Enjoy outdoor sports like mountain biking or running? Then a shiny smartwatch just ain’t going to cut it. Risk wearing something like an Apple Watch on a BMX ride or country run, and you risk getting it scratched up or smashed up.
What you really want is G-SHOCK levels of toughness, and Garmin have released a smartwatch with exactly that in the Instinct - a new smartwatch built for the outdoors.
The Garmin Instinct is one of the toughest smartwatches we’ve seen. It’s built to the U.S. military standard 810G for thermal, shock, and water resistance.
MIL-STD-810 certification means the Garmin Instinct offers a higher level of durability than a normal smartwatch. It’s also got a 10ATM (100m) water resistance rating. The only comparable smartwatch is the Casio WSD-F20, and the WSD-F20 and Samsung Galaxy Watch are the only other smartwatches on the market with 810G certification.
The Garmin Instinct comes loaded with features too. For navigation and positioning there’s GPS, GLONASS and Galileo, and you also get Garmin’s unique ‘TracBack’ feature which leaves digital breadcrumbs to help you find your way back. A 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter complete the positioning package.
Elsewhere, the Instinct will track your heart rate and activity in real-time, automatically detect different activities and switch to them, send push notifications to your wrist from your phone, and hook up with other Garmin devices such as VIRB cameras so you can control them remotely. Perfect for shooting action video.
You might read elsewhere that the Instinct runs Garmin’s own operating system, and while that’s true it isn’t a downside. Garmin’s OS handles notifications well and with the Instinct being so focussed on the outdoors, Wear OS just wouldn’t fit. You get so much functionality with a Garmin that the ecosystem becomes a mute issue.
Pricing and availability
The Garmin Instinct is priced at $299.99 and comes in a wide range of colours, including Graphite, Tundra, and a sweet Flame Red. You can buy it directly from Garmin or through any official stockist. At that price, it undercuts the Casio ProTrek WSD-F20 and its successor the WSD-F30, which will cost from $550. Yikes.