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Monday, January 04, 2016


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I did this on my Fenix 3 HR - there was no 'courses' option in Navigation? any ideas?

this is the GPX file I need to follow



Paul, that sounds odd. However, the Femix 3 and the Fenix 3HR have different firmware, so it is possible that (a) they have changed things around to make things more exciting, or (b) it is broken. This is not very helpful, but having only a regular Fenix 3, I have no idea what's happening for you. If you are on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/GarminFenix3/ might be a good place to ask this question; it's quite active and there's a growing number of Fenix 3HR owners as well.


I bought my Fenix 3 in March 2016. There is no ”courses” in Navigation indeed! Connecting the watch to the computer I easily find the COURSES Folder, but on the watch itself .... no idea where and how!


Anka (and Paul): Make sure to not select "Settings" in the main menu, but instead scroll down from there and select the "Navigation" item in the main menu. That's confusing as there also is a "Navigation" item in the "Settings" submenu. I'll try to clarify the post to make this more clear. And please let us know if this resolves your issue.


Hello! In case you need a free converter tool to make gpx files to kml or vice versa, I invite you to have a look at this online service: http://gpx2kml.com/. You don't have to install it, just upload the needed files.

Anders Lindell

Thanks for this tips. I've tried to import a GPX file to my Fenix 3 but without any luck at first. Tried to install Garmin Basecamp, but couldn't sign into my Garmin account... doing some more search on the internet and came across your blog post. Simple and clear instruction and worked without any problems :).


Hey all! People seem to be having some problems with this process; I just tried it and it worked, so I'll just say what I did. I created the route in Strava, and downloaded the file as a GPX. I'm using a Mac, so not sure what the deal with a PC would be, but this should work more or less the same. Then, I went to the downloaded course in my downloads folder, and opened it using Garmin BaseCamp (free download). Once in BaseCamp, if your device is connected to your computer, you should be able to just drag and drop the course to your watch, and avoid having to find the New Files folder, which is indeed pretty hidden. Hope this helps, lemme know if it doesn't!


@Anka, if you hold down the UP button, and scroll through the menus, there should be one labeled navigation. This is not the same one that comes up if you click on settings and see a navigation option there--that's just the settings for navigation.


Just tried this on my Fenix HR and it didn't work at first. But...
I had loaded a GPX file (Route plotted on Memory Map and exported as GPX) into GARMIN>COURSES.
The trick is to load it into GARMIN>NEWFILES, not COURSES, this folder showed up in windows in a "greyed out" type colour but worked fine.
If it doesn't show you might have to get into windows settings and show hidden files.
Good Luck


Does anyone else have an issue with it limiting the number of courses that can be loaded into the watch at one time? I've been trying to put multiple courses but some of them aren't showing when I go into Navigation mode on the watch.


Thanks so much for this post! I spent several hours this weekend trying to figure out how to do this. Seems silly on Garmin's part not to easily allow uploads of gpx files. Your instructions worked perfectly.


good to know this post helped you, @tim. sadly, garmin still lives very much in a closed world where they assume everybody is only using their devices and services. it always seems odd to me how a company can ignore the potential of better playing with things outside of their control, but the majority of companies are not great at understanding the value of openness.

Christine Smyth

I am immensely grateful to you having wasted hours trying to view uploaded routes. Also spent a frustrating half hour talking to a Garmin helpline person who insisted that I had to download and use Basecamp. I use OS Online Mapping which is brilliant - just export route as GPX file (it ends up in the Downloads File on my PC),plug in Fenix 3 HR to the PC, open folders © and paste to the 'New Folder'. Couldn't be easier ... AFTER you helped me find 'Routes' under the main menu NOT the Settings menu. Thank you again (:


Hi, thanks for this tip, but I have however an issue. I saved the file in the "new files" folder, but after unplugging my F3 from the PC the course does not appear in navigation->courses :( It did not give me even the information "updating" on the watch after unplugging. I plugged again the F3 to the PC and I can see that the file still remains in the folder "new files" :( any idea om how to fix it?


Just to confirm, these instructions will work with:

How easy is it to use/see the navigation once you are out in the field? I currently have a separate device, but it would be good to have one on my wrist!


hello @neil. i do not know whether the fenix HR model behaves the same. it has different firmware, so it's hard to tell without trying. maybe ask the fenix facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/GarminFenix3/ about this.
about the ease of navigation: once you have he route on the watch, navigation means following the line. i can be a bit tricky and garmin could improve the navigation screen a fair bit. but it's good enough to figure out when you are off-track, and that alone can be very helpful.


I'm having the same problem as Zosia, its worked for me on other courses but for this one in particular its not updating the fenix when i eject it. any ideas?


hello @rob and @zosia: i also had issues with some tracks and was never entirely sure what caused them. some even crashed the fenix to the point where it was constantly rebooting. apparently, garmin has some serious bugs in the code that reads the file. my hunch is that the problem can be triggered by the file name, or by the title of the track (in the file). so maybe experiment with those two? good luck and let us know how it went!


