Garmin Instinct Review – a Look Into the Top Rated Solar Charged Watch

Why we like the Garmin Instinct: Impressive battery life; Multi-satellite technologies; Garmin Connect Instinct Solar app

Why we don’t like the Garmin Instinct: Chunky design; The Power Glass lenses are susceptible to scratches and knocks

If you plan to spend time outdoors, we may have just the smart adventure watch for you. This Garmin Instinct review offers an in-depth overview of this top-rated multi-sport smartwatch. The Garmin Instinct Multi-Sport GPS Watch easily distinguishes itself from other smartwatches. This is thanks to its unrivalled battery life (or even a solar powered version) and ultra-rugged build.

But, beyond this superior construction, the utility watch is quite dependable on the trails. Want to know what more you can get from the multi-sport GPS watch? Check out the Garmin Instinct review below.


garmin instinct solar watchThe Garmin instinct Solar Multi-Sport GPS Watch comes in two versions at different price points – an expensive solar powered version makes the neatest option in our opinion, but the functionally equivalent battery version helps save the pennies.

With solar charging, there is no requirement to constantly charge or replace your battery. In the outdoors, the watch becomes a dependable piece of machinery anytime. But, this is not all it offers. The GPS watch also boasts a durable construction; allowing it to withstand the harshest conditions.

Its vast range of apps means that the watch can help you with anything. You can use it to access a map or check your oxygen saturation at a high altitude. Moreover, the Garmin Instinct comes in various colour options to match any settings.

Garmin Instinct

Technical Specifications

  • Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel and case
  • Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
  • Weight: 53 grams
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant, up to 100m
  • Colour: Graphite, orchid, green camo, black
  • Recommended activity: Hiking, backpacking, running, cycling, and swimming

Construction & Design

The Gamin Instinct watch integrates a fibre-reinforced polymer bezel and case to survive the harshest and wettest conditions. The watch is designed with a silicone strap that features standard quick-release pins.

The watch’s exterior is tough – allowing it to adapt to different environments including water sources, tree branches, or rough roads. On the bezel is a sunlight-readable display and solar charging power glass lenses.

The glass lens features a scratch-resistant patented Corning glass design to protect it from unnecessary wear and tear. The glass lens also doubles as a power-generating source for the watch.

Garmin Instinct

Furthermore, the lens features a matte finish to make it easier to read even under direct sunlight. The watch boasts a monochrome display to make the display easily readable. However, this may be off-putting for people who love more colourful designs. Nonetheless, the monochrome display means more battery life for your watch.

The monochrome display with a backlight makes it easy to read the watch at all times. If you want to, you can even adjust the lighting on the screen based on your preferences. The GPS watch is weatherproofed to resist heat and shock. It features a Mil-Standard 810 build. The Mil-Standard 810 build allows the watch to remain water-resistant to a depth of up to 100 meters.

Weighing only about 53 grams, the smartwatch is lightweight and doesn’t uncomfortably weigh your hand down. However, with the 45 mm diameter and about 15.3mm thickness, the watch can be a little chunky on some hands.

Feature Functions

Watch Function

When it comes to storage, the watch features a 16 GB built-in memory. Additionally, the Garmin Instinct GPS watch integrates three main functions. It supports a Watch function, Fitness/Health Tracking, and Navigation functions.

The Watch function shares basic features such as time, date, GPS time sync, daylight saving, alarm, timer, stopwatch, and sunrise/sunset.

Fitness/Health Function

Garmin Instinct The Fitness/Heath tracking function helps to monitor your body’s function when set up. Amongst the features tracked include steps, calories burned, activity targets, and history. It also tracks heart rate during activity, stress tracking, and sleep monitoring.

The watch also integrates an optical heart rate monitor. The heart monitor has pulse oximetry to check your oxygen saturation when you want to. The heart rate monitor feature functions as a wrist-based monitor. Furthermore, the watch features a stress tracking feature.

A body battery TM energy monitor gauges when your body needs to be active and when it needs to rest. However, the monitoring mode doesn’t only track data and metrics for you. The monitoring feature transforms the Garmin Instinct into a utility watch by integrating added activities.

The feature is preloaded with activity profiles such as running, biking, and swimming. The navigation function shares useful data for when you are outdoors. Amongst the features covered include GPS, altitude, waypoint navigation, breadcrumb trail in real-time, and route planning.

Furthermore, the watch features a Smart mode design. The Smart mode design allows you to access notifications from your watch. This means that you don’t have to pull out your phone or tablet whilst hiking to access notifications.

The watch will simply notify you when that important email comes in. All you have to do is pair it with the smart device of your choice using Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, you can use the connection to access the online fitness community. 

The online fitness community offers automatic uploads, live tracking, and a Group Track feature. Plus, the connection also allows you to access the Garmin Explore website and app to plan adventures for the outdoors.

ABC Sensors

Garmin Instinct The Garmin Instinct features ABC sensors. Typically, the watch utilized three sensors to accurately determine elevation, environmental pressure, and current heading. The sensors come in the form of the altimeter, barometer, and compass. Thanks to this design, the watch enjoys even better accuracy.

The altimeter offers elevation data to help you monitor ascents and descents during your hikes. The barometer helps to predict weather changes thanks to its short term trends in air pressure. The compass shares your direction of travel. It can also be used when you are both idle and moving at a low speed.


