Garmin MapSource TOPO U.S. 2008 provides topographic map coverage of the entire United States and Puerto Rico. Ideal for the geocacher, hiker, mountain biker, etc., it is available on DVD or micro-SD cards. Considering the high cost of the micro-SD regional cards though, I'd recommend that you pay a little more and buy the DVD of the entire country.
Garmin TOPO U.S. 2008 allows you to transfer topo maps to compatible Garmin mapping receivers; these maps cannot be loaded to non-mapping units, such as the basic eTrex H. TOPO U.S. comes with and is used through Garmin's standard MapSource interface, which also allows you to transfer waypoints, routes and tracks to and from your GPS receiver. This makes TOPO U.S. 2008 very useful planning trips right on your PC.
It does not allow you to auto-route (generate turn-by-turn directions on trails or streets). Routes created on TOPO U.S. 2008 produce straight-line, "as the crow flies" segments. They do not follow the trail, but go from waypoint to waypoint. Also, please note that while you can load both TOPO U.S. 2008 and City Navigator maps to your compatible Garmin receiver, you can't view both at the same time.
One other point -- this product is not "locked," so the maps can be loaded to multiple units.
1:100,000 scale topo maps
Scale can be something of a misnomer for GPS maps, since the scale changes as you zoom the map in or out. Regarding elevations though, TOPO U.S. 2008 is based on 1:100,000 scale data for the United States. Contour lines are spaced 150 feet apart on this product.
The only Garmin product that uses the more detailed 1:24,000 scale data is their U.S. TOPO 24K National Park product, which covers only limited areas.
Improvements in Garmin MapSource TOPO U.S. 2008
A number of minor improvements have been unveiled with this newest version of Garmin TOPO U.S.:
- Installation - Unlike the previous version of TOPO U.S., the 2008 edition loads to your hard drive, without any tricks or registry hacks.
- Elevation shading - Unfortunately, you only see this on your computer screen, and not on your GPS. I've placed a sample screen shot at the end of this post.
- Elevation profiles - You can view these for routes on your computer, but since they are based on a straight-line, "as the crow flies" routes from point-to-point, this feature is of limited usefulness.
- Updated street maps - More streets have been added in this edition.
- Road names - More road names are included on this version.
There are reports, which I have confirmed for this review, that some summit elevations are inaccurate in TOPO U.S. 2008. Elevations appear to be under-reported in some cases. This is not a serious flaw, but it is one you should be aware of.
Compare prices on Garmin TOPO U.S. 2008
- Check the current Garmin MapSource TOPO U.S. 2008 price at Amazon.
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- Buy the NEW Garmin MapSource Topo United States 2008 Software DVD IN STOCK at TigerGPS.
- Get Garmin Topo United States 2008 100K DVD at REI.com.
- Buy this SOFTWARE, TOPO US 2008-DVD MAPSOURCE from TheNerds.
- Get Garmin TOPO U.S. 2008 for an amazing price at eBay.
Try it before you buy
In the upper right-hand corner of the official Garmin MapSource TOPO U.S. 2008 web page, is the MapSource Map Viewer, which allows you to zoom in on any part of the U.S. to see what the coverage for that area looks like.
Garmin software message board
There is a great Garmin software message forum at GPSInformation.net.
Unless streets and street names are really important to you, and you can verify using the Map Viewer that they've changed in the area you're interested in, I'm not sure an upgrade is warranted.
If however, you don't have the old version of TOPO U.S., and you are a hiker, cyclist, geocacher, etc., I highly recommend this product. Sure, the maps are only 1:100,000 scale, but it is SO much better than the basemap.