Fitness wearables are normally smaller devices that have features for monitoring things like steps, heart rate, and other data. The problem for people who like to be active in harsh conditions is that most of those wearables aren’t meant to survive bumps and obstacles encountered when skiing, hiking or backpacking. Those activities expose wearables to lots of rain, snow, sleet, cold, sharp rocks, harsh blows, and foliage among other hazards. Garmin knows that normal wearables, like its recently announced Vivosmart 4, aren’t appropriate for many rugged activities and for this more rugged and demanding crowd it has announced the Instinct.
Instinct is a strong and very durable GPS smartwatch that has an integrated 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. The wearable supports GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo positioning systems and has a sensor for capturing heart rate via the wrist; it also features an ABC sensor, integrated sports apps, smart connectivity, and wellness data collection. To keep a wearable with this much tech packed inside working in harsh climates, Garmin built the Instinct to military standards (
The display of the wearable is chemically strengthened and scratch resistant while being easy to read in direct sunlight. The band of the Instinct is fully vented silicone with a pair of independent and removable keeper loops for a secure fit. One of the challenges when hiking, backcountry skiing or backpacking is finding the proper trail; there are apps for smartphones and rugged cases, but often smartphones lack the sort of signal strength you need to maintain a strong connection. Garmin supports multiple GNSS networks to keep track of where the Instinct user is with more detail and accuracy than GPS alone is capable of. Instinct also has a TrackBack feature to make it easy to find the path back to the starting point of your hike.
The integrated heart rate sensor can monitor daily activity, stress, sleep, and other wellness data; Instinct can track heart rate, steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and other health data. Supported activities include hiking, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, and skiing; heart rate variability tracking allows the wearable to track stress levels. Pairing with a smartphone allows the Instinct to show notifications for texts, emails, and other alerts on the wrist, and when used with Garmin Connect, the Instinct can track workouts and sleep patterns.
Instinct is compatible with other Garmin devices like inReach Mini, VIRB action cameras, and dog tracking devices. Compatibility with the inReach mini is an important thing with the userbase the Instinct is targeting; that compatibility allows the user to send and receive satellite communication messages and to declare an SOS in the event of an emergency on the trail or slopes. The battery is good for 14-days in smartwatch mode and up to 16 hours in GPS mode with an UltraTrac battery saver mode extending that to 40 hours when needed. The Garmin Instinct comes in graphite, tundra, and flame red for $299.99.