Sunday, March 18, 2012

UPDATED: Garmin’s new .ggz geocaching file format

Garmin Oregon 600 series ggz OpenCaching

The Garmin Oregon 600 series uses a new .ggz file type for geocaches

UPDATE: The new format may just be a compressed .gpx file (speculation, but it makes sense). Also,  apparently the new Oregons will support .gpx files:

The Oregon can hold an unlimited number of geocaches and supports GPX files from for downloading geocaches and details straight to the unit.

UPDATE 2Read our hands on Garmin Oregon 650 review.

When Garmin announced the new Oregon 600 series, they mentioned the ability to load a nearly unlimited number of geocaches:

No more picking, choosing and planning, just download them all. Oregon 600 can hold up to 4 million. Download every cache on Load caches from GSAK. Or use your favorite program or website supporting GGZ files. All your paperless geocaching features will be there for every cache.

We’ve since learned a bit more about that format, via a posting on the OpenCaching forums:

…the new feature that allows for unlimited caches on the device is a new file type Garmin has worked on. They are not withholding the programming and it will be available for Groundspeak to use, but it will require Groundspeak to do some work on their end to provide the option on, if they choose to use it. Since it is a Garmin feature, it would also force other GPSr manufacturers to upgrade their software/hardware accordingly to also keep up. It will work with immediately, but no surprise there. It CAN eventually work on other sites if those sites upgrade software on their end.

I can’t imagine that Garmin won’t support .gpx files on these units. I asked them about this, but have received no response. So time will tell, huh?

Via Groundspeak forums

About Rich Owings

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


  1. I can’t imagine these new GPSr units not supporting GPX files. To intentionally not allow the tried and true and very popular file format of the GPX file system in favor of an unknown and untested format would be a terrible decision.

  2. As the creator of GPSBabel, I’ve been watching for any *actual* information about this file format. I see lots of guessing, but no samples and no specification. Given how terrible they’ve been about making details of their files public in the past (GPI, GDB, MPS are a mess, they change them frequently, etc.) I have low hopes. .FIT changes with each new model, it seems, and their SDK license makes it completely unusable in an open source project. Even when they use open formats like GPX, they tend to make a mess of them, doing things like putting routepoints in a garmin extension instead of putting them in or using 128 digit hex numbers as attributes. is a ghost town.

    I’d be delighted for them to produce an actual open specification (that actually matches their implementation) – or better yet, contribute/fund a GPSBabel module for it – but given their history, I’m not counting on it.

    • I saw speculation that it’s just a gzipped gpx format, which makes a lot of sense and may actually be something others would adopt. I’m curious as to your take on that.

      • I’d considered that and have not dismissed it, but that’s not really a new format. That’d be an existing format in a well established container. Its not like zipped PQs are considered to be not a PQ by anyone with a grasp on things.

        • I expect GGZ to be for Garmin pretty much was KMZ is to Google Earth – zipped bundle of many other file type(s). Would not surprise me if it contains GPX as well as other file types internally – geotagged images, map bundles, etc.

          The big gain in usability there if Basecamp will package it and you send it over one file, instead of a bunch of different files and types. Really, it amazes me today that you can’t even drop a zip’t GPX file into your GPS, that you have to unzip it first. How many bytes do you need to write a zip/unzip routine?

  3. Mike Maxson says:

    Thanks Rich, any idea what type of file format it is? Assuming a small footprint, I’m guessing it’s binary. To decrease file size and add more data elements, Garmin departed from .tcx (XML) and created .FIT (binary).

  4. I’m wondering if they will upgrade some of the Dakota, Montana, older Oregons to accept .ggz files.

    • My guess is they will, either by silently doing it with the models they currently have out now or by introducing a different number designation model…i.e., Oregon 455 instead of Oregon 450.

  5. I have emailed Garmin. It is a zipped gpx. Or many gpx. And also a meta data file with name and location and some other information. This allows the processing faster according to Garmin.

  6. Rob Kouwenberg says:

    I just bought an Oregon 600t and loaded some GPX files with 3000+ geocaches (from and apparently 4000+ waypoints. Then, when walking a multi, I could not add another waypoint!? Back at home, looking at the specs of the 600t, Garmin claims it can hold 4 million geocaches but only 4000 waypoints. I hope the GGZ format will solve this. Haven’t tried opencaching yet, it features only 800 caches in The Netherlands vs. 12000 for

    • Richard Ault says:

      Tried my new 600t today, really disappointing could find the geocaches, but it didnt display the number of the series next to the geocache name (although it did manage it once.
      And when trying to view the hint or description just would seem to do a search then eventually lock the device requiring a reboot. Have a 1000 geocache .gpx loaded, is this too large?????

      I thought the device could handle 1000’s of Caches, or do I need many smaller .gpx files.

      Latest Firmware on device btw

  7. I have a new Garmin Etrex Touch 35 and was annoyed to find that it will not read gpx files, only ggz. When we are out and about and a cache does not appear to be on my unit, I could get it Shared Wirelessly with me and all would be good. It allows the transfer but it just won’t show them as they are gpx files direct from the Montana. Can this unit be changed to read both or even just gpx files?

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