Published on: 7 April 2013 | Last updated: 18 October 2014
Installing the POIs: Older Garmin GPSes (eg Legend HCx)
These instructions are based on a Legend HCx - I assume other models of the same generation will work in a similar way
You can do this using the GPS in 'USB mass storage mode', but it’s probably easiest to remove the memory card.
Create a folder called ‘Garmin’ on the card (if you don’t already have one). Then within that folder create another called ‘POI’. Copy the .gpi files you want onto the card and you’re good to go. (I don’t know whether you can rename the gpi folders so you’ll need to experiment).
To use: click on ‘Find’ and then ‘Custom POI’. The unit will give you a listing of all of the POIs sorted by proximity. If you want to narrow the search to, say, campsites, press the menu button and you will then be asked to select a database. Use the joystick to go down the list to the one you want and click on it.
After you have selected a POI the unit will display the phone number. Click ‘map’ if you want to see it on the map or ‘go to’ if you want the unit to work out a route.
Installing the POIs:Newer models eg eTrex 20
These instructions are based on an eTrex 20 - I assume other models will be similar.
You have the option of creating a POI folder within the Garmin folder on the main memory of the device, or create these folders on a memory card (if they aren’t already there). Copy the gpi files that you want to whichever location you prefer (or to both).
Using the POIs
These instructions are for an eTrex 20 - other models, particularly earlier generation eTrexes, will differ, but the basic approaches should be the same.
Click on ‘Where To?’ and then ‘Extras’.
NB I have reordered my menu so that ‘extras’ is at the top - you will probably need to scroll down to find it.
You’ll then get a list of the databases. Say you’re looking to find a campsite, click on ‘camp’
If you click on ‘All Categories’ the gps will list campsites in order of nearness to you current position.
You also have the option of searching within a particular region. Select the one you want, and then the POI that you are interested in.
The unit will then display the POI on the map - if, say, you are looking for a campsite, and you want to find the contact details, press the Menu button on the left-hand side of the unit and then click ‘Review Point’
and the details will be displayed.
(Note, the phone numbers will be listed twice - this is to ensure this information is available to users of older models).
This is an example of the how the POIs look as you are riding along.
You can choose the zoom level at which the icons are displayed. This is useful in urban areas where your screen may feel cluttered. There are two ways to do this: the first is to click the menu button (on the left of the device on the eTrex 20). Then click ‘Setup Map’, then ‘Advanced Map Setup: text size, Zoom etc’, then ‘Zoom Levels: Points, Streets etc’,
This finally gets you through to user waypoints. This displays the current zoom level at which they are displayed. Click it to change the setting.
In the screenshots the zoom level is being changed from 800metres to 120 metres - so the waypoints only show if you are zoomed right in - useful if, say you are in a city and there are a lot of them.
The alternative method is to go to ‘Setup’ and then ‘Map’ - then follow the same steps.
Making your own custom POI files
If you want to know more about the process for making POI files here are some links:
- freegeographytools.com: Introduction To Garmin GPS Custom POI (Points Of Interest) Data
- freegeographytools.com: Creating A Garmin Custom POI Datafile
- freegeographytools.com: Managing Custom POI Data On A Garmin Handheld GPS
- freegeographytools.com: Creating Custom Icons For Garmin Points Of Interest (POI).
These tutorials were written in 2008 - but are still valid - although there have been changes since they were written and in particular, unless you have a very simple set of POIs where there is no need to include an address or phone number (eg my water fountains listing) it’s probably better to use Basecamp or a similar program to create a gpx file rather than a .csv file. Note to Mac users: for some reason the .bmp files produced on a Mac do not work with Garmin POI Loader - you’ll need to use one of the online image conversion services.