Garmin Instinct Rugged GPS Smartwatch
Product DescriptionWhen you can rely on Instinct, the world can rely on you. This rugged, reliable outdoor GPS watch is built to the U. S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (Rated to 100 meters). the fiber-reinforced polymer case adds strength and durability, and the chemically-strengthened, scratch-resistant display is high-contrast enough to read in bright sunlight, so you can take it with you into the extremes you face every day. Plus, the fully vented silicone bands include two independent, removable keeper loops to ensure a secure fit and to keep you from getting caught on things. Water rating: 10 ATM.
- Rugged GPS watch built to withstand the toughest environments
- Constructed to U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters)
- Built in 3 axis compass and barometric altimeter, plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo) support helps track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
- Monitor your estimated heart rate, activity and stress; Train with preloaded activity profiles. Strap material: Silicone
- Stay connected with smart notifications (with a compatible smartphone) and automatic data uploads to the Garmin connect online fitness community
- Use the trackback feature to navigate the same route back to your starting point; Use the Garmin explore website and app to plan your trips in advance
- Battery life: Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, up to 40 hours in Ultratrac battery saver mode
Top ReviewsTried Them All, This Is The Best
by Clayton (5 out of 5 stars)
November 21, 2018
What a frustrating activity tracker/smart watch journey I have been on. Nothing seemed quite right for what I was looking for. I am an avid outdoorsman who likes to hunt, backpack, hike, bike, and occasionally run. Things that are extremely important to me are an accurate altimeter, barometer, and GPS.
I first purchased the Fenix 3 HR. The watch was impressive in the beginning and I thought I had found the one. The issue turned out to be the altimeter. It was not accurate at all. I then waited for the Fenix 5. Same damn issue. Altimeter was worse than the 3. When I contacted Garmin, they told me to put the watch in warm soapy water. While this did seem to temporarily reset it back to normal, I continued to experience the same issue. As much as I would like to put my watch in a warm glass of soapy water every night, I decided to pass. The 5 plus eventually came out and appeared to solve these issues. But then.....Garmin realeased the Instinct.
This watch (so far) has really impressed me. It is so light weight and comfortable. The Fenix watches, while premium, are a bit large and heavy to wear. You truly forget you are wearing this watch. The features are great. It has absolutely everything I need. I'm not a triathlete and could care less about some of the measurements the Fenix gives you. Some have commented on the grainy display. I completely disagree. I would liken it to E Ink from a kindle. It truly is a pleasure to look at and is extremely clear and readable. I love that it is black and white.
The keys and apps are very responsive. The menus are so much faster than the Fenix. You can really whip through the widgets and settings to get where you want. The buttons are excellent and I have yet to accidentally press one while bending my wrist.
I am still testing the accuracy of the GPS tracking and ABC sensors but so far it is looking great. I really can't say enough about this watch. Knock on wood, it seems like a great model from Garmin that will feel a niche hunting/outdoors market. I will provide an update in a month after more usage.
I've now had this watch for a few weeks and have taken it on several hunting trips. I am truly impressed with this watch. I cannot emphasize enough how comfortable and light this watch is. Owning and wearing heavier watches over the years, I think I forgot how nice it is to wear a watch that you forget is attached to your wrist. I hated wearing my Fenix watches to bed. Too bulky and would dig into my wrist. Tracking appears to be very accurate. Attitude has been accurate for daily use and when you are tracking an activity.
What I Love About This Watch:
-Comfortable & Lightweight
-Screen Visibility is Exceptional
-Accurate ABC Sensors and Tracking
-Recessed Buttons Avoid Accidental Presses
-Battery Life Has Been Great
I really only have a couple complaints or rather suggestions to improve the watch. When you lock the keys (which you don't have to too often because of recessed buttons), in order to unlock the watch, you hold any button for a short period. I wish Garmin would lengthen the amount of time it takes to hold the button. It takes about .5 seconds to unlock currently and that can be accidentally done pretty easily. This is really a minor complaint though. The screen is an unknown material or proprietary to Garmin. I do wish it was a Sapphire display but I put a screen protector on it and you truly cant tell there is one on the face. My last suggestion is I wish the battery indicator showed a percentage as opposed to the 5 bars in a battery indicator. Again, its a minor gripe but it would be nice if they changed that.
