The right GPS for navigation with Tracks4Africa maps

Having a GPS is all good and well, but not every GPS will satisfy your needs. When you go out to buy yourself a GPS you have to consider carefully what you want to use it for. You will need a different GPS for a self-drive trip into remote areas than for other activities such as hiking, mountain biking or just normal city navigation.

As Tracks4Africa GPS maps are only compatible to Garmin GPS devices, all the devices mentioned below are Garmin.

Hiking or mountain biking

For hiking or mountain biking you have to look for a robust GPS that works with replaceable AA batteries, like the Oregon and GPSMap62 ranges. These don’t come with a city navigator map preloaded and does not give voice guidance but are great units for outdoor activities.

Travelling by motorbike

For travelling by motorbike you need a GPS that is water resistant and dust proof and you have to be able to read the maps in direct sunlight. The Zumo range is ideal.

City navigation

If you want a GPS for city navigation you should consider the Nuvi range. Any of the Nuvi models will do a perfect job to get you from point A to B and is easy to use and search for Points of Interest (POIs) around you.  There is not much of a difference between the entry level units and the more advanced ones unless you specifically want features like lane assistance, 3D buildings and other city features.

The Nuvi range only display road labels and points of interest (POI) on the map screen at low zoom levels (50m – 80m).  The information is embedded in the T4A map and you will be able to search for it under “Where to” then “Points of interest (POI)” but it is not displayed at higher zoom levels when you look at the map under “View map”.

The Nuvi GPS at 2km zoom level.

The Nuvi GPS at 2km zoom level.

The Montana GPS at 2km zoom level.
The Montana GPS at 2km zoom level.

The Nuvi range comes preloaded with a city navigator map and is very affordable.

You could also use the Tracks4Africa GPS map to navigate yourself to recorded POIs on our map. We cover campsites, fuel, lodging and a very extensive range of other features related to travellers on our maps.  The further away you go from the cities the better our detail becomes.

Travelling remote areas

If you are a self-drive traveller who wants to venture into the remote parts of Africa you must have a Garmin GPS with Tracks4Africa GPS maps. If you are going to use Tracks4Africa GPS maps and want to get the full potential from your navigation system you need a GPS that will display the map in a particular way otherwise you will not have all the information on the T4A maps at your disposal when you travel.

The Nuvi range is not ideal for travelling into remote areas as it does not display road labels and points of interest at high zoom levels. Road labels carry information such as “off-road” or “deep sand” which is critical to your decision making.  The map also carries POIs which provide additional information, for example seasonal flood warnings or dangerous sections on a trail.  You would want to see this type of information on the map as you drive or when you plan a route.

The Montana GPS display at 2km zoom level.
The Montana GPS display at 2km zoom level.
The Nuvi GPS display at 2km zoom level.
The Nuvi GPS display at 2km zoom level.
The Montana GPS display at 80m zoom level.
The Montana GPS display at 80m zoom level.
The Nuvi GPS display at 80m zoom level.
The Nuvi GPS display at 80m zoom level.

If you want to get the full benefit of your Tracks4Africa GPS maps, the outdoor devices are better than the automotive devices like the Nuvi range. Unfortunately the outdoor devices are more expensive and come with smaller screens.

If you intend to record your route with your GPS, then you need a GPS that can record and manage the tracks for the length of your trip. This is called trip log.  This is handy if you want to trace back on a route you have just driven, but is only really necessary in the case of extreme off-road driving.  GPS tracks can be used for your trip report afterwards and are very welcome at Tracks4Africa in order to update or improve our maps.

Beware, although some of the Nuvi models can record a track it does so in ‘lock on road’ (LOR) mode.  This means that the track which is recorded will snap or lock onto the road on the map providing a false recording.  The recording can only be used where there are no roads on the map or if the navigation mode is set to “offroad”.  On the outdoor GPS units the LOR function can be disabled.

If you plan to venture into areas which are not covered in detail by the maps you have installed, then you might want to import tracks and waypoints to your GPS which can be used as a guide.  This feature is normally only associated with outdoor type GPS units.

There is one Garmin model which offers all the right features for travelling into remote areas  and it can be used for hiking, biking, motor biking or city navigation – the Montana.  It is rugged, has a big enough screen and is a true outdoor GPS which displays all map features and allows superior track management. It is, however, an expensive device.

12 thoughts on “The right GPS for navigation with Tracks4Africa maps”

  1. I am planning a self-drive trip to Botswana, for my next holidays and I need an advice in order to buy a right GPS where I can load T4A maps. The model are: oregon700/gpsmap62 range are the models in shop. Which one of them are more appropriate? Thank you

    1. Hi Martin

      Thank you for your interest in Tracks4Africa.

      Tracks4Africa is compatible with most Garmin GPS units.

      Examples of Compatible Garmin Devices: (ie. please note there are many more compatible Garmin Devices, these are just a few examples. Some may be outdated. All new Garmin Devices should be compatible with Tracks4Africa Maps).

      Garmin BMW Motorrad Navigator
      Garmin Edge Touring
      Garmin eTrex 20 (is a good option, but the screen is a bit small)
      Garmin eTrex 30 (is a good option, but the screen is a bit small)
      Garmin NuviCam
      Garmin Montana 600
      Garmin Colorado 300
      Garmin Nüvi 205W
      Garmin Nüvi 3790
      Garmin Nüvi 3760
      Garmin Nüvi 2595
      Garmin Nüvi 42LM
      Garmin Montana 650t
      Old Garmin GPSMap 276C (refer to our FAQ no. 51 further below ‘Using T4A GPS Maps on the Old Garmin GPSMap 276C’)
      Garmin GPSMap 276Cx
      Garmin Monterra

  2. I have the Montana 650 and I’m having difficulties to find anything from Namibia on the GPS, I have T4A on it and also downloaded the whole Namibia maps (bought from T4A website) and still no luck, keeps telling me change the search parameters, can you maybe advise?

  3. Hi, I use the Zumo LM595 which is great with T4A on my bike. Is this also ideal for my 4×4 upcoming trip to Botswana, and will it be able to access all the T4A info features?

  4. I have an old Garmin Nuvi 500. Will this model be as auseful and informative as the Montana????

    1. Hi Pete,

      It depends on what you want to use the GPS for. When travelling in the city most maps contain way too many points of interest (POIs) which clutter the GPS screen. For this reason most ‘city navigators’ such as the Nuvi devices will not show POIs on the screen, even though you can search for them. You have to zoom in to about 50 – 80m before the POIs will show up on the screen.
      On the other hand the Garmin Montana is an outdoor GPS and it will show all POIs when you select view map. Both these units are compatible with Tracks4Africa maps and you will have the same information available under Where to > POI on the GPS’s.

  5. I have a Oregon 450 GPS and are very happy in its performance in all areas. We did remote areas, hiking trails as well as city navigation and never have any problems. It is loaded with T4A as well as Garmin maps and we switch around as its demanded by the terrain.

Let us know about your experience