Free Maps For Garmin GPS Devices

I use a Garmin nuvi 2567lm GPS device and take it with me wherever I travel. It’s a car GPS. But I also use it when riding a motorcycle. I place it in a handlebar mounted waterproof pouch. Garmin offers regular map updates which I install every now and then.

While preparing for my trip to Sri Lanka I couldn’t find a Garmin provided map for the country. I searched online and found other companies selling Garmin compatible maps for Sri Lanka. I also came across a website called garmin.openstreetmap.nl which claimed to offer free maps for Garmin GPS devices. These maps are based off data provided by OpenStreetMap, a “community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world.

I had heard of the OpenStreetMap project before, but didn’t pay much attention to it because Garmin was providing the maps I needed. But left with little option, I decided to try out this web site and see if the maps were any good.

To get a map you need to choose the country on the web site and download it. I left the map type to the default (generic routable), picked Sri Lanka as the country and the map on the web page below highlighted sections that covered Sri Lanka.

2016-03-12_1053_001Click the image for a larer view

I then clicked the download link and was asked to select the type of file.

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I picked the windows executable as I use the Windows version of Basecamp software to manage my GPS. I ran the executable and installed the map on my computer. The anti-virus software on my computer complained, but I crossed my fingers and ignored the warning.

Next I plugged in my GPS to my computer, started Basecamp and proceeded to install the map on the memory card of the GPS (Maps > Install Maps on Memory Card). I went through the wizard and the file “OSM generic routable(LKA_20-01-2016).img” was copied onto the SD card in the Map folder.

I set this map as the current map in Basecamp and zoomed into Colombo city. All the major roads seemed to be there.

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I zoomed in a little more and found that the map had a significant amount of detail in it. Pleased with myself, I proceeded to add way points for my ride around Sri Lanka and created a route.

After reaching Sri Lanka and renting a motorcycle, I strapped the GPS to the handlebar and was surprised to find the map blank. Surprisingly, the GPS was guiding me along roads asking me to turn left and right at intersections. It was as if the map was somewhere in the GPS but I couldn’t see the roads. After some fiddling around I figured that multiple maps were active on the device and the OpenStreetMap was hiding under Garmin’s map which didn’t have any data for Sri Lanka.

I deactivated all maps except the Sri Lanka OpenStreetMap map and the roads showed up on the GPS. I spent two days following the route I had planned and the OpenStreetMap map worked like a charm. The map was completely routable just like Garmin’s maps and I could safely take detours and have the GPS route me back on track without any problem.

garmin.openstreetmap.nl gets two thumbs up from me.