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VERY disappointed with Birdseye topo subscription

Started by Ventoracing, May 06, 2016, 07:06:58 PM

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Is it just me or does the Birdseye topo map subscription leave you unimpressed?

Downloaded my home area as a 24K topo map and loaded into my Montana 680.... wait a minute... were is my house?... where is my street?... where is my neighborhood?.... my house and my neighborhood was built in the 1990s... Go on the USGS map finder site, download the map of my area circa 1957 and i get the exact same map I just downloaded from Birdseye! Seriously, 1957!???

I checked another area in NY.... same story. Map is from the 50's. Is this other people's experience or am I missing something?

I did not just shell out $400 on a Garmin handheld so I can navigate using 1950s maps...

Someone please tell me there is a better option.


I posted a long response to your same question at, so I won't repeat it here. But to summarize, Garmin's Birdseye Topo gives you "classic" hand-drawn USGS maps. They are typically 20 to 50 years old. Anyone familiar with cartography would already know this. It's unfortunate that you weren't aware when you made your purchase.

For a map made from more recent data, you could use Garmin's own 24k topo series. They are expensive. I have the Northeast 24k Garmin topo, it covers NY and a few other states. Not crazy about these myself, but they are more recent and have routable roads/trails that can give you turn by turn directions.

You could also look at the free maps on this site. The quality varies a lot since they were made by different people with different skill levels and goals.

For my own use, I am moving away from Garmin, after many years and thousands of dollars spent on their products. I don't think they are a very good value in today's world of powerful smartphones. And with a phone you have the choice of many different apps and map sources, most of which are either free or very inexpensive. See this:


Thanks Boyd for the reply, I was hoping you would weigh in as you seem to be very active on the forums and very well informed.

I too have been very happy navigating with Google Maps and and iPhone, and only very recently purchased a Montana 680 because i was concerned that Google Maps and an iPhone would not be  a workable solution outside of decent cell phone coverage.

I wish there was a way I could test drive the Garmin 24K maps to see if I thought they were worth the $129 they want for the US Northeast....


You don't need a Garmin GPS to navigate in areas with no cell coverage, there are many apps that store the whole map on your phone. I have been using Galileo Offline on my iPhone 6s Plus and am quite happy with it. You will want the "pro" version, but IIRC you get a free 5 day trial of that. It then costs something like $9 to upgrade which is reasonable IMO.

I have stopped using my Nuvi in the car and now use the Garmin StreetPilot Onboard app which also stores everything on the phone. 

See this discussion:

Regarding "try before you buy", garmin used to have a map viewer on their website where you could do exactly that. Doesn't seem to be there anymore. Also, the DVD version was a much better value in the past but they have discontinued that. You may still be able to find them from other vendors.

The DVD can be installed on any Garmin device that you own. The download version only works on the device it was originally installed on. Also, the DVD version can be installed on your computer for offline use. The download and card versions cannot, although they can be accessed when the card (or copy of the card) is plugged into your computer.



Thank you thank you thank you.... the Galileo App appears to do exactly what I was looking for. I download my custom Google Map to the app, put the phone into airplane mode to simulate being somewhere with no cell service, and the app tracked me around my neighborhood with no issues.

For $10 this is a bargain. Returning my Montana as I type this.... I only hope Cabelas will take it back no questions asked after i used it for about a week....


Cool, glad it is working out.  8)

You might also like this. This article shows you how to access all of the USGS US Topo layers in Galileo. They are constantly updated and may be more to your liking:

They're also free, as I mentioned over at GPSReview :)


I extract maps and convert to SQLITE format. I can use the same format on my Android phone with Back Country Navigator and on my iPad with Galileo. (It's a WiFi only iPad but I use a GNS 2000 Bluetooth GPS for location).

If nothing better is available, I download one of the OSM Garmin maps from and use my MAPC2MAPC to render it as SQLITE. I have used this successfully on trips to Grenada and Mallorca recently.

It is also possible to download aerial imagery from various sources and convert to this format as an alternative to Birdseye (but be aware of licence conditions!)