Garmin Instinct | Full review and complete test

A rugged watch ready for the mountain


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The Garmin Instinct It's a different watch than what Garmin is used to, starting with its aesthetics (clearly inspired by the Casio G-Shock) and continuing because it's a totally new model. It's neither Forerunner nor Phoenix, and of course it has nothing to do with the Vivoactive.

So what is the Garmin Instinct? It comes from Garmin's Outdoor division, which is the same one behind the successful Fenix product line but also behind devices like the Oregon, Xero or InReach. So the orientation of the Instinct is clearly focused on outdoor and mountain use. And it also means that there are a lot of Garmin Fenix in this Garmin Instinct, although this model offers shock, water and temperature resistance that meets the military standard MIL-STD-810G.

In short, the Garmin Instinct is a heavy-duty ABC watch that is intended for use primarily in the mountains and hiking.

I've been using the Instinct for several weeks now to get to know it thoroughly and to tell you how it works and what's so special about it, and once it's done with it it will be returned to Garmin, there is no compensation from you when it comes to these tests.

Remember that if you like the content I offer and you want to collaborate supporting the site, you can do it by buying your new Garmin Instinct (or anything else) through the Amazon links I provide. That way I will receive a small commission which is what supports the site and the many hours needed to perform all these tests.

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I won't keep you any longer. Make yourself comfortable, because I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about the Garmin Instinct and so far no one has told you. 

Garmin Instinct


Overall operation - 7
Training possibilities - 7
Platform and applications - 9
Battery life - 8
Finish and comfort - 7.5
Price/performance ratio - 6.5



The Garmin Instinct is a watch designed for use in the mountains and during all outdoor activities.

User Rating: 4.15 ( 1 votes)


The good

  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • A different aesthetic for a Garmin. You either like it or you hate it
  • Route navigation with a multitude of options
  • Altimeter, barometer and compass (ABC clock)
  • Compatible with Garmin InReach, Garmin Xero, and Garmin Explore
  • MIL-STD-810G resistance to shock, water and temperature.

The bad
  • Irregular altimeter data
  • There is hardly any difference in price with the Fenix 5, and leaving aside the use in hiking and mountain, there are a few differences
  • No Connect IQ or Garmin Pay
  • Very limited support for external sensors (no potentiometers, running power, lights or radar)

Things to keep in mind about the Garmin Instinct

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Garmin Instinct

As I said at the beginning, when we look at the Garmin Instinct and think about what its concept is and what it's geared towards, it's impossible that the Fenix 5 doesn't come to mind immediately. Both are designed for mountain use and both come from the Garmin Outdoor division.

We might think it's a Cheap Garmin Fenix 5So what makes them different and what makes the Garmin Instinct special? Well, here are their main differences compared to each other.

  • MIL-STD-810G military grade resistance certification 
  • The screen on the Garmin Instinct is monochrome, while on the Fenix 5 it is colour.
  • It is much lighter. The Instinct weighs 52 grams while the Fenix 5 goes up to 85 grams in the standard size.
  • There is no support for Connect IQ of any kind, so it is not possible to install applications, widgets, data fields or different clock faces.
  • The Instinct supports fewer external sensors. It does not allow potentiometers, lights or cycling radar.
  • Slightly lower range for the Instinct.
  • The Garmin Instinct lacks VO2Max estimation, Training Effect, Training Load and other advanced metrics, nor does it calculate the Lactate Threshold, all of which are present on the Fenix 5.
  • The Instinct does not offer a golf mode.
  • There are no multi-sport modes either. No triathlon, duathlon or similar. The Fenix 5 does.
  • Both the Fenix 5 and the Instinct have the same Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor. Garmin has not taken the opportunity to equip the Instinct with the PulseOx sensor as the Fenix 5X Plus despite being designed for mountain use.
  • There is no WiFi, something that is present in some Fenix 5 models.

These are the main differences between the two models, which are the most similar within the Garmin range.

But without a doubt what stands out most about the Garmin Instinct is its aesthetics, totally different from what Garmin has been used to offering until now. When I first saw it I couldn't stop thinking about the Casio G-Shock. Its "rugged" design, the secondary circular display... all reminiscent of the Japanese manufacturer's rugged line.

And I'm talking about a secondary circular screen because that's the effect it offers. Of course there's only one screen on the clock but the design allows that area to stand out as if it were a separate screen.

Configuration possibilities and differences with the rest of the Garmin range

This second screen is precisely what separates the Garmin Instinct from the rest of the models in the range, both in terms of its presence and its configuration possibilities.

Starting with the time sphere, it should be remembered that since the Instinct is not compatible with Connect IQ it is not possible to download different options from the application, but it does allow you to display a multitude of information in different ways.

There are many things that can be customized and we can choose different proposals. There are 6 different spheres, which are multiplied by two since we can select them in black background with white characters and vice versa. 

Then podemos select what to see in each case both in the "secondary" screen. Second hand, heart rate, altitude, barometer data... And on the dials that have graphs 1TP10We can also choose what data we want to see represented.

