Custom Maps for Your Garmin GPS

If you own a handheld Garmin GPS and want to have a detailed topographic or street map on it, you only have one option—Garmin's own proprietary $100 MapSource software packages. This lack of consumer choice is one of the biggest single drawbacks for Garmin units. But now the options are expanding on some of Garmin's newest units with Garmin Custom Maps.

On its newest line of Oregon, Dakota, and Colorado GPS units, Garmin offers users the ability to create their own custom maps, which can then be uploaded to the unit. So if you have a preferred map for your favorite outdoor destination, you can now install it on your unit and have your location pinpointed on it.

Here's how it works. First you need to save your desired map as a jpeg, either by scanning a paper version or converting an electronic file. Next you overlay this map image on Google Earth. Now you need to match known geographic features of your map with the corresponding locations on the Google Earth map. Google Earth will then use these benchmarks to overlay a geo-referenced grid of coordinates. Finally, connect the GPS unit to your computer and upload the custom map! Voila!

Be aware that you need to have the most up-to-date software for your unit for this to work, and may have to install Garmin's free updates if you purchased it more than a few months ago.

You can read all about Garmin Custom Maps, including detailed instructions on how to create them, on Garmin's Custom Maps page.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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