Using Tracks and Waypoints from a GPX File in an Android GPS App.

It is possible to use GPX files, or GPS Exchange files, to quickly import track data and waypoints into an Android GPS app. This example will show you how you can do this in BackCountry Navigator. 

In this example, I found a GPX file for Zion's National park here:

I've put this GPX file on my Android phone storage card. To do this, you may need to mount the storage card for your desktop computer, then unmount it when you are done. 

Storage card mounting to transfer GPX Files

I can use a file explorer, like Astro file explorer, to find this GPX file on the storage card's file system. 

Use File Explorer in Android to find GPX filesGPS File on Android Storage Card

Clicking on this GPX file will start the import process for the BackCountry Navigator GPS app. You can name your trip file, which will hold the waypoints and tracks from this GPX file. 

Import GPX file on AndroidGet tracks and waypoints from a GPX file on Android
This GPX import is in progress on your Android for a minute, and then it starts BackCountry Navigator app with this trip file opened. If the GPX file has boundary information, it will center on this, but you may need to zoom out or in, to see the data.  
Android GPX Import in progressAndroid GPS App using the data from a GPX file

Another helpful step is to download some topo maps or aerial photography for offline use. This ensures you have a map data when you don't have cell phone coverage. You can start by marking rectangles with the selection button, and then use the download button to choose the map sources and detail. 

Defining area for an offline topo map in AndroidStarting a download for offline maps from Android.

Here we are choosing at a max detail of zoom level 15, the default. The download of map tiles is soon in progress. 
Start a download of topo maps for the GPX fileDownload of offline maps in progress on Android

Once this download completes, you will have some detailed map data for the area of interest to complement the waypoints and tracks from your GPX files.

In this way, GPX files can be used successfully in planning and preparing for trips using Android GPS software.



16 thoughts on “Using Tracks and Waypoints from a GPX File in an Android GPS App.

  1. I followed the instructions here, but bcn just loaded the tracks and waypoints onto a blank page.

    Why doesn’t bcn automatically load maps from a default source after importing waypoints?

  2. Default Source is the map source you last used. 

    If it is preview MyTopo, you should see a map background like in the example.  

  3. Further research suggest there are approximately a gazillion file explorers and they don't all use file handlers in a consistent way.

    I'm looking for another solution that will work for everyone.  

  4. Ok, I installed Astro and it works. I am able to import a gpx that was collected with a gps but it won’t import a gpx that I created, possibly because it does not have elevation info? I’m sold on this as soon as I can get a gpx imported, the mytopo data is great.

  5. Hi Nathan – I created a GPX file (track, not waypoint) by exporting an ESRI shapefile to GPX format using DNR Garmin. It seems to import ok, but I cannot see it overlaid on the topo map, even when I manually zoom to where it should be. I’m using BCN on a Motorola Droid.

  6. Did it fail silently or did you get some sort of error message?

    Not all .gpx files have elevation data. 

    What might be missing is boundary information. We currently use this to center on a file's data. 

  7. Silent fail. BCN did never showed, it attempts the import and then back to Astro. This seems to be a file size issue, I tried another existing track and it did not load, I trimmed the track down and it loads. It loaded a 130 kb gpx but not a 700 kb gpx.

  8. I've gotten several 2 Megabyte files of various types loaded here without problem. 

    Not all gpx files are alike, though. Could you send me one of your large ones?

    It's of note that MyTracks will proactively throw an OutOfMemoryError on any file bigger than 500kb, figuring it will get that error later. Given how memory inefficient their code is, I'm not surprised they'd run out of memory, but they could know something I don't.  

  9. I followed your instructions and sucessfully loaded one gpx file and can see it on the topo map. I started to download more gpx files and they are downloading sucessfuly on bcn but it just doesn’t show on the topo map, how do I see it on bcn?

  10. I tried to import some gpx files into a new Trip Data File. The files were downloaded from One file was successful, but two others didn’t load. No error message, but after 10 minutes or so I interrupted the import, because nothing has happened except showing the progress bar. Both failed gpx files are around 12KB with 250 points each. You can download these files at:

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