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Suggestions for navigating with Garmin hand held gps

I just purchased a new hand held gps, it's the Garmin 65s, and I hope to be able to download maps from all trails and navigate them. Any suggestions would be great! 

8 Replies

Gt USGS or equivalent paper maps of the areas you will be hiking - more informative, cheaper, lighter, don't depend on batteries.....

I know this is very traditional, but paper maps work - all the time.  Your Garmin unit will be a useful supplement....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

The general process is to download a gpx track or route from a source like AllTrails (you need an account apparently).  Other file formats may work but .gpx is the most commonly used. Then upload it to your online Garmin Account and sync it with your device. Garmin may provide a PC/MAC app allowing you to upload the .gpx file via USB which may be the only option for some devices. Garmin also has the "Explore" phone app which may allow you to upload .gpx files to your Garmin via bluetooth directly depending on the device.

Thank you 


thanks so much I do have a paid membership to the all trails app so I have currently downloaded one map to my gps unit and will hopefully get to see if I can navigate using it this weekend. The gps on trail is entirely new to me but another tool in the navigation realm that I think might be very good I really enjoy hiking and map and compass are very good but a little new technology  might be nice as well thank you so much for taking your time to talk about this I hope you have a good day..


I have to agree with hikermor. I have used a Garmin to mark waypoints I may want to find later, but a GPS unit, Garmin or otherwise, is no replacement for good map and compass skills, a hard copy map, and a decent compass.

aka "Boonerelli"

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I totally agree with you about the map and compass and have been navigating this way for years and I feel that the new technology of the gps is just another great way to navigate and I want to learn as much as I can about it this weekend will be my first hike with it so looking forward to that thanks for all your information and taking your time to talk about it...

Folks have talked about good map and compass navigation skills already. I think learning to intuitively associate the contour lines and and marks on a map to the landscape around oneself is an essential skill for anyone venturing out into wilderness. GPS skills are also good to have. I do some pretty big wanders through the backcountry in Alaska. I carry a map, good compass with inclinometer (Silva Ranger), Garmin 66i GPS, and wear a Suunto Spartan watch.

99% of the time, I navigate by terrain association - that is by looking at the map before I start out and getting the lay of the land in my head. The compass comes out if I need to really pinpoint my position - which one can do through resection (back azimuth off several known points) and a close look at the map. I can get to within a few meters this way if I need to. 

I generally just use the GPS units to record where I have been, and to mark any points of interest I might want to come back to - but there are times when it can be an invaluable tool. In areas with few identifiable features (desert or tundra near or above the Arctic Circle) or when then the weather goes crappo and I really don’t feel like waiting it out or am in sketchy (ex. glaciated) terrain. Knowing how to use a GPS during these times can be priceless and save a lot of misery and concern during those times. 

As for getting files from AllTrails in your unit. Pretty sure you just have to download the GPX file and follow the instructions given by the manufacturer for your unit. Make sure you check what you get before you go. I’ve had this fail a few times. No big deal because it was just a backup to a backup anyway, but good to know what one is starting with before one goes out. 

Hope that helps. 




“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” -Norman Maclean

thanks so much for taking your time to talk about this and I agree with everyone the a map and compass are invaluable tools and use them on each and every hike this garmin gps is just another tool in the navigation realm that I am wanting to have at my disposal and I am finding it to be interesting to learn about to be honest I have yet to use it in the field but that is hopefully going to change this weekend when I can get out for a nice hike and see how it functions and get used to the interface if the all trails app downloaded maps work that is going to be a very valuable tool and will be most handy when it comes to my favorite place to hike which is colorado next spring thanks for your kind words