Home » Laminated maps vs map cases

Laminated maps vs map cases

We have “lots” of maps.

Of course we could simply print off sections of an Ordinance Survey Map (with a licence from the OS) and use those on our courses. However we feel, and hopefully everyone agrees, that part of running MAP reading course is to provide our participants with a real MAP, not just an A4 piece of paper.

So, as I said, we have a lot of maps.

The photo above shows Dales – non laminated plus the Nevis and Coe – Laminated 

On our courses we always provide standard un-laminated maps inside a waterproof case.

We have been asked why we don’t just use laminated maps which are (sort of, when they are brand new) waterproof.

There are a number of reasons, as there are benefits to both laminated and non-laminated maps

Laminated maps:

  • Don’t tear when folded
  • The normal British weather (rain) won’t turn them into Papier-mâché
  • Longer lasting
  • Can be drawn on
  • Etc.

Non-laminated maps in a map case:

  • Don’t tear when folded
  • The normal British weather (rain) won’t turn them into paper-mache
  • Longer lasting
  • Can be drawn on


  •  They are MUCH cheaper (even after the cost of a case)
  •  They are lighter
  •  They can be folded once for the entire day’s walk
  •  A Map case will keep a folded the map flat.
  •  A map case can be used with multiple different maps
  •  Laminated maps are extremely difficult to fold
  •  Laminated maps are not waterproof at the crease
  •  Etc
  •  Etc

So, for our purposes, non-laminated maps in a case are much more practical.

Mind you, a laminated map is fine if you want to put it your rucksack, just in case it’s needed.

Of course this means each time you wanted to actually use it (we use ours constantly) you would need to fully open it, which is quite difficult in even a gentle breeze never mind a strong wind, then refold it so it’s displaying the area you are in.  Plus, when folding a map, you need to ensure the Northing and Easting numbers are visible which, to put it bluntly, with a laminated map is almost impossible.

 Ordinance Survey OL2 (Yorkshire Dales) in a Silva M30 Map Case.

On our courses we supply all participants with the Silva M30 Map Case.
The M30’s are one of the (very) few cases which are the right size so that when you fold a map you can still see the Northing and Easting numbers.

I must end by saying that some people do use laminated maps.  That’s fine, it’s an individual choice.  This article is simply an explanation of why we choose not to. 

We have, over the years, tested virtually every type of (so called) waterproof maps, lamination processes, different mapping companies and everything else we can think of and we have, still, yet to find anything which works as well as a simple Ordinance Survey paper map in a case.