Here are some examples of the possibilities it offers.

The same screen becomes important in the rest of the clock interface, highlighting each section of the menu with icons or additional information in each part of the menu.

As for the configuration of the sport profile, thanks to this small circle we can have up to 5 data per screen, when the usual in Garmin has always been 4. Perhaps it is not the best option for the one who is more right in sight, but at least it is a nice addition considering that this model does not support Connect IQ data screens.

Garmin Instinct - 5 data screen

Without a doubt, this is where the small circular section becomes more important, the Garmin Instinct offers unique and never-before-seen screen layouts.

Garmin Instinct - Data screen configuration

In addition to those screens you have configured you can add other predefined screens: map, compass, altitude, music controls (controlling the music on the phone) and virtual partner.
Garmin Instinct - Additional Display

As it is a watch geared towards mountain use, the Instinct receives all the functions specific to that use that you can find in the Fenix 5:



The clock changes to a specific screen that we can configure when we climb a slope. We can specify from what vertical speed the screen will change (i.e. how many meters we would climb in an hour).

It will take into account the data from the barometric altimeter to identify when we are ascending at the rate we have set, and when we descend from that rate of ascent the clock will return to the usual data screen.

The truth is that allocating it by percentage would seem simpler to me, but it is a personal opinion.

3D speed and distance

3D speedIt allows you to calculate speed and distance traveled more accurately when there are significant changes in altitude, although I do not recommend it if you are running on the flat as it can alter both data.


UltraTracThis function significantly reduces the number of times it records GPS data. It is a more suitable option for hiking, where we move at a slow and steady pace. I would not recommend using this mode for running or cycling, as the tracks you will get will be quite poor.

According to Garmin, the Instinct achieves up to 40 hours of battery life when configured in this way.

Area calculation

Garmin Instinct - Area calculation

A function you will never use. You can make the route in a certain way and the clock will calculate the area. Useful for measuring the fence of the sheep, for example.

But if you find another use for her, I'll be happy to meet her...

Storm Warning

Garmin Instinct - Storm Warning

When the air pressure drops drastically (at a rate we can indicate), the watch will warn us of the possibility of a good storm being prepared.

It is possible to set not only the warning, but also the rate of descent to adjust the alarm to your particular zone as sudden drops in pressure may be more common somewhere or other.

Dawn, dusk and twilight

Garmin Instinct - Sunrise

Little to explain... According to the GPS position data the clock will offer you every day the time of sunrise, sunset and twilight (the clarity before sunrise and after sunset, not the time of the movie).

Its main use, of course, is to be able to calculate how much time we have left of light and to know if we are going to finish the route during the day or at night, in order to make decisions about it, like choosing to camp and from what time to prepare the camp.

As is common with any Garmin (and by extension any GPS running watch) you can switch screens by pressing the up/down buttons. Additionally you can activate the automatic screen switching option so that the watch rotates regularly between the different screens.

As for marking laps, you can do it automatically -you can define the distance you want to mark them- or manually. However, unlike the rest of Garmin models in the Instinct the Lap button is assigned by default to return to the main screen (while it continues recording the activity), but you can activate the use of this button in a traditional way.

And speaking of buttons, if you look at the bezel of the watch, each button is marked with letters above it. That tells us which part of the menu we access if we keep that button pressed.

Garmin Instinct - Up Close

For example, if we keep the button marked ABC we will find all the information regarding compass, barometer and altitude, and if we do the same with the GPS button we will have our coordinates and you will be able to save them as a point of interest.

Instinct - GPS Location

Otherwise, it offers exactly the same as any other Garmin watch in terms of workout timing and analysis in Garmin Connect, activity tracking (steps and heart rate), and even sleep. There's nothing to be proud of here, either positive or negative. It's a Garminfor better or for worse.

Finally, before I finish, I would like to specify that the Garmin Instinct supports swimming in a pool, which will allow you to control and monitor your underwater training, both in terms of pace and distance.

But it's only swimming in the pool, unfortunately there's no support for open water swimming or multi-sport activities. So if you were thinking of doing a triathlon or duathlon sporadically... I'm sorry, but you won't be able to register it completely with the Garmin Instinct.


As it is a watch designed for hiking and mountain climbing, Garmin has equipped the Instinct with all the brand's navigation functions, or almost all of them, because it does not have the integrated maps that we can find in the Fenix 5 Plus.

But the fact that it doesn't have maps is not a negative point. As for its functions, you can find exactly the same ones that a Fenix 5 has. And I'm not only talking about route navigation, there are also many other specific functions for its use in the mountains, which I will detail below (although some of them I have already indicated in the previous section):

  • Route navigation
  • Navigation to a saved point (waypoints) via compass
  • Recording of a point for a given coordinate
  • Back to top
  • Sight N'Go mode
  • Elevation profile on routes 
  • Compatible with the Garmin Explore application
  • 3D distance and pace
  • Storm warning
  • Sunrise/sunset and twilight hours
  • Area calculation

Of course, the function that we will make the most of is route navigation, and this is where we have a multitude of options for loading a route on the clock:

Design a route manually on the Garmin Connect

It is the fastest way to create a route since simply by marking a starting point and an end point, the website itself will design the route you should take.

