Bing Maps Beats Google Maps Off Road

When it comes to mapping of US state forest roads (which are typically open to the public), there is a clear distinction as to which service is doing it best.

According to my latest testing along trails in the San Bernardino National Forest it’s not even close. Bing Maps beats Google Maps when it comes to Off Road mapping.

Take a look at the photos below and I’ll tell you my story.

Jeep Rubicon Wildhorse Meadow 2n93Jeep Rubicon on Wildhorse Meadow 2n93 (my location)

Google Wildhorse Meadows RdGoogle Maps Wildhorse Meadows Rd (Green arrow represents my location)

Bing Maps Wildhorse MeadowBing Maps Wildhorse Meadow NF-2N93 (Orange pin represents my location)

Last weekend at 4 AM I hopped in my Rubicon Unlimited custom Jeep to make the drive from Venice Beach to Big Bear Mountains. The route via Highway is about 140 miles but why not take the near 30 mile scenic shortcut through the San Bernardino forest? That’s what Jeeps are for.

It would be my first off-road trip through the area so I mapped a primary and secondary off-road route using Google Maps, and printed those maps, just in case I lost signal and could not view mapping via my phones (my Verizon Droid X and AT&T iPhone both lost carrier signal in the forest).

I wear a GPS that is synced to my camera (yes I am a geek) so that geographic location of photos I take provide accurate coordinate data. Take a look again at the photo of my jeep and related map screenshots above, the coordinates (34.2059, -116.764306) are displayed differently using Google Maps versus Bing Maps.

Admittedly, I took the photo of my Jeep while taking photos of several roads in the area, I was lost!

I counted on Google maps and thought the route would be simple (see the Google map screenshot above) by remaining right of the fork in the road. Problem was, there was more than the expected route to choose from. Had I used the map provided by Bing, I believe I would’ve had a much better understanding of what my options were.

Isolated Incident?

Jeep Rubicon Sand Canyon RoadMy Jeep Rubicon on Sand Canyon Road (Coordinates: 34.221463, -116.835867)

Google Sand Canyon RoadGreen arrow on Google map marks my location

Bing Sand Canyon RoadOrange pin on Bing map marks my location

Given a choice which map would you use? I was not lost at this point and I did make it to my destination successfully, but I discovered that there were a lot more roads in those mountains than what was being displayed via Google maps.

Numerous Examples

Juniper Springs Group Camp RoadBlue Skies and Meadows on Juniper Springs Group Camp Road

Google Maps Juniper SpringsWhat Google map says about this location

Bing Maps Juniper SpringsBing map is clearly the better choice

I have numerous examples from the weekend journey but the 3 examples shown above should make my point clear. Bing is doing a far better job over Google when it comes to mapping off-road location data.

Perhaps you’re thinking it’s no big deal, because these roads are not major thoroughfares, and therefore not traveled by many people. I would argue against that point and suggest that accurate mapping in areas like these is critically important.

The last set of images shown above relates to Juniper Springs Group Camp, which is located off of Highway 38, in the San Bernardino National Forest. While access is via four-wheel drive and the site is admittedly remote, unfortunately the map provided via Google does not list the route to this pinyon-juniper woodland and meadow. However, the map provided via Bing includes identification of State Forest Road 2N01, as well as identification of the Juniper Springs Camp Road, and surrounding roads.

Finding a route to a remote campground may not be considered critical, but imagine there was an emergency that required directing others to your location, which mapping system would you use?

Jeep Rubicon Unlimited Custom Mattress Project

It’s been nearly one year since I purchased a 2010 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited 4×4 off a Jeep dealers lot in Huntington Beach California. While I wish the engine had better horsepower, it’s been the most fun vehicle I’ve owned yet (even more fun than my 1969 Chevrolet Malibu).

Within days of purchasing my jeep I began the gutting project. What fun is it if everything remains stock? The rear seats came out, along with the seatbelts and carpeting, and the project began to build a custom 2 passenger 4×4 Jeep Rubicon with room for camping equipment storage and a place to sleep. Now we are sleeping in comfort.

custom jeep mattress snug fit4 inches of pure custom natural latex mattress comfort

After all the custom welding was done and the storage system was complete I spent months seeking out the best solution for sleeping in the Jeep. I got the custom latex mattress I’m showing here from Rocky Mountain Mattress company and it turned out to be a perfect fit (thanks to their assistance). Before I decided on this mattress material I had conducted a number of in the field trials.

