WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner
  • Take part in a short activity and share your valuable opinion on new design concepts for AVSForum! >>> Click Here

Fenix: Replacing the fenix basemap with a Trail network map

45882 Views 57 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  as4tik
I got so excited about the .img file installation proof-of-concept, I literally ran out to get the fenix at my local shop.
Umm, "Honey, about the credit card bill… remember all those times I saved $20 by changing my own oil?..."

After waiting what feels like a decade for useful ABCHR watch with GPS, now I have two!

I can't yet tell if the fenix & Ambit will be like my children and I'll keep both, or if they be like my other past watches and one of them will be on Craigslist in 6 months. I can tell it's going to come down to two factors

  1. How good is the fenix vs ambit tracks & sensor data in the real world of my hikes and jogs and vacation-wear?
  2. How good is the November Ambit update? I'm excited about that too.
  3. Is one of them better enough at one activity type or usage-model or the other to keep both?
(ok. 3 factors)

Anyway, back to the Trails "map" installation

************ WARNING: Do At Your Own Risk of turning your fenix into a paperweight ********************

  1. I copied the original gmapbmap.img from the fenix/Garmin folder to another folder on my PC for safe keeping.
  2. I used Garmin Map Install
  3. Selected the fenix.
  4. Message: "all my maps won't fit"
  5. So I chose just Washington and Oregon from Northwest Trails
  6. Installed it. Took about 2 minutes.
  7. It placed a second .img file in the Garmin directory of the fenix, called Northwest Trails.img
  8. I deleted the original gmapbmap.img
  9. I renamed the Northwest Trails.img to gmapbmap.img

The original basemap .img file is about 558kB.
The new .img file is 4590kB. (about 1/4th of the fenix capacity) and has essentially every known trail in a 500mile by 300mile 2-state area.

Way way more useful to me than the Garmin Basemap.

This is super helpful to a hiker… so I'll have not just my planned route in the fenix, I'll see all the other intersecting trails, and can identify their names. In the watch. It's that extra bit of back-up and confidence, yep, I've had paper maps blow away, and yep, I've had dead batteries in my handheld. Never at the same time though. :). Plus I can impress my friends with 1-inch 70x70 pixel black&white trail maps. Priceless.

Here are images:
Northwest Trails overview in Basecamp - it has a bajillion trails. Make a donation, it's worth supporting.

Northwest Trails zoom-in in Basecamp. What you'd typically use to map/overlay your Route Waypoints.
Text Map Line Organism

A place I've been: my existing Waypoints from Basecamp are in the fenix along with the NW Trails. (Key point = those are not GPS tracks, those are the network of trails from the .img file… aka the Background Map.

An arbitrary trail crossing seen in the map mode of the fenix. Note the crosshairs.

In the Orange menu you can "Select Pt"

And depending on what your crosshairs are pointing to… you get the underlying information (e.g. could be trail name, or POI details. In this case the Pacific Crest Trail.

(p.s. I like Demo Mode.)

And I did go for an hour run with both the fenix and ambit. Both on 1sec tracks. Verdict = No verdict yet.
  • The HR graphs are identical.
  • Tracks on map are very similar. No wildly phubar points. SportTacks-computed distances are within 0.01miles. Ambit "in-watch"/summary distance is 1% shorter. And the truth is out there somewhere.
  • The elevation graphs match. (baro-based I presume)
    • However the Ascent/Descent in Details seems quite (2x) wrong in the fenix… maybe GPS-based?
  • "In-watch" real-time Paces matched pretty close, by GPS standards: e.g. +/- 10 seconds.
    • Fenix Current Pace is not really instantaneous, it's doing some default smoothing I guess. It lags the Ambit by a few seconds when coming to an abrupt stop. Like the jump stop my basketball coach taught me in high school.
  • Can't review the HR and speed summary in the fenix. Huh?
  • Trending to give a slight nod to the Ambit for Training, for me. But also have no doubt that the fenix + Garmin Connect will be more than fine for the 97%.