It also displays heat maps, which are common routes that other Garmin users have taken, so they're interesting paths to explore. These are the purple lines that you can see on the map, which look like capillaries.

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

It's extremely intuitive and fast. The ideal choice for preparing routes on roads, but not for expeditions on small trails or through forests without any marked paths. As you can see, I was able to trace this route of almost 50km by simply marking 7 points. Garmin Connect took care of everything else.

Upload a downloaded route on the Garmin Connect

At the bottom of the route selection, you must click on Import route for this window to open.

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

We will simply drag the .tcx or .gpx file from the route that has been provided by the organization of a race, a friend or that we have created through another application.

Designing an automatic route in the Garmin Connect app

The Garmin Connect mobile application also allows you to create routes, but not manually as on the web. What it allows us to do is to create an "intelligent" route in which we enter predefined data: distance to travel, direction in which we want to move and click on the map at a starting point.

In a few seconds the application designs a return route with those parameters and shows it on screen. Unlike the Edge or Fenix 5 Plus with maps, it only gives you one option.

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

It is the perfect choice if we are in an unknown place and we simply want to do a route without getting too hot, in a few seconds it will be designed, but surely the choice made is not the most beautiful one we can have.

But if you do not have access to a browser, it is a very good option to go out with a known destination in a place that we do not know.

Use Garmin Explore for waypoints or routes

Garmin Explore also has applications for both Android as for iOSIf you have a computer, you don't need to do it.

Although at first glance it may seem like the same thing as Garmin Connect, it doesn't look like it at all. Garmin Explore is what used to be known as Garmin Basecamp, the program you had to install on your computer to design routes.

It offers topographic maps that you can download to your phone (and consult even when you're in the world's last refuge) to help you prepare routes in inhospitable areas that you can't reach with Garmin Connect. 

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

You can mark points of interest, or know details such as the altitude of a particular place.

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

But the main difference with Garmin Connect when it comes to creating routes is that you'll have to do it using many more points, because Garmin Explore won't adapt to the road, but will make a straight line between them. And you can't swell because we have a 200-point limit on the routes.

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

As you can see, it's a much more powerful option than Garmin Connect, but you'll need to take it easy and think more about where you want to go, how you want to go and why.


Additionally there are other ways to load tracks into the clock. Wikiloc allows you to pass the tracks directly, or you can load tracks by uploading them to the clock's memory by connecting it by cable to the computer, but these I have detailed are the main ways.

Once you have synchronized your clock and have your route on it, you can select the route directly from the activity menu.

Garmin Instinct - Select routes

You don't need to use a specific navigation profile, since following a route is independent of what sport you are practicing, but logically it has to be a sport with GPS use, if you go swimming in the pool you won't be able to select a route.

You could even do the navigation without saving the activity (through the navigation option), but the usual use will be to navigate while you are doing a hiking, biking or trail running activity; in which case you will be interested in recording all the data collected.

When you load a synchronized route, you will be able to see the route to follow. Remember that there are no maps of any kind, you will simply have a line to follow. That is the route that the clock will then show you and that you can follow to find your way.

Garmin Instinct - Navigation

We also have an altitude graph, which like the route will also be added as a data screen, allowing you to see at any time where you are, i.e. you can see the hardships you have gone through and those you still have to go through, so that you can adjust your efforts.

Garmin Instinct - Altitude Graph

All this is taking into account that you have created a route to follow and that you have synchronized it before starting the training. But what happens if you have gone out to explore and have managed to get lost? Well, you can make use of the back to start options.

They're two different ones. On the one hand we have TracBackwhich will show us the route we have followed until we get lost.

Garmin Instinct - Back to top

The problem could be that, if trying to find the way back you have circled, all that appears in the log and the clock will show you those circles again.

So additionally we also have the possibility to activate the return to start in straight lineIt will simply show you the remaining distance to the start and the direction you need to go in order to find the point of origin.

Garmin Instinct - Trackback

As you can see the watch is packed with specific functions for navigation and mountains, and has received virtually all the possibilities that the Fenix 5 has.

GPS Performance

The Garmin Instinct, like any of the latest Garmin models on the market, not only has GPS satellites, but also supports Galileo and GLONASS satellites. The combination always forces you to use GPS along with GLONASS or Galileo, but you cannot use just GLONASS, just Galileo or the combination of GLONASS + Galileo.

>> You're interested. When should you use GLONASS or Galileo?

When analyzing the GPS performance of a training device I simply compare it to other devices during the same activity. On the same day at the same time.

I don't have any route analysis because, even if the route is the same, all the other factors are not comparable. The same watch can have a fantastic result one day and six months later, on the same route, be a complete disaster.

