Garmin Instinct is a military grade watch built for the outdoors

Rugged wearable is all about the adventurers

Garmin has been making some moves in the final months of 2018 - and its new outdoor sports watch is the Garmin Instinct.

It's an outdoor GPS watch with military grade standards for thermal, shock and water resistance (up to 100m). If you want to place this in Garmin's huge line-up of sports watches, it's essentially a pared back Fenix 5 Plus – offering a cheaper way for users to get navigation and outdoor smarts.

It's packing a fiber reinforced polymer case with what Garmin says is a "chemically strengthened and scratch-resistant display" that is easier to read in direct sunlight.

Read this: The best Garmin watch

On the inside there's a 3-axis gyroscope, barometric altimeter and GLONASS and Galileo support for multi-satellite network capability in case you're in an area that usually struggles for good GPS support.

Naturally, there's a heart rate monitor and Garmin's regular lineup of workout modes. Plus compatibility with other Garmin devices, like its VIRB action cameras. You'll get up to 14 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 16 hours in GPS mode and up to 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.

Being an outdoors watch rather than hailing from the Forerunner or Fenix range, it's big on navigation features but less so on fitness.

You get things like course navigation, the ability to follow GPX routes, access elevation data and there's Storm Alert too – pretty useful if you're hitting the wilds. It also uses TrackBack, which you can press to follow waypoints back to the start of your session.

However, VO2 Max and Connect IQ don't make the cut, nor does NFC for Garmin Pay or music storage either. But you will be able to receive notifications and other alerts from your phone to make it work more like a smartwatch.


It appears though the Instinct is primarily for adventurers, who have been put off Garmin's Fenix range by the high cost. It comes in around half the price of a new Fenix 5 Plus – although at $299.99 it's not a budget watch. It also comes three colors: Graphite, Tundra and Flame Red, which translate to dark grey, off white and orange.

The Instinct is also a little play at the GSHOCK market – and will likely be the choice for fire fighters who have to be out in the elements and need military grade protection and strong navigational tech to support them (see the video above). Pretty minority market, mind.

The Garmin Instinct is another part of a busy Q4 for the company. It's already brought Spotify offline playlist support to the Fenix 5 and launched the new Vivosmart 4 fitness tracker to add the long list of new devices it's already debuted this year. Long may it continue.

Garmin's new Instinct wants to be a military-grade companion for the outdoors


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  • Doctawil·

    An important direction for a company. A move on the rugged timepiece market for sure. Casio has made a preemptive strike with the solar assisted gps GPR1000. Sadly it piggy backs on a handset. They and the other players surely want market share back taken by wearables from the traditional timepiece business? If Garmin or TomTom(Cmon guys, get back in the business)can produce a Solar Powered rugged wearable with the same features as the Fenix 5 X Plus(Make the strap a flexible solar panel if you must)then 7 Billion people will want one. At least give us Solar Assist with GPS coordinate ability in one device, without a handset of course!