Getting the data into your GPS

Via Software:

Mapsource is a inexpensive program that will load Waypoints onto SD cards or directly to a Garmin GPS.  Once it has been installed on a computer, upgrades are free.  The cheapest place I have found for purchasing this program is here ($25).  Garmin Basecamp is a free program that will also work for this purpose.  A downloaded version of Mapsource will install and run on any computer that already has Basecamp installed.

Babel is a free utility that will load and unload many brands of GPS receivers.  You can download it here:

Another free utility is GPS Trackmaker.  It is a bit more user friendly than Babel.


The practical issue with these GPS programs is that they make it difficult to change data sets in the field unless you have access to a PC.  The more robust GPS receivers made by Garmin will load themselves from a inserted SD card. The card can then be removed and a Map card inserted.  These units include the Garmin 62, Colorado, and Oregon series.  The smaller units (Etrex Series) will work with the SD card containing the waypoints inserted, but won't self load.  This presents a problem if you are using a Map card - you can use either the Map card or the waypoint card, but not both.  Here is a method that works around that issue.


How to load Waypoints or POI's into GPS main memory via copying so you still have access to Map Cards.  


This method requires a USB cable and a computer, but no special software.  It can be done from almost any pc, such as computers found in coffeeshops anf libraries along the trail. (It is strongly suggested that you practice this at home a few times before beginning you hike. ) 

1.  Remove the Map Card from the GPS.  Insert the card with the Waypoints or POI's.

2.  Connect the GPS to the PC via a USB cable.

3. Using Windows Explorer, or any other file manager, navigate to the GPS, which will show as two disk Drives, one a removable and the other a regular drive.  Go to the regular drive for the unit itself and open the Garmin Directory.  Then go to the removable drive and copy these files:

Waypoint files: 
Copy the userdata. adm  file to the userdata folder.  If the folder doesn't exist, copy the entire folder. If the file already exists, overwrite it.
Copy the userdata.gpx file to the GPX folder. If it already exists, overwrite it.

POI Files:
POI files have a .gpi extension. To load the POI's, Copy the appropriate .gpi file from the POI folder on the card to the POI folder on the GPS . You can have multiple POI files in the GPS.  

After the desired files have been copied, turn off the GPS, remove the card and re-insert your Map card. 

(Use the back button on your computer to return to where you were when you accessed this page)


To update POI's on the unit or a card:

Remove any cards from the GPS.  (if you are programming a card, skip this)
Connect the GPS to a PC.
Using Windows Explorer, or any other file manager, navigate to the drive letter for the GPS or card.
Open the Garmin Directory. 
Open the POI subdirectory and delete the current POI file.  It will have a .gpi extension.
Copy the new .gpi file to the POI subdirectory. 
Disconnect the cable.  The GPS is now ready to use.




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