Please ask me questions. Id be happy to answer. I've done a disturbing amount of research on these watches over the years and believe I have finally found the perfect watch for my needs. I've used all Fenix watches and a Suunto Traverse Alpha. This watch is my favorite.
The perfect smartwatch for people who dislike smartwatches.
by Travis (5 out of 5 stars)
November 5, 2018
This model came out from Garmin at the same time I was starting to seriously want a device for a mixture of tracking activity, in my case most of which is outdoor oriented, like hiking and riding my mountain bike, plus I wanted to start exploring some physical data from a heart rate monitor as I get more active.
When smartwatches first started becoming popular, I thought they were pretty stupid and redundant, and in my mind a teeny tiny 2" screen will never replace a phone screen which is small enough, especially for GPS navigation duty. However, the function of getting the sensors and GPS antenna in a more favorable location, plus heart rate monitoring, I could see the benefits of a smartwatch. I didn't like most of what was on the market until this unit.
What I liked about this watch was it didn't have all the features and bloated interface to replace interacting with your phone for things a phone is best at. In some ways the Instinct is a throwback to older tech, but in a good way, the way anyone who has experience with GPS from the time it first became widely available for consumer use will appreciate. The interface will just make sense if you were used to the older devices.
It does all the things you might want your phone to do, but a phone is not really suited to doing well. I disliked using my phone for tracking hikes and on my MTN bike because either the phone was safe in my pocket with a horrible view of the sky and where I couldn't see it, or I had it strapped on my handlebars where it could get knocked off. Or while hiking I had to pack it in my hands or strapped to my backpack in an awkward position. Not to mention if you use GPS on the phone and keep the screen on to see stats, it will hit the battery hard. With this, you can tuck the phone safely away but still see the info you want.
This watch was the right combo of features for outdoor activities and activity tracking to get my attention and be a useful tool more than an expensive trinket. I did not wear any watch before buying the Instinct, and now I wear this most of the time for the last 2-3 weeks I've had it.
While it lacks some features of more dedicated fitness devices, I got it mostly for what it did not have rather than what it did. Most criticism of this watch I read prior to purchasing clearly was because this watch has a niche and those folks didn't fit it. This is mostly for outdoor activities, it's simple, rugged, and doesn't do as much because it's made to do it's set of tasks well, and it's trade off is the things it does not do allow it to be smaller and use the battery more efficiently.
You can read up on it's features and functions elsewhere, but a few things I will point out as exceptional. Some may harp on the old school LCD type display, but it's high contrast and the way the face catches ambient light extremely well makes it very easy to read. Actually I set the back light on 5%, it's lowest setting, because if it's so dark you need the back light, that is plenty to see it by.
I like it's size, it's not huge feeling, and it's light. As I mentioned I did not wear a watch before this one, and I find it comfortable to wear despite a history of disliking things on my wrist. I had to get used to it yes, but it's not like having a rock strapped to your arm.
Battery life has been great, using the GPS 2-3 times a week for an hour at a time pulls it down some but I still get over a week on a charge. I've yet to let it run down to the point it claims it needs charging, but so far I've yet to charge it in a period of less than 7 days.
Definitely a personal preference but I also really like it's appearance. I got the Graphite colored one, it's not black but kind of a charcoal grey. It's not preppy looking or stylish, and that's what I'm going for. It does not give off that "oh look at me I'm athletic I have a fitbit" vibe, or look super snazzy and expensive, it just looks like a run of the mill boring watch if no one inspects it closely. For sure a more utility look, and for folks who would get the most out of this watch, that's probably perfect.
Also will throw in there for my mountain bike, I later picked up Garmin's cadence and speed sensors, and they paired up effortlessly with the Instinct. GPS will cheat you distance on a bike especially and that is just the nature of the tech, I was getting some big discrepancies between the Instinct's recorded track and my wheel sensor bike computer. The trails I ride on frequently are a particular hardship for GPS anyway with heavy tree cover and tightly winding trails. With the speed sensor the difference is much smaller and I recommend it if you are going to use this on a bike.
