Hikers rejoice, Garmin could add premium maps to its watches next year

Hiker checking his smartwatch
(Image credit: Getty)

Garmin may soon be adding premium mapping tools to some of its watches, including details of National Parks, landowner names and boundaries, detailed elevation contours, and much more.

We've recently heard about the updates Garmin is bringing to Fenix 7 and Epix watches in the new year (or earlier if you're brave enough to take part in early alpha testing), but now it seems that may only be the start. According to the anonymous author of the5krunner, who often gets the inside scoop on upcoming Garmin news, the company may also be adding Outdoor Maps+ to certain wearables.

If you're not familiar with Outdoor Maps+, that's understandable – it's currently only available for Garmin Montana 700 series devices, which are hand-held satellite navigators with huge touchscreens and rugged cases to shrug off knocks and drops on the trail.

Now, according to one of the5krunner's sources, that may be about to change, with the Fenix 7 getting Outdoor Maps+ support in the US.

Show me the way

This is very interesting news – first of all, because watches in the Fenix 7 series don't really have the best screens for mapping. They're not the worst (particularly the king-sized Fenix 7X) but the bright, high-res AMOLED screen of the Epix (Gen 2) is much better suited to the task. I can't help wondering how much Outdoor Maps+ information Garmin could actually cram onto a Fenix's face.

Second, it's interesting because Outdoor Maps+ is a paid-for service, which currently costs $49.99 per year. Until now, all features on Garmin watches have been free to use, with no charges to unlock historic data or training tools in the Garmin Connect app as there are with rivals like Fitbit.

That might be starting to change, though. The recently released Garmin Bounce is a kids' smartwatch with LTE, which requires a data plan and therefore a monthly subscription payment. If Outdoor Maps+ does indeed come to watches in the US, that would be another paid-for tool on Garmin owners' wrists.

Is the end of the free-to-use Garmin watch? Time will tell...

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.