Dec 31

Custom MGRS Topographical Maps

Topographical maps are a great resource and will become absolutely invaluable if T-SHTF.  Topo maps allow you to do so much more than your standard road atlas in that you can accurately plot routes (if on foot with a compass), estimate elevation and easily identify major terrain features around your homestead.  Recently Ranger W. wrote an outstanding article detailing how to download free USGS Maps from  While a great tool I thought to seek out alternatives, if only for the heck of it.  I wanted to find another company that would allow me to build a map to the following specs:

– 24×36 (or larger) mapsheet

– Fully laminated (which allowed for the use of dry erase markers)

– 1:50,000 scale

– 1,000 meter MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) grid lines

– Relatively cost effective

I found that I was able to meet all of these specifications and build a custom mapsheet while visiting  The process is very simple and prices start as low as $14.95.  I believe with shipping my total cost for a fully laminated map was around $35, not too bad.  Once you visit the site, you simply click on Start My Custom Map, and then enter an address (or GPS coordinate).  For the purpose of this exercise I chose Little Rock, Arkansas.

Topo Map 1

I should note here that I then changed the scale to 1:50,000 because it gives you the most area on the printed map.  In the default mode of 1:24,000 you get around 91 square miles, in 1:50,000 you get 393 square miles of map sheet.  While not the most detailed map sheet it will be sufficient for most tasks.

The next page asks what type of map you would like, I went with the most expensive variety (laminated and rolled).  Once complete with that selection you are able to further customize your map sheet by adding a title, subtitle, owner, in addition to choosing navigational grids and shaded relief.  I chose not to add Lat/Lon lines but did enable full MGRS grid lines.  I also did not include relief shading.

Topo Map 2

From there all that was left to do was preview my map, and then place my order!

Topo Map 3

In addition to your map make sure you have a good military style lensatic tritium compass, a protractor and nice set of marking (alcohol) pens, with eraser.  If you don’t have the eraser you can use rubbing alcohol.  If you end up buying the map and everything else I listed here but have no idea what to do with any of it, start by reading up on this manual.  Enjoy!


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    • John on December 10, 2013 at 3:45 AM
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    Thank you for this information. Had no idea that website existed and I completely forgot about Ranger Joe’s after leaving Benning years ago…

    • rey on April 6, 2014 at 6:32 AM
    • Reply

    good afrernoon can you provide topographic for philippine

    • Steve Roberts on July 3, 2015 at 5:33 AM
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    Are you able to provide full country paper mapping in MGRS for Mali north West Africa?

    I will be starting work there quite soon.


    • Richard on July 14, 2015 at 8:06 PM
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    th elink to the manual at is broken .. 404 “no longer found” FYI

    • allen biltoft on September 6, 2016 at 7:04 PM
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    please help. i ordered a 1:25000 utm/mgrs from MY TOPO. great map. but why the heck won’t my usgi protractor match up? its almost exactly a hundred meters off. iv been out of the military for a while, but i dont remember this problem with the maps we were issued. i contacted MY TOPO, they said it must be the protractor that is in error. but i know its a good protractor.
    what gives? anyone know why the protractor of the same scale is bigger than the map grid?

      • Fjtri on October 5, 2016 at 3:40 AM
      • Reply

      Allen, is the map a 1:50,000? if so you need to divide by 10 and that should work.

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