Garmin Instinct Review

At a Glance: Quick Ratings











Where To Get It

A Deep Dive Into Garmin Instinct

The Garmin Instinct advertisements often feature a rugged fireman with bulging, strong, built up muscles, and lots of grit and grime.

You get the message that this is one durable gadget ready for any tough environment. The smartwatch itself is marketed as a mid-price, outdoorsy, GPS sports watch. It has some great features for the rugged wilderness types and hikers with long battery life. Preplan your hiking route or track it as you go. 

It has training modes, durability, Wrist Heart Rate monitor and open water tracking ability.

Garmin has developed some really great Apps like Garmin Explore, Basecamp App and Garmin Connect. It features a GPS, GLONASS and Galileo, and a 3-axis magnetic compass. This smartwatch is concerned more with Function than Fashion and is military quality.

  • Who Is It For?

  • Video Review

  • Pros

  • Cons

If you love hiking, orienteering and being outdoors with lots of help navigating, checking direction, elevation, barometric, marking a course and more, but don’t care as much about looks then the Garmin Instinct may be your next smartwatch.

It is not so big that it would look clunky on a woman and comes in a variety of bright colors. It also has the ability to track other sports as well. Rugged, durable, and enough smarts to be worth checking out.

What's in the Box?

Watch with band, charger, Manual.

Main Features and Functions

  • Measures 45 x 45 x 15.3mm with a weight of 52 grams and a 22mm watch band
  • The sports modes you can track with Garmin instinct are:
  • Walking, treadmill, cycling, X-country skiing, Strength training, and cardio, kayaking, rowing, hiking, walking, swimming, and more
  • Steps, Heart Rate, calorie counter, temperature, weather, calendar, alarm clock, stopwatch, and Sleep tracking,
  • Notifications for messages and phone calls, (BlueTooth but no Wifi)
  • Garmin Instinct learns your activity level and can set goals.
  • GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo navigation systems combined can be more accurate than a regular GPS, especially in challenging environments.
  • The 3 axis compass can be turned into a magnetic compass which may be more accurate than a regular GPS.

    How’s that?

    If you are a hiker, camper, or do orienteering you know how important your compass is. If you don't know where you are it's hard to navigate a map. The compass points you in the right direction. GPS is fairly new. Tracking uses satellites and will provide you with what is termed as a “bread crumb trail”, in case you need to retrace your steps. If you are under heavy forest canopy or your signal is weak, you may not be able to rely on your GPS for accurate directions. A GPS usually provides the location, distance, routes, and tracking, but only if it can pick up a signal. Magnetic compasses do not have this limitation. On the other hand, if you have a compass but not a map and you don’t know where you are a GPS can be very helpful.

    TracBack feature will help you retrace your steps, or Garmin Connect can provide you with a route that can be preplanned and stored in your watch.

  • Heart Rate Monitor: Garmin uses the Elevate wrist technology HR monitor, using an optic sensor on the underside of the watch face noting changes in blood flow. This is known to be a highly accurate system. You have HR alerts, HR zone, however, HR metrics for swimming are lacking on this device.  
  • Military Standards: MIL-STD810G, thermal, shock and waterproof to 100 meters (10ATM)
  • Garmin has many Apps that help you, like the Garmin Explorer which helps you to preplan your route, and Garmin Connect Mobile which can help you locate your smartphone and receive notifications.
  • The battery life is 14 days. When using GPS that is cut to 16 hours and in Ultra Trac mode, 40 hours.
  • The silicone band is comfortable even if you have to tighten it a bit to get a good HR reading, and it's relatively lightweight compared to some of the other smartphones.
  • Available in many colors like Seafoam (light blue), Lakeside Blue, Flame Red, Tundra (beige), Sunburst (Yellow) and Graphite (black).
  • Design and Clarity: Monochrome display with only 128x128 pixel resolution with light that can be illuminated by pressing a left side button
  • Barometric altimeter and Bluetooth connectivity
  • It is recommended to purchase a screen protector to preserve your investment. There are two types, tempered glass and a “wet Install” film which allows multiple adjustments during installation.  


The Garmin Instinct GPS sports smartwatch has some pretty great features if you are adventure-oriented, love to hit the trail and need to navigate in rough terrain.

It was designed for those working or exploring in the outdoors. It also has some great features if you are just all-around athletic.

This is a unisex smartwatch for anyone who loves or works outdoors. It is rugged and durable.

It comes in great colors, is sporty, has some great supportive Apps and not too spendy. It may not have all the fancy features a professional athlete is looking for, but the hiker, wilderness adventurer, should be very pleased to have this watch.

Garmin is a company that has been working in the field of GPS navigation since 1989. They keep improving and striving for excellence.

You may also want to check out Casio Pro-Tec Outdoor Watch.

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt has been a tech geek for as long as he can remember. Whether it's laptops, cameras, or projects, he's obsessed with it all. When he's not researching the latest tech products, he likes to go on long hikes with his dogs.

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