Garmin Instinct Solar Smartwatch Review

"Apple Watches cater to a much broader consumer base, including young customers and gadget lovers, for these groups, it may be more important to adopt a smartwatch for technological or health reasons rather than because of an appreciation for' timeless tim"
Last updated - Nov 4th 2020 by: Protheus
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Garmin Instinct Solar, Solar-Powered Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch, Built-in Sports Apps and Health Monitoring, Graphite

About Garmin Instinct Solar

Meta score: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

Our verdict: Garmin Instinct Solar is our favorite solar smartwatch. During the testing we really started to like the Garmin Instinct Solar more and more and it is now one of our favorites. The Garmin Instinct Solar is produced and sold by Garmin but Amazon are responsible for the shipping and delivery "Fulfilled by Amazon" so Amazon will ship the item from a warehouse near you. This means added safety and faster delivery times for you, so we think that is good.

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Check out Garmin Instinct Solar on Amazon now, it is available for as low as $350.00 (In Stock.) Free shipping of Garmin Instinct Solar is available on Amazon. You can get this solar smartwatch with Amazon Prime. Want to know more about Amazon Prime and get a one month discounted trial?

Specification for Garmin Instinct Solar

  • Vastly extended battery life through solar charging
  • Rugged GPS Watch is water-rated to 100 meters and constructed to U.S. military standard 810 for thermal, shock and water resistance
  • Built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter plus multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
  • Track your activities for running, biking, swimming, strength and more
  • Help understand your health and wellness better with all-day health monitoring and Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition)
  • Monitor how your body uses energy by tracking heart rate, stress and sleep estimates with Body Battery energy monitoring

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Verified Buyer Reviews & Ratings

The consensus of the reviews for the Garmin Instinct Solar is very strong and we can draw no other conclusion that this is one of the very best solar smartwatch on the market. We list the most helpful reviews below. If you want to look at all the reviews for Garmin Instinct Solar you can see them at

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tried Them All, This Is The Best
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2018 by Clayton

"LATEST UPDATE AT BOTTOM (5/11/2020) What a frustrating activity tracker/smart watch journey I have been on. Nothing seemed quite right for what I was looking for. I am an avid outdoorsman who likes to hunt, backpack, hike, bike, and occasionally run. Things that are extremely important to me are an accurate altimeter, barometer, and GPS. I first purchased the Fenix 3 HR. The watch was impressive in the beginning and I thought I had found the one. The issue turned out to be the altimeter. It was not accurate at all. I then waited for the Fenix 5. Same damn issue. Altimeter was worse than the 3. When I contacted Garmin, they told me to put the watch in warm soapy water. While this did seem to temporarily reset it back to normal, I continued to experience the same issue. As much as I would like to put my watch in a warm glass of soapy water every night, I decided to pass. The 5 plus eventually came out and appeared to solve these issues. But then.....Garmin realeased the Instinct. This watch (so far) has really impressed me. It is so light weight and comfortable. The Fenix watches, while premium, are a bit large and heavy to wear. You truly forget you are wearing this watch. The features are great. It has absolutely everything I need. I’m not a triathlete and could care less about some of the measurements the Fenix gives you. Some have commented on the grainy display. I completely disagree. I would liken it to E Ink from a kindle. It truly is a pleasure to look at and is extremely clear and readable. I love that it is black and white. The keys and apps are very responsive. The menus are so much faster than the Fenix. You can really whip through the widgets and settings to get where you want. The buttons are excellent and I have yet to accidentally press one while bending my wrist. I am still testing the accuracy of the GPS tracking and ABC sensors but so far it is looking great. I really can’t say enough about this watch. Knock on wood, it seems like a great model from Garmin that will feel a niche hunting/outdoors market. I will provide an update in a month after more usage. -UPDATE- I've now had this watch for a few weeks and have taken it on several hunting trips. I am truly impressed with this watch. I cannot emphasize enough how comfortable and light this watch is. Owning and wearing heavier watches over the years, I think I forgot how nice it is to wear a watch that you forget is attached to your wrist. I hated wearing my Fenix watches to bed. Too bulky and would dig into my wrist. Tracking appears to be very accurate. Attitude has been accurate for daily use and when you are tracking an activity. What I Love About This Watch: -Comfortable & Lightweight -Responsive Menus -Screen Visibility is Exceptional -Accurate ABC Sensors and Tracking -Recessed Buttons Avoid Accidental Presses -Battery Life Has Been Great I really only have a couple complaints or rather suggestions to improve the watch. When you lock the keys (which you don't have to too often because of recessed buttons), in order to unlock the watch, you hold any button for a short period. I wish Garmin would lengthen the amount of time it takes to hold the button. It takes about .5 seconds to unlock currently and that can be accidentally done pretty easily. This is really a minor complaint though. The screen is an unknown material or proprietary to Garmin. I do wish it was a Sapphire display but I put a screen protector on it and you truly cant tell there is one on the face. My last suggestion is I wish the battery indicator showed a percentage as opposed to the 5 bars in a battery indicator. Again, its a minor gripe but it would be nice if they changed that. Please ask me questions. Id be happy to answer. I've done a disturbing amount of research on these watches over the years and believe I have finally found the perfect watch for my needs. I've used all Fenix watches and a Suunto Traverse Alpha. This watch is my favorite. UPDATE 5/11/2020 Still an absolutely great watch. This watch is on my wrist every single day. It is still extremely comfortable. I have h"

