Garmin GPS 3 Plus , map storage capacity question

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Pt_Frost, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. Pt_Frost

    Pt_Frost Beemer Initiate

    May 30, 2007
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Hi all,

    I was just wondering...
    The Garmin GPS 3 Plus comes preloaded with maps of the US...but it has 1.44MB of memory to expand the maps.

    I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this unit. Its aged, but I'm considering buying it used. But I live in canada, so I'd like to expand the default US map to include the part of Canada where I live (Toronto, Ontario). I was wondering how much I'd be able to fit in the 1.44 MB ...and how easy it would be to upadate the default US map with a more current map.

    Any insight into this unit would be great.

  2. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

    Mar 22, 2002
    As far as I know you can't update the base map.
    Not sure what older mapping products were available for Canada, but you may be out of luck. Even one map section of the newer mapping products would be far more than 1.44 mb.
    I hate to say it, but the old III+ is pretty much useless IMHO. I gave mine away to my dad:D
    You might want to pick up a GPS V. Still a dinosaur, but at least has 19 mb of memory plus it autoroutes. I still have mine, but I got a 60Cx.
  3. Pt_Frost

    Pt_Frost Beemer Initiate

    May 30, 2007
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Thanks for the reply.

    Yeah..I wasn't sure because 1.44 mb sounds like the size of a floppy...and a floppy couldn't hold a whole lot of data hehe.

    The reason I asked is I saw a GPS 3+ posted in the flea market for $100 and I got interested in it. I read a lot of reviews and they were all raving at what a great GPS it was..but all those reviews were from 1999 and 2000...and back then I don't doubt it was a good GPS. I guess I should really get something a little more updated.

  4. markcourtney

    markcourtney I

    Oct 14, 2007
    Twin Cities, MN
    I recently acquired a Garmin GPS III Plus. The map file size is really small for the GPS III Plus and the base map includes much of Canada including all of Ontario. The map detail is very low - thus the low map file size.

    This is the first GPS unit I have owned save for Microsoft Streets & Trips with the GPS locator.

    You need to make sure you get the MapSource software that originally came with the GPS unit. You can use MapSource to get tracks onto and off of the GPS unit.

    The hardware interface for the GPS III Plus is a serial port. Since many computers are "legacy-free" these days, a USB to serial adapter will also be necessary to interface the software and the GPS hardware. I've been using a Keyspan ( USB to serial adapter and it works well.

    In order to use many of the track files you find on this site (*.gpx files) you will need to use a program call gpsbabel ( This will convert the *.gpx XML file into a *.trk file that you can load onto the GPS III Plus. I found gpsbabel by googling and there are a few threads on this site that also have info on gpsbabel.

    I have yet to actually try to ride/travel down one of the tracks I've downloaded from this site, so I am unable to comment on the actually field performance of the unit. However, I can give you my personal review of the Garmin GPS III Plus.

    - The unit uses 4 AA batteries. I like this because I can get these at any gas station and I don't have to bring a proprietary charger with on the bike.

    - The battery life seems to be decent. The person I acquired the unit from said he got about 16 hours life from 4 AA alkaline batteries.

    - The unit seems to be solidly built. Durable construction and a water-resistant case.

    - Since this is an older unit, the processing speed seems a bit slow. I speculate that the speedometer on the GPS doesn't update as quickly as newer models.

    - I also find the menu navigation on the unit to be just a wee bit cumbersome. I speculate again that newer GPS units are a little more dumbed down and have fewer setting options and easier menus. There are a few features on the GPS III Plus that I just don't see myself ever using - so why have a menu for it.

    - Overall... for the price (compared to a similar new unit), the design and durability, and the water resistant (the manual says "waterproof"), I think this is a decent little unit so far. Mind you I have not yet field tested it.

    Just thought I'd share this since there have been many threads on this site that I have found helpful and some of the information above is a result of several evenings of research.

    Attached Files:

  5. usgser

    usgser Long timer

    Nov 6, 2005
    Westside WA
    For the $100 you're considering spending on a III you can get a V.
  6. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

    Apr 26, 2006
    Bakersfield CA & Sammamish WA
    $100 for a III+ is to much unless it comes with mapping software. The software will be a problem with this unit because it was one of the first consumer GPS units to accept map data. The map data software of the time was limited to coverage of the largest markets so Canada may be difficult to find. The newer map data products usually load in bigger chunks than the 1.44 limit. One exception is Garmin's World Map but it is only very limited detail (slightly better than the US base map).

  7. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

    Aug 16, 2004
    CA dez (it's a dry heat)/West Yellowstone,MT
    $100 is too much but for $50 or $60 it would be worth it. I used one for the 2001 Ironbutt and found it incredibly useful. The base maps include all Interstates, most state highways, and a few major local roads. Offramp services on the Interstate are listed but are probably pretty far out of date.

    If you can get an old version of Roads and Recreation, you can cram a pretty good number of detailed street maps into the unit because the R&R maps are not as dense. It shows streets but not addresses iirc. Of course, any new roads won't be in there. And no autorouting. What's kind of cool is there are old, no longer used forest service roads that might be useable on a dirt bike.

    Also, there are many more options as far as choosing what you want the screens to show.
  8. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

    Aug 4, 2005
    Central Ohio
    Uhhhhhhhh - look at the original post date/poster - he was considering a III+ back in June.

    The noob who just jumped is a different person (or at least screen name).

    MC - hope you paid about $25 or $30 for the III+. That's what they are worth. A V is at least autoroutable and has more memory. V's with mounts and maps and cables are going for $100 or so now. Lots of discussion in another thread on whether they are worth that, but I'm not going there.

    For the record, you DO NOT need the original Mapsource disc that came with the unit to make it work. You either need another Mapsource disk, or there is a workaround recently posted to get Mapsource running.

    And as you consider map data to purchase, make sure you go to the Garmin site and look in the Maps section, then follow the link to the map data compatibilty screen to make sure whatever you are buying is compatible with the III+.

    Not a bad unit. I have one. It is good as a backup in case everything else goes to crap. Time and technology have really passed it by.

    And BTW - get used to the menu interface. When you buy a newer Garmin with buttons, they pretty much follow the same conventions - just more features.