This Is One Tough Watch! The Ultimate Garmin Instinct Review

This Is One Tough Watch! The Ultimate Garmin Instinct Review

Are you having trouble choosing a durable, outdoors watch with a host of tracking features? With so many on the market, it can be tough to make a decision and know which brand and model provide the most value. Luckily, the Garmin Instinct can help.

Most commonly known for their navigation systems, Garmin has created a timepiece that blends pinpoint accuracy with a host of sports watch features. All this comes in a durable, sleek design. Below, we give you our Garmin Instinct review and discuss the pros and cons of this newcomer to the GPS watch market. 


Despite its fairly bulky appearance, the Garmin Tactical is extremely light. It has a scratch-resistant casing and a strengthened glass display, so you never need to worry about destroying it when hiking or climbing. It does have a similar look to the Casio G Shock but is much thinner and less intrusive. 

The watch is rated as military standard 810 meaning it can be submerged in water up to a depth of 100 meters. The strap is a soft silicon band. It can be removed and used on other Garmin watches and is extremely comfortable and breathable. 


While the display may look simple compared to some of the watches rivals, it is optimized for ease of use. The monochrome display has an easy to use backlight for night-time and is easy to view in direct sunlight. You can choose from a design of 12 set watch faces. 

The display is customizable so that you can make it read whatever statistics you require. It has a number of widgets that you can add, from sunrise and sunset times to weather conditions and more specialist tools. 


The Garmin Instinct is not a touchscreen watch. The watch is controlled by five buttons which are situated around the watch face. These can be used to change the widgets and settings on the phone. 

Garmin Instinct Review General Features

The watch gets its widgets from the Garmin connect app store on iOS and Android. Here you can find widgets primarily based on sports and navigation features for your watch. It is not a smartwatch and does not connect to the Garmin IQ app store, so those wanting this compatibility may need to look elsewhere. 

Some of the general features include;

Magnetic Compass

Weather Alerts

3d Distance and Speed

Ultratrack and a trackback feature

GPS Co ordinates

Sunset and sunrise times

When using the hiking setting, the watch can give information on elevation settings, though it does not account for roads and lakes. It also has a lifesaving storm alert setting that will warn you of inclement weather changes. 

Outdoor and Sporting Features

The watch has a number of tracking features for a multitude of sports. Some of these are more common, such as running and cycling, with others being more niche, such as rowing. Each has a different data screen relating specifically to that activity and they are easily scrollable while in action. 

GPS and Navigation

Navigation is what Garmin is known for and this watch does not disappoint. The instinct can connect to the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems. It is extremely accurate when using any of these. 

It has a range of navigation features from the uploading of maps routes to a built-in compass and the ability to save waypoints. Should you get lost the watch also has a handy backtracking feature that allows you to retrace your steps using its mapping system. 


The Garmin Instinct GPS Watch comes in at around $299. The base model comes in a range of colours; Lakeside blue, tundra, red flame, seafoam, graphite, and sunburst are the options, though some may be harder to source than others.

The Instinct also has a number of upgraded options and versions;

The tactical edition of the watch allows night vision goggle compatibility and a stealth mode. The camo edition comes in a cool, rugged outdoor camouflage finish and the surf edition has tide data and surfing activity. Some of these features can add an extra $150 to the price of the watch. 

The Instinct Solar is an upgrade that promises unlimited battery life. Not only does it have a solar panel, but it also has a reconfigured interior that maximizes power longevity. The Garmin Instinct Solar costs around $400.

Battery Life

In GPS mode the battery can be sustained for around sixteen hours while in GPS mode and mammoth 2 weeks if used without. It also has a mode named ultra track, which can reduce the GPS satellite rate and allow more battery life for your GPS mode.

Overall Impressions

The Garmin Instinct is an outdoor watch and it does this very well. Its tracking is extremely accurate, even pinpointing when you stroll from paths and take minor detours. It has all the features you would need from an outdoor watch and the ability to upgrade if you need more specificity (surf versions, solar versions).

However, it is not a smartwatch and has not been designed as such. Though it has some features you may find on a smartwatch it does not store music and files. If this is what you are seeking then it is probably not the watch for you.

For the rest, it is durable, non-intrusive, and very resistant to the elements and damage. The price is extremely reasonable for what you get and it holds up well against other, pricier watches in its field. 

Other Garmin Timepieces

If the Garmin Instinct review has made you want one of these outstanding, outdoor watches then visit our shop and see what is on offer. For anyone else who wants something more akin to a smartwatch or sport watch, then we have a range of other options and reviews to help you out. Come and browse the store today!

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