Factors such as trees, cloudy skies, interference from elements that were not there before and are there now... there are many factors to take into account so a comparison on different days would not be fair.

So I just carry three devices so I can evaluate when there is a failure, if it is common and by which side.

I'll start the comparison with an easy start a few weeks ago. Training was quite short, as I was beginning to recover from an injury that has left me without running for almost a month.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

As it always happens, from a bird's eye view everything seems to be pretty good, although it already allows us to see that there are certain differences at some point. Someone has made a mistake and deviated from the trajectory, let's see who it was.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

On the way down you can see that although the Suunto 9 and the Garmin Forerunner 935 are deflected a little and pass slightly over the wall, this is not a noticeable deflection (less than a meter difference with the actual route).

However, the Garmin Instinct does have a much more noticeable detour from the route. Basically, it chooses to run almost on the other side of the road.

Later on, in the area of the promenade, all the clocks are recomposed and make the return journey without going too far off the actual route.

But at this point the Garmin Instinct deviates from the real route again by several meters. The real route is the one between the Suunto 9 and the Garmin FR935 graphics, but without stepping on the sand at all.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

At least they're all doing the turn correctly, and once I change direction and go north, everything goes back to normal...

Or not, because once again the Instinct has chosen to deviate several metres from the real course, but after the new turn and passing over the river bridge again it joins up with the other two clocks, at least up to the point of the turn.


Garmin Instinct - GPS

But it's not the only one that fails, as Suunto 9's return journey is also quite irregular.

Could it have affected all this at the total distance? Well, let's see.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

In the end the distance was compensated between the FR935 and the Instinct, marking exactly the same at the end of the training and with 50 meters more for Suunto 9.

In this case, besides the shooting, there is also a zone with repetitions on a slope, so I repeat the same up and down route in a successive way on the same straight line. 

Garmin Instinct - GPS

This is the line where I do the continuous reps.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

Again, there are notable deviations from the Instinct. Both the Garmin FR935 and the Polar Vantage M repeat the same line more or less effectively on the way there and on the way back. 

You can see the Garmin Instinct going off-course up to three times. How many reps was it doing on the straight? Three ????.

Well, we continue with the rest of the route in a more traditional way and at a more constant pace. The rest of the training is more of the same, with slight wobbles from the three watches at specific moments. However, it is worth noting this turn between 8th Street and 5th Street (nice names), which the FR935 does perfectly and both the Garmin Instinct and the Vantage M do the turn prematurely. The strange thing is that the two have coincided at exactly the same point.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

Something that will be repeated later.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

In the rest of the training sessions I have done with the Instinct (which I will not put on so as not to bore you too much) I have perceived the same behaviour. Overall the final result is just fine, but in many parts of the training you can see points where the graph deviates without reason from the real zone.

The strange thing is that this also happens in totally straight areas that should not represent an excessive difficulty, and yet it also fails slightly.

Finally I will add a mountain activity, for the simple reason that the Garmin Instinct is a watch designed for the mountain and hiking, so it is clear that it must be tested in its main facet.

There are only two models on this chart. There should be three, because he also wore a Suunto 9 on his right wrist. But I inexplicably don't have a file. Why? Well, I have no idea, I guess he wouldn't keep the activity and it wasn't recorded... 

In any case, the path followed has no mystery, because the route was parallel to the river and back along the same path, with running on the way up and mixing running with walking on the way back.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

Again from a bird's eye view everything looks perfect, but if we zoom in we see again the same problems we have seen in past activities.

Garmin Instinct - GPS

It should be noted that the Polar Vantage M has done both the outward and return journey perfectly by the same route, leaving only one graph. The Garmin Instinct... not so much.

Summarizing all this, the Garmin Instinct at the moment is not the model of the brand that stands out the most in terms of GPS quality. Let's say it's passable, because it doesn't have horrendous sawtooth graphics or absolute signal loss, but they must work this aspect and I wouldn't be surprised if we see updates on it.

Optical heart rate sensor

In the wrist heart rate monitor we will not find many differences from past models. The summary I can give you is the same as always: good in training with a constant rhythm, somewhat slow in reactions to changes in intensity, bad in cycling and irregular in low intensity activities (walking, gym, etc.).

It's not unique to the Garmin Instinct, or the Garmin Wrist Heart Rate Monitor (called the Garmin Elevate); it's just common to optical pulse sensors. Some work a little better, especially those on the arm like the Polar OH1but it's the usual complication they face today.

I'll start with a varied mountain training. Although there are only two charts it's perfectly valid to see when and where it fails.

Garmin Instinct - Wrist Heart Rate Monitor

The first part of the training consists of a few intervals of change of pace. A total of seven intervals with a rest period by lowering the intensity. In six of them the Instinct matches the data from the Polar H10 sensor paired with the Polar Vantage M, while in the second interval it gets a little lost.

In general the result is quite good, with a small delay in both the up and down beats, but perfectly valid. 

After making a video of the Instinct, I recover the rhythm in which everything is again correct, until in minute 45 I meet again with the rest of the family and a period of walking begins, which the Instinct reflects in a quite irregular way.

