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

9 min read

For several many years I have been applying Garmin wearables to keep track of my working, biking, hiking, and other outdoor functions, but I have in no way tried out out a single of the Instinct models. That changed a couple of weeks back when Garmin despatched out the new Garmin Instinct Solar, with beta application, for evaluation.

Whilst my principal variety of physical exercise is working, I also trip my bike, hike, get on the elliptical, and enjoy other sporting activities. In addition, I get pleasure from fly fishing on the rivers of Washington Condition. In the previous, my Garmin merchandise use bundled Forerunner, Fenix, and Edge units, so I was curious about the Instinct as it took a little bit of a diverse approach in regards to the enjoy layout and emphasis.

Also: Garmin Forerunner 945 evaluate: Audio, mapping, payments, pulse, and incident detection

Right after a lot more than a week with the Instinct Solar, I honestly might be a change to the Instinct line for several explanations. These involve:

  • Extended battery existence: Right after many years of applying wearables, I have realized that extensive battery existence makes certain a system stays mounted on my wrist for the extensive expression. One or two-working day battery existence on a wearable is now unacceptable for my wants. The Instinct Solar features battery existence in GPS monitoring manner goes up to a lot more than 50 days, even offering unlimited in Battery Saver manner with solar exposure.
  • Rugged layout: 100-meter water resistance and MIL-STD-810G shock ratings make sure the Instinct is crafted to just take on anything at all. It has a fiber-bolstered polymer scenario and a scratch-resistant display screen that is set down from the front experience.
  • One of a kind outdoor functions: In addition to a myriad of normal functions like working, biking, hiking, kayaking, yoga, and several a lot more the Garmin Instinct supports fishing, tactical, boating, searching, area calculation, and a lot more outdoor-focused adventures. The expedition manner supports a multi-working day activity with diminished need to have to charge with keep track of factors recorded once an hour by default.
  • Realistic display screen layout: A big explanation the Garmin Instinct has a fantastic battery existence is the monochrome display screen. I have arrive to love the major right circle, two-window layout, that delivers necessary information at a look. For example, whilst fishing it confirmed my fish depend, in heart price manner, it demonstrates your latest heart price, and in compass manner, it demonstrates the path in angles.
  • Affordable rate: The Garmin Instinct Solar starts off at $399.ninety nine. Thinking of all that this GPS sporting activities enjoy has to provide, that is a honest rate.

See also: Garmin Vivoactive four evaluate: Touchscreen, superior well being-monitoring, golfing, audio, and a lot more

Technical specs

  • Display screen: 23mm diameter 128 x 128 pixels resolution monochrome, daylight-seen
  • View products: Fiber-bolstered 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 thirty hrs in GPS schooling manner or 38 hrs when applying solar charging. 24 days in smartwatch manner, and fifty four days with enough solar exposure. In Battery Saver manner with enough solar exposure, Garmin states the Instinct can reach unlimited battery existence.
  • Proportions: forty five x forty five x fifteen.3 mm and fifty three grams


The Garmin Instinct Solar is not a slim and modern GPS sporting activities enjoy, as it is focused on providing a rugged system that excels in various environmental circumstances for days and weeks. I am individually a lover of major watches and locate that the Instinct Solar performs effectively on my wrist.

To be sincere, I barely seen that the Garmin Instinct Solar would not have a coloration display screen. I have in no way observed coloration displays to be an necessary ingredient of a GPS sporting activities enjoy. I just need to have a display screen that is easy to read outside the house with a backlight available when essential and the Instinct Solar delivers just that.

The part of the display screen that has swayed me to favoring the Garmin Instinct Solar is the tiny circle “2nd” display screen. I locate this highlighted area to be practical for providing essential information and creating it clear what a single press of the GPS button will deliver.

There are 5 buttons on the Instinct Solar, just like most Garmin GPS sporting activities watches. The major-still left button toggles the backlight with a press and hold launching the controls display screen. The center still left button moves up whilst the bottom still left moves down. A press and hold of the center still left button normally takes you into the various configurations. You can also customize the hotkeys in the configurations to make the system optimized for your use.

The major right button, GPS, will just take you to your favorite activites with one more press launching that activity. Whilst scrolling by way of widgets you can also press this button to select that widget and see a lot more detailed info. The bottom right button, Established, serves generally as the again button. Yet again, this can also be personalized with the scorching keys setting.

A Garmin Elevate heart price monitor is centered on the again. The regular four-pin Garmin connector is also observed on the again for charging the enjoy.

A silicone enjoy band, matching the coloration of the enjoy, is delivered. Two loops are present on the bitter close of the band to continue to keep it securely on your wrist. Like the Garmin Instinct, Garmin’s 22mm Quickfit bands are also supported with this enjoy.

There are four versions of the Instinct Solar, with various coloration alternatives. These involve:

  • Instinct Solar: Graphite, Tidal Blue, Orchid, Sunburst, Flame Pink
  • Instinct Solar – Camo: Graphite Camo and Lichen Camo
  • Instinct Solar – Tactical Version: Black and Moss
  • Instinct Solar – Surf Version: Pipeline and Cloudbreak

View application

To navigate the system, you press the 5 buttons. Relocating up and down from the enjoy experience will scroll you by way of various widgets available (solar depth, heart price, My Day, notifications, climate, tension, ABC, last operate, Human body Battery, and a lot more). The widgets are picked in the configurations right on the enjoy.

