Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Rugged, colorful, long lasting, and fit for all

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Rugged, colorful, long lasting, and fit for all

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: A Comprehensive Adventure Watch for Outdoor Enthusiasts

A couple of weeks ago, I splurged on a Garmin Epix, an impressive all-in-one watch that met all my needs. Garmin has long been known for manufacturing wearables tailored to the specific requirements and preferences of a diverse range of users, with options available across various price points and offering a wide range of features. Recently, I had the opportunity to test out the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, an affordable adventure watch that promises excellent battery life and is designed for all your outdoor escapades.

A Multitude of Features and an Optimized Experience

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to try out the Garmin Instinct Solar, and after a remarkable experience using the review device for fly fishing, I couldn’t resist purchasing one for myself. With the Instinct Solar, I was able to track my catch history and create a library of fishing hotspots on my local rivers. What sets the Instinct series apart is its focus on optimizing the outdoor experience, be it for sports, hobbies, jogging, or any other passion.

The new Instinct 2 series builds upon its predecessor, offering sleeker and more compact watches, including a smaller 40mm size variant for those with smaller wrists. The monochrome display has been improved, ensuring better resolution, and the Garmin Connect experience has been enhanced, offering a more immersive and personalized experience. Some models even support Garmin Pay, and with just a few hours of sunlight each day, you can enjoy virtually unlimited battery life in smartwatch mode. The extensive selection of sizes, bezels, and bands allows for over 240 design combinations, catering to individual preferences and styles.

Instinct 2 dezl Edition: For Professional Truck Drivers

In addition to the solar and non-solar options, as well as the Instinct 2 or smaller 2S variants, Garmin has unveiled the Instinct 2 dezl Edition, specifically designed for professional truck drivers. Given Garmin’s reputation for developing wearables for different professions, including aviation, creating a watch tailored to the needs of truck drivers makes perfect sense. Driving a big rig requires physical endurance, especially during long stretches on the road and encountering inconsiderate drivers.

The dezl Edition offers support for short-break workouts through a dedicated smartphone app, allowing truck drivers to perform stretches and exercises while fueling up or taking breaks. The Instinct 2 monitors various health metrics, including heart rate, stress levels, hydration, blood oxygen, sleep, and more, ensuring drivers can maintain their overall well-being. It also integrates support for rewards points and loyalty programs with Love’s Travel Shops and Pilot Flying J Travel Centers, as well as PrePass notifications for upcoming weigh stations and bypass decisions. Priced at $399.99, the Instinct 2 dezl Edition provides comprehensive support for professional truck drivers.

The Hardware: Enhancements and Design

This year, I had the opportunity to review the Mist Gray Instinct 2 Solar from Garmin, priced at $449.99. The color scheme of the watch is reminiscent of a Stormtrooper, with a striking white and black combination. The Mist Gray color is particularly appealing, with the top of the bezel, lugs, and band sporting the same shade. Garmin offers several color options for the solar model, allowing users to choose one that appeals to them.

One notable addition in the Instinct 2 is the presence of solar charging, visible around the viewable display area. With sufficient sunlight each day, the solar charging extends the overall battery life of the watch. The monochrome display, while improved compared to the original Garmin Instinct, may not suit everyone’s preferences. Personally, having been accustomed to the vibrant display of the Garmin Epix, I found it challenging to revert to a monochrome watch.

An essential feature of the Instinct 2 is the secondary small circle display in the upper right corner, providing key information and indicating the function of the GPS button. I found this additional display particularly useful during fly fishing, as tapping the GPS button allowed me to mark the specific location of a catch with GPS coordinates. This compact display enhances the overall usefulness and functionality of the watch for various applications.

The Instinct 2 Solar is also thinner, measuring 0.8mm less than its predecessor, making it easier to wear with long sleeves and ensuring a comfortable fit. The four-button design, a staple of most Garmin GPS sports watches including the Instinct 2 Solar, offers quick access and navigation through various functions. The watch comes with a silicone band that matches the color scheme, and the improved design ensures a secure and comfortable fit, barely noticeable on the wrist due to its lightweight nature.