Let's go with another training with a little mix of everything. It starts with warm-up in continuous race and ends with series in pyramid (increasing and decreasing the time of the interval).

Garmin Instinct - Wrist Heart Rate Monitor

As usual there are not many problems at the beginning while warming up, Suunto 9 has some small wrong spike but it soon gets back on the right track. 

At the beginning of the intervals in the first one the Instinct finds out a little late, but the two following ones it does them perfectly. It is in the rest of the third interval where it loses completely the composure during one minute approximately until it understands that there is no rest and it adjusts again with the rest.

Yes, there is a slight delay compared to the chest pulsometer, but perfectly usable in general.

In the following training there is a bit of variety in the intensity, starting with three intervals uphill and followed by running at a constant pace with slopes.

Garmin Instinct - Wrist Heart Rate Monitor

The start of the training is a complete fiasco for the chest heart rate monitor until I start sweating and it allows a correct recording. It is a clear example that not always the chest sensor will be the most reliable. Both the FR935 and the Instinct record the data correctly.

From then on, the three intervals are correct when the intensity increases, but quite regular when the rest comes (which I do by walking to the point of origin), especially in the case of Forerunner 935.

From these intervals back to the race at a constant pace you can perceive that both FR935 and Instinct have a small delay in the changes of intensity, but leaving aside that slight delay you can check that the reading is correct.

Finally, we're going to have a bike training. Remember what I told you at the beginning of the bike performance? Well, here it is.

Garmin Instinct - Wrist Heart Rate Monitor


I don't have to explain much more to you, do I?

Barometric altimeter

It is at this point that I have noticed a more strange behavior from the Garmin Instinct. I don't know if it is a problem with my unit or a firmware problem that will be solved, but I don't like what I have seen.

Reviewing the workouts done the general tone is always the same: the Instinct does the first half by marking altitude data correctly, but the second half is like forgetting about the barometer and moving to using GPS data exclusively.

In this chart you have an example.

Garmin Instinct - Altimeter

Regardless of the fact that the three units do not mark the same thing (which is normal, since I have not performed an initial calibration to the same data, which is crucial if we want everyone to mark the same thing).

>> You're interested. This is how the barometric altimeter works

All three devices have barometric altimeters, and we can perfectly appreciate how the trend is the same in all three graphs, being almost parallel in all of them. But something happens in the 36th minute, moment from which the Instinct data appears much more filtered. 

As I say, it's something I've seen in more than one training session, not in all of them, but I've been able to appreciate it on more than one occasion. If I had to bet money I'd say it's a software failure because there's no reason for the altimeter to be disconnected like that, but it's still a very important aspect to highlight in a watch that, above all, is an ABC watch.

Buy Garmin Instinct

I hope that this complete analysis has helped you to decide if it is a valid device for you or not. All the work I do you can consult it without any cost, but if you want to support the web and with it the work I do, the best way to do it is to buy your new device through the links I provide below. And if you don't buy it today, remember to stop by when you are going to do it!

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If you have any questions, remember that you have the comments section at the bottom, where I will try to answer all your questions.

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Garmin Instinct

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Opinion Garmin Instinct

Garmin Instinct

I'll be honest, when Garmin introduced the Instinct he was quite skeptical, mainly because he has his biggest competition at home. The Garmin Fenix 5 has bargain prices which very often puts it very close to the price of the Instinct, and it is undoubtedly a watch with more features.

Yes, there are things about the Instinct that also make it special in some ways, such as a totally different aesthetic than what we're used to at Garmin, or the military grade ruggedness. But I don't know if there are many potential buyers of the Instinct for whom this MIL-STD-810G certification is the main reason to buy.

Overall, the Fenix 5 makes the same than the Instinct plus more stuff. That's irrefutable.

Who's going to buy the Instinct when for a a little bit more has the Phoenix? Well, there's the key, in that a little bit moreFor someone looking for a hiking or mountain watch that won't use training metrics, multisport activities or even Connect IQ applications... what will you pay the difference for?

The Garmin Instinct is the cheapest ABC mountain watch on the market today. Polar has nothing like it in its range and the Suunto Spartan Baro has a highest price and have an identical level of performance. Well played, Garmin. 

And the truth is that it's not just a dumber version of the Fenix 5, Garmin has introduced enough differences between the two and also simplified several of its functions, precisely by getting rid of things that not everyone will use but keeping all the navigation possibilities that the Fenix range offers.

With the Instinct Garmin he wanted to make a simple adventure watch, with a different aesthetic and focused on those who are overwhelmed by the number of options of a Phoenix. They have embroidered it. 

What concerns me most is the performance of the barometric altimeter, which is crucial in a watch of this type. The track record I think can also be improved, at least compared to other models of the same brand. Again, this is another basic feature that should be asked of this model.

So I hope that Garmin will continue to work on those aspects in future software versions. 

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Good afternoon, I'm a fan of your site and, first of all, many, many congratulations for your work (it's the best).

