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How To Get Free Garmin GPS Maps For Hiking

In This Guide
  • Why These Free Maps Are Better
  • Installing the Maps On Your Pc
  • Instaling the Maps On Your GPS Gadget

The good news is that should you personal a Garmin GPS gadget, there’s a method to get free Garmin GPS maps. And normally, the free maps are a lot better than the costly Garmin maps. I’m an enormous fan of Garmin GPS units, however I all the time found it disappointing that they charged additional for maps. Garmin doesn’t publicize it, but most of their GPS models are setup to take any maps in the right format. Here’s the way to get and install these free climbing maps in a simple, step-by-step course of.

On reflection, I feel the worth for Garmin maps is just too excessive. There are some nearly as good, or better, options obtainable without charge online. This product is overpriced for what it is. I might advocate other software. – Garmin Map Assessment on Amazon

Why These Free Maps?

So let me start by saying there are loads of ways to get free Garmin GPS maps, and lots of totally different methods to put in them. You might create entire websites dedicated to the topic, and other people have (see under). This text focuses on putting in my favorite free Garmin GPS maps for mountaineering in the USA, utilizing OpenStreetMaps. If these don’t be just right for you, attempt exploring the other map providers that I’ve listed under.

OpenStreetMaps are the Wikipedia of maps. The general public contributes to, confirms, and edits the info on the map. This curation goes for climbing trails too. The maps are commonly up to date, and over the previous few years have appeared probably the most accurate in my expertise. You possibly can even turn out to be a contributor when you like.

free maps for garmin gpsHere’s a aspect by aspect comparability of the Garmin Basecamp with these free topo maps.

The free mountaineering maps that I’m recommending are nice as a result of:

  • They’re good topographic maps with elevation contours.
  • They have numerous mountaineering trails on them.
  • They are “routable,” which signifies that you should use free tools like Garmin Basecamp to mechanically create routes and tracks that you would be able to comply with (with out having to plot each level of the path yourself).
  • The colours and detail work properly for me. That’s, they appear good on the gadget.
  • USA regions are packaged together.

free maps for garmin gpsThis screenshot provides you an concept of the extent of the detail in these free maps. It’s also possible to search the maps for factors of curiosity. Right here I searched for the Great Smoky Mtn NP.

Video Directions

When you’ve got a more moderen GPS system like a Garmin Fenix 5x Plus or are on Windows, there are some particular instructions under.

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Which Garmin GPS units do the maps work with?

First off, the Garmin unit you might have may need maps already. You in all probability know this, but should you’re looking for a GPS, go to the Garmin website page for the unit. If it maps include the unit, it should say it has “preloaded topo maps.”

If you already have a unit and need to find out if these free maps work, go to the unit’s web page on the Garmin website, after which take a look at the “specs” part. There is a line for “ability to add maps,” if in case you have a examine there, you’re good to go.

Downloading the Free Garmin GPS Maps

The very first thing you’re going to need to do is go to the GMapTool website, specifically the USA OSM Topo Routable web page.

free maps for garmin gpsThe great thing about this website is that they’ve bundled the maps up into giant regions.

Then decide the region you want, and download the appropriate map package deal (hyperlink means at the backside of the page). The information are pretty massive. The obtain may take a while.

Installing the Free Maps on Your Pc

The directions are totally different for Mac and PC. The map web site has a link for set up instructions, click on on that. My directions cover the installation on a Mac, however I’ve some basic that fill within the gaps for installing on Home windows under .

For the Mac, you’ll need three (free) packages to put in the maps. You’ll be able to obtain and install these packages when you wait on your maps to download.

free maps for garmin gpsFirst is a 7z extractor. The map downloads are in 7z format, which is a flowery compressed ZIP file. Download and install this program. There are additionally other free and paid 7z choices in the Mac App maps for garmin gpsThen download the free Garmin MapInstall and MapManager packages. They make installing the maps straightforward and maps for garmin gpsOnce you obtain the map file, open it together with your 7z software. It’s going to unzip the information and put them into a maps for garmin gpsAfter unzipping, you’ll have a number of information within the folder. Double-click on the massive file with the “gmap” extension on the maps for garmin gpsThat ought to launch Garmin MapManager, which can ask you if you wish to install the maps. Hit “yes” and it’ll copy the maps into your Garmin listing. Whenever you’re completed, delete the map obtain and the unzipped folder.

