This article is extracted from the boring life of one of the Brushbeater students and a pound member of the Mossy Oak Militia.
It’s important to have the right maps. During the Green Dragon Academy land navigation class, we discussed maps, atlases, and mapping tools. As the class was ending, everyone was given the task to make sure their maps were adequate and then correct any problems.
The very next day, I dug out my road atlas and was surprised to find that it was four years old! My 2018 Rand McNally atlas has been a trusted travel companion, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, so I ordered the most recent version, a Rand McNally 2022 Atlas.
This brief review will cover both the old (2018) atlas and the new (2022) atlas.
2018 Rand McNally Road Atlas (Large Scale)
- Purchased for $11.97 at Wal-Mart
- Robust cover. I carried this thing in my truck and never left home without it. The cover has shown some wear, but overall, it has held up well. When not in use, the map stayed tucked behind the back seat of the pick-up truck.
- Strong spiral binding. The binding was never crushed, deformed or damage in all the years. This map wasn’t abused, but I didn’t baby it either. This thing was jammed between seats, under seats and crammed it into bags, boxes and containers. It always held its shape.
- Tough pages. The pages held up despite being folded, marked and highlighted many times. A few of the more commonly used pages started to show separation at the spiral binding, but it still held up.
- Accurate. I always made it to my intended destination and I never got lost using this atlas.
- Well used. The atlas was used for business and pleasure traveling. I ran the roads from Texas to Delaware and in 4 years of periodic travel, I never got lost or found any glaring mistakes.
2022 Rand McNally Road Atlas (Large Scale)
- Purchased for $13.26 on Amazon
- The cover feels to be the same, solid cardstock as the 2018 version.
- The spiral binding looks to be just as robust as the 2018 version. However, I do have concerns about the sustainability of the new, 2022 atlas. The 2018 version had an incredibly strong cardboard insert inside of the spiral. This carboard insert helped prevent any crush or deformity of the spiral binding. The newer version that I received did not have this insert and I don’t think the new atlas will hold up to the same type of use as the older one.
- Good paper. The paper feels to be the same thickness and quality.
- Appearance. The fonts from 2018 and 2022 seem to be the same size and type. Easy on the eyes and completely functional for a road atlas.
- Minor errors. While doing my first review at a quick glance, a few errors caught my eye. On page 9, in both the 2018 and the 2022 atlases, the United States population is listed. Both documents have the population listed the same, as being (308,745,538). How can the population stay the exact same for four years straight? It can’t and this is incorrect. Also, the population of New York is listed as 8, 175, 133 in both documents and this isn’t correct either.
- In fact, every single reference to population in both documents is identical, which obviously isn’t right. While this doesn’t impact navigation, it does plant a seed of doubt about the accuracy of the 2022 atlas.
I was really interested in knowing how these errors made it through four years of print, so I contacted Rand McNally on 9-13-2021. After waiting 17 minutes on hold, I finally spoke with a customer service representative who seemed very interested in my observation. She took down my notes and said she would pass the information along. If this gets corrected for the next printing, we can chock up a win for the Green Dragon Academy!
2018 Atlas on bottom, 2022 Atlas on top
Despite a few minor discrepancies, the 2022 atlas works for me. Trying to store the large atlas is cumbersome at times, but the large size is helpful while navigating. My copy of the atlas is clear and crisp. The colors and contrast are sharp. And the overall appearance is easy on the eye.
The distance scales appear to be accurate. I randomly selected three sets of cities in Texas and measured the distance between them using Google Earth. I also compared distances in the 2018 and 2022 atlases. All three sets of measurements showed about the same distance.
The map legend, located on the inside cover, is easy to read with sharp lines, distinct colors and easy to recognize shapes. The pages are jammed full of good information and I find having the county lines on each map extremely helpful.
I also like knowing that the lat/long is noted on the maps. While I didn’t check every single page, the ones I looked at had a lat/long reference point somewhere on the map. Reference lines aren’t drawn, but just having a single lat/long point can be helpful. I guess the navigation ninjas could locate an 8-digit grid reference, but you would really have to work for it!
I didn’t like that the lat/long is set in dark blue, because sometimes the reference points were plotted over water…which is also blue. The info is there, but it isn’t always set in the same location and you really have to hunt for the reference points.
Sure, the atlas isn’t perfect, but overall, it’s a helpful navigation aide.
Jessie Blaine is a former Marine living in refuge somewhere in the Lone Star State. He is in a perpetual state of learning, which is the second-best state to be in, with the Lone Star State being the first.