    I would like to ask you a question, what do you mean by "the impossibility of loading maps"? In terms of navigation how would you qualify it? I was checking Garmin's page and it has practically the same characteristics as the Fenix 3 Hr, for Outdoor. It would be my first GPS watch and I was looking for something focused on the mountain (very resistant), with a basic profile for swimming and running, I am very interested in navigation, I am not a triathlete but I run and do gymnastics. My alternatives are the Fenix 3 (which in some cases has very competitive prices) and the suunto spartan sport wrist hr baro (whose price is higher). Finally what I am also looking for (although very much to my regret) is a watch that does not stand out since I live in Latin America and there is a lot of insecurity (sadly).

    Thank you very much for your work and effort.
    Greetings from Latin America.

    1. What I mean is that the Fenix 5 Plus have maps on the clock (you'll soon see everything on the test), but the rest of the Fenix or the Instinct don't. The routes are points to follow.

      As for what you're looking for, the truth is that the Instinct will fit you perfectly in what you're looking for, and with its Casio-like aesthetics, the truth is that it won't stand out at all. It's probably the best option over Fenix or Spartan, which are bulkier and more striking watches.

  2. Hey, Eduardo, although I haven't decided yet, I might finally go for this one.
    The only thing that would remain for me to know is - compared to the Fenix 3 - the reliability of the ABC sensors.

    In fact I have not taken the Fenix 3 since I read about problems (and big ones) with that model regarding the height/baro readings and having to send the F3 to ST five or six times in a row to be told that the change is easy: "buy the F5" in addition to receiving reconditioned units, used and with the problem reappearing after a few days...

    Maybe it's just nonsense, I don't know... Any word on this?

    Thank you!

    1. I have read problems with the barometer in forums, specifically in some Fenix 3 HR. Personally I have never suffered it in any of the Garmin I have used, so it is more attributable to hardware problems of a number of units. This is with respect to excessive changes in air pressure, not that one day I mark 300m of altitude and another 340m in the same point, that is completely normal.

      1. Hi Eduardo! It's been a long time and I'm sure I'll go for this Instinct.

        I'm a little thrown back by the screen, which in Garmin's official advertising photos is like an HD screen but in black and white and actually the numbers and graphics are lower in resolution, but well...

        The Fenix 3 HR (although it is for similar prices) discarded by "old" and especially because I keep reading problems to people with the newly purchased F3HR. I'm afraid that Garmin is selling reconditioned in new packs and getting rid of them... (conspiracy, I know).

        Nothing, this whole thing is about asking if you'll publish a full review of the aforementioned Instinct. Since I'm afraid I'll miss Black Friday at least I'll have reliable info and a link to you for buying, better...
        It also gives me time to fill up my piggy bank...

        Thank you and sorry about that! ;))

        1. Juan, first of all thank you very much for waiting for the test and wanting to support the page.

          Yes, it is in queue. I have a device ordered (well, like the 5X Plus...), but I'm waiting to receive it. I haven't pushed much more either because right now I'm up to my eyeballs and I have several tests to get out. But don't be sure that the Instinct will be tested. And as you say... that time you gain in saving 🙂

  3. Hey, Eduardo!

    Due to different circumstances I have not yet acquired this Instinct (which I like so much in principle); and in the meantime I have a doubt which I think is quite crucial and which may make me abandon the idea of buying Garmin.
    Maybe podrías give a hand to those of us who are juggling to buy well without leaving us almost a salary... 😉

    You see, I've been hearing and reading about the real nonsense of Garmin Iberia's SAT for some time now. The truth is that without making a deep study, I would say that about 90% people in forums and networks of all kinds are at least disappointed when I don't directly lead with the attention and after-sales service, repairs, guarantees, etc.

    Honestly, this is so important (at least for me) as the device works as expected, since the truth is that I'm getting the feeling that no matter what device I buy (as if it's the Fenix 5XPlus) I'll have to spend money again (a lot) in two years and it's supposed that because of those prices, they shouldn't fail as much as it seems but also have a slightly longer life span. I'm a professional in communication and design and I'm clear that the user experience in all its points of contact is part of both the brand and the device itself for better or worse...

    Having said that, and probably influenced by a certain fear of a "Chinese made-in-Garmin", I don't know whether to look for similar devices in Suunto or in Polar (here I ask for your advice/recommendation if possible).

    I don't know, do you have or have you had any personal experience with the Garmin SAT? Any advice? Something to write down that will help us decide (all user readers I mean) better?

    Very much appreciated! and sorry for the ramble! 😉

    1. I haven't had any experience with the SAT other than asking for a quote for a piece of plastic for a Varia Radar (I broke the glass) and they budgeted me for a complete replacement of the device. Basically, because they don't do repairs and everything you do involves change.

      Other than that... I can't tell you more about how it works.

