How to Add Topographic Maps to a Garmin 62 GPS

Updated on July 26, 2016
How to install topographical maps onto a GPS.
How to install topographical maps onto a GPS. | Source

More map detail can make the difference between ascending a mountain via a steep cliff or a more gentle slope.

How to Install Topographic Maps

Using a GPS without installing topographic maps is like navigating inside a game of Pong: all you see is a prosaic dot cavorting around the screen. Though the Garmin GPSmap 62 is a professional-grade global positioning system, not all models come preloaded with detailed maps. In this tutorial you'll learn how to easily install topo maps into your unit in just a few minutes.

The standard worldwide basemap that come equipped on models like the 62S may be fine for some folks that use their GPS sparingly, however, it only shows roads and major bodies of water. This is fine if you are trying to find Lake Ontario, but troublesome while hiking a remote trail.

The Garmin 62 has the ability to display detailed topographic maps scaled at 1:24,000. So what does that mean? In that scale, one inch on the map equals twenty-four thousand inches in real life. For those of you like me that fail to grasp measurement conversions, twenty-four thousand inches equals two-thousand feet. Like all topographic maps, elevation is represented through contour lines. Learn to read the contour lines and your wilderness treks will be much easier.

Check out the detail comparison between the standard basemap and topo 24K.
Check out the detail comparison between the standard basemap and topo 24K. | Source

Advantages and Disadvantages of Topo 24K on SD

Though outstanding navigation programs like Terrain Navigator are on the market, most users wishing to install maps will gravitate toward Garmin's TOPO U.S. 24K. It is a cost-effective and easy to use program that is available in a DVD and SD card version.

If you are contemplating the pros and cons of an SD card installation versus a DVD install, I have come up with a few points that may help you make your decision.


  • Installing maps from the SD card requires no computer and no computer software installation.
  • The SD card maps are the quickest and easiest way to install maps on a GPS.
  • The SD card is less expensive than the DVD.


  • There is a chance that you could accidentally overwrite your SD card. Once you do, there is no way to retrieve that data.
  • If you have multiple GPS units, you'll need an SD card for every device; this could get expensive.
  • The TOPO 24K DVD has a larger coverage area. For example fourteen states are covered by the DVD for the Northeast, whereas nine states are covered by the SD card.

Garmin GPSMap 62s with Topo24K.
Garmin GPSMap 62s with Topo24K. | Source
Remove the micro SD card from the SD card adapter.
Remove the micro SD card from the SD card adapter. | Source

STEP ONE: Prepare the SD Card

Begin by removing the micro SD card from the SD card adapter. Generally, this can be done by gently tugging at the lip of the micro SD with a fingernail.

Though you won't use the adapter with this type of install, hold onto it as they are handy to have around the house. You paid for it after all.

Prior to installation, remove the battery compartment lid and batteries.
Prior to installation, remove the battery compartment lid and batteries. | Source

Step Two: Prepare the GPS

Though the technologically proficient amongst you probably know this, one of your first steps should be to power down your GPS. After turning your unit off, remove the battery cover and batteries.

Make sure you set these aside as you'll need them later.

Swivel the bracket up using your fingernail.
Swivel the bracket up using your fingernail. | Source

Step Three: Locate the Metal Slider

On the inside of the battery compartment, you'll notice a small metal bracket: this is the slider that holds the SD card in place. Slide this bracket to the open position by moving it toward the antenna. If you ever forget which way this widget is designed to move, the words "OPEN" and "LOCK" are printed on the unit, just millimeters way.

Once you've reached the open position, gently swivel this sliding bracket upward. You will most likely have to use a fingernail to pry this up. I personally wouldn't use any tools to move this slider, just let your nails grow another day or two if you can't quite get it.

A nested card inside the Garmin.
A nested card inside the Garmin. | Source

Step Four: Install SD Card

Install the SD card gently, by placing it into the bracket. The words on the map card should be facing upward with the narrower end facing the antenna. There is a small white dimple in the GPS that will fit into a notch in the card's bottom edge. Use this notch as a guide before proceeding to the next step as it will alleviate any CRUNCH sounds.