Oh, and one more thing:
No fenix Automatic mode switching between Altimeter ("Variable") and Barometer ("Fixed")? If true that'll be a bummer.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 6 of 58 Posts
Nice thread!
I am still with doubts about Ambit or Fenix, and your answers to the three questions can help a lot.
This map issue is one point in favor of the Fenix, same way as possibility to handle gpx files and be able to manage it as a hard drive without any associated program. From what I red, it fits also better to smail wrist like mine
I find th Ambit looking better, but that's very personal, and I am afraid that the Suunto will have many more features upgrades than the Fenix, if we beleive on past behaviour of both brands, and this is what really keeps me doubting.
Any additional thoughts on this comparison will be very much appreciated

I was quite surprised looking at this table, since actually in the first column I would have selected only the "you like suunto aesthetic" case. All the rest would be in the second column.
I liked a lot the "cloud" comment!!
Any way, since the Fenix is not yet in Spain, I bought the Ambit with the commitment that I could give it back after a try............and I will give it back (which does not prevent me from buying it again in a couple of months!)
First impressions that you might confirm/correct:
Can't modify the three screens in the time mode (time, barometer, compass)
Can't delete history tracks in the device (and even if you delete them in Movescount they remain in the device)
Waypoints have no altitude !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I did not find a data field "time of an exercise" (certainly my mistake!!) I found time of the day and time of a lap.
I don't like at all Movescount, starting by the detail that you have to type your email address to start, which in my case is long, very long!
You have to open the Moves one by one to delete them (I had a few ones some seconds long while playing with the Ambit), and don't like the graphs presenting the data (compared with what I know from Mapsource or Trainer software from the FR305, don't remember the exact name)
When synchronizing the Ambit with Moveslink it took about 2 minutes for a 1h30m excercise and three waypoints!! If it is linear you can kill yourself in longer exercises!
Can't create waypoints with Movescount, unless they are part of a route
.....Any way, those might seem details, but they bother me a lot.

I red Suunto could open the source code to allow users to develop their own features in November . Any news on that? Do you know what it exactly means?

On the contrary, the watch is very, very nice. The screen is perfect, the buttons feel great, and it fits quite good despite the GPS antenna.

I will keep reading you guys for a couple of months, and after November release, and with your additional comments on Fenix, I will take a decision

Hi. Thanks.
There are many ways to slice/dice a recommendation. From the 20,000 meter viewpoint, they both seem great.
Here's my attempt at helping with a decision...

Reasons to have/buy...

So, maybe in short:
  • Ambit: a bit simpler + leans toward training
  • fenix: menu-palooza + as many features as a hiker's handheld with a 1-inch screen
  • Accuracy, bugs, data quality: needs a month or two for a real verdict

And loads of folks will just need to try them on and see how they feel. The watches aren't monstrous, but they aren't small.
See less See more
Great finding. It works very well. I have a question though: my maps from Garmin are pretty heavy in details, and the Fenix has a hard time to zoom in and out. Mapsource has the possibility to show a different level of details. Is there a way to save the maps or generate the .img with more or less level of detail?
Thanks in advance
I just realized that in the garmindevice.xml file there are three datatypes named BaseMaps, PreProgrammedMaps and SupplementaryMaps, each one with its corresponding name with the .img extension. I tried to load both the basemap and another one named gmapsupp and it works fine, although I don't know if the gmapbmap.img file is considered, as I only see the gmapsupp.
Does anyone know if both can be seen or what is the creterion used by Fenix to show one or the other?
does anyone know what is the PreProgrammedMaps thing?
can anyone tell me how can I see on the PC how the gmapbmap looks like? i tried to upload it to mapsource without success, and I have never seen it in the Fenix screen (it might be because I live in Spain and bought the Fenix in the US)
thanks in advance
Thak you or_watching and maxgraves
I tried the Demo thing (which I had never done before) and I saw that the original gmapbmap has the information on the spanish border line, which is of little interest knowing that in Spain you realize when you are leaving the country because your feet get wet!
If a gmapsup2.img is possible, do you think this can be extrapolated to 3,4,5,6,,,? It should be better to put smaller files to accelerate the zoom delays (I will try it this evening)
No one knows what the gmapprom.img is for? or just another way of naming a map with no difference with the others?
No one knows neither if it is possible to generate .img files with the different levels of detail that mapsource or basemap allow to show on the screen?

I tried gmapsup2.img and did not recognize it.
I have not tried gmapprom.img, but I imagine it will work, since it appeared as a flag in the device.xml file when I looked to it, together with the gmapbmap and the gmapsupp

This file keeps the Time Zone Map
where the Time Zone changes etc..

In general on Garmin handheld devices you can add more maps with those specific filenames:


it may apply to Fenix as well...
1 - 6 of 58 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.