Garmin Instinct Solar first look review: Rugged outdoor GPS sports watch powered by the sun


For many years I have been utilizing Garmin wearables to monitor my working, biking, climbing, and other outside activities, but I have in no way tried out one of the Instinct designs. That changed a couple of months in the past when Garmin despatched out the new Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic, with beta software program, for evaluation.

Though my key kind of exercise is working, I also journey my bike, hike, get on the elliptical, and perform other athletics. In addition, I take pleasure in fly fishing on the rivers of Washington Condition. In the earlier, my Garmin solution use provided Forerunner, Fenix, and Edge gadgets, so I was curious about the Instinct as it took a little bit of a distinctive technique in regards to the check out design and style and concentrate.

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Soon after much more than a week with the Instinct Photo voltaic, I actually may be a convert to the Instinct line for numerous explanations. These include:

  • Extended battery lifestyle: Soon after years of utilizing wearables, I have realized that prolonged battery lifestyle makes sure a unit stays mounted on my wrist for the prolonged phrase. Just one or two-working day battery lifestyle on a wearable is now unacceptable for my requirements. The Instinct Photo voltaic features battery lifestyle in GPS monitoring method goes up to much more than fifty times, even presenting limitless in Battery Saver method with solar exposure.
  • Rugged design and style: 100-meter drinking water resistance and MIL-STD-810G shock scores be certain the Instinct is designed to get on something. It has a fiber-reinforced polymer circumstance and a scratch-resistant show that is established down from the front facial area.
  • Exclusive outside activities: In addition to a myriad of typical activities like working, biking, climbing, kayaking, yoga, and many much more the Garmin Instinct supports fishing, tactical, boating, hunting, area calculation, and much more outside-focused adventures. The expedition method supports a multi-working day action with lessened need to charge with monitor factors recorded once an hour by default.
  • Practical show design and style: A major explanation the Garmin Instinct has a excellent battery lifestyle is the monochrome show. I have occur to adore the major proper circle, two-window design and style, that provides vital facts at a look. For illustration, even though fishing it showed my fish rely, in heart level method, it exhibits your recent heart level, and in compass method, it exhibits the direction in angles.
  • Sensible price tag: The Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic commences at $399.99. Contemplating all that this GPS athletics check out has to offer you, that is a reasonable price tag.

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Technical specs

  • Screen: 23mm diameter 128 x 128 pixels resolution monochrome, sunlight-obvious
  • Watch supplies: Fiber-reinforced polymer with silicone band
  • Water resistance: 10 ATM (100 meters)
  • Bands: Supports Quickfit 22mm bands.
  • Connectivity and sensors: Bluetooth, ANT+, GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO, Garmin Elevate optical HR, pulse Ox, barometric altimeter, three-axis compass, accelerometer, thermometer
  • Battery: Rated for 30 hrs in GPS instruction method or 38 hrs when utilizing solar charging. 24 times in smartwatch method, and 54 times with enough solar exposure. In Battery Saver method with enough solar exposure, Garmin states the Instinct can achieve limitless battery lifestyle.
  • Proportions: 45 x 45 x 15.three mm and fifty three grams


The Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic is not a slim and sleek GPS athletics check out, as it is focused on supplying a rugged unit that excels in different environmental situations for times and months. I’m individually a lover of big watches and come across that the Instinct Photo voltaic performs very well on my wrist.

To be straightforward, I hardly recognized that the Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic won’t have a shade show. I have in no way found shade shows to be an vital ingredient of a GPS athletics check out. I just need a show that is uncomplicated to study outside with a backlight accessible when necessary and the Instinct Photo voltaic provides precisely that.

The aspect of the show that has swayed me to favoring the Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic is the little circle “second” show. I come across this highlighted area to be valuable for supplying important facts and creating it clear what a one push of the GPS button will supply.

There are 5 buttons on the Instinct Photo voltaic, just like most Garmin GPS athletics watches. The major-still left button toggles the backlight with a push and hold launching the controls show. The middle still left button moves up even though the bottom still left moves down. A push and hold of the middle still left button will take you into the different configurations. You can also customize the hotkeys in the configurations to make the unit optimized for your usage.

The major proper button, GPS, will get you to your preferred activites with a different push launching that action. Though scrolling by means of widgets you can also push this button to choose that widget and see much more in-depth info. The bottom proper button, Set, serves primarily as the back button. Once again, this can also be tailored with the hot keys environment.

A Garmin Elevate heart level watch is centered on the back. The classic four-pin Garmin connector is also found on the back for charging the check out.

A silicone check out band, matching the shade of the check out, is presented. Two loops are existing on the bitter conclude of the band to preserve it securely on your wrist. Like the Garmin Instinct, Garmin’s 22mm Quickfit bands are also supported with this check out.