  4. Hi, Eduardo... I want to talk about Garmin's warranty..
    2 years ago; I bought the Garmin live active HR by amazon... and I didn't buy the guarantee that amazon offers
    the year; or past of the nothing stopped working... I came and gave me to enter to garmin suport and to write to them... I told them that I bought it in amazon and that I already had the year; my watch, that it stopped working from nothing... they asked me if I could send them and I did it... to the days they sent me a new garmin... and I realized that the guarantee that amazon wants to sell is a fraud... garmin if it responds to you.

  5. Hello, I would like to ask you about the additional pulse meters for the garmin instinct, I like the chest pulse meter better than the wrist one, which one would you advise me and which one is compatible with that watch?

    1. With the Instinct you can use virtually any pulse sensor, because it is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. One of the best options is the new dual sensor from Garmin which is also dual-streamed and can be used in the future for any application (including mobile phones).

  6. Hi Eduardo, I would like to ask you which software version you tested with, I have seen that they have been updating it, now it is in 5.10 after six updates. Do you know if they have overcome the problems of GPS and barometer accuracy that you could perceive in your tests with the updates?
    Other questions, if you are following a route, do you know if it warns you when you leave it?
    A greeting, and thank you for your work, it's a great help

    1. It would possibly be version 2.60 or 2.80. Here you can see the changes between different updates: does not specify any changes with respect to the improvement in the GPS or altimeter signal, but not all corrections are noted.

      As far as navigation is concerned, yes, you receive a warning when you go off the route and another one when you come back in.

  7. Firstly very good day and secondly how different it is with the new 46mm Samsung with GPS that you can receive and send Whatsapp and calls. Thank you!

    1. Well, the whole... Garmin is a sports watch, while Samsung is a smart watch. They have nothing to do with each other.

  8. Hi Eduardo, I get the training by altimetry and what happens to me is what you mention in the article. I see that in the beginning it marks correctly but then it's like it's tared and has no precision. In relation to this you can't do anything? How then is it indicated as a very good watch for the mountain?
    Your article is excellent!

    1. Garmin has updated the firmware with some settings for the barometer, but I don't know if this is something that has been resolved. The truth is that I haven't tested the Instinct since the test.

  9. Hi, Eduardo.

    I have a question regarding the battery life of the Instinct.
    How have you been doing in smartwatch mode and GPS mode? I'm more interested in GPS mode because I've been doing trail running and climbing volcanoes so I need more battery life than in an asphalt race. Garmin says he has up to 16 hours in GPS mode. You've been able to do some testing on this.

    Thank you very much.

    1. I can't do range tests like I used to, because when the watch detects that it's not being used (even though it's recording activity) it disables the use of the optical sensor, so the results are not valid.

      However, for references over time, the figures given by the manufacturers are quite accurate, always bearing in mind that it also depends on the type of use and place where it is used (difficulty in the GPS signal, etc).

  10. Good morning, I am thinking of buying the instinct, but I have seen that there is an improved version, I would like to know if you have knowledge of the differences between this and the tactical.
    A salute.

    1. It's the same watch, but it has some military-looking functions: parachute jumps, night vision mode, dual coordinates, etc. On the sports side it's all the same.

  11. Hi Eduardo, thanks for the good review you have given of this watch, I'm about to buy it, going from my hobbyhorse, a simple Forerunner 35 to this, Instinct, for what I do I will be fine, mountain trips, no more than 5 hours, mtb and hiking,

    Greetings from Guatemala

    1. Yes, the Instinct is a perfect candidate for that type of use, and without having to go to something like Fenix 5 or higher which are much more expensive.

      1. Thank you very much Eduardo, I already have Instinct, now I have a doubt with some data fields, I want the accumulated ascent, but I get Total ascent - average ascent, what would be the difference between them and which podré to use as accumulated positive ascent? thanks

          1. How about Eduardo?

            I don't know if it will be reliable or not, but yesterday I tested the range of the instinct tactical, placing it on the roof of my house, it showed 16hrs 31mins and 38secs, with a phantom movement of 2.09kms.

  12. Hi, I would like to know if you can download the routes from Wikiloc and follow them from the Instinct watch?

    Thank you very much and congratulations for the work, you leave me in doubt whether to buy it or not?
    In case you can't follow the routes with wikiloc... do you recommend me a watch that you can.
    Thank you

  13. Hello, because my fenix 5 does not measure heart rate well, it makes me big and heavy, I run sometimes swim and bike in project, I do not want to spend much, I see this the polar vantage v, and 935 , I value weight, size and battery, good and altimeter since mine has it ..., A greeting.

  14. Are the activities automatically uploaded via bluetooth? Or do you have to connect it to the pc every time you do an activity?

