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How to use Google Maps to create your navigation routes for Garmin, Suunto, Polar, Wahoo or similar


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Usually, when a device supports navigation, the manufacturer includes utilities to create routes to be followed in our brand new clock or computer. Moreover, we can even use platforms without having a product of that brand - as is the case with Suunto Movescount-.

But if it happens to you like me, I'm sure you don't have a "bedside utility" to do it and you resort to different options depending on the day. In my case if it is for a mountain route I use Movescount, if it is for road cycling I opt for Garmin Connect. In the remote case that I have more time to make a route with more detail I go to RideWithGPS. And why not to say it, I have also used Strava route creation. But if there is one thing that is clear to me is that if I want to make a route as fast as possible and without getting my head too hot I open the Google Maps tab.

In the end I end up doing the route in Google Maps and in a different tab I open the application that I can think of in that specific day and I end up creating the route, but always consulting with Google. I don't know the exact reason for this behavior, I suppose it's the extreme simplicity when designing a route, because it won't be for lack of options in the other platforms.

But there is another possibility, which is to export to a GPX file the route you have designed in Google Maps and load it in the platform you want. And that's why I wrote this article today, so that you know this possibility and use it if you find it interesting.

Create the route on Google Maps

As it is obvious here you won't need much help as everybody knows. You will simply add points for the places you want to pass and Google will design your route. In this specific case I am going to do a return route going up to the Refugio del Juanar, passing by the road of Los Caracolillos de Ojen. The vast majority of this route is part of the cycling segment of the Ironman Marbella 70.3. In your case you will logically use the route you prefer, but this is the one I will use as an example.

Google Maps Route to GPX

With the route traced, let's get to the important part, passing it to a file in a generic format that the vast majority of programs and applications can understand. To do this, simply copy the resulting address after adding all the points.

In the case of the example I am using, the address would be as follows:

What makes Google Maps so convenient is that you can create a route with three or four points, but if you are interested in passing through a particular point simply by dragging the midpoint everything will change in a matter of seconds. And you can choose whether you are a cyclist or a pedestrian so that the route selection is consistent.

Once you have created your route let's go to the next step: getting a GPX file.


Convert a route from Google Maps to GPX

This is where the key is. You just have to enter the page and paste the address from Google Maps that you have previously copied and click on the LET'S GO button.

Maps to GPX

After clicking on that button a GPX file will be downloaded directly from the page. The name is simply "mapstogpxXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX_YYYYYYYYYY.gpx", where X and Y are date and time when you have created your file.

Congratulations, you now have a generic path file to work with.

Passing the GPX route to the device

So far the procedure is generic for everyone whether you have Garmin, Suunto, Wahoo or whatever.

GPX route in Garmin

In the case of Garmin you will have to do the process through the browser on your computer or mobile phone, as the app does not allow you to upload the file directly. To do this, you must access your panel and in the menu on the left click on Training - Journeys and, in the window that opens, go to Import.

Garmin import GPX file

Once imported, it will open the route, which you will be able to modify or alter. You will simply have to select Save Route and then Send to device, selecting which one you want to send it to. And once selected, synchronize that device and you will receive the route that you can select from the menu.

Garmin import GPX file

GPX route in Suunto

The procedure in Suunto is very similar. When you access the control panel you simply have to click on the blue button at the top to select the route planning option.

GPX route in Suunto

The route creation window will open. Scrolling down the menu on the left you will find the "My Library" tab where all the routes you have created are located, and where the Import route option is placed.

GPX route in Suunto

With the route already loaded you must select the clock that you will use on your route to have this route available, having to click on Save so that everything is recorded.

GPX route in Suunto

All you have to do now is synchronize the clock with your computer or mobile phone and you will have your route ready to navigate.

GPX route at Polar

In Polar you'll have to upload your route through the favourites option, which you can access by clicking on the star at the top of the navigation bar, next to your name.

GPX route at Polar

After importing the route, it will appear in the list of your favourites, where you can select which clock or computer you will synchronise it on.

GPX route at Polar

I don't happen to have any Polar devices that support navigation in my account right now so I can't show you the last step, but it's simply to make sure that that favorite is available on the device in question. And of course, after all this, sync to find that route in the device menu.

There you go, direct method of bringing the Google Maps route directly to your device, all in simple steps.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Hello
    The best to make routes is the CompeGPS and as devices to follow routes the best are the Twonav. With the CompeGPS it takes time or you can modify, cut and paste tracks and make it faster. You can create a RoadBook and the Twonav will show you what you have put.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing Eduardo!
    I did and moved it to my Garmin Edge on the fly.
    In my case, what I did was, once the file was downloaded, I sent it via WhatsApp to myself and when I opened it, I shared it with the Garmin Connect app on the iPhone. Once there and with the Garmin Edge turned on, I hit share with device and it quickly synced it.

    Complete process no more than a couple of minutes. I hope it helps someone.

    A salute!

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