Great post! I share your frustration about Garmin closed ecosystem. The Fenix 3 is a great watch, but Garmin software really sucks.

Just as a side note: although its not possible to import a GPX route directly into GarminConnect, it is possible to import a GPX track as activity. The trick is to convert the GPX route into a GPX track that contains fake time stamps. Several online converted allows you to do this conversion. Once you have imported the GPX track as an activity on GarminConnect, it can be converted as a route and it synced to the watch.

Also I have just noticed that GPX routes can now be imported and edited in Strava, and then exported to the fenix 3 as GPX. The instructions for the export are essentially the same as yours (Strava claims that fenix 3 isn't supported, but I've tested it and it seems to work fine).


thanks for comment and the link, @Sebastienmaret! i did not know this service existed. all hail the strava labs!
i just hope somebody at garmin will notice how much they hurt themselves by forcing people to jump through all these hoops, instead of embracing the fact that people not necessarily love connect.

Kelly Muldrow

worked great. followed the instructions as written and had no problems at all. THANKS!

Andrew Shardlow

Get a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. The route planning and course management is far better allowing you to select routes in the cloud and then synchronise rather than sending single routes to the device. Movescount has a full screen map and also allows you to import and export routes in various formats. There is nothing to stop you registering and using the Movescount site even if you don't own a Suunto.

Sean Curtis

Eric, thank you so much for this, it had taken me weeks of trying before I found and followed your instructions.

I have a slightly dumb question: I am doing a ski tour in an area with no mobile signal so I have uploaded the courses as a back up for safety as much as anything - if I am on the route and then need to start the route (for example bad weather) will the GPS locate me on the route and work me to the destination?

I suppose what I am asking is whether the track is just a track or the actual GPS co-ordinates?

any info most helpful

Kind regards



hello sean. thanks for your feedback and comment. i am not 100% sure i understand your question. when you upload a route to your fenix, no mobile signal is required at any time. the route contains GPS coordinated. your fenix will acquire a GPS fix (no mobile network needed) and then you can navigate along the route. in fact, that's my main use case: having navigation in areas where i have no mobile coverage. if i have mobile coverage, garmin has made uploading routes sufficiently painful that i stopped doing it by watch and simply use my phone, either using google maps or with my strava-planned route in the strava app.
another issue that i have had is that the fenix crashes a fair bit when navigating. friends report the same thing. it happens pretty often, may 1 out of 10-20 times. garmin has done a bad job testing their watch with standard GPX files. since i have had that happening a number of times, my confidence in the fenix as a reliable navigation device is low. i wouldn't bet my life on it.
the reason for all of this is that garmin does not understand how much happier their customers would be if they had an open mind. instead, they insist that the only "supported" route upload is via garmin connect, which is really bad at route planning. anyway, it's garmin's old problem to understand that they exist in a bigger ecosystem of services, and that developing robust standards-based software would increase the value of their devices dramatically. i have lost hope in garmin understanding this, and i am quite curious to see how the fenix 5 will do: is it even more closed than the fenix 3, or does it at least still have this narrow (and badly implemented) way how people can play outside of the garmin-only universe?


The best results I've had were always using BaseCamp on my mac - it's a clunky old application but works. I seem to be able to import any gps file into it and then 'send to device' for my fenix3hr. Never had ANY luck with connect app on iPhone. Hit and miss with the 'new files' option.


@pauljbarton, you're right that staying within garmin's closed world sadly is the most reliable option. it's just sad to see the wasted potential of the fenix. and personally i cannot get myself to use something that's 15 years old and you can tell, when there's also stuff like strava's route builder that is better in every possible way (other than the fenix occasionally crashing when having to process an exported GPX).


This program will convert GPX files with waypoints to FIT courses with coursepoints, http://www.javawa.nl/rtwtool_en.html. The FIT files are much small and so transfer in seconds rather than minutes. Watches back at least to 310xt support the format.


Has anyone had the issue in basecamp where you 'send to device' and the progress bar is too fast (near instant) and sure enough, it's not on the watch?


Thanks for your articles! I find them very useful and will try the GPX feature on my Fenix 3 HR.

As to your problem with the 920XT: the newest versions of gpsbabel seem to be able to handle .fit format files, so you might try converting your .gpx to .fit using gpsbabel and then try to upload the .fit to the 920.


hi . struggling with loading a route onto my F3. I have unhidden the new folder and can see routes for 2 races as drop n dragged without too much grief. However, I cannot for the life of me find either actually in the F3 nav section. I was opening the correct NAV option.


Thanks, just what I was looking for

roma smith

Your blog is very important part of the Garmin GPS device.

Taylor Vice

So once I download a GPX file that someone has created based on a hiking route they took, can I start the route once I am at the physical location of where the GPX file was mapped from, and it will accurately take me on the same line as the creator of the GPX file?

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