Use OpenStreetMap to create your own Garmin device

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Maciej Bledowski, 123RF

Maciej Bledowski, 123RF

Do it Your Way

The maps provided by the open source OpenStreetMap project are compatible with Garmin navigational systems. Importing these maps is straightforward so long as you bring some basic knowledge, patience, and also experience to the task.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is the easiest place to look for up-to-date, high quality maps for a Garmin navigational device (Figure 1). If necessary, you can also create a map that includes information you yourself have specially selected.

This is actually fairly easy. Loading a ready-made map onto a GPS device gives you all of the data you need along with relevant settings for your next hike or bike tour. Table 1 contains suitable sources (Figure 2). Some of the websites provide updated maps for Garmin devices on a weekly basis, others on a daily basis. Most of the time, all you need to do is load the compressed images and then unpack them in the Garmin/ directory on the device memory card. The device itself has a directory of the same name, but this is not where the images belong.

This approach works in most situations. However, OSM does not always have every feature you desire. Prepared maps represent just a portion of the data that is actually available. On the other hand, flooding a map with data would make it unreadable. As a result, the data you would like to have is frequently not there. In addition, device manufacturers often use a variety of different formats for the maps, trails, routes, and other features on their devices, thus making it difficult to use the features.


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