“A topographic map is designed to show the physical features and terrain of an area. They’re different from other maps because they show the three-dimensional landscape: its contours, elevations, topographic features, bodies of water, and vegetation.” SOURCE: Backpacker.com
This article gives a nice introduction to topographic maps, explains how to read them, and why they are useful. While I love digital maps and the features that are offered through GIS, old school paper maps still play a vital role in helping us navigate this world of ours. This additional article from CityLab, shows how you can lie with maps (and it’s not just with a sharpie).