Sunday, March 18, 2012

How to load Garmin TOPO maps to your hard drive

Last month my wife and I took a mountain biking vacation in the Lake Tahoe area and, of course, we took our GPS receivers along for the ride! While I posted a trip report, complete with GPS tracklogs,  I haven’t quite fessed up to one thing.

You see, I took my laptop along for managing waypoints, tracks and maps, but forgot to take my Garmin U.S. TOPO CD. I was incredibly disappointed, since my wife and I were both sporting handlebar GPS mounts so we could keep an eye on our progress and to help us keep on track. But I’m posting today to keep you from suffering a similar fate. And if nothing else, the method described below keeps you from having to load the CD every time you want to put a new topo map on your GPS.

Putting Garmin TOPO maps on your hard drive is incredibly simple, and it has to do with the installation. Create a folder on your hard drive and copy the contents of the CD’s to it, including the setup disc. Then navigate to that folder and run setup from your hard drive, and not the CD. That’s it!

If you’ve already got a Garmin MapSource program (like City Select) on your computer, it gets a little more complicated. You could uninstall and do the above, or check out this thread on geocaching.com’s discussion board for an alternative method that involves a slight registry hack.


About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Oooo, very useful indeed, thanks! Our list is up as well if you’d like to check it out!!

  2. Thanks Mamaduck. Nice site you’ve got.

  3. Reading maps while backing, who’d have thought it…times have changed! Technology is all around us!

  4. When you have City Navigator and topo on your garmin, you can “tab” off the city part and get the “off -road” topo
    On a recent trip i found that the “new” city navigator [v.8 dvd] had much more dirt roads and trails than i ever expected, but it was important to turn “off” the cn to “see” the topo.

  5. Dave,
    Yes, there is a lot of backcountry stuff on CN. I’m not sure, but maybe all roads from 1:100K USGS maps. I’ve been using them for mountain bike navigation occasionally, instead of using topo.

  6. how in god’s name does TOPO US 2008 work with garmin devices – how do you load the software??

  7. Rob,
    Click the “Map Tool” button (it looks like a trapezoid). Then click anywhere on the map. That map segment turns pink. Now click more segments if you want. Once you’ve done all that you can transfer the maps, along with any waypoints, tracks and routes, to your GPS.
    If this doesn’t work, let me know what Garmin GPS you have.

  8. I have a Garmin Nuvi 660, and just purchased the MapSource Topo US 2008 DVD. I talked to Garmin directly, and they say that my Nuvi 660 is not compatible with the Topo US 2008 maps.
    Does anyone know if there are Topo maps that I can upload to my Nuvi 660?

  9. I have a Garmin Nuvi 660, and just purchased the MapSource Topo US 2008 DVD. I talked to Garmin directly, and they say that my Nuvi 660 is not compatible with the Topo US 2008 maps.
    Does anyone know if there are Topo maps that I can upload to my Nuvi 660?

  10. I have a Garmin Nuvi 660, and just purchased the MapSource Topo US 2008 DVD. I talked to Garmin directly, and they say that my Nuvi 660 is not compatible with the Topo US 2008 maps.
    Does anyone know if there are Topo maps that I can upload to my Nuvi 660?

  11. Rick,
    It works fine on my nuvi 660. Make sure you have the latest nuvi firmware and MapSource update.

  12. Thanks! I will give it a try. I hadn’t opened the package, incase I had to return it. Can’t wait to try.

  13. Rick,
    Once you load it, go to Map > Map Info to get the topo map to show.

  14. How much internal memory is on the Nuvi 660? I haven’t found anything yet on it in the manual.

  15. Looks like around 600 MB on mine.

  16. Thanks, I loaded all the maps for Colorado onto my 660, so far, I see no difference except for elevations. I tried by selecting just the topo maps, then both, no major difference. I’ll have to see what happens when I am actually driving. I’m at 9100 feet and it shows that. Hopefully I’ll see some topo detail next time I’m out.

  17. Got a few more questions. I just loaded an update for the Mapsource software. Do I need to reload the maps I already sent to my Nuvi, or is the update just for the Mapsource software?
    If I have to reload maps, do I just do a “send to device”? Will it overwirte whats already there?

  18. Rick,
    You will need to select only the topo maps to see them, turning off City Navigator maps. Try zooming in and see if you see contours.
    You shouldn’t have to reload the maps after the update, but if all else fails, you could try it. It will overwrite what’s already there. The update is just for MapSource, but some updates do affect how info is transferred to the GPS unit.
    Keep me posted.

  19. Ah yes, I guess I just didn’t wait long enouhg. After about 30 seconds on the map, the contour lines showed up.
    So now, I think I have it all set up.
    Where can I find a hard shell case that can attach to my belt? I found some hard shell cases on amazon, but they are huge and don’t clip to your belt. I’d like something just a tad bigger than my nuvi. I will have to see if I can find a case for a PDA or something similar in size.

