By Jeff Porcaro

Topo USA
DeLorme began making maps in 1976 with the introduction of the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer˘ . In the 1980's they branched into the field of computer maps and in 1998 became one of the first companies to provide topographical maps on four CDs or a single DVDROM for all of the 50 states.

Since DeLorme's Topo USA covers the entire United States, it serves as your one stop answer to trip planning needs. Our testers found the software easy to install and use. The find feature gives you the ability to quickly find a location by name or by using latitude and longitude (LAT/LON) coordinates. Topo USA also shows you the current LAT/LON coordinate of any point on the map. We found this to be useful, but our testers were disappointed that the UTM format is not supported.

Creating and managing a route was easy. Once you have marked a route, Topo USA shows you a cross-section of the landscape, which helps you to see elevation changes on the route. The profile route feature shows you how much distance you'll cover from one point to another-a favorite feature of our testers. Another great innovation, the "Along the Way" feature, displays points of interest close to the legs of your marked route. The program also links to the extensive DeLorme Gazetteer web site (gazetteer.delorme.com/TopoUSA) to give additional information about the points of interest.

Topo USA allows you to print out the maps in full topographical detail. The maps we printed had all of the detail that was displayed in the program. One inch on the screen represents anywhere from 368 miles down to .08 mile. Because the printed map's size adjusts, Topo USA uses no standard measurement scales, which causes a problem when you want to use the map for any serious navigation. Our testers were disappointed that printed maps were useless when using maps with a GPS plotter or compass ruler. We were also unable to find out what map datum the program uses. This is important for use with a GPS receiver because the receiver needs to use the same datum as the map or the position coordinates will be inaccurate.

However, the software gives you great printed maps that can get you to your trailhead and even help you when traveling on marked, well-worn trails. The highly detailed maps display contours at 50- to 100-foot intervals. Tinted colors represent other details like forests, wetlands, and other landforms.

Topo USA integrates with NMEA-compliant GPS receivers that allow you to connect to a laptop. Topo USA tracks your travel with a "breadcrumb trail". You can also upload and download routes and landmarks from Garmin GPS receivers.

Topo USA
Solus Pro software, included with Topo USA, enables you to download maps and route directions from Topo USA to a Palm Pilot or Windows CE handheld device. Although a handy feature, using a handheld computer to track your route requires the DeLorme GPS receiver and special cable (sold separately).

With full coverage of the United States, Topo USA is a "must have" for trip planning, and saves you the time, trouble, and money of having to get separate maps for highway and backcountry travel. The maps are easy to use and have incredible detail.

Topo USA is a move in the right direction for computerized maps, however our testers recommend you get a standard-scale map, such as a USGS quad, for serious navigation where there are no designated trails. Topo USA is well worth its $99.00 price tag.

System Requirements

  • MicrosoftĂ WindowsĂ 95/98
  • Intel Pentium 60 or higher processor
  • 16 MB RAM
  • 30 MB of available hard disk space
  • CD-ROM drive
  • 16-bit color monitor with Super VGA graphics
  • Mouse


  • 150 MHz or higher processor for 3-D flight
  • Microsoft Windows-compatible color or black-and-white printer
  • Joystick
  • Graphics accelerator card

Jeff Porcaro is a Contributing Editor at GearReview.com, and co-founder. He specializes in stoves, GPS navigation, mountaineering, and trips to Utah's remote backcountry.

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