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Map Advice: Montana 600

Started by Reverend Bill, February 06, 2012, 02:07:33 PM

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Reverend Bill

ZUMO, but needed a unit I can take on the motorcycle, car, boat, kayak and hiking. Bought a Montana 600.

Looking at the map options and the landscape is very different from 2008 when I got the ZUMO, or 2003 when I got my e-trex.

Not only are there plenty of paid map products, but now the public domain is full of options.

Not being too tech savvy, the multitude of file types, apps and programs are rather intimidating.

Here's a list of my needs, not in particular order.
1. Paved roads, city streets, and POI in civilization.
2. Unpaved roads and tracks for dual-sport motorcycle riding.
3. Detailed topo data (24K:1) for the western states
4. Marine charts for Puget Sound and San Juan Islands
5. Marine Charts for Misty Fjords National Monument in SE Alaska
6. Detailed topo data (63:1) for Misty Fjords

At first glance it looks like I could purchase City Navigator, the Garmin Topo products for Alaska and the western states, and the Blue Chart product for the west coast.
The cost of all this is more than I can afford.

In the public domain, there OSMs, the topos on this site, and the NOAA Raster maps, at least.

When I tried out the Washington topo from, this site the Montana wouldn't route on the map, even though I built the route on Mapsource and successfully downloaded it.
Routeable is a priority.

Suggestions, oh wise ones?



The Garmin 24k topo products contain routable roads/trails and the same POI's as City Navigator, so they might meet meet many of your needs. They differ from City Navigator in that they don't provide speed limits, lane assist or junction view. The Montana can't use junction view, so now loss there, however I personally like having the speed limit and lane assist displayed. The 24k topo's aren't revised on any regular basis and aren't eligible for lifetime updates though, so the POI's and roads will not be as current as City Navigator.

For the maps on this site, unless they specifically state they are routable it is safe to assume they are not. This is what you saw when you tried to create a route on a non-routable map.

I don't use the OSM maps, but my understanding is that while they can route from point A to B, they can't tell you how to get to 123 Main St, Anytown WA (cannot search for specific addresses). And , of course, they won't contain the rich POI data of real Garmin maps for things like stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc.

Since the Montana can use raster imagery with 500 map tiles, you should learn how to make this kind of map yourself. That might meet your needs for some of the marine maps if you use the NOAA raster charts. To make a simple, small map of this type, see Garmin's tutorial here:

To make larger and more complicated maps, there are a variety of programs such as G-Raster, Mobile Atlas Creator, GoogleTrail, OKmaps, mapc2mapc and others. I have not used any these myself except mapc2mapc (I use GlobalMapper mostly, which is a rather expensive GIS application).

Reverend Bill

This is excellent information!  Thanks. 
Just for clarity,  City Navigator has the same small back roads, like Forest Service roads, as the Garmin Topo products?  I've been on some small FS roads with my ZUMO running 2008 City Navigator that weren't showing on the map (in sections).  I'd presumed the 24K topos would be more detailed for smaller roads, but maybe not.  For the expense, it sounds like they don't offer adequate value.

Based on what you tell me, sounds like I would be well served to get City Navigator, use the free non-routable topos for hiking and general orientation, and learn to use raster imagery for my limited marine needs.

Thanks again.


I would expect the Garmin 24k topo maps to to contain more little roads, however they also contain the routable (Navteq) roads from City Navigator. There have been complaints about the lack of little roads and trails on some of the 24k topo maps however. I suspect it is hard to generalize about this kind of thing as it could vary regionally.

You can view the 24k topo's on Garmin's site here and see for yourself:


Quote from: Reverend Bill on February 06, 2012, 02:41:48 PM
  City Navigator has the same small back roads, like Forest Service roads, as the Garmin Topo products?  I've been on some small FS roads with my ZUMO running 2008 City Navigator that weren't showing on the map (in sections).

Whether FS Roads are there may depend on what viewer you are using.  Looking at FS roads in Southern UT and Northern AZ on CN NA 2012.3.  Both viewers set to max detail. In MapSource 6.16.3. FS roads and significant unpaved roads like Cottonwood Canyon Road in GrandStaircaseEscalante don't show up until 0.7 miles (pretty useless).   In BaseCamp 3.0.3 Beta they show up at 5 miles.  IMO, City Nav has pretty good FS road coverage.

As long as you don't try to view the map at high mile zoom on your GPSr (See Boyd's note below.)


If I view any City Navigator map on my Montana 600, the little roads all disappear when you zoom out to 1.2 miles (ie: 1 click further out than .7 miles). That's pretty much the way City Navigator works on all the "classic" Garmin GPS units.

On the more recent Nuvi's however, the little roads disappear when you zoom out to .5 miles, which has been met with a lot of criticism from advanced users. From user reports, the new 2012 "advance" and "prestige" nuvi series once again show the little roads up until 1.2 miles.


In one area we went to, CN had a 4-wheel drive trail that the latest data from Forest Service did not have - the trail was legal and had FS numbered trail makers which had a small amount of weathering. 

When Garmin released their first 24k topo DVD (Pacific coast) there were posts that it did include trails and other posts that there were some trails, but a many less than on their 100k product.  About a year later, the posts on their final 24k topo DVD (east coast) indicated the purchasers were well satisfied with the extent of the trail coverage.  I have not seen any info to the effect that Garmin has updated any of the DVDs.

CN can be viewed at:

The hydro in CN is said to be very basic, nowhere as detailed as on 24k topos. 
My State contour overlay mapsets can be used the CN and also with OSM maps.

If shaded relief is a consideration, you only options are Garmin's 100k and 24k product - how Garmin codes the elevation grid has not been reversed engineered.  The embeded elevation grid can add elevation data to tracks.

There is also a free overlay map of trails in the NW US and adjacent BC.

Begin with the free mapsets and purchase Garmin's products when there is a need and funds are available.

Reverend Bill

This is excellent information.  So I looked at the link Boyd posted to the Garmin 24K map product, and the detail looks great.  I also saw a Birdseye Topo product by subscription.
How does the detail compare between the two, and are the small roads on the Birdseye topos routable Navteq roads?


Quote from: Reverend Bill on February 07, 2012, 09:13:45 PM
are the small roads on the Birdseye topos routable Navteq roads?
Not sure if your asking this, but Birdseye is not a routable product.  It's a georeferenced raster.  Pretty much like a jpeg that's been aligned with the geography for a section of the earth.

Indrid Cold

The Garmin 24K TOPOs are vector maps where the BirdsEye TOPO are the same as USGS paper maps. The BirdsEye products are not routable, and for the US come in two versions, the BirdsEye TOPO and the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.