  20. Glad you got it working!
    Speck makes hard shell cases for nuvis, but not for wide-screen models. Try searching using the terms rugged and ruggedized.

  21. kyle weeks says:

    I have a Garmin 60CSX and just recently purchased a Topo Map of the Eastern National forests and for some reason can’t transfer my hiking routes from my pc to my garmin. On the garmin it just appears as a straight line from one Waypoint on the trial to the next(as the bird flies) not following the actual trial. Does anyone know anything about this?

  22. Kyle,
    This post may help…
    http://gpstracklog.com/2005/12/tracks_and_rout.html
    Did you get Garmin Topo U.S. or Topo 24K? The latter, which mainly focuses on National Parks, does route along trails.

  23. kyle weeks says:

    I have the Topo 24k. I talked to a Garmin representative and he said that the pre planned route for the trial will not show up until I reach the trial head. I do not know if this is true or not. I would like the route to show up on the GPS unit because when I hike i would like to see how far and how much further I have left on the trial.

  24. Kyle,
    I think the Garmin rep is right. You can see the pre-planned route on your PC, and once you are on the trail it should give you a fairly accurate estimate of remaining distance. Here’s my Topo 24K review if that helps any…
    http://gpstracklog.com/2005/11/garmin_us_topo_.html

  25. kyle weeks says:

    Alright, thanks for the prompt response’s. Ill give it a try.

  26. Hi Rich,
    Well, I went out just driving around with only the topo maps selected, and never saw any countour lines. I did however see elevation readings. The strange thing is, that every now and then, while zooming in or out, I would see contour lines show up (flash) just before the zoom (refresh) took effect, but they would never stay on the screen. Also, the topo map was off as far as my location. It would show me about 1.5 inches away from the road I was on. I’m wondering if a reload might help, or just calling Garmin again. The contour lines never showed up again after the first day. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

  27. Got a question not related to my other issue. I have noticed that most of the time while driving, the background (areas surrounding the roads) are white, but sometimes the surrounding areas turn all green. Do you know what that means?

  28. Hi Rick,
    The green areas are parks.
    As far as the problem goes, that’s really weird. I’m looking at my 660 with topo maps loaded and can see the contour lines.
    Here are the things I would try:
    * Make sure you have City Navigator maps turned off and the topo maps turned on. Do his under Map > Map Info.
    * Check your firmware version (System > About). Mine is 4.10. The latest is 4.20. Let me know which you have. If it’s 4.20, I’ll update and see if that is the problem.
    * You could check Map > Map Detail. Mine is set to normal
    * Yes, you could try reloading the maps.
    * Yeah, another call to Garmin might be in order too.
    I’ll try taking the nuvi and topo maps out for a spin today to check its behavior “in the wild.”

  29. Hi Rich,
    So far no difference. Software version is 4.20. Another strange thing happened today. I was sitting at home loading in some addresses for a future trip, and when the maps loaded (CN only), it showed me faaaar away from where I should be on my map. My house icon was at the top of the screen (right under the word ready in “ready to navigate”), while my truck icon was at the bottom middle of the screen. After about 40 seconds, it then popped me into the right spot again. I’m guessing it was just a slow response from the satellites.
    Anyhow, still no contour lines. CN is not checked right now and all I see is elevation readings. I can try to take some screen shots so you can see what I see. My map detail is set to normal as well.
    I will call garmin again. Thanks.

  30. Ok, found something out, when I changed my Map View to Track Up, I see the contour lines. I had it set at 3D. What do you keep yours set at?
    What about other settings like map outlines, WAAS, simulator, etc. Just wondering if there are any other settings I need to worry about.

  31. That’s it. You have to be in a 2-D mode. Success!
    I usually drive in 3-D mode, but I’m usually not trying to see the topo maps either.

  32. ujvgc hcfknqou frqwmxe zgsnpyte wjso htpuiva lfvhkbiz

  33. is it posible to load garmin BlueChart on my nüvi 660 euro gps?

  34. Daanny,
    It’s my understanding that Garmin was going to make all BlueChart and Topo products compatible with the nuvi line, but you might want to call support and ask. And if they say no, call back and ask someone else. (They’ve told people you can’t use Topo, but you can). Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  35. Does anyone know where I can find a battery pack to charge my Nuvi 660 while out in the field? I’m looking for a pack that I can use regular batteries (like AA or 9V), and connect it to my Nuvi via USB, to charge it when out on long hiking trips (2-3 days).
    Something like this, but I don’t know if this will work as a charger.
    http://www.semsons.com/unbaexwiusbp.html

  36. Every consider one of these, or something similar?
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6655
    If your Nuvi charges via the USB port, then this (or any other USB power supply) will charge it as well.

