Garmin Topo software

I want to order the Garmin topo software for my MAP76csx. Figured I’d better ask if there is anything I should know before ordering.

I should have asked before getting the City Navigator. Someone may have advised getting the “NT” version which is apparently much more efficient with memory than the original version.

So, when it comes to topo, is there anything to be aware of?

Are you using it specifically for …
water navigation? If so, not the best software for this. While the topo maps are okay for general use, for shoreline detail they’re pretty poor. Also, some nav aids are on there, but not all of them. So again, if you are using it to help plot a course from say nav aid to nav aid, beware.

I use the topo software in my Map76. I may put in waypoints that I have transfered from a chart, but normally do not. I ALWAYS carry a real chart of the area that I plan to boat in. Whether you keep it on deck or stowed is up to you, but have it and don’t rely on the topo maps for critical navigation decisions.

All-in-all the topo software is pretty good for most outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and kayak/canoeing.


not getting it for water navigation
I’m pretty much a creek and river paddler. When I’m out on Lake Erie or the Chesapeake bay areas, I’m never far from land.

One of the biggest reasons I want the topo is so I get all the small creeks and streams located and labeled. It helps me with scouting, especially when I’m away from home. City Navigator has very few small creeks marked.

I’d also like to locate and mark rapids, camping areas and other points of interest.

being used to
USGS quality topo maps, it is a difficult comparison for me. I was quite disappointed in the topographic quality. It may work for what you are looking to do, but for offshore needs, its useless as mentioned…

I use mapsource US TOPO. Its scaled @ 1:100K (not 1:24K like you would get a harcopy usgs topo map). I use it for both hiking and kayaking. Nothing specific you should know about it except that it doesnt have the detail of a 24K map or product. If you are looking for 24K detail in natl parks garmin has other topo products. I would suggest you dont purchase from garmin if you are gonna buy it, try for $89.

good luck

Topo software will work

– Last Updated: Apr-09-07 4:45 PM EST –

fine for the use you are describing. The level of detail is approximately 1:50000 or 1:100,000, but I find that to be fine for most situations in inland waters (also for hiking, etc.) and will allow you to find many of the landmarks in the surrounding terrain. You should know, however, that the roads shown on the Topo software have not been updated for a while. In the Chicago area, this means that at least one of the major tollways does not even show on the GPS topo maps, even though it has been here for at least 15 years or longer. This probably reflects the status of the USGS topo maps at the time that the software was developed (those are not always updated right away either). I actually called Garmin about the missing highway, and they basically said they had no immediate plans for an update.

The City Navigator software you have can be very helpful for calculating driving routes to the put-in and take-out points, and is capable of giving you turn-by-turn directions that can be recalculated on the fly if you make a wrong turn or choose a different route. Just remember that sometimes common sense should be believed when it tells you that there is a better route (e.g., when you have some decent knowledge about the local traffic patterns).

Details, Details…
For creek, rapids, and tributary labelling, their are better software packages. As another poster pointed out the scale on the Garmin US Topo is 1:100,000, which is medium scale. Not going to be great with fine detail.

Not all the creeks and small tributaries are shown in the US Topo software maps. May I suggest going to the Garmin site and looking on their map viewer for the US Topo. You can click in on the specifc area that you are interested in and see if it has the detail that you are looking for. You can zoom in to about 1 inch = 80 feet, but I think that you’ll find that the creek or river may be there, but it isn’t labelled or is not where it should be or not shown at all.


good advice, I already looked at it

– Last Updated: Apr-09-07 5:15 PM EST –

And, I was disappointed that the detail I was used to was not there. I'm thinking it's kind of a question of memory?? In another 5 or or years, we'll probably get 1:24 scale. But for now, is Garmin Topo the best I can do, or are there other alternatives for the MAP76csx?

I'm pretty green at this GPS stuff so everyone's help is greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, the more detailed State Parks version is not going to do me much good. Most of my paddling is outside the parks.

Thanks everyone who has responded.

If you’re looking for detail what I have done is purchase “maptech” products by state. The problem with this is you cant download any maps to your GPS with the maptech product. Its a digitized version of the USGS quad maps. I’ve used it to create routes/tracks then dumped those tracks out to my Garmin, but like i said…not the maps…sux.

good luck

Thought I heard a rumor…
…that Garmin was coming out with 1:24K scale topo software of the entire US to replace the 1:100K stuff. Might want to check with them on that.

I think one of the other GPS companies (Magellan?) has 1:24K topo software. I’ve seen it on a friends GPS and it seems like too much info (topo lines, etc.) on one little GPS screen.

I’ve used USTOPO for a couple of years, mostly for hunting, and for the little I’ve used it, the 1:100K seems quite adequate. There’s been very little I couldn’t figure out from the 1:100K that I needed the 1:24K for. However, running creeks might be one of those activities where you want the best map available… Good luck.

Topo is fine for most kayaking
While there are a few problems in details, I have used Topo for 4 years in Florida, Maine, and Virgina. The details of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway were outstanding. Camping areas were clearly indicated. A few islands in Moosehead Lake in Maine, some river bars in Virginia, and a few mangrove islands in Florida are not on Topo. Knowing that there are some irregularities, I used common sense and never felt lost or “at sea.” It made it more fun, like my 20 years cruising in my sailboat with compass and chart in the days before GPS and Loran.

1:24K scale topo software is out
Anyone can comment on how good it is?

it better not be out
I just spoke with customer service at Garmin yesterday and was told that there is no word on 1:24k Topo. I expressed my displeasure at Garmins “no upgrade” policy when it comes to newer and better software. Yea, my opinion will make a difference …

Anyway I ordered Tope today. If anyone knows that 1:24 is out or close to being out. Please let me know. Customer service was no help.

Did I mess up on “comparable”?

– Last Updated: Apr-14-07 12:20 AM EST –

OK, the 24K is for the national park software and I believe you bought the "USA" Topo.

This CD provides detailed coverage of U.S. national parks, national forests and some state parks. It also includes points of interest and park amenities. Maps are comparable to 1:24,000 scale paper maps provided by the USGS. This is the most detailed topographical data available.


– Last Updated: Apr-14-07 12:14 AM EST –

Any reason you decided to buy topo rather than national geographic? I am learning the ropes on map software. where did you buy it from and how much if you do not mind me asking?

Garmin topo
I have the Garmin topo map loaded on mine and it is certainly adequate for what I do. We do a fair amount of bushwahacking and I have used to get reoriented many times.

the reason any of these folks would buy garmin mapsource topo is because it can be uploaded to some of the garmin units. So you would have the elevation lines, etc on your gps screen. The ntl geographic topo software wont upload to a garmin gps.