Map cases are never glamorous. The vision of a red socked rambler proudly walking with a map case hanging from his neck and flapping about in the wind seems to be one of those old clichés. I even went as far as using waterproof maps to avoid ever owning a map case.
That’s all well and good when you’re walking in your own back yard, but started to work out expensive when I was visiting different parts of the country. I also discovered that my beloved mountain maps, while being waterproof, start to wear out along the edges far too easily. So a map case was bought.
You can buy cheap and nasty cases, I still have six of these from when I ran Nav courses, but they’re hardly adequate. A map case has to be fully waterproof to protect one of the most important items you’re carrying.
The Ortileb map case is well known as one of the best you can buy. They’re fully waterproof and have a proven track record. Not only that, but the visibility of the case is excellent and you lose no detail on the map below. I used one of these for my ML assessment, and it did everything expected of it. The surface is also nicely grippy for your compass making taking bearings a cinch. It then has a roll over closure that secures with velcro, and it does take a bit of practice in order to ensure all the air is expelled when you seal it.
Remember that a map case isn’t just for maps and can be useful to keep anything dry, from wallets to train tickets and timetables. You can even keep a guidebook in there and still have enough map showing for the day’s walk.
The only issue with this is that being so light, it can lack substance for use with printed maps (such as from Tracklogs or Memory Map) that would need a more rigid map case. I also lost my first case, somewhere above Edale a few years back as it was so light that when it fell out of my pocket I didn’t realise. Some have claimed it’s an expensive item, but I counter that it’s perfectly reasonably priced if you do enough walking. If you buy three paper maps over the laminated types, then you’ve more than broken even. I’d wager that even the most parochial walker will probably need this many maps or more.
The case is rather thin, but shows no sign of wear and tear, even after all the abuse I’ve thrown at it. There is a slight yellowing, but that’s barely discernible in use. There’s even a cord that you can use, if the mood takes you, to don the case around your neck while it whips about in the wind. Or you can just keep it in your coat pocket.