The watch features a multi-satellite technology design. These include GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. Thanks to this multi-satellite build, the watch provides optimum accuracy. In harsh and remote conditions where GPS positioning alone is difficult, multi-satellite technology comes to the rescue.

The technology allows the watch to receive more satellite signals. This, in turn, helps to give you more accurate information about your positioning. You will always know where exactly you are with the navigation feature.

Moreover, the watch features a built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. This design helps to maintain bearings when you are in the wild outdoors. The patented TracBack feature complements the built-in 3-axis altimeter to help you navigate the same route you started with.

Battery Life

The Garmin Instinct is fitted with an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The watch is solar charged. However, it works somewhat differently from regular solar-charged watches. The GPS watch uses the brand’s proprietary Power Glass technology. The Power Glass tech harvests energy without really having to change the structure of the watch.

But, the Power Glass lens the watch is designed with isn’t as tough as sapphire glass. Thus, it is a good idea to invest in a screen protector to shield the watch from scratches and knicks. It also has a power management function that helps to enhance battery life when you are on the go. 

The watch’s solar charging design makes it ideal for outdoor adventures. This is because it allows you to recharge it on the go. However, if you live in a cold area with minimal sun exposure, you may have trouble solar charging the watch.

To maintain a maximum charge, you want to switch off features such as a wrist heart rate monitor. The wrist heart rate monitor alone can take up to 10 hours from the watch. Generally, to fully charge the watch on solar, you will need to be outside for at least 3 hours under direct sunlight.

In an area that gets cloudy, you need to stay out a little longer to achieve the same level of charge. On extremely sunny days, you can charge your watch through a transparent window while you are indoors. But, you have to leave it there a little longer.

Garmin Instinct

Smartwatch Mode

To complement the battery, there is the solar power charging glass lens at the top. The watch operates in a choice of two main modes. The Smartwatch mode offers up to 24 days of operation and 54 days of operation with solar charging. On the Smart mode, you can go up to 3 days without having to recharge.

The Smartwatch mode allows you to use all functions of the watch at the same time. This means you will use the regular watch functions, turn on notifications, and 24-hours heart rate monitoring.

GPS Mode

The GPS mode comes in three different sub-modes. It offers up to 30 hours of operation and 38 hours of operation with solar charging. Additionally, the GPS mode allows you to access navigation features too.

On maximum battery GPS mode, the watch functions non-stop for up to 70 hours and 145 hours with solar charging. Using the newly introduced GPS Max battery, the watch pings a GPS satellite less often – extending its battery life. However, this means that accuracy is somewhat compromised. Thus, this mode works best for walking and not running.

If the watch is on idle or power-saving mode, it will remain on for up to 56 days. With daily exposure to the sun for at least an hour to three hours, the watch can remain on indefinitely. The power saver mode allows granular control, however, every charge consuming feature – allowing you to save more battery life.

For example, on battery saver, you have to turn off features such as activity tracking, phone connectivity, and set the screen on low power mode to enjoy optimal power saving. But, with the GPS max battery mode, you can also determine which features you want.

On the Expedition GPS activity mode, the watch functions non-stop for up to 28 days. With solar charging, it functions for up to 68 days. Expedition mode means that the watch will only ping on a GPS satellite once an hour.

Using the Expedition mode gives you a general idea of where you are and where you’ve been. Whilst the Expedition mode helps to save your battery life, it is not as accurate. Thus, it works best for general hikers and backpackers who typically find themselves in urban settings.

Garmin Instinct


As previously mentioned, the Garmin Instinct watch is compatible with the Garmin Instinct Solar companion app. Using the app, you can benefit from a wide range of data. When accessed on the Garmin Connect app, the Garmin Instinct Solar shares data such as recent solar intensity, biometric data, and map data. It also helps to collate data from multiple Garmin devices.


  • Offers three main functions – i.e. watch, fitness/health tracking, and navigation
  • Integrates multi-satellite technologies – i.e. GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo to ensure accurate navigation
  • Impressive battery life – up to 68 days of nonstop operation
  • Caters to a wide range of outdoor activities including hiking, swimming, running, and cycling
  • Uses a unique transparent Power Glass lens technology for solar charging
  • Comes in a range of battery saving modes to choose from based on your needs
  • Clear monochrome screen with black and white lighting to make it easily readable
  • Features a built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass for added accuracy
  • Connects to the Garmin Connect Instinct Solar app for added features and updates
  • Available in a selection of colour options such as black, green camo, and orchid
  • The monochrome display is functional but not beautiful
  • Chunky design may not appeal to all
  • The Power Glass lenses are susceptible to scratches and knocks – its best to invest in a screen protector

Garmin Instinct Review - Conclusion

The Garmin Instinct review proves that this watch is not the best option if you are looking for visual aesthetics. All you will get is a subtle and rugged-looking classic outdoor watch design. Nonetheless, when it comes to performance on the field, this watch outperforms most others.

It features an impressive 3-in-1 build to ensure all parts of your adventurous outdoor life are catered to. With the watch, fitness tracking, and navigation functions, the watch takes care of all your needs, whether hiking or swimming.

Camping Secrets - Outdoor Guides and Reviews
Enable registration in settings - general