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I know the USGS and many others offer free downloadable raster topo maps for almost anywhere.

But what if I want vector maps using GPS coords? I'm new to GIS but I would assume there is a de facto free file format that works well for trail and topo maps for backpacking. What are some places I can download such files for free or for pay? I basically want a file that I can easily print or load into a GPS handheld device. Do libraries of such files exist that are as comprehensive as for example the USGS topo map download library or is there just not that much trail data that has been converted to these formats yet? I know there are many sites and apps that show trails but I want a general solution (like a standard file format) that doesn't rely on proprietary services and their particularities.

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Have you looked into using OpenStreetMap and TopOSM? –  crayzeewulf Mar 22 '13 at 0:37

2 Answers 2

http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/

Is a link to downloadable gps maps for Garmin.

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Welcome to The Great Outdoors S.E.! Thanks for the answer, but we normally discourage such short answers with just a link. Have you used these maps? For what areas? Have you used others? If so how do maps from this site compare? Are they complete for a region or the whole world? Have you found any problems with them? Or whatever else you might be able to share. –  MaskedPlant Apr 10 '13 at 13:18

Below are some resources for US vector data.

The links do provide gdb format downloads that will drop into a garmin for example.

The format that you are looking for is a shapefile though. Those are the most standardized format for vector data sets but are very clumsy to work with.

http://fsgeodata.fs.fed.us/vector/index.php

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/landmanagement/gis/?cid=STELPRDB5327840

http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/landmanagement/gis

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