The Best Hiking Watch is the New Garmin Instinct?

Garmin Instinct is a new GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) watch that is designed to work well with hiking as well with other outdoor and indoor activities. However, I will cover more detail on the hiking and navigation features of this Garmin Instinct Watch.  

General: The Garmin Instinct is waterproof up to 100 meters (328 feet), military standard shock resistant, military standard temperature resistant, 3-axis magnetic compass, barometer, altimeter, odometer, wrist-based heart rate sensor, customizable watch faces, built-in sports apps, smart connectivity, create custom activities, activity tracking, metronome, set up to 5 heart rate zones, sleep tracking, calculates intensity minutes, goal, alerts, create custom workouts, Virtual Partner, set training targets, race against a previous activity, records personal time records, alarm clock, countdown timer, stopwatch, set alerts, project a waypoint, navigate to a destination, create a course, follow a course, marking a man overboard location, Sight N’ Go, navigate back to a starting point, calculate the size of an area, map navigation, history data, view data totals, phone notifications, LiveTrack, find my device, find my phone, add various widgets, 3D distance, 3D speed, data screens, sync with a Garmin foot pod, and change to a new wrist band.

GNSS: GNSS is Global Navigation Satellite System and it consist of (1) GPS, operated by the USA (2) GLONASS, operated by Russia, (3) Galileo, operated by the European Union and (4) BeiDou, operated by China. The Garmin Instinct uses GPS. However, you can also set the Instinct to GPS + GLONASS or GPS + Galileo. This is recommended if you are in an area with ruff terrain or mountainous regions and you can not get a GPS location with GPS alone. It also acquires satellites up to 20% faster than relying on GPS alone. Using these other two GPS options will consume more battery power. The Garmin Instinct does not have the Chineses BeiDou Navigation System option. As of July 2018, 26 of the planned 30 active Galileo satellites are in orbit. All 30 Galileo satellites should be in orbit by 2020.

Battery Life: 2 weeks of battery life when on Standby Mode. Standby Mode is Smartwatch mode with activity tracking and 24/7 wrist-based heart rate monitoring. 16 hours when GPS Mode is on and with wrist-based heart rate on. 40 hours of battery when on UltraTrac Mode. The UltraTrac Mode is a GPS setting that records track points and sensor data less frequently. Using the UltraTrac Mode increases battery life but decreases the quality of recorded activities. You should use the UltraTrac Mode for activities that demand longer battery life and for which frequent sensor data updates are less important.

Watch Faces: The Garmin Instinct has 12 different watch faces to choose from and each one of those watch faces can be customize or you can customize portions of each of those 12 different watch faces. You can not download additional watch faces at this time from the Garmin Connect IQ App Store because the Garmin Instinct is not Connect IQ ready. Maybe in the future the Garmin Instinct will be Connect IQ ready.


Sight N’ Go: You can point the Garmin Instinct at an object in the distance, such as a water tower, lock in the direction, and then navigate to the object. To use Sight N’ Go: From the watch face, select GPS > Navigate > Sight ‘N Go. Then, point the top of the Instinct at an object, and select GPS. Navigation information appears.Then, select GPS to begin navigation to that object.

Create Waypoints: Waypoints are locations you record and store in the watch. Waypoints can mark where you are, where you are going, or where you have been. You can add details about the location, such as name, elevation, and depth. You can create a new waypoint by “Projecting a Waypoint”. You can create a new waypoint by projecting the distance and bearing from your current location to a new location. To project a waypoint:select GPS > Add > Project Wpt. to add the project waypoint app to the apps list. Then, select Yes to add the app to your list of favorites. From the watch face, select GPS > Project Wpt. Select UP or DOWN to set the heading. Select GPS. Select DOWN to select a unit of measure. Select UP to enter the distance. Select GPS to save. The projected waypoint is saved with a default name.

Create a Course: You can create a course online with the Garmin Connect webpage and then upload the course to the watch or create a course directly on the watch. It is better to create a course on the Connect webpage. To create a course on the watch follow these steps: 1. From the watch face, select GPS > Navigate > Courses > Create New. 2. Enter a name for the course, and select. 3. Select Add Location. 4. Select an option. 5.If necessary, repeat steps 3 and 4. 6. Select Done > Do Course. Navigation information appears. 7.

Select GPS to begin navigation.

Navigating Back to Your Starting Point: On the Garmin Instinct there are two ways to navigate back to your starting point, straight line or along the path you traveled. This feature is available only for activities that use GPS. To go back to your starting point: During an activity follow these steps: 1. Select GPS > Back to Start. 2. Select an option:

  1. To navigate back to the starting point of your activity along the path you traveled, select TracBack.
  2. To navigate back to the starting point of your activity in a straight line, select Straight Line.

Your current location, the track to follow, and your destination will appear on the map.

Navigation Alerts: You can set navigation alerts such as setting an alert for a specified distance from your final destination. To set an alert for the estimated time remaining until you reach your final destination. To set an alert when you stray from the course. Set sunrise and sunset alerts to sound a specific number of minutes or hours before the actual sunrise or sunset occurs. This is helpful if you want to get to your destination before sunset.

Storm Alert: You can set an alert to when a storm is approaching. The Garmin Instinct uses the built in barometer to alert when a storm is approaching. A barometer measures air pressure. When there is good weather, air pressure is stable. When a storm approaches, air pressure drops. Good weather air pressure at sea level is about 1,013 millibars. During a hurricane the air pressure drops to 30 millibars. On the Garmin Instinct, to set an alert to sound when a storm approaches, select Storm > On, select Rate, and select the rate of pressure change. I would select the rate of change of 2 mb/ 3 h. This means a 2 millibar drop during a 3 hour interval. This will give you plenty of heads up that a storm is approaching.

Buy the Garmin Instinct here on Amazon.