Specifications: What to Expect

To provide a deeper understanding of what the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar offers, let’s dive into its specifications:

  • Display: 23mm diameter, 176 x 176 pixels resolution, monochrome, sunlight-visible.
  • Watch materials: Fiber-reinforced polymer with silicone band.
  • Water resistance: 10 ATM (100 meters).
  • Bands: Supports Quickfit 22mm bands.
  • Connectivity and sensors: Bluetooth, ANT+, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo, Garmin Elevate optical HR, pulse Ox, barometric altimeter, three-axis compass, accelerometer, thermometer.
  • Battery: Rated for 30 hours in GPS training mode, 48 hours with solar charging, 28 days in smartwatch mode, and 65 days with sufficient solar exposure. In Battery Saver mode with solar exposure, the Instinct 2 offers unlimited battery life.
  • Dimensions: 45 x 45 x 14.5 mm and weighs 53g.

Watch Software: Customization and Activity Tracking

Navigating the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is intuitive, with the five navigation buttons serving as the primary means of interaction. Scrolling up and down from the watch face allows users to access various glances or widgets, such as solar intensity, heart rate, notifications, and more. These glances can be customized conveniently on the watch itself or through the Garmin Connect app, offering over 30 options to ensure a personalized experience.

The Instinct 2 Solar supports a wide range of activities, including running, biking, swimming, fishing, hunting, skiing, snowboarding, yoga, golf, and more. Each activity comes with a plethora of settings and customization options. For example, in the running app, users can personalize up to four data screens with different metrics such as distance, pace, heart rate, elevation, and navigation, among others. Spending time customizing the watch to display data in your preferred format ensures an optimal experience during various activities.

Garmin Pay is now supported on the Instinct 2 Solar models, although some banks may not yet offer compatibility. Safety and tracking features, such as incident detection and assistance, are accessible when connected to a smartphone.

The Garmin Connect IQ store allows users to download apps, widgets, watch faces, and data fields, further expanding the customization options available. Additionally, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar incorporates the full suite of Garmin wellness features, including advanced sleep monitoring, stress tracking, Body Battery, VO2 Max, and more.

Smartphone Software and Website Integration

Garmin has made significant strides in synchronizing the watch settings between the Garmin Connect app and the watch itself, enabling real-time syncing whenever changes are made on the phone. This eliminates the need for manual syncing sessions and ensures a streamlined experience. While sensors and accessories can still only be managed directly on the watch, the Garmin Connect smartphone app provides a comprehensive interface for controlling additional settings and customization options.

The Garmin Connect app, available for both iOS and Android, closely mirrors the experience provided by the Connect website. The app offers a customizable dashboard called “My Day,” where users can view various metrics such as heart rate, steps, sleep, stress score, and more. Other tabs include challenges, calendars, a news feed, and notifications, providing users with a wealth of information and interaction possibilities.

The Garmin Connect website offers an extensive range of features, including report generation, data import/export, connection with other applications like Strava and MyFitnessPal, and much more. Similar to the smartphone app, the website allows users to customize their dashboard according to their preferences.

Daily Usage Experiences and Final Thoughts

Garmin has done an outstanding job with the Instinct 2 series, introducing sleeker designs, more color options, Garmin Pay support (Solar model), Connect IQ compatibility, and much more. Although the Instinct 2 Solar does not offer onboard music or certain advanced features found in other Garmin wearables, it excels in its focus on long battery life, durability, and affordability.

I was particularly impressed by the enhanced support for various sports, making the Instinct 2 suitable for a wide range of athletes. Those who prioritize ruggedness, long-lasting battery life, and don’t require onboard music will find the Instinct 2 an ideal choice. While I personally still prefer my Garmin Epix for daily use due to its extensive feature set, I intend to acquire an Instinct for fly fishing, as it offers a more optimized experience for that particular activity. With the addition of golf support and compatibility with CT10 club sensors, I may also consider an Instinct for golf. The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar truly excels as a purpose-built lifestyle watch, tailored to specific activities and tough enough to withstand any outdoor adventure.

Garmin provides purpose-built editions catering to various water sports (Surf Edition), military personnel (Tactical Edition), and hunters (Camo Edition), ensuring that all outdoor enthusiasts can find a watch that meets their requirements. If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is the perfect companion.