Rand McNally fabMAP

Take a microfiber lens cloth and print a map on it. That’s essentially what Rand McNally did with its fabMAP products, a cartographical collection featuring cities and parks around America printed on a soft fabric.

The company (www.randmcnally.com) sells 24 fabMAPs iterations — from Manhattan and New Orleans’ French Quarter to more outdoorsy spots like Balboa Park in San Diego — and each costs $5.95. They are waterproof, meaning they will not tear or fade when wet, and they don’t noticeably wrinkle even when balled up in a pocket.

Rand McNally fabMAP.jpg

Rand McNally fabMAP

The fabMAPs are about the size of a napkin. They are made to take the hassle out of having to fold and preserve a paper map, which might tear or wrinkle.

Most of the maps are for urban places where you can drive or walk. The line was built for tourists and travelers, and the details focus on streets, museums, restaurants, and stores. The Downtown Seattle map, for example, includes sights like Pike Place Market, the Showbox Theater, Qwest Field, and Fun Forest Amusement Park.

Rand McNally fabMAP (Denver).jpg

Denver map on fabric

Colorful details and easy graphics provide straightforward navigation in urban places. There’s a key and scale. The Seattle map has ferry routes and train stations.

As a bonus, you can clean your glasses or camera lens with the cloth. The microfiber fabric is safe on lens glass or the screens of small mobile devices, polishing the surface clean while providing you simple directions to head on down the road.

—Stephen Regenold writes a daily blog on outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by John - 05/22/2009 11:26 AM

Pretty cool idea. You can wring it out at the end of the day too if you happen to drop your Waikiki map into the water ;) (or go to Seattle in Feb)

Posted by Snowboarder - 10/01/2009 04:58 PM

I agree that it’s a great idea, but it wasn’t Rand McNally’s. I have been using the Spanky on my ski goggles for several winters now. It is the best lens cloth I have ever used. Spanky Sports has been making microfiber maps of ski areas and recreational areas for almost a decade. It is the original lens cloth/trail map!

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