Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS Review


5 Total Score
The GPS affordable watch with military grade features

The clock that handles the challenging outdoor conditions and doesn't empty your wallet. It's durable and rugged, helping firefighters in their missions.

User Rating: 4.55 (1 votes)

We live in an era where everything has to serve multiple purposes, and nothing isn’t simple anymore. From the phone helping you shop with just one click to the watches that help you know your position in the world, everything now is multi-functional.

Watches sure don’t make an exception, and even though they still provide the necessary information (telling time), they’ve surely shifted a lot from their very beginning.

Who is Garmin?

Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS 3 colors

Garmin was founded at the end of the  80s and it’s an American multinational technology company. Currently, it’s incorporated in Switzerland.

The company is focused on GPS technology for aviation, outdoor, automotive, marine, and sports activities. The wearable technology is one of their main interests, which is why they’ve been developing unusual activity tracker and smartwatch that compete with the big names out there (Apple and Fitbit).

What’s Garmin Instinct all about?

Garmin Instinct is a free watch by definition that is made with military standards to mind. The watch presents shock, thermal and water resistance (up to 330ft). Its similar model in terms of features and performances is the Fenix 5Plus, but you’re going to pay a lot less for Garmin Instinct.

One of the main strengths of the watch is the fiber reinforced polymer case which is chemically strengthened and the display that handles scratches.

Garmin Instinct is compatible with various Garmin devices and comes with both Fitness and navigation features (even though it may improve on the fitness side).

Let’s take a closer look at the main features!


The rugged Garmin Instinct is a GPS watch that is designed to take the harsh environment. It’s made to U.S. military standard 810G which is why it presents shock, thermal, and water resistance.  It has a built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. It also comes with multiple global navigation satellite systems (Galileo, GLONASS, and GPS). The features only make the watch more reliable and more accurate when it comes to tracking under challenging environments. For instance, you can use the Tracback feature for navigating the same route back to the beginning. The access elevation data and the Storm Alert are also on the list, and any outdoor enthusiast is going to appreciate the functions. Let’s not forget to highlight the Garmin Explore website and app, which are great tools to use when planning your future trips.

But it’s not only the tracking functions that give value to the Garmin Instinct as its fitness functions are reliable as well. The watch is capable of estimating the heart rate, the stress, and the activity during a day, giving you an idea about how much you’re working out. The preloaded activity profiles for swimming, running, or biking are going to be handy when you’re beginning your training. Garmin Instinct is dependable for all sorts of physical activities- give it a try!

As with all fantastic modern watches, this one also helps you remain in touch, providing smart notifications (but you need to use a compatible smartphone). It also offers electronic data uploaded to the Garmin Connect online fitness community, so that you can always improve your fitness performances.

If the features recommend the watch for the physical activities, its build sure turns it into a rugged and tough watch to take outside. The clock isn’t just shock, water, and thermal resistant, but also comes with fiber-reinforced polymer case which gives it strength and long lifespan. The display is scratch-resistant and chemically strengthened, taking the most challenging environment. It has high-contrast, so reading the watch even in bright sunlight is never going to be an issue.

Due to its ruggedness, one may think that the watch is heavy or less comfortable. On the contrary, Garmin Instinct is sure lightweight and comfortable to wear throughout the day. The band is entirely vented, and it’s made with silicone, providing a pleasant feel against the skin. Besides, the silicone band features two independent and comfortable to remove keeper loops which help you get the perfect fit. The silicone band is pliable and easy to adjust; even if you get all sweaty, it doesn’t slide and stays in place.

The menus are responsive and accessing the various functions is a breeze. The buttons are recessed so that the risk for accidental presses is minimal.

The battery life is good too, and it can last up to 14 days when you’re using the smartwatch mode. When you’re also using the GPS, it’s going to last up to 16 hours. If you want to use the UltraTrac battery saver mode, it’s going to run for almost 40 hours.

The watch looks cool and is several colors to choose from.

What are the pros&cons?

Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS side view

There are many features to like on the Garmin Instinct:

  • It’s sturdy and rugged, taking the challenging environments
  • It presents a shock, thermal, and water resistance
  • It offers dependable and precise GPS information
  • It keeps you connected and sends alerts
  • It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • It’s affordable and highly customizable
  • It’s easy to read and to adjust

Bells and whistles aside, the watch could use some improvements:

  • It’s not really fitness oriented, so make sure you know what you’re looking for in an outdoor watch
  • Some think that the fonts are a bit on the small side, making the reading difficult at times (even if the display has high contrast)

What’s our final take?

Garmin Instinct is a great watch that doesn’t disappoint on the accuracy of the GPS nor the rugged build. It’s a dependable watch for the firefighters that are looking for the military grade protection and impressive navigation tech to help them on the job. It may not be the no.1 choice for the fitness lover, but that’s only one minor downside which doesn’t undermine its overall value, for sure!


Garmin Fenix 3 Review


Garmin Instinct is a military grade watch built for the outdoors

Garmin – Wikipedia

Garmin Instinct GPS Watch In-Depth Review | DC Rainmaker


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