There are four versions of the Instinct Photo voltaic, with different shade possibilities. These include:

  • Instinct Photo voltaic: Graphite, Tidal Blue, Orchid, Sunburst, Flame Purple
  • Instinct Photo voltaic – Camo: Graphite Camo and Lichen Camo
  • Instinct Photo voltaic – Tactical Edition: Black and Moss
  • Instinct Photo voltaic – Surf Edition: Pipeline and Cloudbreak

Watch software program

To navigate the unit, you push the 5 buttons. Shifting up and down from the check out facial area will scroll you by means of different widgets accessible (solar intensity, heart level, My Day, notifications, temperature, tension, ABC, final operate, Physique Battery, and much more). The widgets are picked in the configurations proper on the check out.

You can use the Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic check out to monitor working, biking, elliptical, open drinking water or pool swimming, fishing, hunting, MTB, snowboarding, snowboarding, yoga, rowing, and many much more focused routines. The one activity lacking that I would have appreciated to have witnessed is golf.

There are a huge number of configurations and customization possibilities accessible for each style of action. For illustration, in the working app, you can customize up to four info screens in a layout from one to four fields with timer, length, tempo, speed, heart level, cadence, temperature, elevation, compass, navigation, and other fields. I advise you shell out some high-quality time customizing everything precisely how you want it and then be prepared to tweak things as you complete your action and come across you want to check out your info in different ways.

In addition to personalized info fields for each action, you can management alerts, auto-pause, laps, auto-scroll, and a great deal much more. The practical experience can be fast and straightforward utilizing the defaults or as specific as you drive with a little bit of time put in customizing the check out info fields and configurations.

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To get begun on a operate, raise up your arm, push the higher proper button, choose Operate, and then push the button all over again soon after GPS is related. Push the button all over again to pause. If you want to continue, push the button all over again.

There are numerous exceptional activities you can monitor with the Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic, and I experienced a excellent time utilizing the Fish choice. Soon after launching this action, you choose to commence fishing and the check out will monitor your GPS area. You can manually mark spots, established fishing timers, navigate to spots, and much more. Considering the fact that I was fly fishing on a little river even though wading into the river, I begun the working day, and then as I caught each fish I pressed the GPS button two times to log the capture. Soon after the working day was completed, I was capable to see precisely wherever each fish was caught on a map. That unique working day I landed 19 rainbow trout so carefully savored utilizing the Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic to monitor the working day. I are unable to wait to go fly fishing all over again and establish a heritage of my catches to program upcoming visits.

Quite a few other activities are supported, together with navigation, and I program to shell out many much more hrs finding all of the capabilities of the check out.

Smartphone software program and website

Accumulating the info is vital, but utilizing that info for monitoring tendencies, bettering effectiveness, tough buddies, and figuring out trouble spots is also extremely vital. Garmin presents the Garmin Hook up app for iOS and Android.

When you 1st start the smartphone app, you will see the My Day screen that exhibits your most modern workout, heart level, tension amount, system battery, hydration, actions, floors, sleep, calories in/out, excess weight, yesterday’s stats, stats for final 7 times, and much more. Choices are accessible to select what is displayed and in what order.

Other tabs include problems, calendar, information feed, and notifications. Tapping on the unit alone offers you possibilities for audio, Garmin Pay, text responses (Android only), activities, overall look, seems & alerts, action monitoring, and a great deal much more.

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On an Android smartphone, you can also high-quality-tune your smart notifications by choosing the specific apps that will be allowed to send notifications to your Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic. On iOS, you get what ever notifications you have enabled in the iOS configurations so I individually like the Android smartphone practical experience.

The Garmin Hook up website practical experience is extremely similar to what you see in the smartphone software, with even much more functionality to produce reviews, import or export info, established up connections to other purposes (these as Strava, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal), and much more. Equivalent to the snapshots interface on the telephone, you have a dashboard on Garmin Hook up that you can customize.

I created dashboard tabs for everyday action, working, biking, and climbing because individuals are my key activities. Now with the Instinct, I am also doing the job on a fishing dashboard to target my upcoming fly fishing outings. You can then customize the check out that appears in your dashboard or select to bounce to a total web site check out of the picked info.

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Daily usage experiences

In contrast to the other Garmin wearables I have tested over the earlier couple of years, the Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic does not aid onboard audio, Garmin Pay, or Hook up IQ apps, check out faces, or info fields. For my usage, this won’t really issue, as I use my telephone for audio and Garmin Pay however won’t aid my bank. On the other hand, these may be limitations for other individuals so be knowledgeable of what is lacking on the Instinct Photo voltaic.

The new Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic supports some of the most up-to-date Garmin functions that I come across useful to understanding my health and fitness and very well-getting. These functions include Physique Battery, tension monitoring, sleep checking with REM particulars, smartphone notifications with text reaction from an Android telephone, and much more.

A wearable I almost never have to imagine of charging that captures all of my everyday action, together with sleep, and focused GPS functions is refreshing and important to remaining on my wrist. When that wearable also supports my specialized niche activities, these as fly fishing, it can be tricky to beat. The Garmin Instinct Photo voltaic also can remain topped off with the sunlight, creating this one of the best wearables for adventurists and athletes focused on outside activities.