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How to get FREE maps for your Garmin GPS

Picture of How to get FREE maps for your Garmin GPS
Commercial maps are expensive and can get out of date real fast. And who wants to spring for a whole country map if they're just going on holiday for a week? This Instructable shows how to get pre-compiled FREE maps from OpenStreetMap onto your Garmin GPS.

OpenStreetMap is a global wiki map (think "Wikipedia for maps"). The wiki nerds have produced Garmin-compatible extracts that are available for free. Here's how to enjoy fresh free wiki maps on your GPS.

You will need:

  • An expandable Garmin GPS (one with 'x' in its name or a fancy-pants new model like the ForeRunners or Colorado).
  • A micro-SD memory card.
  • Either a USB connector and Garmin driver software, or a card reader.
 
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Step 1: Get Maps!

There are lots of places where you can download free, regularly-updated Garmin maps made from OpenStreetMap data. Here are three:

Map company Cloudmade do the whole world. Go to http://downloads.cloudmade.com/ and browse for the region you're interested in. Let's say we're flying to Barbados on holiday: http://downloads.cloudmade.com/north_america/barbados - download the IMG file and unzip it.

The OpenStreetMap project has their own download page here: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin. There are lots to choose from including different regions, levels of detail, and styling. Fill your boots, it's all free.

My own Garmin map, which is a routable UK & Eire with extra contour lines (thanks NASA!) updated weekly, is here: http://ravenfamily.org/andyg/maps.

When you've downloaded your map, you should have one file with a .IMG extension.

Step 2: Using an SD Card

To load the map directly onto the GPS's SD card, take the battery compartment off. The SD card is the little sliver to the left of the batteries. Push it in gently and it will spring out. You can then load it into your card reader ready for maps.
danozie1 year ago
will this work on my Garmin Nuvi 1300
malco1 year ago
Thanks for your time in making these files available.
I have downloaded the UK map file, I have put it on my nuvi40 - in the 'GARMIN' folder - file called 'GMAPSUPP.IMG'. I can find no other file on the nuvi40 that resembles a map file in size or name, so I have not been able to remove what's loaded (spain and portugal). I've restarted the nuvi40 and it doesn't seem to see the new file, nor does it appear to have any kind of relevant interface to choose the map file I want.
Any advice on what to try next?
askph1 year ago
Hi, I have a Garmin Nuvi 1300 series (from USA). Am planning to visit London, Bath, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Lake District, York, Oxford, Cambridge. I am not very good in the GPS terms of mapsource, base camp and etc. Would prefer a direct download to SD card. Would appreciate if you can advice where to get a UK map for Garmin Nuvi 1300 series. My email is askph@yahoo.com. Thanks in advance.
hayaa1 year ago
how to get southern africa's map?
andygates (author)  hayaa1 year ago
http://downloads.cloudmade.com/africa/southern_africa#downloads_breadcrumbs
ahmad reza1 year ago
thank's for your help.ahmad reza from iran/neyshabour
ahmadreza.rivandi@gmail.com
Brian Will2 years ago
I needed more room in my Garmin Nuvi 200W for new maps so I deleted all the foreign languages and all the foreign help files. Now, I can't connect it to my PC. It tries to open but all that happens is the GARMIN image flashes over and ever. What to do? Brian
 Awesome! I use a Garmin 60csx all the time, but I hate the price Garmin charges for map. But.....
How do you load more than one map at a time? Do I merge the foiles or something? I want to put New Mexico and Colorado topo maps on my GPS. Thanks in advance!
andygates (author)  The Insomniac3 years ago
If you install the maps in Mapsource on your computer, you can send over the bits you want.  Or you could just use two cards, but that's a fuss. 
 Finally got them all on my GPS, but I have to say I never figured out how to properly do it with the Cloudmade ones. For some reason, the files I downloaded from Cloudmade weren't showing up on mapsource.
I ended up using the site www.gpsfiledepot.com
They have very detailed maps that have their own executables also. I used BaseCamp to put them over.
ItsTheHobbs4 years ago
Awesome! I think mine should be compatible. Those maps are expensive! Like, $70 is what I saw.
andygates (author)  ItsTheHobbs3 years ago
Yup, heinous and often out of date.  Have fun :)
Do you happen to know if there are similar web sites where topo maps can be downloaded for use on an eTrex???
Thanx in advance....
andygates (author)  wbaumgardner3 years ago
The topo data is available (yay NASA! - it's Shuttle mission stuff) and can be built into maps.  I've done that for my UK & Ireland one. 

Get hold of the Groundtruth app from the Openstreetmap community to build your own: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/GroundTruth
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