So far I've been very happy with the purchase and impressed with the device, enough to write this lengthy review, which I don't bother with often. (I did lean heavily on reviews deciding to purchase, so this is to help those like me.) If you fall into the niche this watch is intended to appeal to, I recommend it.
So far, so awesome
by Sandan Kenpo,Top Contributor: Watches (5 out of 5 stars)
October 15, 2018
The Garmin Instinct is really great, but maybe not as "fancy" as some might want. First of all, as a reference, I already own the Garmin Fenix 5 plus... meaning I have the "fancier" version of the Instinct. But the ruggedness of the Instinct, and the fact that it totally reminds me of the screen on the old Fitbit Surge is why I like it! Think about it... take the Fitbit Surge's super-readable (always-on) square face... and wrap a round rugged bezel around it... throw in Garmin Fenix functionality... and what's not to like?!? LOL. And if you read in the online reviews that it reminds reviewers of a Casio g-shock watch... they're right! And that's the other reason I like it. Drop the Instinct, bang it on a wall, take it in any environment... and still get the Garmin accurate GPS, heart rate, stress and sleep tracking?... excellent!
Wow! For the Common Person, a Good Reliable Smart Watch
by JCRArizona (5 out of 5 stars)
December 4, 2018
I am very impressed with this watch . If you want to show off the latest Apple or Samsung watch, fine. This watch just works. Waterproof, Military spec, a tough watch from Garmin. This is my first Garmin, it is tougher, more reliable, and easier to use than a FItbit or Apple or Samsung watch. I have had several before this. Wow!
Best of any I have owned, including Fitbit, Samsung, Apple. I charged it Sunday am, it is now Tuesday midday has gone down one bar, four out of five bars left. Very impressed, get Smart Notifications, use GPS, used light 10 times , great! I expect to get four days on one charge if not more. I hate charging every day .
GPS, Satt tracking
GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite network capability tracks in tougher or remote environments than GPS alone. The built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter help you keep your bearings.
Great to get texts and calls to assess if want to answer on phone. I dont' use replies on watch.
Health Options: Step count and heart rate very accurate. Use the Garmin App it features a nice weekly summary of all your walks, etc. May options for hikes, biking, swimming, etc.
Watch Face and Widgets
Options to set home screen are many. Can set to weather, steps, heart rate, day , date, time, etc. If you don't have on your main screen it is push away to view other options.
Not a fashion statement. Screen reminds me of surge, not color, but very visible and reminds me of a Casio in many ways. Very visible in low light without using the light button on watch .
VERY light. Forget I have it on. Screen good size for aging eyes, but not a brick watch like some modern large watches. I like the fact time, day, date, heart rate (my home screen options) are visible without squinting.
All is all, I highly recommend this watch .This is my FIRST Garmin watch. Very impressed.
UPDATE-Watch has had one charge I am now on day 10 still three bars! Wow!
Great watch, but know what it is, and is not
by John Hughes (5 out of 5 stars)
October 18, 2018
B&W Display: This watch does not have color, which is a good thing. The display is high contrast black and white. This makes it easier to see details.
Wrist Heart Rate: After a workout I use the Garmin Connect app to see the "Time in Zones". This watch is adequate to do this. If you want to be able to look at your watch during a workout and see the exact heart rate at that moment, then maybe a strap would work better. Keyword might. I don't miss the HR strap.
Lightweight but not high fashion: 53 grams, which is much lighter than a Fenix.
Software is built in: I don't think you can get 3rd party watch faces and apps via Connect IQ. However, there is a ton of functionality built in to the watch. I found the owner's manual PDF online and I am learning how to click through the menus.
Hopefully i was the only one who got defective Garmin Instinct.
by Andrei (5 out of 5 stars)
October 26, 2018
Hate to be the first one on the internet with a bad review on Garmin Instinct... I liked this watch! Everything what's needed in there! Unfortunately the first order wasn't that successful. After half a day after receiving the Instinct, it just stopped working. It lost connection, and after even "forgetting" it on iphone and deleting and reinstalling the app they still didn't want to connect. When charging Garmin logo started constantly flashing. Was able to turn it off and connect again only while charging, but still flashing Garming logo showed up. Tried resetting everything- same story. Constant freezing. I believe i just got a defective one. Unfortunately i couldn't find the same issues on forums, looks like i was the first one since they came out. Sent it back to Amazon the next day and ordered another one. Supposed to arrive tomorrow, will see how it will work.
