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Montana 650

Started by alpine, September 04, 2013, 06:00:40 AM

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Now learning my new GPS. Emailed Garmin asking if the Montana 650 would route Forest Service roads and county dirt roads with the Western US 24k Topo maps. Here is their reply:
QuoteWith the 24K maps the Montana unit will be able to route using any roads that appear on the map
Now sometimes Garmin will overstate the facts, so has anyone have any experience with this unit and this map?

Also since BaseCamp can turn any track into a route, I asked how many way points the Montana 650 can handle. Their reply was 250.
Again sometimes Garmin can get ahead of themselves, so does any have any practical experience with the number of way points?


The "real" Garmin 24k topo maps have fully routable road data from Navteq, just like City Navigator. The problem is, the roads you want may not be on the map at all. You can view these maps on Garmin's site and see if the roads you want are there.

250 waypoints (vias) in a route is probably correct. However that spec may not be very meaningful. The gps can run out of memory (high speed RAM, not the flash memory that stores the map) when calculating a complex route. I think you would have to do your own tests, because it will depend on the actual routes you create.

Personally I have never wanted to create a route with anywhere near this number of waypoints. I doubt that Basecamp will create a route that complex from a track, although I've never tried. I've read numerous reports from others that say tracks are greatly simplified when converting to routes.

I got a Montana 600 shortly after it was introduced and I really like it. You might want to wait just a little longer before purchasing though. The Monterra, Garmin's new flagship model, is expected to ship in October. That might lead to a price drop on the Montana. Just a guess though.  :)


Bought the Montana refurbished, so no problem there. I am usually behind the latest and greatest by a couple of years.

I tried to make a route from a track without specifying the number of way points, and the unit could not calculate the route. Next time I try I will limit the way points (now that I have a idea of where to start) to a figure less than 250.

On the old Nuvi 500 they claimed 50 way points was max, but I had better luck with no more than 35.


Garmin also insists their GPSr units can display a maximum of only 20 Tracks on the map screen at any given time.
Garmin GPSMap 60cs, Dakota 20, Colorado 400t, Oregon 300/400t/450/550t/650/650t, Montana 650, Lowrance Endura Sierra, nuvi 3790, iPhone 3G/4/4s
Geocaching ID: Atlas Cached Ambassador


Oh have I had "fun" with Garmin Tech Support over the last couple of weeks!

First I had to buy 2 DVDs to get the 24 K areas I wanted. But the maps would not show on the device after loaded onto a 32 gb SD card.

I will not bore you with the back and forth of it, but MapInstall is a separate program from BaseCamp here is a link:
It's best to install the separate program. MapInstall does not give you the option (like in MapSource) to install to either the internal memory, or the SD card. It will install to the internal memory till that runs out, and the overflow will go to the SD card.
So to fix that put the SD card in a card reader, with the device not connected to the 'puter.
Long and short of it my Montana will not read a 32 gb SD card. A 4 gb, an 8 gb, and a 16 gb are all fine. They have no answer. They stopped answering my emails.
Stand by for more "Fun With Garmin Support".
By the way, the maps are route-able (and not locked) and anything more than 50 way points and the unit will not  calculate the route.


You can use Mapsource to send topo maps to the Montana or to a memory card if you prefer. I have the 24k East Topo on DVD and use it with Mapsource.

I found this FAQ at Garmin Support recently, it has some interesting specs for all the outdoor handhelds. What I hadn't realized is that these devices can only use 50 via's in a route if you use on-road navigation (like you would normally do with a routable map). However they can use 250 via's on non-routable roads.

QuoteMontana Series

2,000 GPX files
4,000 waypoints
12,000 geocaches
200 routes, 250 points per route
200 saved tracks
2,000 archive tracks*
10,000 points per track
500 custom map tiles

Note: When utilizing routes, only 50 points can be used for on road navigation.

*Archive tracks do not count against GPX file limit; 1 archive track per gpx file

I guess I'm either lucky or have low expectations.IHave never called Garmin support but I have owned 5 Garmin handhelds, 7 nuvis and and a StreetPilot.  ;)


The thing is Garmin Support does not want you to use MapSource. In my back in forth with them I told them I could load map segments onto the sd card with MapSource, and they poo-pawed using that program. It worked, go figure!
Still can't get around that Montana not being able to read the 32 gb card.


Montana will function with uSD cards up to 64GB in size. The issue is not your Montana, but your uSD card. I suspect it is not properly formatted in FAT32 (not exFAT).
Garmin GPSMap 60cs, Dakota 20, Colorado 400t, Oregon 300/400t/450/550t/650/650t, Montana 650, Lowrance Endura Sierra, nuvi 3790, iPhone 3G/4/4s
Geocaching ID: Atlas Cached Ambassador


Been there, tried that. Still doesn't work. Formatting a 32 gb sd card is not my idea of fun.
I have 4 32 gb sd cards from class 4 to class 10. No joy.
Formatting a 64 gb sd card would be twice the fun, and still no guarantee that it would work.
Garmin Support claims the 32 gb works, but you can't prove it by me.


Is there some reason you need a card that large?


I put all my maps on the card, also pictures are stored on the card. Also Geo-Cach info is stored there.  Also when I get to the Birds-Eye stuff, imagery will go to the sd card.
Also when future software update come out the internal memory need to have space available.
Garmin claims the Montana will handle 3,000 segments. Now currently I'm at 1,100 segments. However not much improvement over the 2,500 the Nuvi 500 would handle.


I tried a class 10 16gb card that was completely filled with Birdseye on my Montana. Startup time became completely unacceptable. Seemed like forever, but I guess it was between 30 to 60 seconds. This is a real pain when the gps crashes while navigating and takes so long to reboot.

I decided there really wasn't any advantage to keeping all that stuff on the device all the time. Now I only have City Navigator and a couple of my own maps in internal memory and the Montana starts up very quickly.

A card doesn't do anything to help with segment limits, they apply to all maps loaded in both internal memory and the card.

A firmware update just requires enough space for the gupdate.gcd file to be loaded. These files are pretty small, the last one I installed was about 17MB. You could remove the file after the firmware is flashed if you like - the actual program code is stored in protected internal memory that you can't access.


Right now the boot up time is minimum. Even if it took 2 minutes it wouldn't be a factor. Warm up time for the ATV is 10 minutes. The GPS draws power from the cradle from the ATV, so it stays on all day. I haven't had it crash yet. Segments, according to Garmin Support, is the total amount of map segments you have both on internal memory and on the sd card. The Montana has a 100k map that came with, which I can't seem to get rid of.
Just in 24 K maps, if I remember correctly, is a little over 10 gb. Geo stuff is undetermined as of yet, as I haven't loaded all of it.


Quote from: alpine on November 03, 2013, 12:20:29 PMThe Montana has a 100k map that came with, which I can't seem to get rid of.

If it's like my old Oregon 400t, the topo map is in the file gmapprom.img. So you should be able to back that up and delete if you want. The whole US map is something like 450 segments and about 3gb IIRC.