With the sliding bracket in place, the SD card is firmly locked in place.
With the sliding bracket in place, the SD card is firmly locked in place. | Source

Step five: Move Slider and Install Batteries

After the card is in place, pivot the slide downward and move it into the "locked" position. The locked position is toward the base of the unit away from the antenna. If you start to hear a crunching sound, you are probably doing this wrong. Turn your Garmin upside down and shake it to ensure that the card is firmly in place.

Remember those batteries I told you to hold on to? Now is the time to reinstall them and secure the battery compartment lid onto your system.

If your maps do not appear, ensure that the correct map is enabled.
If your maps do not appear, ensure that the correct map is enabled. | Source

Step Six: Turn on Unit and Check Map Install

When I booted my Garmin up after physically installing the SD card, it automatically defaulted to the 24K series of maps without changing any settings.

As electronics are fickle, here are the instructions for selecting the new set of maps just in case your unit decides not to cooperate.

  1. Go to "Main Menu."
  2. Click on "Set Up."
  3. Click on "Map."
  4. Page down to "Map Information - Select Map" and click on it.
  5. Ensure that the map set you want, most likely TOPO U.S. 24K, is "enabled."

Here is my video tutorial

What kind of GPS do you use?

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If you have questions about installing topographic maps on your GPS, let me know in the comment section below and I'll do my best to help you. As always, thank you for reading!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Dan Human


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      As an avid hiker I wonder if you could advise where to purchase base maps with CONTOURS. I am looking for Southern Africa and all I can find are road maps.

      Thanks for your great article

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I have the Garmin GPS MAP 62 not the 62s am I able to download any maps for this unit or do I need the 62s

    • profile image

      Toom Gonsoulin 

      4 years ago

      How about info on how to download DVD new map (24K SE USA) (on computer) onto GPS that has had mid central usa on it? How to enable the SE data onto my GPS 62s?

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I downloaded Garmin Topo US map from the Garmin website, through my USB cord, directly to the micro SD card that I previously installed inside my GPSMap62s. Then I go to map settings, but I do not see the new topo map. I check the file manager through windows 10 and see what I think are 3 data files within a folder named Garmin. Ugh...not sure what I'm doing wrong.

    • Outbound Dan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      You are quite welcome. I've had my car GPS scare me before. There you are on a wide open road, all alone at night with just a familiar song playing in the background, lost in your own thoughts. Then out of nowhere, a loud voice commands you to "turn left now!"

    • bankscottage profile image

      Mark Shulkosky 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for the suggestions for a GPS. No problem with no audio directions, I turn them off anyway for the GPS in my car.

    • Outbound Dan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Hey Bankscottage, good to see you! Most, if not all, of Garmin's units are great for hiking and biking. Though I just got my 62, I used my previous 60 on my bike. I just set the routing preference to "follow road." Though it won't give audio directions like an auto GPS, the routing arrows are easy enough to follow. They even make bike mounts for their units. When you go hiking, just change your routing to "off road." The Etrex has been a popular model with bikers and hikers. Thanks for the comment!

    • bankscottage profile image

      Mark Shulkosky 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Another great Hub Dan. Congratulations on the selection for the daily Hubpot challenge. Maybe I missed it in one of your other hubs, do you have any recommendations for selecting a GPS. I'd like to get one that I could use for hiking as well as biking if one like that exists.

    • Outbound Dan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Great things come in comments, this is how I found out I was chosen for the top 10 - thanks Availiasvision! Though I'm not the best photographer, I think that personal photos add an authentic touch to one's Hubs. Luckily I found out a cool trick for doing screen shots on my GPS. Thanks for reading!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 

      6 years ago from California

      Congratulations on being chosen for the daily Hubpot challenge. I love how you always put personal photos into your hubs. Very informative.


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