Garmin MapSource is a popular software tool for transferring maps and trail data to Garmin GPS units but it can be confusing for first time users, particularly when it comes to loading singletracks trail data. Here’s a quick guide for getting the most out of Garmin MapSource and your singletracks membership.
Load the appropriate basemaps
Most Garmin GPS units don’t have enough memory to store topographic maps for the entire US so MapSource makes it possible to transfer just the maps you need for your trip. Use the “Map Tool” to select the grids you need before heading out or even better, load up topographic data for the areas you use the most (your state, region, etc.) so you can skip this step for local trips. The map tool can be found in the toolbar below the main menu and the icon looks like a polygon.
Once the map grids are selected, click the “Send to Device” icon (looks like an arrow pointing down toward a GPS) and choose to send the Maps. Depending on the size of the area you selected this may take a while.
Loading GPX data
Singletracks offers GPS in a data format called GPX. After downloading a particular GPX trail file, choose “Open” from the “File” menu in MapSource and change the “Files of Type” menu at the bottom of the dialog to “GPS eXchange Format.” Find the appropriate file and click the “Open” button.
To view the track data, click the “Track” tab on the left side of the program, then right click on the track name and choose “Show Selected Track on Map.” The track will be highlighted in yellow and should show all the trackpoints and waypoints in the file.
Next, right click on the track again and choose “Track Properties.” Many popular Garmin GPS units, including the GPSMap 60 series, can’t handle tracks with more than 500 data points so unfortunately you’ll need to eliminate some of the track detail before transferring to your device (otherwise Garmin simply truncates the file after 500 points). Click the “Filter” button and choose to “Filter by” the “Maximum Points.” Set this value to 500, then click OK. Click OK again to return to the map (see below).
To transfer the modified track and associated waypoints to your device, click the “Transfer to GPS” button and be sure to check both the “Tracks” and “Waypoints” buttons. Once the transfer is complete trail maps will be available under “Saved Tracks” on your device (GPS menu navigation and actual title may vary by GPS device).
Some Garmin GPS devices may limit the number of saved tracks (the GPSMap 60 only stores up to 20 tracks at a time) so at times you’ll need to delete tracks before transferring to your device. It’s always a good idea to preview the trail map on your GPS before you leave the house to make sure everything looks good.
Transferring GPX-formatted trail data to your GPS may seem a bit confusing at first but it definitely gets easier each time you do it. Make the most out of your GPS and singletracks membership – get out and explore!