The Ideal Setup

If you are using a Garmin device, I expect it is for the same reason as me: going off the grid where there’s no internet. You want a dedicated reliable device with long battery life. Perfect. Now lets make it usable.

While there is no perfect map setup, I believe the best configuration with Garmin devices are a satellite or topo base layer with routable vector layers drawn on top of it. This is a guide that tells you how to create such a setup.

Note that this guide was created after optimizing my mapping setup on a Garmin Oregon 600. Your milage may vary on different devices.

Topo Map with OSM overlay. Forgive me for the Mioré pattern.

"Satellite" Map with OSM overlay. Slower due to larger file size and jpeg complexity.

Requirements

  1. Unlocked device
    • For the most flexible mapping setup, you’ll need to unlock your Garmin device so that you can install free JNX Raster maps.
  2. SD Card
    • I’m unsure of the largest size SD Card Garmin devices will accept, but you’ll need a SD card big enough to hold large maps. I’m currently using a somewhat speedy Lexar 64GB Card in my Oregon 600. 64GB is the largest I’ve tried, if you try a larger size card let me know how it goes.
    • The card must be formatted with the FAT32 filesystem.

Downloading the Maps

Finding JNX Raster Maps

You can download JNX maps from my site! I’m slowly creating a set of JNX maps here. You may find other maps by searching the internet. For large JNX maps, there will actually be several JNX files, each up to 4GB in size.

Downloading Routable Open Street Maps Vector Map

Open Street Maps are high quality vector maps that contain points of interest, streets, and routing information to enable navigation. These are much better than the pathetic built-in maps and can be overlaid onto raster satellite or topo maps.

The most convenient Open Street Map of the continental US can be found here OpenStreetMapChest. It is updated frequently and has worked well for me.

If OpenStreetMapChest doesn’t cut the mustard for you, theres a big list of sites that have Open Street Maps ready for Garmin devices on the Open Street Map Wiki.

Downloading Vector Topographical Maps

I’ve also found some simple topo vector maps created by -Oz- on GPSFileDepot. These contain very clean topo lines and mine sites. Unfortunately, the map coverage isn’t great, but hes got one for Arizona, which is where I’m from.

Installing the Maps

Installing JNX Raster Maps

  1. Unlock your Garmin device.
  2. Download a torrent in full.
  3. Copy the JNX files to F:\Garmin\BirdsEye\, where F:\ is your SD Card.

Installing Vector Maps

After you download a vector map, it will ultimately be in one of two forms.

If it is an .img file then simply copy this file to F:\Garmin where F:\ is your SD card.

Otherwise it will be in the form of some kind of Windows installer (exe, msi, batch files). To use these types of maps you will need to first install Garmin Basecamp. Important: Some of the latest versions of Garmin Basecamp fail to install maps correctly. I’ve found that Basecamp 4.6.2 works fine, wheras 4.7.x does not. (Search the internet for BaseCamp_462.exe). If you trust the site that gave you the map, run the installer to get the map into BaseCamp. Finally, open BaseCamp and go to the menu, click Maps -> Install Maps and choose the maps to install.