JK custom storage jeep rubicon4×4 Rubicon Custom Storage

The photograph above shows my custom storage project (three locking compartments) before the mattress went in. I did several camping and 4×4 trips (like Orocopia Mountains) before getting the mattress so I’ve been able to make some good comparisons. The first camping trip out I slept directly on the steel with just a sleeping bag and a folded over Queen size comforter. That was a mistake. There’s a reason we sleep on mattresses and my bones were beginning to ache in the absence of one. The other thing that occurred was temperatures fell below 40°F and that steel got really cold. I knew I had to put something in there.

4 inch thick custom memory foamRuler Showing Latex Mattress Thickness

After testing an air mattress, a memory foam mattress I got from Costco, sleeping directly on the steel with a sleeping bag, I found myself doing more research online for custom size memory foam and latex mattresses. My 4×4 Jeep Rubicon is a one-of-a-kind, and as far as I know, nobody’s yet duplicated the process. While there are mattresses made for truck beds, buying a premade mattress to fit my Jeep dimensions was out of the question. The folks at Rocky Mountain Mattress assisted me through the process of making sure I got the proper custom mattress size.

custom mattress radius cutscustom natural latex mattress radius cuts and edges

I could have gone with a straight rectangle, but that would be too easy, especially after all the other customizing that had been done. The storage compartments directly behind the drivers and passenger seats flare outwards and are flush with the doors. I wanted the mattress to extend all the way to the edges but the rear tire wheel wells posed a potential challenge. The guys at the mattress company helped educate me as to how to get exact measurements on the radius around the wells which resulted in a perfectly snug fit.

custom foam mattress behind front seatscustom latex mattress behind front seats

The view above shows how the mattress fits snugly behind the Jeep front seats and center console. I removed the stock cupholders before the storage containers were installed. The next step in the process is getting a custom weather resistant cover made for the mattress. I haven’t picked the material yet but I’ll probably go with something similar to what’s used for outdoor garden furniture. Definitely not going with something black in color. The entire Jeep is black and you can feel the heat in the summer sun.

Jeep custom subwooferJeep subwoofer relocation

One more project on the agenda is relocating the stock subwoofer. In the JK Unlimited, the subwoofer sits along the back right side (nearby where it is in this photograph) and I’ll be moving this to an alternate location. It is going to require some rewiring and maybe even a new casing. I enjoy listening to loud rock ‘n roll music too much to drive around without a subwoofer. Also in the photo you can see I have an industrial cargo mat on top of the mattress for now. It’s actually been working out great.

Since the mattress has been in I’ve discovered a few things. Getting to the compartments isn’t the easiest task. I’m looking at that as an advantage. I almost never have the top on my Jeep and there is no soft top so it’s pretty much fully exposed. With the mattress on top of the storage compartments they are basically undetectable (although I’m only keeping camping gear stored versus valuables like laptops and camera equipment).

The mattress does come out easily and I discovered it fits perfectly in either of my two camping tents. Wasn’t my first intention, but now when I’ve gone camping I’ve been able to have the option of taking the mattress out of the jeep and putting it in the tent, providing easy access to all my gear while offroading, and replacing it for the trip home.

I’ve found the mattress has helped decrease engine and road noise considerably. Remember, I had removed the carpeting and the back seats, and had been driving around with bare steel (camping gear muffles sounds as well). Besides less noise there is also less slippage of gear placed on top of the mattress. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, but everything seems to stay in place real well. I bungee down my beverage cooler and other exposed items just in case. Don’t need those flying onto the freeway when I’m heading home from a weekend in the dirt.

Bradshaw Trail Road wash outBradshaw Trail Post Heavy Rains

In case you’re wondering, I’m 5 foot 10 and weighing about 180 pounds. There is plenty of room for me to spread out when on road trips. I’ve even taken daytime naps in the back of the Jeep (another bonus I had not anticipated). My spouse and I can both fit comfortably sleeping in the back, but we set up the tent if there’s good flat campground and not too many rattlesnakes hanging out nearby. I’ll take some pics on my next outing and will likely post them here.