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

Victoria D. Doty


For many decades I have been working with Garmin wearables to observe my running, cycling, climbing, and other outside things to do, but I have under no circumstances tried using out 1 of the Instinct products. That improved a pair of months back when Garmin despatched out the new Garmin Instinct Solar, with beta software program, for analysis.

Even though my main kind of work out is running, I also ride my bicycle, hike, get on the elliptical, and participate in other sporting activities. In addition, I take pleasure in fly fishing on the rivers of Washington Condition. In the previous, my Garmin products use integrated Forerunner, Fenix, and Edge equipment so I was curious about the Instinct as it took a bit of a diverse strategy in regards to the view layout and emphasis.

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

Soon after a lot more than a week with the Instinct Solar, I truthfully may possibly be a change to the Instinct line for many factors. These involve:

  • Lengthy battery life: Soon after decades of working with wearables, I have arrive to the realization that extensive battery life assures a machine stays mounted on my wrist for the extensive term. One or two working day battery life on a wearable is now unacceptable for my demands. The Instinct Solar offers battery life ranging from xx several hours in GPS tracking manner to a lot more than fifty times, even featuring unrestricted in Battery Saver manner with photo voltaic publicity.
  • Rugged layout: one hundred meter drinking water resistance and MIL-STD-810G shock scores be certain the Instinct is constructed to just take on something. It has a fiber bolstered polymer situation and a scratch-resistant screen that is established down from the front experience.
  • Distinctive outside things to do: In addition to a myriad of usual things to do like running, cycling, climbing, kayaking, yoga, and many a lot more the Garmin Instinct supports fishing, tactical, boating, hunting, location calculation, and a lot more outside-centered adventures. The expedition manner supports a multi-working day activity with lessened need to have to demand with observe points recorded at the time an hour by default.
  • Sensible screen layout: A significant cause the Garmin Instinct has fantastic battery life is the monochrome screen. I have arrive to adore the prime right circle, two-window layout, that offers important information and facts at a glance. For case in point, though fishing it showed my fish rely, in coronary heart fee manner it reveals you recent coronary heart fee, and in compass manner it reveals the path in angles.
  • Sensible price: The Garmin Instinct Solar commences at $399.99. Thinking about all that this GPS sporting activities view has to present, that is a truthful price.

See also: Garmin Vivoactive four overview: Touchscreen, advanced wellness tracking, golfing, tunes, and a lot more


  • Display screen: 23mm diameter 128 x 128 pixels resolution monochrome, daylight-seen
  • View elements: Fiber-bolstered polymer with silicone band
  • Water resistance: ten ATM (one hundred 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 several hours in GPS coaching manner or 38 several hours when working with photo voltaic charging. 24 times in smartwatch manner, and fifty four times with sufficient photo voltaic publicity. In Battery Saver manner with sufficient photo voltaic publicity Garmin states the Instinct can attain unrestricted battery life.
  • Proportions: 45 x 45 x 15.three mm and fifty three grams


The Garmin Instinct Solar is not a slim and smooth GPS sporting activities view as it is centered on giving a rugged machine that excels in various environmental conditions for times and months. I am personally a lover of large watches and locate that the Instinct Solar operates well on my wrist.

To be sincere, I barely observed that the Garmin Instinct Solar would not have a colour screen. I have under no circumstances located colour displays to be an important ingredient of a GPS sporting activities view. I just need to have a screen that is effortless to read exterior with a backlight obtainable when wanted and the Instinct Solar offers just that.

The section of the screen that has swayed me to favoring the Garmin Instinct Solar is the tiny circle “second” screen. I locate this highlighted location to be useful for giving important information and facts and making it distinct what a one press of the GPS button will give.

There are five buttons on the Instinct Solar, just like most Garmin GPS sporting activities watches. The prime left button toggles the backlight with a press and hold launching the controls screen. The middle left button moves up though the bottom left moves down. A press and hold of the middle left button takes you into the various settings. You can also customise the very hot keys in the settings to make the machine optimized for your use.

The prime right button, GPS, will just take you to your most loved activites with yet another press launching that activity. Even though scrolling by way of widgets you can also press this button to decide on that widget and see a lot more thorough information. The bottom right button, Established, serves largely as the back button. Once more, this can also be custom made with the very hot keys location.

A Garmin Elevate coronary heart fee keep track of is centered on the back. The classic four pin Garmin connector is also located on the back for charging the view.

A silicone view band, matching the colour of the view, is offered. Two loops are present on the bitter stop of the band to keep it securely on your wrist. Like the Garmin Instinct, Garmin’s 22mm Quickfit bands are also supported with this view.

There are four variations of the Instinct Solar, with various colour selections. 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 software program

To navigate the machine, you press the five buttons. Going up and down from the view experience will scroll you by way of various widgets obtainable (photo voltaic intensity, coronary heart fee, My Working day, notifications, weather conditions, worry, ABC, past run, Entire body Battery, and a lot more). The widgets are chosen in the settings right on the view.

