It is not often that a new design of map measure appears on the market. Harvey Maps bucked the trend in 2022 and released a fun little product- boot and shoe laces complete with printed scales to suit their most popular map scales- 1:25 000 and 1: 40 000.
Harvey maps were founded in 1977. Amongst their first products were 1:40 000 scale maps for the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon, now called the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon). A 1:40 000 scale was chosen for this map. This has remained their standard scale and as of September 2022 there were 140 sheets available at this scale. 76 sheets were also listed in their product range at 1:25 000 scale, with maps also produced in smaller numbers at 1:12 500, 1:30 000, 1:60 000 and 1:100 000 scales. It is unsurprising that Harvey chose 1:25 000 and 1:40 000 scales for their map-measure-go! laces. The scales may also suit sheets from other map makers, such as the 1:25 000 scale O.S. Explorer maps.
“Grab your map, measure your route, and go! These new laces will brighten up your favourite pair of hillwalking boots or trail running shoes”Harvey
Harvey have long demonstrated their willingness to not only produce maps but also have fun within the broader spectrum of maps and navigation. They have previously expanded their product line to include items such as books, navigational teaching aids, romer with map measuring scales and gifts and games such as jigsaws and playing cards that also feature map designs. In late 2021 their CEO, Adam King, mooted the concept of laces printed with map measurement scales- “the perfect Christmas stocking filler for 2022”. These are not only a quirky product but a practical tool too. Initially produced as a one-off product to ‘tie-in’ with the remainder of their gift line, the continuation and possible addition of further laces with other scales is dependent on sales.
“Harvey staff are continually having light bulb moments for ideas for products to add to our gift range, and the good ones become members of the coveted range”Juliet Chadwin, Harvey Maps
Some might be familiar with the technique of using a length of non-stretchy cordage to measure a route on a map, pinching this off, then reading the measured length off against the scale invariably also found on a map sheet, frequently at the bottom edge. Some users will also mark off a rough scale on the cord with a marker pen and thereby be able to gain a rough estimate of distance while actually measuring. Alternatively, a length of paper or grass can be used in the same manner. A previous map measure of the month featured the Silva compass lanyards that also incorporate various map scales. Those were introduced in 2018 and, while a decent concept, the design had some inbuilt faults such as being too short, too fussy, with too many scales incorporated and failing to track curves on a map particularly well. The Harvey map-measure-go! laces successfully address some of those issues.
Designed by Harvey Maps Ltd., the map-measure-go! laces are manufactured in China for Harvey as an ODM product, who were careful to specify materials that were recyclable or already produced and surplus to requirements. The packaging is recyclable card and laces are attached to this with fabric left over from other products. A single lace weighs five grams and each is advertised as 160cm in length. This is correct for the yellow 1:40 000 laces, however the red 1:25 000 laces are two centimetres longer. All are recommended for footwear with 8-10 eyelets. The yellow and black 1:40 000 laces also correspond to the Harvey yellow and black branding and logo.
Primarily a lace in purpose, longevity and durability under UV and the rough and tumble of life near the ground in varied temperatures, wet, dry and abrasion were the obvious primary factors to be considered in manufacture. Additional factors resultant from their secondary use as map measures are resistance to stretch, colour fade, print durability and print accuracy. On-the-ground testing was completed by the Harvey team surveying the Wales Coast Path. The flat in profile map-measure-go! laces are 4.5 mm across their width and flexing them around a bend on a map will slightly contract or expand their measurement as a result. A scale of 1:40 000 equates to 2.5cm to 1km, 2.5mm to 100m, 1.25mm to 50m. A scale of 1:25 000 equates to 4cm to 1km, 4mm to 100m, 1mm to 25m. From this we can see that just one millimetre error can result in either 40m or 25m error in distance measurement. So, neither lace scale is going to provide an accurate measurement of distance. However, that is not their purpose. What they will give is a fairly good rough guide of distance on the ground. If the user can accept that, then these move up from simply being a novelty item to a reasonably practical tool.
The map-measure-go! laces each have standard plastic wrapped ends, with additional HARVEY MAPS and scale printed, followed by the printed scale measure. Each lace has a scale that measures toward the centre of the lace, followed by an identical count-down of scale to the other end of the lace. The 100% stretch-resistant polyester laces are printed on one side only. This provides a clearer, less fussy design with less lines and numbers, making them easier to read. Kilometres are shown, with 100m increments. If utilising the actual printed scales and not extrapolating beyond that, the 1:25 000 lace can measure up to 18 kilometres (plus a further nine increments taking it to 19). The 1:40 000 lace will measure up to 29 kilometres (plus a further nine increments taking it to 30).
Sold at £7.50 a pair, in September 2022 Three Points of the Compass paid £12.50 for two pairs of map-measure-go! laces, with free shipping. This is more expensive than many good quality boot and shoe laces, though those will lack the additional scale printing. The Harvey laces are not only a practical proposition for actually lacing up a pair of trail shoes but do actually provide a little extra functionality. How many people might consider unlacing a shoe or boot simply to measure distance on a map while actually out on trail is debatable. If this product were seriously considered as a device for measuring distance while actually on trail, then they would probably best suit those who carry a spare lace or pair of laces, which isn’t many. One final point, many people prefer round to flat profile laces and there is, unfortunately, no round lace option available with scale measurements.
These are a good quality, fun but niche item that also work as a gateway introduction to other map related products produced by Harvey. Three Points of the Compass congratulates the cartographer for exploring an almost obsolete concept, and in analogue form too. It will be interesting to see if this map measure is popular enough to justify a further production run, possibly even expanded into further colour and scale options. For serious home planning use however, almost any of the traditional map measures that have been produced over the years will be easier to use and provide more accurate measurement. Three Points of the Compass has looked at many of these in detail. Links can be found here.
My thanks to Juliet Chadwin at Harvey Maps for information on their map-measure-go! product