Recently I found myself 2 days before a hike without a map ruler for 1:24000 scale maps. I didn’t know of any retailers locally that would have what I needed and I didn’t think that an online retailer would be able to get the ruler to me in time for the hike. Sure, I could get by by just using the scale on the map, but those are often scaled in miles and I prefer to have the option to measure things out in yards or meters if possible.
MapTools.com to the rescue! I was already on their site to order some other tools (which will be reviewed in an upcoming article) when I noticed that MapTools.com has a free download section. They have a ton of great tools in .PDF format that can be downloaded for free. I downloaded a 1:24K map ruler and had several printed on overhead transperancy sheets at a local office supply chain. You may also want to consider laminating your ruler since the printing may rub a bit under field conditions. The rulers worked perfectly and I was able to share some spares with others on the hike.
Check out the free tools here.
While you are there, check out their line of unique, very useful, and not free map tools.