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Garmin’s new Instinct GPS watch is built for the sportsman in all of us

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Garmin on Thursday, October 11, unveiled the Instinct, a rugged GPS watch for people who love to be outdoors. The Garming Instinct takes the best features of the company’s popular Fenix watches and packages them into an entry-level product that is priced for the masses. At $300, the Garmin Instinct is an outstanding value.

The Instinct borrows heavily from the Garmin Fenix 5X series. It ships with a 3x-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and support for multiple navigation satellites including GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. It also has a wrist-based heart rate monitor that calculates your daily stress level, records your resting heart rate and tracks your heart rate zones during exercise. The watch lasts up to 14 days on a single charge in smartwatch mode. Expect to get up to 16 hours with full GPS tracking and 40 hours if you use the power-saving UltrTrac mode.

Internally, the hardware is similar to the Fenix watches, but the outside is where the two watch lines differ. Though both watches share the same look and feel, the materials are vastly different. The Instinct has a hard polymer casing and a low resolution, grayscale screen as compared to the high-resolution color display, steel casing, and sapphire display of the Fenix 5X series. The Instinct display is clinically strengthened to resist scratching and is viewable in sunlight.

The Instinct’s housing may be a polymer, but you don’t have to question the watch’s durability, as the casing is built to military specs for thermal, shock, and water resistance. It’s designed to take a licking and keep on ticking. Another benefit to the polymer housing is weight — the Instinct is significantly lighter than the Fenix watches, which tip the scale at a whopping 87g and can be cumbersome to wear.

The Instinct is compatible with Garmin’s other outdoors products including the InReach Mini, which allows you to send and receive messages as well as initiate an SOS call from the watch. It also integrates with the Virb action cameras and Gamin’s Astro dog-tracking collars.

The Instinct is available in Graphite, Tundra, and Flame Red for a suggested retail price of $300. It is available for purchase from Garmin’s website.

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Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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