That’s it. The maps are on your pc. For those who’re not already using the free Garmin Basecamp software, I highly advocate getting it. It can permit you to browse maps, create tracks, and is invaluable in planning hikes.

free maps for garmin gpsPairing Garmin Basecamp with these free maps for Garmin GPS provides you.a strong planning device. Right here I’m searching detail round Icehouse Saddle in California.

Installing the Free Maps on Your Garmin GPS

As soon as your map is downloaded and put in, you’re all set to install them on your GPS unit.

free maps for garmin gpsConnect your Garmin GPS unit to your pc and make sure it’s on. Give it a minute or two to load and register with the maps for garmin gpsLoad the Garmin MapInstall software. It ought to present your GPS unit within the prime box. Hit maps for garmin gpsMapInstall will present you what maps you’ve gotten installed already (if any), what’s on your pc, and how a lot room you’ve got in your system (on the backside). Click on on the maps you need to install whereas watching the area in your gadget. My eTrex 20x has three.7gb of inner memory, no need so as to add a MicroSD card. Click on “send maps.”free maps for garmin gpsNow you wait. It may possibly take some time for the maps to load onto your system. Don’t do that when you’re in a maps for garmin gpsNow affirm that the maps are loaded. Go into your settings for maps and poke round. The process is totally different for various models, but you need to have the ability to see something like maps for garmin gpsGrowth! Maps! Enjoy the maps in your Garmin GPS. And if there’s an excessive amount of element or the map rendering seems sluggish, go to settings and check out reducing the detail degree.

Installing on Newer Garmin Units From Mac

So Garmin changed the best way that the GPS units talk with computers. When you’ve got Windows, you ought to be all good (see under). In case you have Mac, there’s a wrinkle.

Garmin switched to the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) to transfer information, which makes the Garmin seem as a “media device.” And of course, Apple doesn’t help it. However I’ve found a solution. It’s not probably the most sleek one on the earth, however it works (confirmed on a Fenix 5x Plus).

  • Get your maps from right here:
  • The location will ship you an e mail with a download hyperlink.
  • Download the ZIP file that’s described as “Compressed file that contains a single image that can be placed directly onto the SD-card of the GPS.”
  • Unzip the file. It is best to have a file with a “.img” extension.
  • Now we need to join the Garmin to the pc. Download the free Android File Transfer program from Google. Set up it on your machine as per the directions.
  • When you’ve got Garmin Categorical operating, ensure that it’s not operating and you have disabled any “automatically launch when device is connected” settings.
  • Plug in your Garmin to the pc and launch the Android File Switch program. It is best to see a display like this:
    Fenix 5x Plus File Transfer
  • Simply drag the “.img” file that you simply downloaded into the Garmin folder. You may need to rename the “.img” file to ensure it doesn’t whack any maps already on there.

That’s it. Go to your map settings and turn the OSM map on and off.

Osm Maps On Fenix 5x PlusOSM maps on my Fenix 5x Plus

Should you work at Garmin, please replace MapInstall to help MTP! They’re too big-time to take heed to my suggestions, so if you recognize anybody at Garmin, please bug them.

Ideas for Home windows Installation

The directions on GMapTool website aren’t very descriptive for Home windows. Listed here are some ideas from fellow hiker Dave T. on how you can set up the free maps on Home windows.

  • Run the “bat” file as described on the GMapTool website.
  • Open Garmin Basecamp to make sure that the maps have been put in.
  • Use the free Garmin MapInstall program to ship the maps to your gadget.
  • Or use the maps at, Download your map first. It will create a single “img” file for each map you download.  Then copy that map file to your Garmin (the drive when you have a micro SD card, not the gadget) in the “Garmin” folder (which it’s essential to create first if it doesn’t already exist).

If These Free Garmin GPS Maps Don’t Work For You

There are different free maps on your Garmin GPS, and again, they could have totally different instructions for installation. Examine the web site the place the maps are provided for directions on learn how to install them.

When you’re having hassle finding the GMAP folder, this tip has helped some people (because of Liz S!).

Some Remaining Ideas

I like to recommend planning your hike and making a GPX file beforehand. Most Garmin GPS models are too small for something more than impromptu navigation planning. I’ve a tutorial on the right way to plan a climbing route in your Garmin GPS here.

And I might use your help. I don’t obtain these maps day-after-day, so if these directions don’t appear updated, please contact me and let me know. I’ll replace the instructions here accordingly.

Lastly, a word when you’re having tech issues. Unfortunately, I can’t assist everybody who emails me. I recommend posting your question online in the Garmin Reddit, the Garmin Forums, or in a Garmin group on Fb. That’s in all probability you’re quickest path to success.

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