10.27.18 got another Instinct. So far so good, BUT i haven't updated the firmware yet, as i think that could be the reason why the previous instinct turned into a brick. Will be searching on forums for any helpful information before doing the actual update.
10.28.18 Alright ladies and gentlemen, the watch updated by itself without even asking me 😃. Looks like everything works as supposed. And you know what, I love them! I'm changing my 3 stars because of the first one i received to 5 stars for the second order. I hope it was just the only one that was defective.
P.S. Previously i had Pebble 2 which had some issues: periodical disconnection, and finally the rubber buttons broke exposing the internals of the watch. I'm really glad and happy of my Garmin Instinct purchase so far!
04.26.19 It's been a while since my last review. So far so good, everything works as intended, except one minor unpleasant thing: sometimes i stop getting any notifications on my watch, which can be solved by restarting the watch and Garmin Connect app. Not sure what causes that, i have an iPhone X with latest ios, in case that info will be useful. That happens not often, and can be solved within several seconds. Overall i like this watch a lot! Maybe this review update will be helpful for somebody.
The G shock version of a smart watch
by sarah m. (5 out of 5 stars)
December 2, 2018
Let me start by saying this is my first review I've ever left.
I had a Fitbit blaze which I loved but succumbed to a swimming pool. I thought it was waterproof to an extent because I never take watches off and needed something that I could where swimming and in the shower.
After my Fitbit died I started researching similar watches that are waterproof.
I came across the Garmin Instinct and I am could've happier. I used to wear a g shock before my Fitbit.
From heart rate to controlling music to seeing who is calling or texting. This thing does it all with the comfort of knowing it will withstand a simple shower to jumping in a pool.
This thing has all the things my Fitbit has plus many more.
Weather updates, compass, gps tracking when hiking or running.
Its a rugged looking watch with everything you need.
If you are on the fence about this watch don't hesitate you will not be disappointed.
Great battery life.
by jmarsh (5 out of 5 stars)
October 28, 2018
This is a great watch. Does absolutely everything I wanted and more.
I am a scout leader and am often hiking and camping. Hence a short battery life never worked for me. I've had this thing for just over a week. I have camped once, and went for multiple "GPS" hikes plus a mountain bike ride. The watch is just now saying it needs to be charged. Amazing.
The compass comes in handy but not as accurate compared to a traditional compass. Which is no big deal, as long as I know the general direction I am fine. That being said I think the GPS is spot on. I compared it with one of the scouts high end smart watches. His was all over the place. Mine seemed as accurate as our larger Garmin device.
Love this watch, would totally buy it again.
One of the best adventure watches on the market, with one serious design flaw
by Amazon Customer (4 out of 5 stars)
December 4, 2018
First watch I've purchased in ten years - wore G-Shock for five years while I was in the service.
This watch is a perfect hybrid of the badassitude of the rugged G-Shock and the subtle functionality of Garmin's GPS watches.
The battery life is incredible, as long as you're not running the GPS constantly. I've gotten ten days on one battery charge with intermittent, manual GPS fixing while hiking in extremely remote places.
The watch face is serenely simple. The two tone display couldn't be improved in any way, for me.
HOWEVER - this watch has a hilariously dysfunctional design flaw. The buttons extend beyond the edge of the housing, and if you are a real person doing human things (like bending your wrist, lifting heavy objects, putting on a coat, doing literally anything outdoors) you will accidentally press buttons with the back of your hand or the edge of your coat etc.
There is a software "lock buttons" option that you can dig around in the UI for, but it's easily overridden by holding any particular button down for long enough. i.e. if you are holding an awkward box for a while walking up some stairs you may be wrist-mashing the GPS button and find out later you've been tracking a run you never went on.
I want to think this is one of the finest pieces of hardware I've ever owned, but the accidental button depression issue makes me think I probably would have been fine with a $30 Casio :D
EDIT: after seeing that basically nobody else has this issue, I've come to the conclusion that I probably just have fat wrists, which is not Garmin's fault! Still amazed by the battery life on this unit.
