Garmin, Please Give Me Some Maps!

The Garmin Forerunner GPS watches are among the best and favorites of runners all over the world. With each new edition of one of the watches in their various series, they just get better and better with more features added.

The release last year of their 620 and 220 watches represented the biggest leap forward yet in embracing advances in technology. The updates/upgrades were enough that it convinced me to go from my beloved Garmin Forerunner 910XT to jump on the Garmin 620.

Garmin Forerunner 620/220

Garmin Forerunner

The Garmin 620 and 220 watches

Live Tracking

Among some of the highlights of this new watch is the ability to allow others to live track your runs. This is an incredible feature that existed on smartphone apps for running but it is really nice to see a mainstream watch take it onboard as well. I have used this many times so that my family can keep up with me in a race or on a very long run. Not only does it show my current location, it also shows the route that I have run so far and other metrics about my run like my pace, distance run, and others that can be set.

Advanced Metrics

With the addition of their new HRM+ (replacing the older styled heart rate monitors), you can now get metrics that did not use to be possible without a footpod. I am talking about cadence, ground contact time, and verticle oscillation. The watch also now has the ability to give you your VO2max numbers.

Garmin 620

Some of the metrics available with the new Garmin 620

So, What’s My Problem With Maps?

These major upgrades (and other things like goal tracking) are great and very appreciative. I am very happy with my choice and, if I had to, would do it again. So, what is this talk about Garmin giving me maps? One of the features from the high-end of the Forerunner watches that they took away with this upgrade was the mapping function of the watch.

The mapping function on the 910XT - from DC Rainmaker

The mapping function on the 910XT – from DC Rainmaker

The mapping function allowed you to save locations, return to start, and check a rough map to see your various waypoints of the run. For most people, this might not have been too helpful, but for someone running in a new city or at a race, it can be a huge help.

Let me explain – you arrive in a new city, like an international city, and you want to go out for your run. Maybe you don’t take your phone with you or maybe you do not have data for your phone, so mapping software on your smartphone is not an option. That means, unless you want to get lost, you have to do an out-and-back run to ensure you will not wind up all over the city. Unless, you mark your location on your Forerunner watch (as you could with the 610, 910, 310, 405, 305, etc) and then use that on the rough map to guide yourself back to it later in your run. With the 620 and 220, that is not possible because there is no mapping function. 

Ok, what about races? I used to use this feature all the time when I was running a race in a new city. It can be hard enough to find a parking spot, but then complicate that by all the buildings looking the same, having to park a mile or two away from the starting line, and doing all of this in the pre-dawn darkness, it can be very difficult to find your car at the end of the race! Many times, I have walked several extra miles after a race because I could not find my car. Instead, with the Garmin Forerunner watches, I would just mark my location  and use that to get back to my car after the race. You would not believe how many times that has saved me!

But, not anymore! That feature is not present in the 620/220 watches. Now, I am not complaining from a position of ignorance! I knew that it was not there when I bought the watch and figured all the high points would make up for the loss of that one (and they have). But I do find myself missing the mapping features more and more as time goes by.

PLEASE, Garmin, give us the mapping functions back on these amazing watches! It would make them that much better!

Anyone else agree with my situation, or am I crying about it on my own? 🙂


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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Wow I agree. Why would they take that away. I’ve used my old Garmin 205 map a few times and usually when I really really lost. One time I went out for a short 3 mile run and got lost in the fog in a rural area outside Chicago. I was totally lost and ended up running about 6 or 7 miles to find my way back to the hotel. I would have never gotten back with out the map feature. I rarely use it but when I do I NEED it.

    • Absolutely right – when it is needed, it is really needed. It should be something they make as a firmware update, hopefully! I know I could use the phone, but I don’t always want to run with my phone or sometimes I am in a foreign country without data.

  • Should have got a Garmin Fenix 2. That not only provides the breadcrumb trail that you are missing but actually allows you to load maps onto the device. Think pared back topo map on the watch.