Archive for ‘Random Pish’

September 22, 2017

The Colorado Trail – article in Outdoor Enthusiast magazine

by backpackingbongos

Apologies that there have been a few months of silence here at Bongo towers. It appears that I have lost my blogging mojo somewhat. I’ve been out and about lots during this time but simply could not be bothered to write about it!

One thing I have written is an article on last years hike on the Colorado Trail. Outdoor Enthusiast can be read online for free by clicking the picture.

October 28, 2016


by backpackingbongos


July 15, 2015

You can find some really weird things on the hills

by backpackingbongos

20150520_131740 (1)

All will be made clearer on my next post.

July 1, 2015

Should a trail map have the trail marked? Not according to Routebuddy!

by backpackingbongos

Sometimes dealing with a company can literally make your head explode. Not only do you not receive what you paid for, the subsequent customer service makes everything feel ten times worse.

I’m a dreamer and read maps like some people read books. My bookshelf is groaning under paper maps and I have purchased digital maps for the whole of the UK at 1:25k, 1:50K and 1:250K. If I don’t have my head buried in a paper map then I am sitting in front of my computer plotting routes digitally.

My digital maps of the UK have been purchased through Routebuddy and very happy I have been too. In fact happy enough to spend £457.42 in total on software and UK maps through Routebuddy. Although initially tricky to get to grips with the software has worked really well. They have had a happy customer willing to spend lots of money with them.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

Constantly dreaming of distant trails I decided that I would buy myself a trail map of the Colorado Trail. I thought it would be fun to see a map from the US and trace a long distance walk through the contours and wilderness. The trail map from Routebuddy is £17.99 and promises extra mapping to the side of the trail, perfect to see the surrounding countryside. Just the ticket for a bit of wishful dreaming.

I was therefore a bit gutted to find out that the trail map I had purchased does not actually have the trail marked. The mapping itself is also of such poor quality that it is difficult to read. It looks like a bad photocopy has been scanned in. I would love to put a screen shot but worry about copyright when slating a product.

No worries I thought, being a long time valued customer I would email Routebuddy and request a refund. My argument being that a map of a long distance trail should have the trail marked. I thought that I would get a response saying sorry you’re not happy with the product, here’s your money back.

Unfortunately that was not the case.

Routebuddy say that a trail map does not need to have the route you are meant to follow marked on it. My email exchange with them goes like this. Remember I just want a simple map with a long distance route marked on it.


Hi there

Yesterday I purchased the Routebuddy Colorado Trail map so I could examine the trail and see if it is a route that I fancy doing. Although the map contains the area in which the trail passes it does not show the actual trail itself. This has rendered it pretty much pointless for the use I wanted it for (I expected a Trail map to show the trail!). Also the quality is exceptionally poor, much of it looks like a bad quality photocopy has been scanned in.

Could I claim a refund please as it is not really fit for purpose.

Kind regards

James Boulter

Hi James,

A few things to explain here! 🙂

US Maps very rarely show trails in print, and for many reasons, even the long-time well-walked PCT is only part-marked on USGS maps. One of the key reasons is that trails change and/or new sections get adopted as and when such work like forestry commences/ceases or new access roads are built for loggers and rangers, or even people want to open up a new route . Additionally, as you’ll find, there are many different trail routes (GPX files) available online for you to choose from (we recently had a lot of work on helping Keith Fozzie Foskett find the most suitable trail file for the CDT, but even that came with a mass of variations). If you need help to find these files let me know as I can dip back through our sources. Once you have the file you should look at it in RouteBuddy, to see if it needs editing and then, when finished, load it into RouteBuddy Atlas.

You’ve also come across the other issue with USGS maps in that they are nowhere near the quality of our own OS and Harvey map data, that though is the way it is. There are some independent US cartographers who produce quality maps for small areas but, as it is such a huge country, there is no other real choice unless you walk in one of these areas. I will admit that some people use online map data (first problem) that is sourced from SRTM shuttle radar data but the data, especially the shown contours (second problem) when compared to the US gold-standard USGS maps, is nowhere near as accurate, and leaves a lot to be desired for safety. Incidentally, Fozzie ran a comparison of our USGS CDT map and online SRTM-sourced data in a competitors app and gave up on the other app, why not ask him privately, I’m sure he will give you a frank opinion.

I hope that helps. 

Kind regards,


Hi Neil

Thank you for your reply.

The reason why I ordered this map was because it was described as the Colorado Trail Map. Nowhere on the website does it say ‘this trail map does not have the trail marked’. I think that I am correct is assuming that if I buy a trail map the trail would be marked? Nearer the time of setting off I would buy the maps from the Colorado trail Association. These are clear, of good quality and have the trail marked. At this point in time I bought the online maps because I wanted to have a look at the route. This is something that I am unable to do with the Routebuddy maps.

The Consumer Rights Bill sets out what rights and remedies you would have when you pay for digital content. It clarifies that digital content would have to be:

  • of satisfactory quality,
  • fit for purpose, and
  • meet any description.

Therefore I don’t think that the map provided is fit for purpose or it meets the description.

As per your suggestion of adding GPX files to Routebuddy Atlas, does this mean that you now offer this for Android?

Therefore please could I have a refund.



Hi James,

As I said before US Trails are most times not marked on the maps, indeed the CTA makes a point of mentioning CT Reroutes “which are common”. Therefore a marked trail would be of no use given these circumstances – as it is subject to annual and continual change.The USA is very different to the UK where here some, but not all, trails are marked on OS maps.

The CTA point you to the most recent KML files for the CTA which you can access via this page: The Colorado Trail on Google Earth nor do the CTA offer digital maps that work on desktop or iOS.

In response to your legal jargon, the map is of satisfactory quality, as that is the best digital map available for the job, certainly fit for purpose with the ‘CTA advised’ KML file and does meet the description. Incidentally the UK law on digital purchases changed last year and once received the sale is concluded and not refundable.

No we don’t yet have an app for Android; the Android market is currently costing our competitors dearly in upkeep, with both major companies being deeply in the red. There’s a time and place to enter that market, but it is not yet, and we are content to wait awhile. Meantime our expanding map range is growing, so if you want to utilise a greater variety of maps in the future then adopting the iOS platform may be worthy of consideration.

We cannot refund the map as you now have it in your possession, however, as a long time customer, we are prepared to give you a discount of £10 off another map from our collection which I hope you find acceptable. 

Kind regards,


At this point it is obvious that I am not going to get my money back. I’m not actually walking the Colorado Trail I just wanted a quick dream. I don’t know what a KLM file is and I don’t want to spend loads of time importing files when I don’t know what I am doing. Feeling like I am in this for the long run. I have fired off another email but I’m not holding my breath.

At the very least I hope that Routebuddy change the wording on their website for their trail maps so others aren’t disappointed.

A word of warning, if you want a map of a trail make sure you know what you are buying!!

May 31, 2015

Half a Million

by backpackingbongos

Time for one of those excruciating self-congratulatory pat on the back type blog posts.

Half a Million page views.