I may buy a Garmin satellite map thing at some point. But if I do, it's an absolute requirement for me that it will allow me to feed it some sort of list of GPS coordinates with labels, such as putting a custom.csv file onto its flash card containing something like:

12.45677,12.45677,"My old house"
12.35677,13.45677,"The park where I met that pretty girl"
15.35677,11.45677,"My best friend's house back in the day"

I have such data in my own map system on my computer. I can make it output a reasonable file format.

Surely those devices support this? But I'm still asking because you never know... Companies like to do stupid things and cripple you with vendor lock-in and weird, proprietary binary formats and whatnot. I hope such isn't the case for these, because I would basically have no use for it if I cannot feed it my existing data points.

If it also supports dumping any points I add on the device itself onto another .csv (or similar) file, such that I can import it into my computer and thus keep the two maps' "points of interest" synced, that would be great as well. I wonder about that as well.

  • I had a Garmin device, and when I tried to import a GPS track from it onto my computer, it bricked the Garmin. Web searching showed that this was a common problem. Garmin's tech support told me that to get the device fixed, I would have to pay $80. I will never buy another Garmin product. Unfortunately they have a near monopoly, so my choices are now extremely limited.
    – user2169
    Apr 28, 2021 at 11:19
  • @BenCrowell Damn. That's extremely sad (but also valuable) to hear. I agree that there seems to be zero competition, and this is a show-stopper for me. :/
    – Fridlund
    Apr 28, 2021 at 11:36
  • @BenCrowell There's SatMap, which I heard about recently through an OpenStreetMap discussion. They don't appear to have any way of uploading custom maps, but they'll sell you a card with OSM data on it for a lot of money. I'm sure they support waypoints, but I don't know about custom POIs.
    – Chris H
    Apr 28, 2021 at 12:36
  • @ChrisH: Thanks. I habitually just use a GPS device to read out UTM coordinates, which I then find on a paper map. But that may be helpful to others. I think what's probably happened is that because most people use a phone for GPS, standalone devices like Garmin's have become a niche product.
    – user2169
    Apr 28, 2021 at 12:52
  • @Ben I think you're right. There's more competition in the gps bike computer market, where I'm rare in preferring a phone. If I need coordinates, I usually use my phone for that too, with "gps status and utility"
    – Chris H
    Apr 28, 2021 at 13:09

3 Answers 3


You are supposed to be able to load custom points of interest onto Garmins from a PC. Here is a full set of instructions, though they may be rather dated.

Rather simpler is loading waypoints. On my old Extrex the name was limited to very few characters, but that was partly because of the very simple screen.

Many applications of GPS technology are now better supported via smartphone apps, and a dedicated waterproof phone (used without a SIM card) can be cheaper than a GPS receiver. While I don't currently use either of them, I'm fairly confident that what you want can be done using Navit or OSMAnd if you have and Android phone

  • 1
    @Ben when I say a dedicated phone, I'm suggesting running it without a SIM card and therefore no bill (any decent navigation app will run offline) so really cheaper over a decent lifetime unless you break it. I use a cheap waterproof phone for everything,but if I had an expensive or fragile primary phone, my gps would be a cheap phone.
    – Chris H
    Apr 28, 2021 at 13:12
  • 1
    I see, thanks for the additional explanation. I hadn't realized that one could use a phone as a handheld computer without a monthly bill.
    – user2169
    Apr 28, 2021 at 15:46
  • 1
    As one example, Gaia GPS will not accept CSV files directly, but conversion from csv to gpx is easy.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 28, 2021 at 17:07
  • 1
    @JonCuster indeed. I think GPSbabel can handle this format of CSV, it can certainly handle a lot
    – Chris H
    Apr 28, 2021 at 18:03
  • 1
    @chicks yes, now I need to find the link again, but on a different PC! Thanks
    – Chris H
    Apr 28, 2021 at 19:55

Short answer: yes, and I do this with my Inreach Explorer+. Garmin supports GPX files, among other file types. I have a monthly charge because I wanted the messaging/SOS functionality.

It seems you can do similar with a 65S and Base Camp and no montly charge.

And yes Garmin software is clunky. I have learned to mutter and shake my head.

  • It would be pretty crazy to have an inReach without a service plan. It's main reason for existence is it's satellite communications capability. May 3, 2021 at 4:46

I have a Garmin Oregon, and while it is possible to load gpx files with custom points of interest using the Garmin Basecamp software (https://www.garmin.com/en-US/software/basecamp/), there are a couple of restrictions that make it less than optimal.

  • the software seems a bit outdated
  • sometimes it just doesn't work, but you don't get any good error messages
  • once my device was bricked and I needed to do a firmware update
  • in general, Garmin software is known to be very flaky
  • synchronization and versioning doesn't exist. I've collected large amounts of gpx files over the years, and I never know which files are on which gps. My understanding is that basecamp just copies the files to the right folder on the device, and in principle one could use a file synchronization utility, but I am not 100% sure.
  • the amount of storage is limited, see here for a list: https://www.navigation-professionell.de/en/how-many-data-garmin-handhelds-wearables/ Initially I thought it would not matter, but once I got into geodata I quickly reached the limit.
  • handling of points (adding POIs in different coordinate systems, enabling and disabling groups etc.) is not that great.

My recommendation would be to just get a dedicated smartphone (maybe one with a replaceable battery and a plastic screen), and use an app. Gaia and Avenza maps are highly regarded, but many of the maps cost money.

Personally, I use oruxmaps, which is not as convenient, but can import a large range of formats. oruxmaps also can load geocoded pdf files directly, so you can just download maps from the USGS site and put them on the device.

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