The adventure-oriented and rugged Garmin Instinct GPS watch is made to track a plethora of training modes, focusing more on outdoor activities, and it provides a wide range of basic functions that step into the smartwatch territory. With the splendid battery life and durability, magnetic compass, wrist-only HRM and open-water swimming tracking, there isn’t a similar watch offered at the Instinct’s price point.
The combination of the three latter navigation systems is exceptionally useful when going off-road and off-trail because it allows the Garmin Instinct to track your activities accurately in challenging environments that would probably be too complex for GPS alone to handle.
The built-in 3-axis compass offers you the possibility of turning the display into a magnetic compass. This is considerably better than having a GPS-based compass, given that they are known to mix up directions, especially when you’re not moving. By choosing the ‘Sight and Go’ option in the Navigate profile, you’ll access the simpler and easier magnetic compass that has a much higher accuracy rate.
The Instinct navigation history offers you information on your location history via the breadcrumb trail, which would be somewhat underwhelming were it not for the TracBack feature that will automatically create a backward route for you to follow. This is achieved by using thirty of your most significant location points throughout the path. Needless to say, this feature is supremely useful when there are no markings to help you find your way back. However, if you’re not in the mood for retracing your steps all the way to the starting point, you can utilize the Garmin Connect app or website to create a predetermined route and export it to the watch. The downside of this feature is that there is no option to download any Connect IQ app, as with some other Garmin watches, which could showcase your GPS coordinates against the OS grid.
As far as the Heart Rate Monitor goes, the Garmin Instinct features the Elevate wrist heart rate technology, which keeps track of changes in your blood flow by shining light through the skin. This enables you to track your heart rate, sleep, activity and stress without using a chest strap. The Heart Rate monitoring features of the Garmin Instinct include HR zones, HR alerts, HR calories, % HR max, % HRR, Auto max HR, and HR Broadcast, which allows you to send the data to your paired device via ANT+. Keep in mind that the HR swimming metrics are lacking on this device, especially if that one of your favorite sports and activities.
Unlike some other fitness watches, such as the Polar Vantage V, the Garmin Instinct has limited training insights, with the lack of information on training load and VO2 Max estimates being the most apparent of the bunch.
The Elevate HR technology isn’t new for the brand, which comes as no surprise given that its accuracy is relatively high. Granted, there will always be some wildly inaccurate measurements given, mostly because everybody’s physiology is different, but those inaccuracies most likely won’t happen during hikes, jogs, and walks, but during some more complex, interval-based activities.
The same thing that’s said about the altimeter can be applied to the GPS accuracy. While on the day-to-day basis the Garmin Instinct GPS will provide good performance, this is a device that’s relatively easily hindered by trees, buildings and similar obstacles. If you’re looking for a ballpark figure of your route distance, you’ll be satisfied with this fitness tracker; if you’re striving for great precision, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
An innovative feature that’s worth noting is the “two-window” screen layout, which features a small, circular window on the top right part of the screen, which showcases short info on various data.
-Auto lap, Manual lap, Auto pause, Automatic rep counting features
-A variety of basic smartwatch features
-GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo global navigation satellite systems
-Built-in 3-axis magnetic compass
-Great price point
-Elevate wrist heart rate technology
-ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
-Garmin Connect Mobile, Garmin Explore app
-45 x 45 x 15.3 mm, 52g
-Thermal, shock and water-resistant up to 100 meters
-Monochrome display, 128 x 128 pixels
-“Two-window” screen layout