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The perfect smartwatch for people who dislike smartwatches.
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2018 by Travis

"This model came out from Garmin at the same time I was starting to seriously want a device for a mixture of tracking activity, in my case most of which is outdoor oriented, like hiking and riding my mountain bike, plus I wanted to start exploring some physical data from a heart rate monitor as I get more active. When smartwatches first started becoming popular, I thought they were pretty stupid and redundant, and in my mind a teeny tiny 2" screen will never replace a phone screen which is small enough, especially for GPS navigation duty. However, the function of getting the sensors and GPS antenna in a more favorable location, plus heart rate monitoring, I could see the benefits of a smartwatch. I didn't like most of what was on the market until this unit. What I liked about this watch was it didn't have all the features and bloated interface to replace interacting with your phone for things a phone is best at. In some ways the Instinct is a throwback to older tech, but in a good way, the way anyone who has experience with GPS from the time it first became widely available for consumer use will appreciate. The interface will just make sense if you were used to the older devices. It does all the things you might want your phone to do, but a phone is not really suited to doing well. I disliked using my phone for tracking hikes and on my MTN bike because either the phone was safe in my pocket with a horrible view of the sky and where I couldn't see it, or I had it strapped on my handlebars where it could get knocked off. Or while hiking I had to pack it in my hands or strapped to my backpack in an awkward position. Not to mention if you use GPS on the phone and keep the screen on to see stats, it will hit the battery hard. With this, you can tuck the phone safely away but still see the info you want. This watch was the right combo of features for outdoor activities and activity tracking to get my attention and be a useful tool more than an expensive trinket. I did not wear any watch before buying the Instinct, and now I wear this most of the time for the last 2-3 weeks I've had it. While it lacks some features of more dedicated fitness devices, I got it mostly for what it did not have rather than what it did. Most criticism of this watch I read prior to purchasing clearly was because this watch has a niche and those folks didn't fit it. This is mostly for outdoor activities, it's simple, rugged, and doesn't do as much because it's made to do it's set of tasks well, and it's trade off is the things it does not do allow it to be smaller and use the battery more efficiently. You can read up on it's features and functions elsewhere, but a few things I will point out as exceptional. Some may harp on the old school LCD type display, but it's high contrast and the way the face catches ambient light extremely well makes it very easy to read. Actually I set the back light on 5%, it's lowest setting, because if it's so dark you need the back light, that is plenty to see it by. I like it's size, it's not huge feeling, and it's light. As I mentioned I did not wear a watch before this one, and I find it comfortable to wear despite a history of disliking things on my wrist. I had to get used to it yes, but it's not like having a rock strapped to your arm. Battery life has been great, using the GPS 2-3 times a week for an hour at a time pulls it down some but I still get over a week on a charge. I've yet to let it run down to the point it claims it needs charging, but so far I've yet to charge it in a period of less than 7 days. Definitely a personal preference but I also really like it's appearance. I got the Graphite colored one, it's not black but kind of a charcoal grey. It's not preppy looking or stylish, and that's what I'm going for. It does not give off that "oh look at me I'm athletic I have a fitbit" vibe, or look super snazzy and expensive, it just looks like a run of the mill boring watch if no one inspects it closely. For sure a more utility look, and for folks who would get the most out of this watch, that's probably perfec"

