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Learn2 Fold a Map
(2 steps)

Don't worry, it's not an origami lesson

Fold a map?!? Isn't that like learning to breathe? If you think map-folding is too simple to teach, check out the nearest glove compartment and see how the maps are mashed together a different way each time they're closed. This presents a couple of problems: since the map doesn't fold neatly on its original creases, it occupies more room than it should; and since it has creases running every which way through it, it's harder to read. Folding a map properly lets you access the necessary part of the map easily, and also lets you fold away unnecessary parts which might otherwise distract you. This is particularly useful when reading a map outside in high winds (outdoors enthusiasts take note).

And for folks who use topographical maps for navigating in the backcountry or on water, careful map folding is invaluable. Topo maps are often sold in flat, unfolded sheets, and doing a careful job the first time around will make for greater and readability for its whole life.

Before you begin

If you take care of a map, it'll remain easier to fold and easier to read (and last longer). Don't force any folds, and try to avoid making unnecessary creases.

In this 2torial, we're asking you to clear off and wipe down a large flat area where you can do the folding--a desk, a kitchen counter, or even a clean floor will work well. You should also arrange to have good light to work in, so that you can see the straightness of the folds. We know that these aren't the real-world circumstances under which most maps are folded...but consider this the "laboratory," in which you'll get the hang of things. A little practice and you'll be able to maintain fold formality while in the car, almost without thinking.
   Go to Step 1 of 2

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Step 1: Fold a flat, unfolded map
Step 2: Refold a pre-folded map

  • A map
  • A flat surface (at least for the learning period)
  • Your fingernails
  • The ability to resist the urge to rip the whole thing into confetti


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