry
- Ideal for tents, tarps, boots, hunting apparel, outdoor gear, boat covers and patio furniture
- Treated material stays odor free after drying
- Keeps water out while still allowing article to breathe
- Silicone bonds to leather/fabric to create an extremely tough water barrier
- A table outdoors
- Books to hold the map in place
Step 2: Allow Map to Flatten
The first true step in this process is to allow your map to flatten.
If you try and waterproof a wrinkled or folded map, you will end up with areas that are not waterproof and areas that are.
In a light rain, this may not cause a problem, but in a heavy downpour, your map can start to deteriorate.
We strongly recommend letting the map flatten out for a day or two before even continuing to the next step.
You may want to add some books or heavy objects around the map to make sure it is not trying to roll or bend up.
After about twenty-four hours of laying completely flat, you should be able to move to the next step of this process.
Step 3: Setup an Outdoor Area to Complete the Project
The product used to complete this project is going to have quite a bit of an odor to it.
Luckily, after you spray the product, the odor will decrease, and your map won’t retain much of the smell.
However, this is not a product you are going to want to spray inside your home and expose yourself and your family to the fumes.
It is generally a good rule of thumb to do any spraying of anything with fumes like this outdoors.
The fresh air will keep you from having any type of reaction to the heavy smell this spray gives off.
Step 4: Spray Camp Dry on the Map
The reason we love the Camp Dry product for maps it that it is a spray.
There are other ways to waterproof a map, but most of them are much more labor intensive.
It is hard to get an even coating on a map when you use a paint-type application.
Other methods like candle wax can end up causing more of a mess than they should.
This is undoubtedly the most efficient way to waterproof a map.
When you use the Camp Dry product, make sure you have a plan in place.
You won’t want to haphazardly spray the map as you will end up missing many areas.
Think about what you are doing and work from one side of the map to the other.
Keep your finger on the trigger, and make sure you offer a continuous spray.
For larger maps, you may go through more than one can of Camp Dry when all is said and done.
The good news is that, if you have any extra, you can use this product on a variety of things around your house or campsite.
When working on this project, you should make sure you have ample lighting as well.
The lighting will be able to show you what areas of the map you have sprayed and what you may have missed.
When you are finished spraying the entire map, and you are sure you have coated everything, move on to the next step.
Step 5: Allow Camp Dry to Dry
If left out in the sun to dry, Camp Dry can dry in about an hour.
However, you will notice that the manufacturer recommends a good twenty-four hours before allowing the product to get wet.
You are going to want to give the product some time to set and to cure.
We suggest giving it the full twenty-four hours to really make sure everything has completely dried.
This way when you test to see if it has worked, you will have a pretty good idea of what you are up against.
One thing we should mention which many map owners tend to forget is that your map has two sides.
Even if one side of your map does not have the trails you will need on it, you must make sure it is also waterproof.
In fact, the opposite side of the map is almost more important to spray as its the side you will very likely use to protect yourself from the rain!
Once your map has dried for twenty-four hours, flip it over and complete the process again.
Step 6: Test the Map to See if It has Worked
By now, you should have sprayed both sides of your map, and they should be considered waterproof at this point.
Now is the time to test and see if the process worked.
Start by adding a couple of drops of water to your map.
You should notice that the water will not sink in as it should bead up and run off the map.
Make sure you test both sides of the map to see if it has worked.
If you think the process has worked, but you are not sure if it is waterproof enough, you can put more Camp Dry on.
Start over at the beginning of the process and repeat everything to make sure it is done correctly.
Step 7: Repeat Process if Necessary
Sometimes after several hikes, your map will start to wear down a bit.
At this point, you may want to reapply the Camp Dry spray to your map and make sure it is fresh.
Depending on the use it has gotten, it can start to deteriorate over time.
We love the Camp Dry spray for maps because you can still fold and use your map as you normally would.
Many of the other choices will make your map stiff and difficult to use.
One option some people opt for is a laminated map.
Although these maps are great when it comes to the rain, they can be a bit sharp, bulky and they tend to have a bad glare as well.
Making sure your map still looks authentic is important when you are trying to read the fine print.
What Else Can You Use Camp Dry For?
If you end up having some extra Camp Dry around, you can use it for lots of things, especially if you are camping or boating.
Many people find that Camp Dry is very helpful when it comes to their shoes or hats.
It is also a great product to help waterproof a tent.
If you find your tent has some areas where water can get in, Camp Dry can be sprayed on those areas to seal it up and help repel the water.
Some have found that, by spraying Camp Dry on the outside of your hat, your head will stay almost completely dry even after going through a storm.
This could, of course, be very helpful in a hiking situation.
If your hat, your shoes, and your map are still dry, there shouldn’t be anything holding you back from continuing along the trail.
Are There Other Ways to Waterproof a Map?
You can search the internet and find hundreds of ways to do anything.
The bottom line with waterproofing maps that most people will come back to is that some type of a waterproofing spray works the best.
These sprays are what seem to coat the product properly and allow it to still move around.
Some other options for keeping your map dry include a map pocket.
Although these products are helpful, they are not going to be the most convenient.
Most of the time, if you need to look at a map closely, you will have to remove it from the pocket, and this is a nuisance.
You will also have a hard time folding this pocket and keeping it with your stuff because, generally, it is large and will be more difficult to carry around.
Laminating is another option some people choose, and for a small map, this can be a good choice.
If you are working with a large foldable map, laminating is a terrible idea.
Most of your hiking friends are not going to want to walk around with the guy who has the hard laminated map the size of a poster board.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you choose your waterproof spray is to get a lighter product that will work well on paper.
If you choose something too heavy, it may soak the map and make problems worse for you.
You also don’t want the map to end up hard and not able to be folded.
Are Some Maps Sold Waterproof?
Yes, lots of maps are sold as waterproof and tear-free as well.
Even if you are frustrated with your hike, and you want to tear up your map, you will struggle with some of the new products on the market.
Of course, these maps are slightly newer in technology, and you probably have lots of maps in your possession that do not have these features.
When shopping for new maps, it does sometimes make sense to purchase these water-resistant types.
They will likely be priced a little bit higher, but when you consider the cost and the time of waterproofing, it may be worth it in the long run.
Hopefully, our guide about how to waterproof a map has helped you realize that those paper maps are still very effective and worthwhile.
Make sure you start the map waterproofing process a few days before your trip.
You will want to make sure you have time to let the product dry and to flip it over properly and cover both sides.
We will warn you that chances are, since you went through this entire process, it very likely won’t rain on your next adventure.
The good news is that’s a great problem to have!