Topographic maps are frequently paired with handheld GPS devices, sports & fitness GPS devices, and smartphone applications.
"Topo" maps provide highly detailed information about the natural and man-made aspects of the terrain, but are best known for their series of contour lines that show elevation changes, and colors signifying varying land types and bodies of water. Topographic maps in their paper form have been in use for many years, and are a mainstay of outdoorspeople and those who must understand landscape details for business purposes.
Topographic maps are increasingly stored, transmitted, and used in digital format. For example, Garmin and DeLorme offer dozens of topo mapsets that may be purchased on DVD, SD card, or via direct download.
Topographic maps come in different scales, and the differences are important. For example, the common "24K" topo map is in the scale of 1:24,000 (1 inch = 2,000 feet) and shows great detail. The 24K map is also known as a "7.5 minute" map, because it covers 7.5 minutes of latitude and longitude. Another common format, the "100K" topo map, is in the scale of 1:100,000 (1 centimeter = 1 kilometer) and shows less detail, but covers a wider area than the 24K topo.