I have been using the paper/book version of B.C. Backroads Map Books (BRMB) for many years. Relying on them is the only real option for back road exploration in B.C. Over the years my BRMB library expanded starting first with Southwest B.C. to later include Northern B.C.
Over the years I have also experimented with incorporating either my iPhone or iPad into my navigation repertoire. While there are many great apps available, one of which is developed by BRMB, for me nothing works as well as a dedicated and weatherproof GPS. To this end, a detailed and accurate data set is vital. While in many parts of the world one can use open source maps (OSM) with great success. The data is often as good and sometimes even better than the pay-to-use data available. I have found this to not be the case in Canada. I have yet to find a constantly good Garmin compatible data set to include the many resource roads found in Canada.
Enter, Backroad GPS Maps. This is a review of their British Columbia GPS map version 6.
Just like the hardcopy version, there are many detailed points of interest (POI) that are focused towards a multitude of user groups. Whether you are interested in hunting, fishing, hiking or paddling, just to name a few there, this will be a valuable resource. Included with the mirco SD card containing the data is a free computer download that can be used with Garmin Basecamp to plan your adventures before leaving home.
As you may have guessed I am an Apple user. This is not limited to just mobile devices but also computers. While at home I use Basecamp on an iMac. While traveling I use a Macbook. As a result I have installed the included computer map on both machines. First the Macbook as I acquired the data while traveling, and second on the iMac. Downloading and installing on the Macbook was straight forward. It was odd though that this was not the case on my iMac. It seams that is not a rare occurrence as their instructions for installing the map in Basecamp includes this: “If the .gmap file appears as a folder even though you have installed and run Garmin MapManager, try restarting the computer.”
Restarting my computer did not solve the problem so I contacted technical support. David with BRMB technical support was extremely knowledgeable and professional. His response to my e-mail inquiry was also quite fast. David was able to walk me through a “backdoor” way of installing the map that worked perfectly. While at first this seemed like a hassle, the knowledge of another way of installing a map in Basecamp will likely be useful in the future.
Once the map is installed on your computer all of the features of Basecamp are available. With more or less information shown depending on the level of zoom. This is a normal feature and the best way to show a large area that is not cluttered with too many labels or features. One thing that is not normal though is to have a feature as large as Georgia Strait to show at one level, then disappear when you zoom in one level and then reappear when you zoom in further.
The feature I use most often is creating a GPS track on my computer that I then import onto my GPS to follow. While this is certainly possible without the use of the hardcopy version of the area where you are creating the track, is it much easier to use the two in conjunction.
One other issue I had with the GPS map was after it was installed in my Garmin. The packaging that accompanies the data states on the front cover: “Routable Backroads, Rural & City Streets.” This is not the case for all map areas. The B.C. data set is not routable according to the BRMB website. While this may be an inconvenience while traveling exclusively on backroads, one work-around is to create your GPS track ahead of time and simply follow the line. Where this becomes a problem is when you need to deviate from your computer generated track. I also found that even if I was not within the data set area and was attempting to route to a destination also outside of the area that my Garmin City Navigator NT would still freeze when the route was calculated to 80%. The only way to solve this was to go into settings on the Garmin and turn BRMB map off. Easy enough but a hassle if you route to a destination and then turn the BRMB map on and the GPS needs to recalculate for whatever reason. Auto recalculation will also freeze.
While there are some glitches with the B.C. GPS map v6 it has many great features that outweighs these minor inconveniences. I do hope however that with future updates the routing issue is solved.
All in all a great product produced by a with superb customer service and tech support.