Jump to content

Poll: Topo Software

Recommended Posts

You'll find most people will vote "the software that works with whatever receiver I own" since neither will upload detailed maps to the others units.


If you're not interested in uploading detailed maps to the unit, you'll probably find the answer to be "none of the above" since neither of those really tries to compete with "real" quad maps.

Link to comment

The two companies use different approaches. The Garmin Topo is a pretty accurate representation of the 1:100,000 USGS maps using DRG (digital raster graphics), so they show all the features of the USGS maps but no additions like newer roads, etc. Garmin also just released much more detailed Topo maps of the western National Park and some other recreational areas that are based on the 1:24000 series maps.


Magellan's Topo is based on two data sources. The topo contours come from DEM (digital elevation model) USGS data which stores the elevations of points in a grid and then recreates the contour lines by interpolation. This also lets the software easily add features like showing you the approximate elevation profile of the road ahead (which Garmin doesn't support). Unfortunately many smaller features of the terrain are lost by the DEM digitization process so looking at the Magellan contour lines doesn't give nearly as good an indication of the actual topography as do contours on the Garmin maps. Magellan also uses the TIGER road database in its topo maps so they include a far more up-to-date set of roads (incl. names)compared to the Garmin maps.

Link to comment

A lot depends on what you'll be using the software for. Garmins TOPO is based on actual USGS 1:100,000 scale USGS maps. Magellans is based on a DEM scale of which I don't recall at the moment. Just trying to assign a scale value though, it's probably more in the 1:200,000 scale. If you're actually trying to use it for off road navigation, the scale of the Garmin maps is large enough to be pushing it. Magellans just won't do in my opinion. If you'll be mostly on the roads, and just want an idea of what your surroundings look like, the Magellan TOPO is okay.


Some things you'll notice when you switch.


Magellans software is much harder to create routes on.


Very noticable loss of terrain detail.


Somewhat more modern road map detail based on Tiger map data rather than USGS data. More modern, but often has significant positional errors.


I have a couple examples comparing the two on my webpage which you can get to via my profile

Link to comment

I've noticed that Magellan has some details and Garmin others. They both seem to cover roads and trails ok. I really think it's a wash overall.


In your case it's cheaper to stick with what you have. You can expect Garmin to make a Color GPS in the near future just to keep even with magellan. Or if the color is compelling now, go for it.



Wherever you go there you are.

Link to comment

One running rant my partner has with his Mapsource topo program, is some of the areas are so darkened he cant read them, especially areas near National Parks.


My MapSend program doesn't do that, but some areas are off quite a bit in terms of the topo lines showing whats really there....but then I have found that to be true with some USGS maps too.


No program is perfect...I haven't found the inaccuracy's in Mapsend to be a limitation in the field....but more accuracy would be nice, in both programs.



Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...