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on August 5, 2009
Route-able Roads and Trails
24K Topo Detail

Dark Colors and Poor Contrast
Missing Trails
Trails aren't named
No BLM or State Lands

My comments are limited to Colorado and I'm comparing the Garmin maps to another 24K topo set by Above the Timber. On a recent 3-day backpack I used the Above the Timber maps 95% of the time, Garmin 5%, readability was the key. The good news, both map sets reside inside my Garmin GPS and switching is a breeze.

In my opinion a 24K Topo is a back country map used for foot, horse or other slow travel. This map set combines the excellent route-able Navteq highways and also route-able trails, that's slick. However due to an overly dark set of color choices, it's very difficult to see the trails to make an intelligent trip and/or route selection. Having the routing engine choose your route based on time or distance misses the human dynamic of most scenic. Not seen a routing engine that knows my scenic values . . . it'll happen someday.

The Garmin maps do not show BLM or state lands, a very big deal in Colorado. Also the trails lack either names and/or numbers, kind of like having a highway map w/o names or numbers, huh? Names and/or numbers give you valuable clues as to where you're going, which you verify with occasional sign posts.

To understand my colors and contrast comment, you'll have to view the attached Nuvi screenshots. They're fuzzy, the Amazon import did that and I'm not sure why.
review image review image
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on August 24, 2009
I recently purchased a Garmin 60CSx GPS unit,and living in the Southwest thought it necessary that I have 24k topographic maps for the areas that I travel. It's common knowledge that the base maps that come with every manufacturer's GPS units basically are useless. I thought that getting the Garmin maps at 24k resolution would solve some of those issues. I ordered the Garmin MapSource TOPO! US 24k Southwest Topographic, DVD version, available here on at Garmin MapSource TOPO! US 24k Southwest Topographic Coverage of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico (DVD).
I was fairly disappointed that even at high zoom levels there's a lack of detail that I thought should be present. Considering the high price that you have to pay for the maps I would think that Garmin would research and add additional map detail themselves. On the plus side, it was easy to use the Garmin MapSource software to choose and load the maps or areas that I desired.
I would hope that someday soon Garmin would make available maps at a reasonable price.
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on June 2, 2010
(Relates to TOPO U.S. 24K Southwest map set and included BaseCamp mapping software) Garmin MapSource TOPO! US 24k Southwest Topographic Coverage of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico (DVD)TOPO 24K is very disappointing when it comes to some roads and features. I also have Garmin's MapSource US TOPO maps (1998) and am more satisfied with that.
Although TOPO 24K has much more relief detail, it lacks many of the roads and manmade features that the MapSource maps had. A natural gas pipeline runs near my house and a dirt road runs its length. The pipeline is shown on the MapSource map set, but it is missing from the TOPO 24K map set. Dirt roads that branch off from that pipeline are also missing, although MapSource shows them. Many dual-track roads shown in MapSource are reflected as barely viewable trails in TOPO 24K. Consequently, planning a route is next to impossible without the roads/trails for reference.
I use the TOPO 24K map set on my Oregon 450t for the elevation and relief detail, but I plan my routes in MapSource using the older map set and then upload routes to my device.
If relief detail is more important to you than content, you might like this one. If content is more important to you, I don't think you'll be satisfied with TOPO U.S. 24K.

Update (6/11/2010): Regarding BaseCamp, when connected to the Internet and a software update is available, the program startup is interrupted and a splash screen tells you to update the BaseCamp software. It then closes out without allowing the user to use the current version. The update is extremely difficult to locate - it is not located in the "Map Update" area. Garmin should allow the option of "Update Now" instead of making the user manually find the update. Bad design by Garmin.

- Great relief detail
- Easy to move routes, waypoints and tracks to folders

- Missing many roads, trails and manmade features
- Not backwards compatible with MapSource map sets (although MapSource can view both old and new map sets)
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on June 7, 2009
I purchased this for my Garmin Vista HCX and the two make an unbeatable combo. I can be on a trail, in the mountains and request a route home. The route will state something like this:
Go north to forest trail 122 (4 miles).
Turn right on forest trail 122.
Go to farm road CO123 (12 miles).
Turn right on I25 (43 miles)
... Arrive at home (123 miles 6.5 hours)
The miles listed are the trail miles and not straight line distance. When I have passed a national forest sign that says Jones Park 1.7 miles and checked the distance on my GPS it matches exactly.
The find feature is good as well. Want to know if there are any hot springs in your hiking area? Do a find on "Hot Spring" and the nearest one will be listed and you can plot a route to it as shown above.
Overall, a very good product that I highly recommend.
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on June 23, 2009
In Arizona, around the Big Lake area in the White Mountains,I found several Forest Road numbers that are incorrect. Even in the city of Tucson the map has Alvernon Way not crossing the Rillito River, there is a very nice bridge at the river. All of these mistakes are in a small area, but I know these places. How can these maps be trusted in areas one does not know? That is unless you don't mind being lost in the Forest.
I contacted Garmin and their response was to carry back-up navagational maps.
So I guess they don't trust their own maps! Buy National Geographic State topos, in my experience they have never been wrong.
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on September 9, 2009
This map comes with a new, and almost unuseable PC-based mapping product called BaseCamp. Their older product - MapSource - is old, creaky, and error-prone, but far superior to BaseCamp. I suggest you not buy this mapset unless you have MapSource.

