Best Scratch Maps

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
128 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best scratch maps

Last Updated August 2019

A scratch map is a fun and decorative way to track your travels. Whether you’re cataloguing a trek across the United States or visits to world capitals, there’s a scratch map that can help you commemorate your journeys.

Some scratch maps feature the entire world, while others focus on a smaller area, like North America or Europe. If you want to keep track of the countries you visit, many scratch maps have clear country borders and distinguish the countries with different colors. Scratch maps vary in size from small to large. Some include accessories like scratching tools and cleaning cloths, too. Consider what type of traveling you plan to do so you can select a scratch map that meets your needs.

We’ve compiled this shopping guide to help you learn more about the different types of scratch maps available. Check out our top recommendations if you’re ready to buy.

The number of countries, cities, and provinces shown on a scratch map can vary from one map to another.

Key considerations

Scratch maps vary greatly in style, detail, and area of the world. Are you looking for a map that includes distinct country outlines, capitals, and flags? Or are you looking for a map of the U.S. that points out key landmarks? Think about these questions before purchasing a scratch map so you can choose one that will track your travels for decades.

World, region, or country maps

  • World: Most scratch maps show the entire world. While a map that covers the globe may seem like all you need, carefully consider whether the parts of the world you hope to visit are large enough to read and scratch easily or if all countries are even represented.

  • Region: Some maps may have detailed sections on areas like Europe, the U.S., or the Caribbean, allowing you to scratch off smaller countries and states.

  • Country: Other maps focus on a specific country, which can be a great option if you plan to explore every part of one country. Many of these maps include details like landmarks, states and provinces, and major cities.
     

Mercator vs. Robinson projection

There is much debate on the most accurate two-dimensional representation of our spherical planet, but since extreme accuracy isn’t likely your concern, you should choose a map with the projection you prefer.

  • Mercator projection maps stretch the globe to fit in a rectangular shape. This has the effect of somewhat distorting areas in the extreme upper and lower latitudes like Canada and Australia. Many people like that these maps fill an entire poster.

  • Robinson projection maps are pseudocylindrical, giving the illusion of a globe-like shape. The edges of the map are curved, and latitude and longitude lines are evenly spaced. This projection is somewhat less distorted than the Mercator projection, though it won’t fill a whole poster due to the curved edges.
     

Size

Are you looking for a travel size scratch map or one that will dominate a wall and draw attention with its detail?

Scratch maps vary from around 16 by 10 inches to 35 by 24 inches. Smaller maps are a good option if you have limited wall space or want to store the map in the tube. Larger maps are more eye-catching and look great framed. The foil is easier to scratch off larger maps without making mistakes. Also, larger maps may include provinces and countries that smaller maps do not.

Additional tracking tools

Details like country flags, landmarks, and major cities may be included on some maps, often along the bottom or the side of the map. If you have a more specific travel bucket list, you might want to consider maps with these details because it can be difficult to track specific locations on a larger map.

DID YOU KNOW?

The foil on scratch maps comes in a range of colors, including gold, silver, and tan.

Scratch map features

Scratch maps come in a range of styles and may include different tools and accessories to aid in your scratching and tracking. You should consider any additional accessories or aspects when picking out the map that will chronicle your travels for years.

Style and colors

Just as with any decorative atlas, scratch maps vary greatly in style and colors. Some are more geographical and use a simple two-tone theme for easy readability. Others are more stylized and may feature countries and provinces in different colors. Take note of what the revealed map looks like because some are very vibrant and colorful or reveal country flags or other details, which may not be what you’re looking for.

Labels and keys

Do you want a map with every country clearly labeled, or do you prefer a cleaner look? Lines and labels can make a map easier to read, but they can also clutter the overall look of the map.

Keys and scales lend a more technical look to a map and help to identify different countries and regions, but they may make the map appear busy. You should decide whether you prefer a map with these details or a simpler design that puts aesthetics first.

Paper vs. plastic

  • Paper: Most scratch maps are made of foil-covered paper. The paper tends to be somewhat delicate and can become damaged if scratched too hard. In addition, rolling a paper map can be difficult and may lead to creases.

  • Plastic: Plastic-backed scratch maps are far more durable and less likely to be damaged by scratching. Plastic is also more flexible than paper and more likely to remain flat if rolled and unrolled regularly.
     

Accessories

Scratching tools like picks for large areas or styluses for tiny details work far better than coins or fingernails and are included with some scratch maps. Tools like microfiber or felt cloths may also be included for easily removing foil shavings and keeping your map tidy. Another useful tool is an erasable marker for planning trips directly on your map.

Foil quality and alignment

The foil of scratch maps can vary in quality. Some foil is more difficult to remove cleanly and may become harder to scratch off over time. In addition, the map printed on the foil may not always align perfectly with the revealed map, which will be noticeable as you uncover portions of the map.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re purchasing a scratch map for children, it’s a good idea to help them remove the foil because it can be difficult to scratch off precisely.


Staff  | BestReviews

Scratch map prices

Inexpensive

You can find scratch maps that cost between $20 and $30. Maps on the lower end of the price spectrum tend to be smaller and made of paper.

Mid-range

Some maps that cost $30 or $40 may include accessories like erasable markers or scratching tools.

Expensive

Scratch maps that cost $40 to $80 are usually larger and more decorative, often printed on durable plastic. The foil on these maps tends to be of somewhat better quality. Some deluxe scratch maps may come with a frame for easy and attractive mounting.

If you mount your scratch map on corkboard, you can use pins to track your visits to specific locations.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Frame the map without glazing. If you decide to frame your map, consider leaving it uncovered so you don’t have to remove the map from the frame every time you want to scratch off a new place.

  • Don’t use a sharp object like a knife on a scratch map. It’s likely to damage the lower layer.

  • Use a guitar pick or toothpicks to remove the foil. These work well because they aren’t so sharp that they will damage the map itself.

  • Scratch the map gently. You want to remove foil without damaging the revealed map.

  • Touch the map as little as possible. The oil from your hand may discolor the foil of some maps.

Other products we considered

While our top recommendations are excellent scratch maps for any traveler, there are many other options available, some of which may include frames and additional accessories and features. We love the Travelization Scratch-Off Map of the World XL for its impressive 822.5 square inches and colorful lower layer that includes 196 countries. The flags of the countries can be scratched off at the bottom of the map, and several larger countries include outlines for states and provinces. For a map packed with features, the Discovery Map Scratch-Off World Map is a gorgeous framed map with more muted colors. The foil can be difficult to remove, but the map’s intricate details make up for it. A less-expensive alternative is the 1DEA.me Black Scratch-Off World Map, which features a classy black-and-gold foil map that reveals colorful countries.

Most scratch maps come in a tube, making one easy to wrap as a gift.

FAQ

Q. Are small island nations included on scratch maps?

A. Not always. They can be difficult to render clearly on world maps. Before purchasing a scratch map, you should make sure it contains all the countries you’re looking for.

Q. Are scratch maps eco-friendly?

A. Not all scratch maps are eco-friendly, but some are made from recycled materials and are environmentally sourced. Most manufacturers state whether a scratch map comes from environmentally friendly sources.

Q. Scratching the map with a coin takes a long time. What other methods can be used to remove foil?

A. Most foil can be removed by rubbing with an eraser, which allows you to uncover a large area quickly and is also less likely to damage the map.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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