You can use the Garmin Instinct Solar view to observe running, biking, elliptical, open drinking water or pool swimming, fishing, hunting, MTB, snowboarding, snowboarding, yoga, rowing, and many a lot more centered exercises. The 1 sport lacking that I would have liked to have viewed is golfing.

There are a substantial range of settings and customization selections obtainable for every single kind of activity. For case in point, in the running app you can customise up to four information screens in a format from 1 to four fields with timer, distance, rate, pace, coronary heart fee, cadence, temperature, elevation, compass, navigation and other fields. I recommend you expend some high-quality time customizing almost everything just how you want it and then be ready to tweak things as you conduct your activity and locate you want to look at your information differently.

In addition to custom made information fields for every single activity, you can handle alerts, vehicle-pause, laps, vehicle scroll, and a lot a lot more. The expertise can be fast and easy working with the defaults or as unique as you wish with a bit of time put in customizing the view information fields and settings.

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

To get started off on a run, carry up your arm, press the upper right button, decide on run, and then press the button all over again right after GPS is linked. Push the button all over again to pause. If you want to continue on, press the button all over again.

There are a range of one of a kind things to do you can observe with the Garmin Instinct Solar and I experienced a fantastic time working with the Fish selection. Soon after launching this activity you decide on to start out fishing and the view will observe your GPS location. You can manually mark spots, established fishing timers, navigate to spots, and a lot more. Because I was fly fishing on a tiny river though wading into the river, I started off the working day and then as I caught every single fish I pressed the GPS button twice to log the capture. Soon after the working day was accomplished I was equipped to see just the place every single fish was caught on a map. That particular working day I landed 19 rainbow trout so thoroughly relished working with the Garmin Instinct Solar to observe the working day. I are unable to wait to go fly fishing all over again and establish a background of my catches to approach potential outings.

There are many other things to do that are supported, which includes navigation and I approach to expend many a lot more several hours finding all of the capabilities of the view.

Smartphone software program and web page

Amassing the information is crucial, but working with that information for tracking traits, increasing overall performance, tough good friends, and figuring out difficulty areas is also very crucial. Garmin delivers the Garmin Join app for iOS and Android.

When you initial launch the smartphone app you will see the My Working day display that reveals your most the latest exercise routine, coronary heart fee, worry degree, physique battery, hydration, methods, floors, sleep, energy in/out, weight, yesterday’s stats, stats for past seven times, and a lot more. Options are obtainable to pick what is shown and in what order.

Other tabs involve troubles, calendar, news feed, and notifications. Tapping on the machine itself gives you selections for tunes, Garmin Pay back, text responses (Android only), things to do, visual appearance, seems & alerts, activity tracking, and a lot a lot more.

Also: Garmin Edge 530 and Varia RTL510 overview: Trying to keep your bicycle commute safe and sound and maximizing your outside fun

On an Android smartphone you can also wonderful tune your good notifications by choosing the unique applications that will be allowed to mail notifications to your Garmin Instinct Solar. On iOS, you get whatsoever notifications you have enabled in the iOS settings so I personally want the Android smartphone expertise.

The Garmin Join web page expertise is very related to what you see in the smartphone application, with even a lot more functionality to generate reports, import or export information, set up connections to other apps (such as Strava, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal), and a lot more. Similar to the snapshots interface on the cellular phone, you have a dashboard on Garmin Join that you can customise.

I established dashboard tabs for everyday activity, running, cycling, and climbing since these are my main things to do. Now with the Instinct I am also functioning on a fishing dashboard to focus on my potential fly fishing outings. You can then customise the look at that seems in your dashboard or pick to leap to a total page look at of the chosen information.

Also: Garmin Venu overview: Vibrant AMOLED screen tends to make this 1 of the ideal GPS sporting activities watches for the masses

Each day use experiences

In comparison to the other Garmin wearables I have analyzed about the previous pair of decades, the Garmin Instinct Solar does not assist onboard tunes, Garmin Pay back, or Join IQ applications, view faces, or information fields. For my use, this would not seriously make any difference as I use my cellular phone for tunes and Garmin Pay back nonetheless would not assist my financial institution. On the other hand, these may possibly be restrictions for other individuals so be informed of what is lacking on the Instinct Solar.

The new Garmin Instinct Solar supports some of the hottest Garmin attributes that I locate valuable to being familiar with my wellness and well-currently being. These attributes involve Entire body Battery, worry tracking, sleep checking with REM particulars, smartphone notifications with text reaction from an Android cellular phone, and a lot more.

A wearable I hardly ever have to believe of charging that captures all of my everyday activity, which includes sleep, and centered GPS occasions is refreshing and important to remaining on my wrist. When that wearable also supports my niche things to do, such as fly fishing, it can be difficult to defeat. The Garmin Instinct Solar also has the ability to remain topped off with the sunshine, making this 1 of the ideal wearables for adventurists and athletes centered on outside things to do.

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