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OpenStreetMap free maps for Garmin devices

The GPS have become a companion of our hiking and mountain activities, providing a plus to our safety and that of the people who accompany us.

OpenStreetMap free maps for Garmin devices
OpenStreetMap map capture / Image: OpenStreetMap

Knowing how to use them is essential both for the route and for its preparation. Equally important is to have quality maps that provide us with all the information we need. There are different map options, each with its own characteristics, both in terms of use and acquisition, but today I want to talk about OpenStreetMap maps for Garmin devices.​

Do you know what is behind OpenStreetMap maps?

We are talking about a project known as OSM or OpenStreetMap that is supported by a large worldwide community that is responsible for creating these maps. Its main feature is that the OSM are open source maps that can be used freely, regardless of the purpose we have, including commercial, obviously provided that the authorship is properly acknowledged to OSM and its collaborators.

These maps, thanks to the work of this great community, are constantly updated. Among the maps that are developed we can find cartography maps from all over the world, which we can use totally free in our Garmin devices and even in BaseCamp.

Generic Routable map capture / Image: OpenStreetMap
Generic Routable map capture / Image: OpenStreetMap

What do we have to do to get OpenStreetMap maps?

Although we can install them directly on our Garmin device, almost certainly we also have the invaluable Garmin program for PC, which is none other than BaseCamp. If not, I advise you to download and install it, as it is a free application that will allow us, among other things, to manage and view maps from around the world, transfer files and maps to our device and prepare in the tranquility of our home the route we are going to do.

In the following link you can download BaseCamp:

Capture map Generic Routable New Style / Image: OpenStreetMap
Capture map Generic Routable New Style / Image: OpenStreetMap

Download OpenStreetMap for BaseCamp

There are several websites from where we can download the maps, we also have the "official" website of the community from where we have access to all the maps and we can even collaborate as developers.

But to simplify, in this case we will go directly to one of the websites from where we will be able to download topographic maps from all over the world.

To do this we have to open the following website:

Once on this website we will see a series of options and a large world map.

Screenshot web / Image:
Screenshot web / Image:

Steps to follow

1-In the first section we can choose the type of map we want to download. Unless we are passionate about BTT the option to choose is Generic Routable (new style), the Generic Routable version can also serve us but it is somewhat coarser in its design.

2-We skip the next section and go directly to select the country of which we are going to need its topographic maps, choosing from the drop-down list of the corresponding continent.

3-Once the country has been selected we can proceed to the download; to do this we skip the next section and go directly to the download section. Here we will usually be asked to enter an email address and then click on the button next to it.

Alternatively, we can not enter the e-mail address and wait for a while until the web verifies that the requested map exists. Once this is done, the direct download of the map is activated.

4-If we do not wait, we will receive two emails, the first one is simply to know the status of the request. The second one is the one we are interested in, since it contains the map download link.

5-Once we have clicked on the link, either the email link or the direct link, a window opens in which we must choose the download file, which will depend on our operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac).

6-When we have downloaded the file and with BaseCamp turned off we proceed to execute the installation. It is possible that we get a warning of the type "this application can put at risk your PC", we can be calm and ignore it, although you have to be conscious that in any case you are the only responsible for what can happen to your PC.

In the installation we should not change anything, to avoid problems, since in order to work correctly it must be installed in a specific location that is configured by default.

7-After the process we will only have to open BaseCamp and select the OSM generic routable new map, which includes the date of its last update, to start using it, transfer it to our GPS and prepare our routes with it.

Topographic map scale
Screenshot web / Image:

But what about level curves?

The understanding of the map is very simple, it has basic colors but no contour lines or color changes to indicate the relief, something very useful for mountain activities. On the other hand, the level of detail of the information is quite good, it is available on a global scale and updated almost constantly.

Download OpenStreetMap maps with contour lines

Being an open source map we can find many variants generated by the developer community, and how could it be otherwise we have available a version that includes contour lines.

In the case of Spain these contour lines have been projected on the map from IGN proprietary data. This increases the accuracy of the contour lines, but limits the use we can make of the maps since these data are protected by copyright. Therefore we cannot make any commercial use, have any monetary gain, making use of these maps if we do not have the permission of the National Geographic Institute.

Capture Topo map / Image: OpenStreetMap
Capture Topo map / Image: OpenStreetMap e IGN

How do we do it?

The steps to follow to download OpenStreetMap maps with contour lines are very similar.

1-This time we have to open the following website:

2-Once in the web site we locate in the list the country we are looking for

3-We will have several possibilities available on this occasion.

3.1-Four types of maps, the base, the topographic (the one we need), another for trucks and finally the base with DEM data, very interesting as we will see later on.

3.2-Each map option has in turn available two possible downloads. One version ready to install or copy directly to our device. And another to install on the PC, in BaseCamp.

4-Once we have downloaded the file we need, we only have to unzip it and install it normally on our PC or copy it to the card of our device, as the case may be.

5-Once this is done when we open BaseCamp we will be able to select the OSM Spain-Topo map that has as we will see the contour lines that the other version lacks. In detriment we will have lost some information, like some road or some path.

Screenshot / Image:

What are DEM maps

It is nothing more than a Digital Elevation Model, in short, a file containing information about the altitude of the terrain at each point on the map.

This allows us, among other things, to include relief shading and in the case of BaseCamp we will also be able to see the maps in 3D. In addition, maps with DEM allow us to calculate the profile of the routes created both on the computer and on the GPS, this is not possible with the previous maps.

Capture DEM map / Image: OpenStreetMap
Capture DEM map / Image: OpenStreetMap


There are many maps that we can install both on our PC and on our device, with more or less detailed information and functionalities, even of specific areas within a country or region. Also focused on each activity that we develop, hiking, mountain biking, winter.

These maps are free and free to download but you can always and have the possibility to contribute financially to the developers so that they can continue to improve the maps.

We will find both paid and free maps, but above all the most important thing is not only to have it installed on our PC and on the device we carry with us, the most important thing is to know how to interpret the map, to know how to use both the program and the device we have and use it to prepare the route in advance.


Go to Handling of the GPS

Signposting of hiking and mountain routes

How to read a topographic map when hiking


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