Written by 7:58 am Wilderness Navigation Masters

11) How to draw a topographic map profile

Hello and welcome to this lesson of the online course Wilderness Navigation Master, where you will learn how to draw topographic profile using online tools.

What is a topographic profile:

You may ask me, but first, what is exactly a topographic profile and how can he help me in my outdoor navigation?

Good question.

A topographic profile is a graph like that, that represents your trip elevation profile in relation to the distance.

A topographic profile can help you to:

Drawing the topographic profile of a trip can be very useful to anticipate where and when you will be going uphill, and where and when you will be going downhill or on flat terrain.

Having a topographic profile can help you get an idea of your hike difficult parts, and knowing that, is useful to help you make good decisions.

Tools advantages & inconveniences:

Before I go to show you how to draw your topographic profile, I want you to know that in this lesson you will learn how to draw it yourself but there are some tools on the internet that can help you create it with just some mouse clicks.

Why drawing it by hand?

You may ask me, but why you want me to draw it myself if there are some online tools that can help me?

Another good question.

There are two reasons:

  1. It’s always better to know what happens behind the digital tools you use.
  2. Sometimes being on a hike, you may need to draw a topographic profile to explain to another person what he will face visually, and being outdoors, I don’t think that you will have a computer with you.

Now that you learn what is topographic profile and how he can help us, let’s see how to draw it.

Drawing a topographic profile using OpenRunner (at min 1:59):


Drawing a topographic profile using Caltopo (at min 4:45):



In this exercise, I want you to draw the topographic profile of just a section of a trail that you are familiar with.

That’s all for this lesson, don’t forget that you can share with us in the comments section below your topographic profile drawing after you upload it to one or the photo upload websites that you can found on google.

Thank you for watching and see you in the next lesson.

Useful resources :

Updated on June 7, 2021 by Ben

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