I love my GPS receiver, but one of my big gripes about my little electronic pathfinder is the lack of on-device map detail.

When I first started shopping around for a GPS, I assumed I’d be able to run some of the superdetailed National Geographic TOPO maps on screen.

Turned out, no.

It seems like no matter what brand of GPS you go with, on-unit maps are pretty much limited to first-party software – most of which are extremely lacking. Garmin’s got a nation-wide 1:100k offering, which is fine for driving to the trailhead, but not all that great once you actually get on the trail.

They also have a much more detailed 1:24k version, but that one’s limited to specific national parks and forests and can leave some big chunks of map off your screen. Their “Western” edition has the Santa Monica Mountains and San Bernardino National Forest, for instance, but leaves out the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests.


But GPS Tracklog thinks this era might be coming to an end.

The site reports the Italian cartography company Navionics wants to have comprehensive U.S. GPS maps available by the end of the year, and they’re pretty sure they’re going to at least have a 1:24k version offered. Maybe even one that’s so fancy it will require me to purchase a new GPS receiver.

Not that I really need any more encouragement to spend money on electronics…

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