You can use the Garmin Instinct Solar enjoy to keep track of working, biking, elliptical, open up water or pool swimming, fishing, searching, MTB, skiing, snowboarding, yoga, rowing, and several a lot more focused workout routines. The a single sport missing that I would have appreciated to have observed is golfing.

There are a massive amount of configurations and customization alternatives available for each kind of activity. For example, in the working application, you can customize up to four info screens in a layout from a single to four fields with timer, distance, speed, velocity, heart price, cadence, temperature, elevation, compass, navigation, and other fields. I recommend you invest some good quality time customizing every thing just how you want it and then be all set to tweak issues as you execute your activity and locate you want to perspective your info in a different way.

In addition to tailor made info fields for each activity, you can manage alerts, automobile-pause, laps, automobile-scroll, and much a lot more. The practical experience can be quick and easy applying the defaults or as distinct as you need with a little bit of time used customizing the enjoy info fields and configurations.

Also: Garmin Forerunner 945 evaluate: Audio, mapping, payments, pulse, and incident detection

To get commenced on a operate, elevate up your arm, press the upper right button, select Run, and then press the button all over again after GPS is connected. Press the button all over again to pause. If you want to go on, press the button all over again.

There are several exclusive functions you can keep track of with the Garmin Instinct Solar, and I had a fantastic time applying the Fish solution. Right after launching this activity, you select to commence fishing and the enjoy will keep track of your GPS site. You can manually mark destinations, set fishing timers, navigate to destinations, and a lot more. Due to the fact I was fly fishing on a tiny river whilst wading into the river, I commenced the working day, and then as I caught each fish I pressed the GPS button two times to log the capture. Right after the working day was performed, I was equipped to see just wherever each fish was caught on a map. That unique working day I landed 19 rainbow trout so totally loved applying the Garmin Instinct Solar to keep track of the working day. I can’t hold out to go fly fishing all over again and develop a record of my catches to prepare upcoming journeys.

Numerous other functions are supported, which includes navigation, and I prepare to invest several a lot more hrs finding all of the capabilities of the enjoy.

Smartphone application and web-site

Gathering the info is important, but applying that info for monitoring tendencies, increasing functionality, complicated close friends, and determining challenge parts is also extremely important. Garmin provides the Garmin Hook up application for iOS and Android.

When you initially launch the smartphone application, you will see the My Day display that demonstrates your most new exercise, heart price, tension degree, overall body battery, hydration, ways, flooring, snooze, calories in/out, pounds, yesterday’s stats, stats for last seven days, and a lot more. Selections are available to select what is displayed and in what order.

Other tabs involve issues, calendar, news feed, and notifications. Tapping on the system itself gives you alternatives for audio, Garmin Spend, text responses (Android only), functions, look, sounds & alerts, activity monitoring, and much a lot more.

Also: Garmin Edge 530 and Varia RTL510 evaluate: Retaining your bike commute protected and enhancing your outdoor entertaining

On an Android smartphone, you can also fine-tune your sensible notifications by selecting the distinct apps that will be permitted to ship notifications to your Garmin Instinct Solar. On iOS, you get whichever notifications you have enabled in the iOS configurations so I individually favor the Android smartphone practical experience.

The Garmin Hook up web-site practical experience is extremely similar to what you see in the smartphone software, with even a lot more ability to crank out stories, import or export info, set up connections to other apps (these kinds of as Strava, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal), and a lot more. Comparable to the snapshots interface on the telephone, you have a dashboard on Garmin Hook up that you can customize.

I produced dashboard tabs for daily activity, working, biking, and hiking due to the fact individuals are my principal functions. Now with the Instinct, I am also functioning on a fishing dashboard to concentrate on my upcoming fly fishing outings. You can then customize the perspective that seems in your dashboard or select to soar to a total web page perspective of the picked info.

Also: Garmin Venu evaluate: Vibrant AMOLED display screen tends to make this a single of the greatest GPS sporting activities watches for the masses

Each day use encounters

In contrast to the other Garmin wearables I have examined more than the previous couple of many years, the Garmin Instinct Solar does not guidance onboard audio, Garmin Spend, or Hook up IQ apps, enjoy faces, or info fields. For my use, this would not seriously matter, as I use my telephone for audio and Garmin Spend even now would not guidance my bank. Nevertheless, these might be limitations for others so be conscious of what is missing on the Instinct Solar.

The new Garmin Instinct Solar supports some of the latest Garmin capabilities that I locate useful to knowledge my well being and effectively-getting. These capabilities involve Human body Battery, tension monitoring, snooze monitoring with REM aspects, smartphone notifications with text reaction from an Android telephone, and a lot more.

A wearable I rarely have to think of charging that captures all of my daily activity, which includes snooze, and focused GPS functions is refreshing and essential to remaining on my wrist. When that wearable also supports my niche functions, these kinds of as fly fishing, it can be challenging to conquer. The Garmin Instinct Solar also can keep topped off with the sunlight, creating this a single of the greatest wearables for adventurists and athletes focused on outdoor functions.

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