Garmin Instinct GPS Watch: Cheapest Garmin Outdoor Sports Watch

The Garmin Instinct GPS watch was brought out in the final months of 2018. It is their new outdoor GPS sports watch, with military grade standards. Here is my review and if you are lucky, there is still time to get one for Christmas.

Garmin Instinct GPS Watch Features

The Garmin Instinct GPS watch is a cheaper way to get similar features to a Garmin Fenix 5 on your wrist. It is not quite as advanced as the Fenix 5, but it is still a great option for mountain biking and other outdoor sports. This is because it is much tougher than the Fenix 5.

=>Click here to read about the Garmin Fenix 5<=

The case is made from a polymer that is reinforced by carbon. Garmin state that it is also chemically strengthened and has a scratch resistant display, that is easier to read in direct sunlight. This is good for when you take a dive on the trail, or fighting forest fires (see the video below).

When it comes to navigation and location, the Garmin Instinct GPS watch has GPS (obviously) and GLONASS. These systems are all helped by a 3 axis gyroscope and Galileo support. This is for extra accuracy and for when you are in areas that struggle to get a GPS signal.

Garmin Instinct GPS watch

You can use the TracBack feature, which leaves a digital bread crumb trail to help you get back to where you started. But, you can also use the Garmin Explore website and app to plan your trips in advance, and set your way points. Your routes are displayed on a mini map on the screen, so you can see which way you need to go. This is not a full map like you would get on a Fenix 5 showing all the surrounding details, like contour lines and natural features. However, it should be sufficient for most people.

The Garmin Instinct GPS watch has elevation profiles, similar to Strava. This will appeal to those of you that want to see how high up the mountain you have pedaled.

=>Click here to learn about what to look for in a GPS watch<=

The Garmin Instinct GPS Watch’s Style

You are either going to love the looks of Garmin Instinct GPS watch or hate it. Personally, I like the black one, but, it isn’t styled to pander to everyone’s tastes. If you like an elegant timepiece, it probably isn’t for you, but if you like the tough look of a Casio G-Shock, you are probably going to love it.

Garmin Instinct gps watchBuy your Garmin Instinct from Amazon for £251

Garmin Instinct GPS Watch Fitness and Activity Tracking

The Garmin Instinct GPS watch is more of a navigation tool than a fitness tracker. However, it does have the following activity tracking features:

  • Step counter
  • Move bar – This monitors how active you are (or not)
  • Auto goal – This learns how active you are and automatically sets daily goals, such as number of steps
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Calories burned
  • Floor climbed
  • Distance travelled
  • Intensity minutes
  • TrueUp -This syncs your activity with other devices
  • Move IQ – This automatically detects the type of activity you are doing
  • Stress tracking

There is also a built in heart rate monitor and a whole host of work out modes. You don’t get the VO2 Max or the connect IQ features, but this is why it is a bit cheaper than the Fenix 5.

But, you won’t really think you are missing out on anything, as it has a huge amount of training, planning and analysis features to help you with your fitness. When it comes to riding bikes, the Garmin Instinct GPS watch has specific profiles for road biking, mountain biking and indoor riding. There are courses, races and set goals for you to easily monitor your progress on the bike. If you are a fan of getting technical with your riding, the Garmin Instinct GPS watch also has connectivity with speed and cadence sensors. These are connected with ANT+ or Bluetooth.

Other Features of the Garmin Instinct GPS Watch

Battery Life

The battery life of the Gamin Instinct GPS watch is up to 14 days between charges in smartwatch mode. However, the GPS mode understandably reduces this somewhat to 16 hours. But if you switch on the UltraTrac battery saver mode, you get up to 40 hours before you need to charge it.

Storm Alert

I think this is a great feature. Your Garmin Instinct GPS watch will use the built in barometer to detect incoming storms. This is pretty handy if you are out in more remote areas.

Easy to use

The Garmin Instinct GPS watch is very easy to use. You navigate through the menus using the buttons on the side. This has an advantage over touch screen watches, as they don’t always work when wet. Which is quite important when you are doing outdoorsy activities. You can select different watch faces that have different styles, You can customize different segments of each face to show the information you require. This information can be anything from steps taken, heart rate, altitude, text messages and lots more.

Who is the Garmin Instinct GPS Watch for?

Garmin Instinct gps watch

The Garmin Instinct GPS watch is for those who fancy a Garmin Fenix 5, but are put of by the price. If you are looking for a fitness tracker, it you would be better off going for a Fitbit. But, if you are outdoorsy and want a tough GPS watch that is also a great activity tracker you should buy a Fenix 5 for all the bells and whistles, or buy the Instinct and save a bit of money. It will also make you feel all rugged and macho when you are fighting fires.

=>Click here to learn about the Fitbit Charge 2 and 3<=

Garmin Instinct GPS watchBuy your Garmin Instinct from Amazon for £251


If you like the aesthetics of this watch, you are probably going to like what it can do. It is a great product and reasonably priced for a Garmin outdoor watch. It is very versatile and tough enough to survive most of what you throw at it and accurate enough to give you reliable data and navigation.

Thanks for reading, please let me know what your thoughts and questions are in the comments section below. Also, don’t forget to sign up to the MTB-Threads newsletter. Here you will be kept up to date with where you can buy the best mountain bike products and what to look for. Also, if you sign up, you will receive my series of free mountain bike ebooks.

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