Monday, December 3, 2012

Garmin Custom Maps

Newer Garmin GPSs (including the 62, Oregon, Colorado and Montana series) allow you to use KMZ (Google Earth) files as custom map layers.  You can now export CalTopo's map layers and use them with these devices.

  1. Go to or click Print and then choose KMZ.
  2. Navigate to the area you want to export
  3. Set the map background using the dropdown at the top right.  You can combine layers as usual, e.g. shaded relief + topo + slope shading
  4. If needed, click "fit selection to screen" and drag the rectangle to cover the area you want to export
  5. Choose a zoom level, remembering that you can only fit 100 images total on the GPS
  6. Click "Download KMZ", or click "Connect to GPS" to send the file directly to a newer Garmin GPS using the Communicator plugin.

Exporting avalanche slope shading to a KMZ file.
To load a KMZ file into your GPS (if you didn't transfer it directly using the plugin):

  1. Plug in your GPS using USB.  It should show up as a removeable drive, just like a USB thumb drive
  2. Create a \Garmin\CustomMaps\ directory on the GPS, if it doesn't already exist
  3. Copy the .kmz file into \Garmin\CustomMaps\
You may also have to turn on the Custom Maps layer on your GPS.


  1. Thanks for sharing this with us! Some really amazing features.

    Flat Earth Map

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