Downloading a Garmin GPS watch course/route from a phone

Update Nov 24th 2016: you can now also download routes to Garmin Edge cycling computers and Oregon and Rino hiking GPSes this easily, using the new routeCourse app. Read the story…

As influential fitness-tech writer DCRainmaker recently observed regarding running around the intricate streets and canals of Bruges, “I could have downloaded maps to my GPS devices, but that seemed like a lot of effort (and it is a pain, none of these mainstream devices make that simple or quick to do from a phone).”

This highlights a gap in the burgeoning set of of tools for navigating a run or ride using a smartwatch such as the Garmin Forerunner, Vivoactive and Fenix. Although there are a number of popular websites for creating running and cycling routes (also sometimes referred to as courses) on a map, such as Strava, MapMyRun, Ride with GPS and Garmin Connect, most of them are geared towards being used on the large screen of a laptop/desktop. Furthermore, once the route is created, it often takes exporting the route to a GPX file and using a second piece of software, such as Garmin Express or Garmin Connect Mobile, to transfer the new route to the watch or Edge cycling computer. This can be difficult or impossible just using a phone.

Image Copyright © 1996–2016 Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries

This is a problem we set out to solve with the dwMap app for Garmin watches and the dynamic.watch companion website, as soon as we realized that 55% of the users of our website were accessing it using phones and tablets.

When we created our Route Planner on our mobile-friendly (“responsive”) website, we designed it to work just as well on a phone screen as on a laptop. The markers used to set and move the points to navigate between are larger when using the website on a phone, since you’ll be pointing with a finger instead of a mouse arrow. Just tap on a few points and they will be joined together with a cycling or running/walking specific route. Drag them to adjust them.

All you have to do to download and use this route in the dwMap route app on your Garmin watch is:

  1. Push the “star” in Planner to make it your current route.
  2. Start the dwMap app on your watch and the new current route will be automatically downloaded and ready to use.
  3. That’s it — it’s that simple!

dwMap and the Route Planner emphasize simplicity and speed in use, and we intend to be cautious about adding more features to Planner because we see how complicated many of the other route planning sites have become.