Garmin General Tips

Garmin General Tips

For virtually all Garmin GPS units, all you need to do is insert the memory card. However, some tips are listed below which may assist you in using your Garmin GPS.

Customized Map: The TRAX series of maps contain a lot of detail for different outdoor activities. Depending on your version of the TRAX map and the type of outdoor activity, you may want to turn off or on specific map layers on your GPS. The process on how to get to the Map Information varies on different Garmins but usually can be found under Tools – Settings – Map – Map Info or Setup – Map – Map Info. Here is a screenshot of what this looks like. For newer style Garmin units, the format of the map must be updated from the Legacy format to the New Format. Our Online Map Update Tool can be used for this update.

Maps Not Showing:


  • If your GPS accepts SD cards, the SD card provided is an adapter only. The microSD card must be inserted into the SD  card and both inserted together. The microSD must be inserted
    into the SD adapter with the metal leads facing the same direction!
  • If your GPS has a sliding lock, it has to be entirely shut or the  metal leads will not make contact. If it does not, make sure you  hear the click normally associated with inserting the card.
  • It is possible you are not zooming far enough to have the  map details appear.

Nuvis: Nuvis are great automotive GPS units. Please keep in mind, their purpose is strictly designed for automotive use. This means most tend to have a very short battery life, don’t have track features, and are not waterproof. They can be used with the TRAX series of maps as many prefer their bigger screens. However, due to their features, they are not designed for extreme outdoor use. One of the issues you may face is a lack of labels showing on the map. Most of the Garmin handhelds have a Declutter feature and it is OFF by default. On Nuvis, there isn’t a choice for Declutter as it is always on. Older versions of Garmin Nuvis tend to show more labels and higher levels of details than the newer style of Garmins.

Some ways to show more labels:

  • Click on the screen which switches the GPS to Browse Mode which often shows more detail than Driving Mode.
  • Tools – Settings – System and for Usage Mode try Pedestrian or Bicycle and see if this shows more labels.
  • Tools – Settings – Map and increase your Map Detail to More or Most
  • Tools – Settings – Map – Info and turn off TRAX_Background. With the background off, you should be able to touch screen elements and information about the element will appear.

Nuvi 200, 250, 350, and 650: These Nuvis do not allow multiple Garmins maps on different map layers. If you have one of these GPS models, contact Kirsch’s Outdoor Products at and a customized map will be set for these specific units.

Nuvi 500 Series: Tools – Settings – System and choose Walking or Biking. This has to be modified as this series comes with a topo map by default and it overlays over any map entered.

Oregon Series: Setup – Map – Advanced Map Setup – Zoom Levels – Land Cover set to 100 miles or higher. On some original Oregon models, this needs to be adjusted or the land areas do not show on the GPS unit. This issue only affected early releases of the Oregon models.

Detail Level: The detail level can be set to change when TRAX and Garmin map elements appear. By default we create the maps to work very will at the default setting of Normal, but this setting can be changed to shows elements earlier.

Double Roads: Your GPS may have some of the map features your TRAX series provides so you may wish to turn off some major features of your TRAX map such as roads. This varies per model so please consult your owner’s manual. For a Garmin Nuvi 500 for instance, it is Tools – Settings – Map – Map Info.

Clicking on Objects Show No Label: To keep many Garmin map base map features from interfering with the TRAX maps, a background layer is added to the Garmin maps. By turning this layer off, certain Garmin GPS units will allow hovering over land areas and have the name of the land appear. For most Garmins, the name will still appear but on a few units, turning off the background layer may be necessary. In addition, by turning off the background, the TRAX map will be transparent and many other GPS elements may begin to show. Turning off the Background layer varies per model so please consult your owner’s manual. For a Garmin Nuvi 500 for instance, it is Tools – Settings – Map – Map Info.

Maps with Topos: Some GPS units come pre-loaded with topo on them. This typically is represented by elevation contour lines. Every implementation of topo is different but the most common scenario is the base map topo lines will be under the TRAX series of maps and disappear when a TRAX map is inserted in the GPS. If you wish to see both maps, one option is to go into Tools – Settings – Map – Map Info (navigation varies per GPS) and turn off the TRAX – Background layer. This layer is the white background used to cover up the other GPS elements. With this turned off, many of the topo lines will then begin to appear. If a topo line disappers once it meets a land element, there is no way to prevent this. However, you could go into Tools – Settings – Map – Map Info and turn off the TRAX – Land layer. The borders would still show but the land element colors would not and it is very likely your topo would show as expected. The TRAX maps are pre-set to work with the most Garmin GPS units as possible and be the most compatible. However, there are hundreds of different combinations of Garmin GPS units and pre-loaded base maps that can cause a TRAX map to work differently than designed.

Garmin Showing Me Off The Road: Kirsch’s Outdoor Products uses the most detailed road data we can find. One of the most common reasons this occurs is some Garmin units also come with roads on the unit. Most Garmins have a feature called Road Lock which means the GPS will attempt to place the user automatically on the screen to the nearest road. Even if the TRAX map is more accurate on where the road really lies, if a Garmin basemap road is nearby, the GPS will automatically put the icon to the Garmin road.

Posted in: Garmin Tips