  15. Dear Eduardo, greetings from Greece.
    Your analysis of the Instinct is thorough and comprehensive.
    Recently I purchased the newest version of the watch, the Instinct Solar, which I really enjoy it!
    I have noticed one thing though, concerning the altitude recordings and the elevation gain: when I go cycling, the watch records elevation gain perfectly. But, when running and without altering any of the settings, the watch usually records higher values - almost the double than the real ones... Do you have any idea why this happens?
    Thank you in advance!
    Keep up the good work!
    Best regards, Christos

  16. Hello Eduardo. The Pyrenees, superb analysis, N depth and neutral. I wanted to ask your advice. I am looking for a Garmin for general sport and daily use. My hobby has always been hiking and cycling (never road). I do not need great performance, I am interested in the control of cardiac effort and other measurements but without being too demanding. For my activities I was attracted to the Instinct: resistant, brujla (still working by waypints without map), the trackack function, the sport specific profiles .... But it seems to me big for the day-to-day. So even though I'm not running, I looked at the Forerunner 55, which even if it doesn't have some features I'm interested in, it does the rest, besides being discreet and versatile.

    Since I have seen in your link that the instinct has come to be at the same price as the FR55, I would appreciate your advice. After all, I have never used GPS in my outings, and the accuracy deviations you indicate make me think that in case e want a GPS the ideal would be to look for a device itself focused on accuracy, and that the clock is a tool for monitoring progress.

    Thank you very much for your efforts.

    1. For that type of use it is better to opt for a watch like the Instinct. The Forerunner 55 is totally focused on road running. You have no altimeter, no mountain functions, no navigation, etc. These are things that you are going to poder take advantage of and that you have on the Instinct but not on the FR55.

  17. Hello, I would like to buy a watch that has GPS, altimeter and if it has compass better for hiking. Which one would you recommend that does not cost more than 400€? Thank you very much.

  18. Hi Eduardo, thank you very much for your comprehensive analysis.
    I am hesitating between buying the FR245 or the Instinct. Basically I want it to run and do some hiking. Aesthetically I like more the FR245 and the price is similar, but I have doubts about which one will be better for hiking routes. In both you can load Wikiloc routes, for example? Do both vibrate if you leave the route and guide you to return to the correct path of the downloaded route? As I will not run climbing stairs that the FR245 has no altimeter should not worry me or will affect the measurements when making mountain routes, so much as to opt for the Instinct? Because the latter seems that it is not very reliable when it comes to follow and control the route of a race.
    Thank you very much for your analysis and for your answers.

    1. Thank you Julio

      The main difference is going to be the bathymetric altimeter, but if you're not going to pay attention to it during hiking routes, it's not something you're going to use too much.

      At a basic level, the navigation of both is identical.

  19. Hello..!! I am about to buy the instinct and I wanted to ask: what is the problem with the barometric altimeter, what does it refer to?

  20. Hello..!! I am about to buy the instinct and I wanted to ask: what is the problem with the barometric altimeter, what does it refer to? Omar, San Juan, Argentina.

    1. In the unit I was analyzing, the measurements were not correct. It was probably due to an initial software version and then it has been corrected, because I am not aware that there is a generalized problem.

  21. Hello..!! I am about to buy the instinct for mountain hiking and I wanted to ask: what is the problem with the barometric altimeter, what does it refer to? Omar, San Juan, Argentina.

  22. Hello, I'm looking at this model instinct but there are several models, is it worth going for a model with more price for its performance, what I do is to go running on asphalt and occasionally to mountain but the garmin 10 does not catch the gps signal but sometimes past half an hour and do not know porqe be.

  23. Hi Eduardo, I loved your analysis. These Kings have given me the Instinct. My question is the following:
    I've been using the FR235 for a few years now and the poor thing needs to retire, for various reasons. I was thinking of buying the FR245, but I found this gift.
    After reading your analysis my doubts grow more, I love the design and the use I would give it would be as a regular watch, since I am a teacher and I wear it every day. As well as some outing with the MTB, or hiking. I have never followed routes, nor have I considered it. I've never put Connect IQ apps on the FR235 either, and I also use an Edge 820 on the bike, but I often wear it without a battery and use the FR235 as a cyclocomputer.
    What do you advise me, to change to the INSTINCT or to continue with the FR245 line? I have seen that they are very similar but every day I have more doubts and I don't know which one to choose.
    Thank you very much and best regards.

    1. Thank you Francisco

      Well, for the profile of use that you mention I think the Instinct is the right choice. If the use is daily with MTB outings or hiking I think it is better suited to your use than the 245.

  24. Hi, Eduardo,
    I've had a Garmin Instinct for a few months now. I use it for hiking and running distances of about 10 km. So far it has been working well for me but I've been running four times now and the distance run and pace are fine for the first kilometer but after that it starts to fail in a very exaggerated way. I'm running at 5.15 or 5.30 and all of a sudden I get 3.40, 4.00, back to 5.30 and so on. And the distance, the same. It goes from 1 km to 1.2, from 1.7 to 2, etc. Do you know if it could be a configuration problem or is it a matter of taking it to the store since it is under warranty?
    Thank you very much and best regards.

  25. Good morning, very good analysis.

    I have a garmin instinc recently acquired and I am not able to transfer routes from wikiloc to the device, as I can't use the garmin iq, because the watch doesn't have it.
    I would appreciate your help.
    Thank you very much.


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