  37. Thanks, that’s what I’m looking for!

  38. Ok, I’m thinking that last suggestion may not work after all. Since I will be out hiking, I want something as small as possible, plus, I will be most likely charging the GPS overnight (I’ll be hiking during the day, using the GPS).
    I did find something that will probably work:
    http://www.jtecdirect.com/battery-charger-batteries-p-1634.html
    I can use the usb cable that came with my GPS and use this device to charge it overnight.
    If anyone knows of any other items, feel free to mention them, I’m open for suggestions.

  39. Ok, I’m thinking that last suggestion may not work after all. Since I will be out hiking, I want something as small as possible, plus, I will be most likely charging the GPS overnight (I’ll be hiking during the day, using the GPS).
    I did find something that will probably work:
    http://www.jtecdirect.com/battery-charger-batteries-p-1634.html
    I can use the usb cable that came with my GPS and use this device to charge it overnight.
    If anyone knows of any other items, feel free to mention them, I’m open for suggestions.

  40. Sean O'Brien says:

    Hello everyone,
    I have a Garmin Etrex Venture HC. I am having so much trouble loading map from mapsource to my unit. I scroll to there area where I am traveling, highlight the area with the map tool (nothing turns pink) then it looks like it saves in the box on the left. I transfer that to my unit but nothing changes. When I go into the map set up menu on the unit it say that the map I just uploaded is the one that is being used. Only the regular yellow map shows up, with no topo information… please help

  41. Things to try (in order of severity):
    1. Make sure you have the latest firmware
    2. Backup first, then try a hard reset. Details here…
    http://www.gpsdiscussion.com/introductions/2097-lost-vermont.html
    3. Call Garmin.

  42. Does anyone know if it is possible to load topo maps onto a Garmin forerunner 305? I’d love to do it if possible.

  43. There’s a roundabout way to do maps, but a topo map would be pretty involved…
    http://coursemapper.com/

  44. Martin Reiser says:

    I just bought a Garmin 760 at COSTCO WHOLESALE in Gaithersburg, MD, Store #213.
    I know how to connect it to my Dell XP Laptop.
    But after several attempts, I have been unsuccessful in loading my home address and several important other addresses from my Address Book, which is written in MS Word 2003 into the GPS 760. Can anybody write me how to do that?
    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Martin Reiser

  45. There’s no way to go directly from Word. You can probably convert it to an Excel spreadsheet and then create custom POIs. This should get you started…
    http://gpstracklog.com/2006/03/custom_pois.html

  46. Martin Reiser says:

    Thank you, Rich, for this advice. As I think about it, wouldn’t it be easier and less time-consuming to open up the keyboard shown on the GPS 760 and write the few addresses I have directly into the navigator and save it there for future use. But, being a novice, I don’t know how to power up the navigator in my office. Must I do that after the GPS 760 is installed into my automobile and plugged into the cigarette igniter, and must the car engine be running?
    Thanks again in advance for your advice,
    Martin

  47. Martin Reiser says:

    Thank you, Rich, for this advice. As I think about it, wouldn’t it be easier and less time-consuming to open up the keyboard shown on the GPS 760 and write the few addresses I have directly into the navigator and save it there for future use. But, being a novice, I don’t know how to power up the navigator in my office. Must I do that after the GPS 760 is installed into my automobile and plugged into the cigarette igniter, and must the car engine be running?
    Thanks again in advance for your advice,
    Martin

  48. Yes, if it’s only a few, it will be much easier to key them in. As long as the unit is adequately charged, it doesn’t need to be plugged in. Just engage the power button on top of the unit. I don’t recall if it’s a push button or slider on the 700 series, but there’s only one button there — hard to miss it!

  49. Bob Zatwarnicki says:

    Hi I’m new to GPS, so pardon my questions. I will soon have a Garmin Nuvi 755T and an eTrex Venture HC. Is it possible to transfer any maps from the Nuvi to the handheld ? If I was to get an upgrade CD for the Nuvi, could I add these maps to eTrex ? Are there sources for free maps to load onto eTrex ? I’d like to be able to see both city streets (Northeast) and hiking trails on the eTrex.
    Thanks
    Bob

  50. No to the first two questions. These maps are locked to the nuvi.
    Yes there are free maps for the Venture, but you’re going to run into memory limits if you try to load too much. Some sources…
    http://www.ibycus.com/ibycususa/
    http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/
    http://mapcenter.cgpsmapper.com/catalogue.php?country=226
    http://mapcenter2.cgpsmapper.com/catalogue.php?country=1
    You’re getting two great units. Have fun!

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