Some unadvertised "Gotchas":

These four states comprise 1794 maps and 3.1 GB.

Even my latest Garmin Rino 530 only handles 2024 maps and 3.6 GB, so these four states use up most of the available room in the unit. It takes many hours for the software to prepare and download 3 GB. During this time the PC must be undisturbed or the download will fail. Also, the bigger files must be downloaded directly to the SD card, rather than through the GPS. Even so, it usually takes multiple tries to get a successful download. Their software/firmware system was written when several megabytes was considered a big file - thus the poor handling of the GB files. If there was an alternative I would buy it.
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on June 25, 2010
I purchased two 24K map DVD's for my Garmin Colorado 450. The maps themselves are detailed and very readable on the GPS. Very useful on the trail. That alone is why I am giving these DVD's three stars. Everything else about them is poorly executed.

First, the provided BaseMap software, is bug ridden and frequently freezes, crashes, or simply refuses to work. For instance, I had it installed prior to the purchase because I used the BirdsEye Satelite photography. The first installed 24K Map DVD went fine; however, when I started Basemap after that install it chugged along for awhile and then aborted after about 15 minutes. A restart seemed fine. This process repeated itself when I installed the second 24K Map DVD. While performing Birdseye downloads, the software/USB connection to the GPS will frequently freeze and require that the computer be restarted to get everything working again (about every third download).

Finally, the installation of a full card (4GB limit) of 24K topo maps to the GPS takes 10-12 hours on my computer. This computer is used to run ArcMap with multi-gigabyte data sets and is not normally so slow. Something about the multistage processing that the Basemap software does with the 24k topo maps is done incredibly slowly. Which in an of itself would be tolerable (barely) if it wasn't for the fact that the Basemap software crashed twice doing the install process...

It appears that Garmin has focused solely on the devices they sell and are not putting sufficient resources into the accessories and software that are also required. Sounds like a great opportunity for another company to push them out of the business of selling GPS devices and accessories.
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on February 28, 2010
Even though the Amazon title for this product currently includes the name "MapSource" it is actually BaseCamp software. My Problem with this software (BaseCamp) is that as of Feb. 2010 there are no instructions for how to use it. Garmin lists BaseCamp's copyright as 2009 and as of this time offers no user's manual for the program, and I was unable to find any instructions from a web search. This fact diminishes my faith in the Garmin name even though the company produces quality products. If you are purchasing this product as a first-time "BaseCamp User", see my 2/26/10 review of the Garmin Topo U.S. 24K West DVD, which is also a BaseCamp product, and which I purchased through Amazon. During that very lengthy review ("How to Use Garmin BaseCamp...") I go into considerable detail about how to use BaseCamp. That information can help you feel confident about purchasing this particular product for the SW. Also, if you have Garmin's earlier software, MapSource, or want to download it from [...], the Garmin website does have a User's Manual for it and the 24K SW BaseCamp map can actually be run through MapSource instead of BaseCamp if you desire. (If you download MapSource from the Garmin website, the user's manual is downloaded with it.) BaseCamp has some advantages over MapSource, but MapSource is a simpler program and...has a user's manual. (I needed mapping software for Utah, that could be put onto my PC and loaded into my Garmin GPS and after reading Amazon reviews for the Garmin Topo 24K SW, I ended up ordering Utah mapping PC/GPS software, which works with MapSource, from Above the Timber [...] which works well.)
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on September 2, 2010
I bought Garmin Topo Southwest. Easy to install, other than that the product is way over priced for what you get. I've been using the old Delorme Topo 3.0. Garmin just doesn't compare. I hunt in southwest Colorado, roads are miss labeled or just are just not shown. Continental Divide not shown. Major trails ie. Continental Divide Trail, Rainbow trail, Colorado trail not shown. A lot of garbage that an outdoorsman doesn't need. Who needs to know where shopping centers or an ATM are when hunting or as Garmin puts it, ON THE TRAIL? The reason for the purchase was to put a copy on my etrex Legend HCX and I wanted to print maps from my PC. Well I tried printing a map to an HP laserjet printer and it printed the Navteq logo over the map. I tried to a second printer, an HP inkjet, same thing. After an hour on hold with technical support, the technician told me Garmin is aware of the problem and I should do a print screen. Well the same thing printed. I logged into my Amazon account and sent it back.
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on August 16, 2013
The 24k topographic map is functional and works fine. The hiking trails indicated on the map are not at all accurate. On the several hikes I done since purchasing, none are correct. The indicated path varies from the actual trails by sometimes more than half a mile, not a good thing if you are in deep woods. If you want accurate trails for hiking, buy something else.
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