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ So far, so awesome
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2018 by Sandan KenpoTop Contributor: Watches

"The Garmin Instinct is really great, but maybe not as "fancy" as some might want. First of all, as a reference, I already own the Garmin Fenix 5 plus... meaning I have the "fancier" version of the Instinct. But the ruggedness of the Instinct, and the fact that it totally reminds me of the screen on the old Fitbit Surge is why I like it! Think about it... take the Fitbit Surge's super-readable (always-on) square face... and wrap a round rugged bezel around it... throw in Garmin Fenix functionality... and what's not to like?!? LOL. And if you read in the online reviews that it reminds reviewers of a Casio g-shock watch... they're right! And that's the other reason I like it. Drop the Instinct, bang it on a wall, take it in any environment... and still get the Garmin accurate GPS, heart rate, stress and sleep tracking?... excellent!"

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wow! For the Common Person, a Good Reliable Smart Watch
Reviewed in the United States on December 4, 2018 by JCRArizona

"I am very impressed with this watch . If you want to show off the latest Apple or Samsung watch, fine. This watch just works. Waterproof, Military spec, a tough watch from Garmin. This is my first Garmin, it is tougher, more reliable, and easier to use than a FItbit or Apple or Samsung watch. I have had several before this. Wow! Battery Life Best of any I have owned, including Fitbit, Samsung, Apple. I charged it Sunday am, it is now Tuesday midday has gone down one bar, four out of five bars left. Very impressed, get Smart Notifications, use GPS, used light 10 times , great! I expect to get four days on one charge if not more. I hate charging every day . GPS, Satt tracking GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite network capability tracks in tougher or remote environments than GPS alone. The built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter help you keep your bearings. Smart Notifications Great to get texts and calls to assess if want to answer on phone. I dont' use replies on watch. Health Options: Step count and heart rate very accurate. Use the Garmin App it features a nice weekly summary of all your walks, etc. May options for hikes, biking, swimming, etc. Watch Face and Widgets Options to set home screen are many. Can set to weather, steps, heart rate, day , date, time, etc. If you don't have on your main screen it is push away to view other options. Appearance Not a fashion statement. Screen reminds me of surge, not color, but very visible and reminds me of a Casio in many ways. Very visible in low light without using the light button on watch . Comfort: VERY light. Forget I have it on. Screen good size for aging eyes, but not a brick watch like some modern large watches. I like the fact time, day, date, heart rate (my home screen options) are visible without squinting. All is all, I highly recommend this watch .This is my FIRST Garmin watch. Very impressed. UPDATE-Watch has had one charge I am now on day 10 still three bars! Wow!"

