Introducing the Garmin Instinct Solar… This review is so hot off the press you’ll struggle to find better information online yet.
Garmin debuted their Instinct sportswatch two years ago and it was an instant success. Some were skeptical about the value proposition and if you look online, reviews didn’t immediately pop up after it’s release. The logic behind this being that Garmin already made a wildly popular backcountry watch range, why did they have to go and make something that wasn’t as functional as those?
If we’re brutally honest, it was also a little ugly. With a market flooded with sleek sport watches with minimalistic aesthetics, the chunky look stepped aside. Or so we thought. The Instinct came along and showed the new kids that the dads have still got it. The main reason for the popularity being that it doesn’t drain your bank account to get hold of one and when you do, you’ll struggle to get lost ever again.
Skip to today and we see the debut of the successor. Introducing, the Instinct Solar. This version sees the introduction of Power Glass on the face, which means it recharges itself using rays from the sun. Making this loved brand’s adored watches even better, for longer.
This isn’t a skinny watch. Measuring in with a 1.75 inch face by 0.25 inches in depth, it demands real estate on your wrist. Surprisingly, it’s comfortable, despite this. It’s incredibly robust and durable to boot. Offering 100m of water-resistance, there’s peace of mind in knocking it and not worrying about shattering or scratching it.
The display is basic. Black and white pixels mostly, offering 128 x 128. You can customise the face with a few different styles and pick which metrics you’d like displayed. On board is 16GB storage too, so you can really make use of the GPS function by keeping your maps right there on your wrist.
It has the usual features like an alarm, timer, stopwatch and even tells you when to expect the sunrise and sunset.
It has a sturdy bezel carrying instructions for the 5 buttons. It’ll let you know which button you need for GPS and which to press for the main menu. Altogether, there’s a retro vibe to the look and the instructions are very helpful. Typically when you get a multi-button system it takes you a while to remember which button does what.
It comes in a number of different materials and colours. The Instinct has a silicone strap. It’s a chunky watch, coming in at 45mm x 45mm x 15.3 mm. If you have a smaller wrist, consider how this might sit.
This watch is designed for backcountry trips. The kind where you don’t really need an all-encompassing map with intricate detail on your wrist. Those will eat your battery. If you’re intending to walk or hike a good few miles and you want to find your way back, you can take advantage of the Track Me feature, which is useful even in the dark. The GPS recordings against online maps for comparison show that the Instinct is pretty good when it comes to accuracy.
Garmin have released both a tactical and surf version, too. They come with some specific features for each and we’ll talk about them here.
The Instinct Solar has a lot of unique features. One cool thing is the multisport tracking function. You can be hiking one moment and taking the opportunity to dive into a crystal clear lake for a swim the next and the Instinct will keep up with you.
New features you’ll find also include the option to measure your blood oxygen level as you sleep, using the pulse oximeter. Body Battery is another cool one. It’s a Garmin developed metric that will tell you the energy level of your own body using an algorithm that considers your stress level, activity, heart rate variations, sleep quality and amount.
Users find the Body Battery to be useful. It helps people understand where to improve things. If you have a specific goal, you’ll find this feature incredibly helpful. You can use it to make improvements to any sleep issues, your physical and mental health.
Being able to use the sun for charging is a revolution. We all know how frustrating it can be to have to take our watch off every day to plug it in to charge it. It’s naturally best when the Power Glass is facing direct sunlight and if you have the time to leave it in the sun for a short period of time, it’ll give it a little boost. Just don’t’ forget where you’ve put it. This can give you an additional 50% battery life.
On one ‘charge’ (to 100%), you can enjoy over a full week of continuous features like backlighting, smart notifications and maps.
There’s a battery saving mode. Garmin say this is the key to never having to stop and recharge the Instinct. This mode, consequently, turns off most features. You can tailor it to suit what features you want to keep on, like maps, for example.
The Pulse Oxi measure is continuous in the background, but if you keep an eye on it using the Connect app then it will tell you when your battery starts running low. If you time this with a period of leaving it in the sun, you should be fine!
Speaking of the app, it’s really worthwhile to utilise it for the additional metrics it can track, like hydration levels and menstrual cycles.
Garmin watches are pin-point accurate. There’s a model to cater for pretty much all kinds of needs. If you’re after a casual everyday watch or something to monitor your marathon performance, they’ve got one to suit.
The Instinct is a useful GPS enabled backcountry watch that will charge in the sun, leaving you able to focus on the adventure as it happens.