CalTopo / SARTopo Overview

CalTopo is a mapping and trip planning tool for the backcountry. SARTopo is CalTopo with some additional functionality for managing a search and rescue incident. SARTopo users can assume that any instructions for CalTopo also apply to SARTopo.

How to access CalTopo or SARTopo

The online version of CalTopo is available here:

The online version of SARTopo is available here:

For information about the offline version of CalTopo:

  1. For Windows see:

  2. For MacOS see:

For information about the offline version of SARTopo:

  1. For Windows see:

  2. For MacOS see:

CalTopo Page Layout

Top Menu Bar


  1. Help: To view the help menu, hover the mouse over the word "CalTopo" or “SARTopo” in the upper left.


    1. Support Forums includes Bug Reports, Feature Suggestions, SAR Talk, General Discussion and Cal/SARTopo Offline
    2. Following the “Knowledge Base” link will take you articles similar to this one.
    3. You can see articles about new enhancements at the Caltopo Blog.
    4. The “Guided Tour” generates a screen overlay giving you a quick view of what functions are available. Clicking on the arrows of the Menu box scrolls you through different topics.


  2. Add: Add objects and layers to the Map. See Working with Objects and Custom Layers articles.

  3. Import: and Export

    1. To load routes, tracks and waypoints from, or export to, a Garmin see Working with GPS Units article.
    2. To transfer data between,CalTopo Online and CalTopo Offline, see Transferring Map Data between CalTopo Online and CalTopo Offline
    3. To backup your map data or to copy a map, see the Data Management article.
  4. Measure: Measure distances along tracks, areas of polygons. This section also has some advanced sections including position and elevation information, terrain statistics, simulated views, and elevation profiles. See the Measure Menu article.

  5. Print Menu includes:

    1. Print PDF Maps: See the Printing article.
    2. Download: Download KMZ files for Garmin custom maps or mbtiles. See the Garmin Custom Maps article.
    3. Print a Coordinate List showing conversions between different systems (Lat/Long, UTM, MGRS) for major points on the map. See the Print a Coordinate List article.
  6. Config: Configure various Map options, such as coordinates format, show elevation, etc. See the Config Menu article.

  7. Search: Center map on an address (online only) or on coordinates. Click "GO" to perform search.

  8. Where Am I: Center the map on your current location. (online only).

Map Portion


  1. Above the Map, Upper Right

    1. Distance and area information about an object that is selected or being drawn, also bearing information about a line segment as it is drawn.
  2. Map Upper Left

    1. Buttons to zoom the map in and out. You may also use the roller wheel on your mouse. Double-clicking a point on the map will zoom into that location.
  3. Map Upper Right

    1. Base Layer Menu: A menu for configuring base layers. You can also use the preset layers in the left menu bar. See the Working with Layers article.
    2. Position and Elevation Display: A display window in the upper right hand corner of the map that shows position and elevation. Configuration options are available for whether to display the position of the cursor or the center of the map and for the format of the coordinates. See the Config Menu article for configuration options.
  4. Anywhere on the map

    1. Click and Hold to drag the map around.
    2. Double-click to zoom into a point on the map.
    3. Right-click a point on the map to add new objects, see the Working with Objects article. You also take a measurement or get point info, see the Measure Menu article.

Left Menu Bar


  1. Sign-in and basic map management


    1. Click on any of the sign-in options to sign-in using that account.
    2. Once you have added an object, "Save this map" will appear. Clicking "Save this map" will save the map in the database, any further changes will be automatically saved. For further infomation, see the Managing Maps article.
    3. Click on "Share this map" to share with others.
    4. Click on "Manage this map" to rename, add comments to, delete the map or change sharing options. For further infomation, see the Managing Maps article.
    5. Clicking on your account name will take you to the "Your Account" page. See the Your Account article.
    6. Clicking on the X will close the current map and display an empty map.
  2. Preset Layers are preconfigured background layers. To configure additional layers, use the layer tool in the upper right of the map. See the Working with Layers article.

  3. Any objects or folders you have created will appear in the left menu below the Preset Layers. You can configure which objects appear on the map at the folder level. See the Working with Folders and Working with Objects articles.

  4. Left meny bar handle: Click the blue-checkered-handle on the edge of the left menu bar to hide the bar.
    Drag the handle to change the width of the menu bar.


  5. Add New Object: Menu of objects that can be added. See the Working with Objects article.

  6. Add New Layer: Menu of custom layers that can be added. See the Custom Layers article.