How do you store your charts?

Recently picked up a couple of charts covering the area where I paddle (Ketchikan, AK). I have a waterproof map case coming, but I was wondering how everyone here stores their charts for use while paddling? Just fold them up and put them in the case like I’m planning? Cut them up into page size sections and laminate them? Fold them up, make color copies, and laminate the copies, leaving the originals at home?


We use charts
extensively in the Florida Keys and 10,000 Islands and we used them a lot up in your territory as well as a lot of other areas

We have two different size chart cases which allows us to keep the chart folded large or smaller.

I prefer it to be as small as I can and end up folding it in all different ways on different days.

In recent years they have come out with one that is “tear proof” and it can be folded over and over without tearing it.

Some of our older ones have been used so much that they are almost like tissue paper and I’ll have to replace them pretty soon.

Prior to a particular trip, I will write most if not all the coordinates that I will be using on the chart at the various tips of Islands, cuts, etc, and over a bunch of years that particular chart becomes much more valuable to me.

I keep my GPS on a foam wedge holder on the deck in front of the cockpit held down with a bungee, and I just put the top of the chart case under the foam wedge which holds it in place

It works out great.

We love traveling off into a new area using charts.



is the approach we’ve taken.

Map Life & Ortlieb Pouch
I always ‘paint’ my maps (after prefolding them!) with Map Life, keeps them pretty dry and if they do get wet they don’t seem to come apart. Map Life seems to keep pen ink from smearing/ washing out also. On trips I just keep the map section I need to view in one of the larger Ortlieb brand map/ document cases. They are a roll/ dry top flat case and very clear for reading. You all might find one on the Pipestone River, Ontario with a Silva Ranger and a Silva map measurer in it… oops, forgot to tie it in! And while your at it there should be a nice new (yet weathered now?) ZRE 52.5" carbon blade floating around somewhere on that river also. Damn.

Second the Ortleibs
Their big advantage is that with the roll-down closure you do not have to deal with those ##%$#%^$#$ zip-lok type closures. You know, the ones that get fouled with sand and other deterius. The polyurethane material seems pretty durable too. They can be ordered directly from Ortleib. Not cheap, but good.


I fold my charts
and keep them in a waterproof map case. Like JackL I do alot of touring/camping out of the 10k islands and have the routes planned and bearings written down for each trip. I fold the chart to show area covered, once done paddling that area I find the new area and fold to show it. The charts I use are the ones sold by and they are tear resistant and can be folded over and over again. When back from a trip I usually roll the charts to store them between trips. The charts usually last about 3 years or more of heavy use.

digital prints
I take digital pictures of sections of the chart I need, then print them on a Sony Print Station - Kinko’s has this machine. The prints are waterproof.

You can write notes on the chart before you take the picture, or afterwords in Photoshop.

So-called waterproof map cases

In AK, we laminated the maps and kept them in a flat “waterproof” case at first. Later, we just rolled 'em up without the case. It wasn’t really waterproof.

I used a waterproof map inside a case on another trip. Good thing the map was waterproof, because again, the case (a different one) was not.

Next trip I take that requires carrying maps, I’m going to laminate any non-waterproof ones and roll them up inside a piece of PVC pipe with end caps. THAT is waterproof, and cheap.

I make copies of my charts, that
way I never have to worry about ruining the originals.

then I can write on them with a wax pencil, and write tides/currents on the boat right next to chart if I want to.