I got a Garmin GPS for Christmas, a hand-held one ideal for backpacking. Pretty neat. But then I looked closer, and had a “what the hell?” moment. It has no topo maps. Not even regional low-res 100k maps. Nothing. A few political outlines, major roads, major water obstacles like Lake Washington. You have to buy topo maps as extras. I thought the whole point of a GPS was not to point at a spot in a blank area and say “you are here.” Heck, I can get that with pencil and paper, and know general direction with a compass.
So I went to the Garmin site. They want a hundred bucks for a Northwest 24k topo map. Another hundred for a CA/Nevada topo. Another hundred for “mountain west.” Another hundred for Alaska. Another hundred for 100k US. And so-on. Holy COW! If you get around much, you could easily spend far more on maps than on the GPS unit itself. The unit I received had been bought on sale; any two of those are more than the unit cost.
I dug around a little bit online, and there are some references to using open source (USGS, TIGER, or whatever) topo maps, but nothing very specific or detailed that seemed like the right path. Anyone know any good sourses for free open source 24k topo maps and directions for putting them onto Garmin handheld GPS units? If I can get pointed to some that look like they will work, I’ll try it and let readers know how it goes.