Maps: Harvey v OS — What Do You Prefer?

I’ve just been having a phone chat about the merits of Harvey Maps. I must confess to being a fan. I find the Harvey Map designs to be extraordinarily clear which can be very useful when out on the hills or a mountain.

I was asked about the various scale used by Harvey Maps. For a long time I used the 1:25 maps of Snowdonia, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. When the BMC/harvey range came out I found myself making good use of the 1:40 scale maps. I realise that I have only used the 1:40 Snowdonia and Lakes maps for the last couple of years.

How many of you use Harvey Maps, and what activities are you doing when you are using them?


  1. I used to us OS maps in the Lakes but converted to Harveys several years ago. And since the BMC/Harveys 1:40,000 maps came out I haven’t looked back. For backpacking in the Lakes the lightweight and very durable Harveys are superb. The laminated OS 1:25,000 maps (4 required) just seem so large when spread out and bulky in the sack or chest pocket. There are paths marked on OS maps that are not on the Harveys. But I’ve never found this to be a significant problem in my experience. I have noted other walkers’ loyalty to OS maps. I still remember the look of disdain on a walker’s face in Snowdonia when he asked to look at my Harveys map as he’d never seen one before. He tossed it aside and said “not enough detail!!” Perhaps I should have suggested that he studdied the map legends/symbols before drawing such a hasty conclusion.

    There is no need for a map case with the plastic BMC/Harveys map and it slips in into my trouser pocket qnd is barely noticable.

    Shame they don’t show where the pubs are though.

  2. I use a mixture. Typically in the Lakes I take printed OS 1:25k maps on A4 sheets of Toughprint, but use Harvey’s Lake District Atlas as my back-up and which also enables me to change my plans and still have an adequate map. Elsewhere, it depends on what I’ve built up over time – I’m comfortable with either and so use what I’ve got. The only problem I’ve ever had is with the Harveys Dartmoor map which showed paths off the moor that don’t exist, and almost caused a mountain rescue call out from an anxious wife.

    Generally I prefer OS 1:25k on the hill, but if have to use a bigger scale then I’d rather use a Harveys 1:40 than an OS 1:50

  3. The ultimate test is the Cuillin map! Try using the OS 1:25000, it’s just a mess of unreadable black line data. In comparison, Harvey’s map presents a far more intuitive interface for navigation with meaningful information. I use other Harvey maps too for the same reason. However, for planning other things (photography outings for instance) I would always reach for the OS map first, especially if I’m planning an outing to explore an area and looking for, say, burial chambers, old buildings, mines etc. The lightness and packability of a waterproof Harvey is also very good.

  4. I’m with hillplodder. I find the Harvey maps good for an overview but difficult to use on the hill compared with OS 1:25,000. I’ll also be using the A-Z 1:25,000 atlases (in an A5 Ortlieb case) during the coming months.

  5. I’ve been using the Harveys Dartmoor map for the past year or so and now prefer it to the OS. The OS 25k is too big and cumbersome (although, like Colin says above, it’s very useful for reference) and the OS 50k doesn’t have quite enough detail. The Harvey’s durability and waterproofing are a bonus.

  6. We should celebrate the fact that we are spoilt for choice, they are both excellent and one may be slightly preferable to the other in a given area.

  7. James says:

    I like the Harveys for the open hill – but not enough detail for lower areas. When you are going through farms/fields etc (so typical Dales/NY Moors territory) the extra detail of the 1:25k is really welcome…

  8. chris yapp says:

    i used a harvey map this year for first time when walking the west highland way and it was a great map tough waterproof but exspenive so i think i,ll stick to os maps

  9. James says:

    As someone has already said…we are so lucky having maps of this quality in Britain. I live in N. Ireland and the quality is nowhere near the same. In the South, crags are not marked on 1:50k maps (the contours just get very close together) and they used to be made from a special paper that would disintegrate upon contact with water….

  10. David Albon says:

    I use a mixture, because OS have much wider coverage. I go to Harveys 1: 40000 or superwalker first in Scotland (where I live and mostly walk).

  11. Dougie Strathie says:

    Both are good dpepending on the purpose. I usually just print my maps out from Memory Map software as I only need to print the area I require. I think, on balance, I prefer OS 25:000 as I find them more user friendly. Some of the later Harvey Maps dont take kindly to getting folded too much and, Ive found, start to delaminate along the folds.

  12. Christian Fredrikkson says:

    I use OS Maps because I kind of like the fact it is a part of our heritage, I generally use OS Explorer Maps over landgragers, and the fact that you can pick them up much cheaper, for instance – £5.59 here – covering a general wider area. However, Harvey Maps do have their place. Something like the Rob Roy way for instance, there is now a specific Harvey Map for this where as if I was to use OS Maps I would need to use 4 to do the same journey, both more expensive and require more space. However when I am on shorter walks, or needing the 1:25,000 Scale I am OS over Harvey every time!

  13. I prefer Harvey’s for clarity at 1:25,000. OS at the same scale are much less clear to me; they seem clogged with detail, so much so that you can’t see the wood for the trees.

    On the other hand, the OS maps I do have are all the laminated variety and last forever. The 10m contour lines are always slightly easier to work out than the Harvey’s 15m. OS maps are also far better at giving spot heights – they do that much more frequently.

    • Good observations Stuart. I really don’t like the OS laminated maps; I just find them too bulky. Whether I use the OS or the Harbey Map of an era depends very much on where I am going and what I am doing. I can find a use for both.

      By far my favourite map for legibility is the OS 1:50 map.

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