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Hopefully i was the only one who got defective Garmin Instinct.
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2018 by Andrei

"Your browser does not support HTML5 video. Hate to be the first one on the internet with a bad review on Garmin Instinct... I liked this watch! Everything what’s needed in there! Unfortunately the first order wasn’t that successful. After half a day after receiving the Instinct, it just stopped working. It lost connection, and after even “forgetting” it on iphone and deleting and reinstalling the app they still didn’t want to connect. When charging Garmin logo started constantly flashing. Was able to turn it off and connect again only while charging, but still flashing Garming logo showed up. Tried resetting everything- same story. Constant freezing. I believe i just got a defective one. Unfortunately i couldn’t find the same issues on forums, looks like i was the first one since they came out. Sent it back to Amazon the next day and ordered another one. Supposed to arrive tomorrow, will see how it will work. 10.27.18 got another Instinct. So far so good, BUT i haven’t updated the firmware yet, as i think that could be the reason why the previous instinct turned into a brick. Will be searching on forums for any helpful information before doing the actual update. 10.28.18 Alright ladies and gentlemen, the watch updated by itself without even asking me . Looks like everything works as supposed. And you know what, I love them! I’m changing my 3 stars because of the first one i received to 5 stars for the second order. I hope it was just the only one that was defective. P.S. Previously i had Pebble 2 which had some issues: periodical disconnection, and finally the rubber buttons broke exposing the internals of the watch. I’m really glad and happy of my Garmin Instinct purchase so far! 04.26.19 It’s been a while since my last review. So far so good, everything works as intended, except one minor unpleasant thing: sometimes i stop getting any notifications on my watch, which can be solved by restarting the watch and Garmin Connect app. Not sure what causes that, i have an iPhone X with latest ios, in case that info will be useful. That happens not often, and can be solved within several seconds. Overall i like this watch a lot! Maybe this review update will be helpful for somebody."

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Best. Watch. Ever. *UPDATES*
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2019 by Matt

"It's hard to add much to all the other positive reviews, but I will chime in and say how absolutely impressed I am with the Instinct. Over the years I've progressed from an early Fitbit that was surprisingly good, to a Suunto Quest which was not a smartwatch but was a great HRM and workout watch (and light and comfortable). On top of a bunch of other regular watches including Tag, Hamilton, GShocks, etc. The short version is: Garmin nailed it. Absolutely. Nailed. It. It's light, has great battery life, is rugged, comfortable, looks good, and features are on point. The app is excellent. And there's not a lot of extra crap that you don't need or want. But, if there IS a feature that you don't need or want, you can bury it so it doesn't clutter your menus. The HRM seems accurate, always within about 3% of any other measurements (ANT chest strap, gym cardio machines). And the price point seems totally reasonable given what you're getting for your money. Two things that might help someone: Pairing with an iPhone was super easy but I wasn't getting alerts, which initially caused me concern. Everything was paired and showing green, but no alerts. After some playing around I discovered a quick, easy fix. Whatever alerts you want on your phone, simply go into Notifications in your iPhone settings and make sure you select the option for "Notification Center" for each app (Messages, Mail, etc.). That's it. It doesn't have anything to do with showing on lock screen or anything like that, just make sure the alerts are going to the Notification Center on your iPhone and that's (apparently) what Garmin pulls from. It's 100% now. Finally, in snooping around on internet forums it appears that Garmin is very receptive to feedback. Example: New software releases include user requests. That's cool and something I value a lot. You can also very easily download beta versions of the software to get early updates, or you can just wait and they'll get pushed out over the app. If you want the betas it's a true drag-and-drop of exactly one file, and from the time you plug in your phone until the software is on your watch and running is maybe 45 seconds. Couldn't be easier. I'd give this thing 6 stars. Time will tell on durability but we're off to a really, really good start. Don't let the lack of color or supposed "pixels" sway you. If you want a do-it-all watch with fancy but largely useless features, this ain't the watch for you. If you want a solid, rugged fitness tracker with relevant features and your phone notifications are viewed as a bonus, the Instinct is where it's at. *UPDATE* Going on two months and it's as awesome as day 1. Battery life is consistently 14 days, and I could probably eek a few more if needed. I'm consistently impressed by all the features and the app, and it's super comfortable. Honestly, this watch leaves me wanting nothing more. I don't wish it did this or that, or wish that it was lighter or whatever. It just checks all the boxes. Garmin hit a grand slam with this watch. *UPDATE #2* After 8 months I am just as impressed as day 1. Battery life is about 2 weeks with workouts/GPS work, and if I'm being lazy it'll go 16-ish days. I put a screen protector on it and then managed to break the protector, so I removed it an haven't put another back. I wear it every day- all my other watches are dusty. I should probably be easier on it but I wear it doing everything from office work to car maintenance to fishing to digging in flower beds, you name it. It looks essentially brand new. I was initially worried about the durability of the band b/c it's very flexible (and therefore comfortable), but aside from some very, very faint scuff marks it shows no signs of wear. Did I mention I love this watch? AND the price on the graphite color has dropped $40! Get one! *UPDATE #3* This will be my last one because I don't know what else to say other than it continues to be awesome. Over a year of ownership I've gradually been harder on harder on this watch, and it is is just as tough as the G-Shock I previously wore (and could not kill). "