If Apple and Casio collaborated on a G-Shock *UPDATES*
by Matt (5 out of 5 stars)
January 29, 2019
It's hard to add much to all the other positive reviews, but I will chime in and say how absolutely impressed I am with the Instinct. Over the years I've progressed from an early Fitbit that was surprisingly good, to a Suunto Quest which was not a smartwatch but was a great HRM and workout watch (and light and comfortable). On top of a bunch of other regular watches including Tag, Hamilton, GShocks, etc.
The short version is: Garmin nailed it. Absolutely. Nailed. It. It's light, has great battery life, is rugged, comfortable, looks good, and features are on point. The app is excellent. And there's not a lot of extra crap that you don't need or want. But, if there IS a feature that you don't need or want, you can bury it so it doesn't clutter your menus.
The HRM seems accurate, always within about 3% of any other measurements (ANT chest strap, gym cardio machines). And the price point seems totally reasonable given what you're getting for your money.
Two things that might help someone: Pairing with an iPhone was super easy but I wasn't getting alerts, which initially caused me concern. Everything was paired and showing green, but no alerts. After some playing around I discovered a quick, easy fix. Whatever alerts you want on your phone, simply go into Notifications in your iPhone settings and make sure you select the option for "Notification Center" for each app (Messages, Mail, etc.). That's it. It doesn't have anything to do with showing on lock screen or anything like that, just make sure the alerts are going to the Notification Center on your iPhone and that's (apparently) what Garmin pulls from. It's 100% now.
Finally, in snooping around on internet forums it appears that Garmin is very receptive to feedback. Example: New software releases include user requests. That's cool and something I value a lot. You can also very easily download beta versions of the software to get early updates, or you can just wait and they'll get pushed out over the app. If you want the betas it's a true drag-and-drop of exactly one file, and from the time you plug in your phone until the software is on your watch and running is maybe 45 seconds. Couldn't be easier.
I'd give this thing 6 stars. Time will tell on durability but we're off to a really, really good start. Don't let the lack of color or supposed "pixels" sway you. If you want a do-it-all watch with fancy but largely useless features, this ain't the watch for you. If you want a solid, rugged fitness tracker with relevant features and your phone notifications are viewed as a bonus, the Instinct is where it's at.
*UPDATE* Going on two months and it's as awesome as day 1. Battery life is consistently 14 days, and I could probably eek a few more if needed. I'm consistently impressed by all the features and the app, and it's super comfortable. Honestly, this watch leaves me wanting nothing more. I don't wish it did this or that, or wish that it was lighter or whatever. It just checks all the boxes. Garmin hit a grand slam with this watch.
*UPDATE #2* After 8 months I am just as impressed as day 1. Battery life is about 2 weeks with workouts/GPS work, and if I'm being lazy it'll go 16-ish days. I put a screen protector on it and then managed to break the protector, so I removed it an haven't put another back. I wear it every day- all my other watches are dusty. I should probably be easier on it but I wear it doing everything from office work to car maintenance to fishing to digging in flower beds, you name it. It looks essentially brand new. I was initially worried about the durability of the band b/c it's very flexible (and therefore comfortable), but aside from some very, very faint scuff marks it shows no signs of wear. Did I mention I love this watch? AND the price on the graphite color has dropped $40! Get one!
by Hannah (5 out of 5 stars)
May 24, 2019
I am a petite (under 5'1 and 110lbs) woman and the watch is not nearly as big and cumbersome as I feared. It is a smart watch though, and a rugged one at that, so it has some bulk compared to normal watches, but nothing distracting and it's light as can be. I will say, the seafoam blue color is a much brighter blue than the slate blue pictured, but I like it just as well. I've spent the last half a day playing with this thing and I am obsessed. It has too many features to go in to them all, but the activity tracking, altimeter, compass, gps, weather, notification viewer, music controls, and heart rate monitor are my favorites so far. It let's you customize the watch face to highlight the information most important to you as well as customize your most frequent activities for quick recording. This bad boy isn't just for the big burly man, so happy I went with it!
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