Differences Between Garmin GPS Routes and Tracks

by | Feb 15, 2019 | GPS | 0 comments

GPS Routes and tracks are sets of GPS information designed to help you in your navigation. There are a few key differences to keep in mind when using routes and tracks.

  • Routes are pre-defined paths created from a group of location points entered into the GPS receiver in the sequence you desire to navigate them.
    • Location points can be user generated waypoints or points of interest that have been loaded from a map or from a Garmin program
    • Routes are created on the computer and/or on the device
  • Tracks act like breadcrumb trails, allowing you to see where you or another individual traveled in the past. This allows you to navigate a path previously taken.
    • Tracks contain track points, not waypoints or points of interest
    • There are two different types of tracks:
      • Active Track Log:
        • Contains track points for your current activity
        • Can be cleared at the start of a new activity
        • Can be set to wrap around (overwrite older track points as device runs out of memory)
        • Can be saved as a “Saved Track”
      • Saved Tracks:
        • Created typically from the active track log
        • Can have a limit to the maximum amount of track points based on the device (for example: 250, 500, 10,000 track points maximum)
        • Creation can result in points being consolidated (on device) or truncated (from computer to device) depending on the source, to meet above device track point limitations
        • Creation can result in data removal based on the device (for example: date, time, speed and accessory data)

How do you know whether you should use a Route or a Track?

  • Routes are best suited for reaching a specific destination, or set of destinations, when the path being taken is not important. When navigating a route, directions will be provided either as a straight line to the destination(s) or, when using a routable mapping product, as an automatically calculated path using available roads and/or trails. If you go off course on a route, the path will recalculate based on your current location.
  • Tracks are best suited when it’s necessary to travel on a very specific path to reach the desired destination. When navigating a track it’s possible to recreate an exact hike or ride that you or someone else has completed previously. If you go off course on a track, the GPS unit will redirect you back to the original path rather than recalculating a new one.


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