- OS Select Explorer
- Ordnance Survey
If you live or ride in a popular outdoorsy part of the country, you’ll probably find that you’re well-served for maps. Ordnance Survey’s large-scale Outdoor Leisure maps are cunningly arranged to cover said areas. The gaps in between OLMs are covered by the Explorer series, and it’s in these less-popular but still often riding-packed areas that the common “being in one corner of the map” problem can arise.
OS Select is Ordnance Survey’s answer. It lets you get your own customised map centred on a useful part of the country. That could be your house, or you could shuffle it around to cover a nearby hilly bit that’s usually chopped in half or a Trailquest event or something. Coverage is the same as regular Explorers at 20x20km and the scale is 1:25,000. It’s a good scale for, well, exploring and finding new trails, as it shows handy features like field boundaries and small buildings. If you’re covering a lot of distance then the 1:50,000 Landranger option might be a better bet – it doesn’t take all that long to ride across the area covered by an Explorer.
The Select Explorer isn’t exactly the same as the off-the-shelf version. There’s no cardboard cover for a start (although we have been known to pull those off anyway so the map folds back on itself more easily) – you get a plastic wallet instead. It also seems to be printed on slightly heavier paper stock and isn’t as tightly folded as the regular map so it initially feels a bit bulkier until the creases get established. The most obvious difference, though, is the actual map quality itself. It’s entirely familiar to Explorer users, but the print technology used for what are after all one-off maps isn’t up to the standard of the “mass produced” Explorers. There’s a bit of jagginess to the edges and the whole thing’s not quite as crisp as we’re used to. Then again, it still blows most other countries’ maps into the weeds and it’s still entirely usable.
One important missing feature is the magnetic data that tells you where true north and magnetic north are relative to grid north. If you’re likely to need to navigate with a compass it’s worth finding out that information from a conventional map. Also missing are the annotations around the border of the map that tell you where roads are heading and so on.
For most purposes, though, these are minor drawbacks and they certainly don’t detract from the usefulness of the Select maps for anyone who needs non-standard coverage. You can also get them rolled up if you’d like a map for your wall.
All they need to do now is add an option to make the bridleways the most prominent thing on the map and we’re sorted…
Positives: A boon for corner-dwellers.
Negatives: More expensive and not quite as good as off-the-shelf Explorers
Verdict: It’s tricky to assess the value of the Select Explorer. Obviously if you’re vaguely in the middle of one of the standard ones then you should get one of those and save money. You could make a strong case for getting two standard ones if you’re halfway along an edge, too. But it’s a lot more convenient than two or four separate maps and miles easier than getting the scissors and tape out.