Garmin Instinct Solar Review: All the Important Details

Garmin Instinct Solar Review

Battery life can be one of the biggest factors for fitness enthusiasts shopping for a smartwatch. There is nothing worse than getting far into a run or jog, only to have your watch die before the finish line. For those who enjoy taking their fitness outdoors, solar power has done wonders for smartwatch battery longevity.

With this in mind, does the Garmin Instinct Solar provide these necessary upgrades?

garmin solar instinct gps watch review

Garmin Instinct Solar Review

The Garmin Instinct Solar is a powerful and large smartwatch that is designed for long, outdoor fitness sessions. The solar-charging capabilities of this model are unprecedented in terms of charge longevity. The watch is also durable and built-to-last with military-grade toughness. 

Overall Rating97/100
Ease of Use99/100
Ease of Assembly96/100

This sports and fitness watch scores high marks in all the important key points for rating a fitness watch. This article will explore everything that needs to be known about this product, including its pros and cons as well as if the watch is worth buying for your fitness needs. Read on to find out more.

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Pros the Garmin Instinct Solar:

  • Long-lasting battery performance. The main feature of the Instinct Solar is definitely the power of the battery. This model is designed for solar power charging capabilities, which are activated by UV rays with adequate outdoor experiences. You can now enjoy longer periods outdoors without having to worry about quickly finding a charging station to keep your watch running.
  • Increased performance tracking capabilities. Many watches that are fashioned for runners and joggers promise technology that can monitor your heart rate, yet this can be an inconvenience in most models. With the Garmin Instinct Solar, the smart technology keeps in sync with your heart rate through your wrist, which displays on the screen for easy monitoring.
  • Improved GPS, Glonass, and Galileo. One of the many things to appreciate about a treadmill is the convenience of your distance stats on a monitor right in front of you. With the Garmin Instinct Solar, you can now have all of these great GPS features like pace, distance ran, and customizable intervals that light up with frequency during your run. Gone are the inconveniences of having to keep a mental note of your distance running.
  • New and improved adaptive training plans. For some of Garmin’s most select watch models, adaptive training plans through a Garmin coach of your choice are available to help guide you through your run. The Instinct Solar is one of the watches that includes this convenient coaching, which works well to help you reach your goals on those days when running or any fitness regime seems like a chore.
  • Advanced tactical features. One of the other standout features of the Garmin Instinct Solar is the new editions to the tactical performance tracking features. You can now sync your watch with enhancements such as night visions, which syncs to a pair of compatible goggles. The Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) is also convenient for advanced tracking of longitude and latitude coordinates.

Cons of the Garmin Instinct Solar:

  • Information overload. It is hard to call any of the state-of-the-art new features that come with the Garmin Instinct Solar a con. With this said, sometimes the number of notifications for all the features can be overwhelming. Even if you choose to limit the notifications coming in, the data from the features will still sync consistently to provide notifications. This can become annoying if you have many features running at once.
  • The battery needs a lot of sunlight. Although the new and improved solar technology lens is the standout feature, it can be a bit inconvenient. In order to reap the full benefits, the lens needs about 3 full hours of direct sunlight. Therefore, unless you plan on being in direct sunlight for hours, you won’t get the full benefits. This is not going to be a problem for fitness enthusiasts who spend a few hours outdoors each day.
  • The GPS features can be confusing. While this model does feature some great addition to GPS and navigation, the design is flawed. There are far too many instances where multiple buttons need to be pressed to navigate properly. If you need to zoom in on a location to see the terrain, you will have to navigate a slew of buttons. Manual entry can be convenient for smartwatches, but this is an instance that would be great for a touchscreen.

garmin instinct can be charged by the sun

Key Features

The Garmin Instinct Solar features many new updates to the previous models that featured solar technology. For one, the watch itself is completely altered in size and dynamics to fit the needs of the increased technology that comes with the advanced battery capabilities. This watch is designed for rugged outdoor use, and will certainly not disappoint in that kind of environment.

The watch is well-calibrated to handle the influx of new features. The lens combines the best of solar technology with powerful battery-saving performance. But perhaps the biggest standout of the Garmin Instinct Solar is the inclusion of advanced performance tracking features. Many of these, such as MGRS, are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who take adventures into rugged mountains or tough terrain.

Additionally, the Garmin Instinct Solar has more pushable buttons, which eliminates the need to go through an app to change settings. You can now interchange settings and customizations through a simple push of a button.

With just five convenient button settings, you are able to navigate the menu and customize the watch with a few simple pushes to your desired settings. There are no complex patterns to figure out with this model, you will likely have the routine down pat after one running session.

The Garmin Instinct Solar is brimming with many additional features, and the improvements upon the design scheme of the watch are also great. With new additions to measure training effect, recovery time, and race predicting for triathlons, the Instinct Solar marks an exciting start to a new series.

Garmin Instinct Solar charging

Should You Get The Garmin Instinct Solar?

The Garmin Instinct Solar is definitely for users who want as many advanced features as possible. This model certainly provides that, but the major selling point is the inclusion of new features with one of the best battery performances of any Garmin watch.

The Garmin Instinct Solar is all about improving upon past exclusions in this popular Garmin line. With this in mind, this makes this model a great investment as this will likely turn out to be the only Garmin model that you will ever need. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this is the model that stands above all the others.

The Downsides

Not many users of this watch would be quick to point to downsides but the Garmin Instinct Solar does have a few. The substantial price is likely going to be the big sticking point to many potential buyers. This can be easily overcome once you consider some of the useful and innovative technologies that you get with this model.

Some users report difficulty in properly calibrating the new and improved GPS and navigation protocols. Additionally, the need to spend hours outside to unlock all the benefits of solar technology can also be a burden. Finally, it could be said that some of the features with this model may actually be a bit too much; notifications go off constantly.

garmin instinct solar vs tactical

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Garmin Instinct Solar and the Garmin Instinct Tactical?

The main difference between the Instinct Solar and Tactical is mostly related to the price and military design. The Instinct Solar features new and improved solar technology for advanced battery charging capabilities. This increases the price a bit, yet the features are mostly the same between the two models.

Is the Garmin Instinct Solar Waterproof?

Yes, the Garmin Instinct Solar is waterproof. The rating is approved by military performance ranking standards and can withstand depths of up to 100 meters.

Does the Garmin Instinct Solar have a pulse ox?

Yes, the Garmin Instinct Solar has a pulse oximeter that is measured through the wrist. This feature measures the saturation of oxygen in the blood, which can then provide performance suggestions to correlate to muscle activity.

Does the Garmin Instinct Solar monitor sleep?

Yes, the Garmin Instinct Solar uses technology to monitor your movements during the sleep cycle. You can set your sleep hours in the Garmin Connect App, where you can also view your nightly results as well.

How long does the Garmin Instinct Solar battery last?

With a full charge, the Garmin Instinct Solar battery can last up to 14 days. Be advised that this timeframe can reduce a bit if you consistently use the advanced GPS features that come with the model.


Rather you enjoy running and jogging or, swimming, bicycling, or triathlons, the Garmin Instinct Solar is certainly one of the highlights of the Garmin series. This watch is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, which is made all the better by the new and improved addition of advanced solar technology for ultra-battery performance.

You may be interested in: The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar Edition

Best GPS Tech

At Best GPS Tech we found it frustrating that there were limited websites available, willing to provide an honest opinion on the latest GPS technology to aid our interests. We enjoy creating content around GPS products from the industry leaders such as Garmin, FitBit and more. We hope you find the site informative in helping you make the right buying decisions.

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