1. Which Garmin watches offer mapping?
  2. How to use Garmin's mapping
  3. How to download and update maps
  4. Send a Garmin Course to your device

How to use Garmin Maps: Download, update and navigate

Everything you need to know about managing maps on the wrist
Wareable Garmin Maps and Courses
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Garmin's on-wrist mapping is the perfect alternative to bringing a physical map on your excursions, allowing you to quickly gain an idea of which path to take. 

However, even with improvements in recent generations, native mapping on Garmin watches isn't always the most intuitive.

That's why below we've run through all the basics to be aware of before setting off with Garmin's mapping and navigation on your wrist. 

Below, we'll run through how to find and send a Garmin Course to your wrist, as well as how to update regions and navigate using your watch.

Which Garmin watches offer mapping?

WareableGarmin maps on wrist

Plenty of older and entry-level Garmin watches offer breadcrumb navigation, which essentially just shows very basic trails, but the newer batch of premium devices offer the increased richness of the company's TopoActive maps.

For our own sanity, we won't run through the extensive list of Garmin devices that only offer more basic navigation - it's much easier to see which are the few that offer TopoActive maps, below:

  • Enduro 2
  • Epix (Gen 2) & Epix Pro (Gen 2)
  • Fenix 7 & Fenix 7 Pro
  • Fenix 6 & 6 Pro series
  • Fenix 5X & 5 Plus series
  • MARQ & MARQ (Gen 2) series
  • Forerunner 945 series
  • Forerunner 955 series
  • Forerunner 965
  • Quatix 7
  • Tactix 7 
  • D2 Mach 1

How to use Garmin's mapping

WareableGarmin Map app

Whether you're out on snaking mountain bike trails or are traversing the outback, firing up Garmin's on-watch mapping is an easy way to figure out where you are.

A map is available to add as a data screen to any outdoor activity you like - some, like Hiking, will include it by default - but the simplest way to access Garmin's on-wrist maps is to fire up one of the Navigation, Track Me or Map activity profiles. 

These all offer something slightly different, so let's run through them.


Using the Navigate profile is the best way to get from where you are now to an established point on a map - whether that's a fuel stop, a supermarket or local attractions.

It can essentially act as Google Maps on your wrist if you use it the right way.

Using Navigation, you can also set off on a route and have it automatically loop you back exactly the same way you came. Simply pause at any time and hit 'Back to Start' to reverse your progress. 

Those who want to load a Course from Garmin Connect or have the watch calculate a unique loop of a certain distance can do so from here, but more on that below.

WareableGarmin Track Me app

Track Me

Track Me is a bit of a curiosity, with it essentially offering nothing that you can't replicate by just using Navigate. However, it is handy for those who want a very basic tracking mode that will still log a trail. 


Like Track Me, the Map profile doesn't offer much that you couldn't get from Navigate.

The main difference is that there's not an option to track any activity from within Map - it exists simply to just show you your surrounding, and allow you to pan/zoom and search spots around you.

How to download and update maps

WareableUpdate Garmin maps

Depending on your Garmin watch, which region your Garmin is from and the storage space you have available, you'll be able to add more maps.

Garmin's TopoActive Mapping does come preloaded on the watches listed above, so this is generally for those who want to add or remove different regions.

Follow the steps below to add Garmin Outdoor Maps+ (subscription required), TopoActive Maps for different regions or CourseView golf maps for additional continents. 

Add maps to Garmin

1. Press the 'Start/Stop' to open activity profiles.

2. Scroll down to 'Map Manager' and select it.

3. Choose the option from the list you wish to download.

4. Press the 'Start/Stop' button, and then do so again when the 'Update' option appears.

5. Wait for the Wi-Fi network to be established and the download to complete.

Update Garmin maps

1. Press the 'Start/Stop' to open activity profiles.

2. Scroll down to 'Map Manager' and select it.

3. Choose the 'Check for Updates' option.

4. Once the check is complete, you should see an 'Update Available' tag below the maps in the list.

5. Select the map system you wish to update.

6. Wait for the Wi-Fi network to be established and the download to complete.

Send a Garmin Course to your device

WareableFind Garmin Courses

Navigating off the cuff is all well and good, but you may want to find a specific trail to cycle, run or hike and use your Garmin as the navigator.

To do so, you'll need to get familiar with what Garmin calls 'Courses'. These are just pre-set routes from other users, as you would find on Strava or Komoot.  

Step one: Find the Course you want to send

Head to Garmin Connect, hit 'More' in the bottom-right corner and then 'Training & Planning'.

From there, you'll see 'Courses' - select it and begin searching for your route. 

Initially, you'll be shown all routes near your current location. 

However, you can narrow down the field using the filter option in the top-right corner.

Step two: Send the Course to your selected device

Once you've found the course you wish to send to your device, tap the phone icon in the top-right corner and then the device you wish to send it to.

Step three: Follow the Course from your device

The next time you sync your watch, the Course should then be synced over.

To begin following it from your watch, select the activity profile you wish to follow it from.

Before starting the activity, press 'Up/Menu' and then 'Navigate' from the menu. 

Next, you should see the option to view 'Courses'. 

Select the chosen route from your list of saved Courses and then begin the activity after selecting 'Do Course'.

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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