Best Solar Smartwatch

If you are looking for a smartwatch with built-in sports apps and health monitoring we really think you should take a look at what we believe is the best solar smartwatch, the Garmin Instinct Solar. This is not a "smart" watch but a regular watch with many functions that are similar to a watch in function but with a few neat features that are not. Unlike a smart watch which constantly displays the same info you get notifications on, this constantly monitors and compares your HR to baseline values, so you know when you need to wear something off to bed or to the bathroom. I own one and just bought another for a son who's also now also now also a dad. The price is worth it's price tag, IRA registered it on california's fair use rules, so no complaints. IRA registered it on this website and it's now $220 including shipping. Read more . . .

Great watch, comparable to a Casio G-Shock with the same capabilities, but with a much better price point. Much better than a Basic, and still gets me 3-4 weeks of battery life, which is twice as long as a Basic. Much better than a traditional smartwatch, and much more durable. I have been using this watch for about 4 months now and it has performed great. The battery life is about a week at a time so you can rest assured in knowing that you will be getting plenty of out of this watch). The screen is easily readable in any light condition, very visible in the sun. Read more . . .

Health Monitoring Solar Smartwatch

The Garmin Instinct Solar comes with a lot of features for monitoring and even predicting your health and wellness. Read more . . .

 1.  Pros:  - Heart rate monitor is very accurate.2. - GPS tracking is fantastic.3. - Data is broken up by blocks of sleep. - The data is unrivaled by anything currently available.4. - The user interface is intuitive and easy to use.5. - The battery is amazing (14+ days)6. - The size is exactly what I was looking for. I'm sure I'm not going to find a better watch/device/app/etc. I just love it and it's so lightweight that I forget that I have it on. Read more . . .

Durable Solar Smartwatch

Besides the extended battery time you get from the solar charging the Garmin Instinct is also water rated to 100 meters and has a rugged construction qualifying for the high military standard 810 shock and thermal resistances.  1. The watch is good, it does everything I want and at a price that I no one should really complain about.2. The menu is easy to get used to and the watch is lightweight.3. The watch is comfortable, I never had a problem with the band causing a rash but I have had a couple other women in a relationship so I can tell that the band does not cause a rash on a daily basis.4. The watch seems to be made of very high quality material.5. The watch seems to be extremely durable but you never know. You never know. You can take the time and wear it out for several days or months. Read more . . .

Great product at a great price. I'm a fan of rugged watches and this one delivers. I love this watch. TBH, I bought it because of the colorway, not because of the specs. The specs are great, it has the ability to do many different things, I've used it for geocaching, hiking, working out, and many other activities. The software is mature, you can follow your activities and get alerts. The apps for the watch and phone connect to a server and have all the info you'll need. The watch band is very comfortable and light. I hardly take it off. Read more . . .

More Top Rated solar smartwatch

We have reviewed several other items of the solar smartwatch type. Below are the reviews for the ones who we think are the best in class: