snow boarder and surfer with garmin instinct

Discover Garmin Instinct 2! This new GPS smartwatch is a great option for those who want a slightly more affordable alternative to the very popular but quite premium Garmin Fenix series. The watch offers extensive features and excellent durability at a much more affordable price than the brand's premium model.

Let’s have a look at what these ultra-durable GPS smartwatches have to offer. In this article we’ll go through the whole collection and discuss all alternatives. At the end of the article, you'll find a handy Garmin Instinct comparison chart that we made to support you in finding the right model.


Garmin Instinct 2 — a durable GPS smartwatch that doesn’t leave you cold

Garmin Instinct 2

The new Garmin Instinct 2 GPS smartwatch is a long-awaited addition to the brand's portfolio. The watch can be seen as a slightly more streamlined and affordable version of the brand's premium Garmin Fenix watch. This good-looking family of watches offers great quality, advanced durability, a wide range of features and excellent value for money.

Garmin Instinct 2 at a glance:

  • Improved training and health tracking features
  • Phone notifications and Garmin Connect IQ compatibility
  • Garmin Pay (only on the Solar Edition)

Available models:

  • Models: standard, Solar, Surf Edition, Solar Surf Edition and Solar Tactical Edition
  • Two sizes: 45mm and 40 mm (Solar Tactical Eition is only available in 45 mm)
Garmin Instinct 2

Workouts & wellbeing: In a nutshell, the Garmin Instinct 2 can be described as a durable GPS smartwatch with a wide range of sports and smart functions. The watch suits an active lifestyle and offers many preloaded sports profiles to support you in running, cycling, weight training, swimming and more. The versatile health monitoring includes all the basics such as heart rate measuring, tracking features for sleep, energy levels and stress as well as extras like Garmin's advanced Pulse Ox feature for measuring oxygen saturation. The watch is water resistant up to 100 metres and is also suitable for underwater use.

Smart features: By connecting the watch to your smartphone, you can conveniently keep track of your phone notifications on the watch screen. Use the music controls feature to navigate your playlists via your watch's display when listening to music from your phone. Garmin Instinct 2 is also compatible with the Garmin Connect IQ app, which provides many additional features. The Solar model now features the ultra-practical Garmin Pay app.

Navigation: Instinct 2 offers Trackback tracking, which we already know from the previous Instinct collection. Trackback is an excellent feature for hiking enthusiasts and anyone else with a passion for exploring the outdoors. The handy feature makes it easy to find your way back to the starting point, even if you got a little carried away on your route. The integrated power combo of GPS, GLONASS and Galileo keep you on the map even in remote areas. What else? The watch is equipped with Garmin's much-loved ABC sensors which include an altimeter, barometric pressure gauge and an electronic triaxial compass.

Designed for you: In addition to the basic model, the series includes Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, a model with solar charging (and other additional features), the Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition, which is designed for surfers and the extremely durable Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical Edition watch. The collection includes two size alternatives and a range of colour options giving you lots to choose from.

Garmin Instinct 2 vs Garmin Instinct — what’s new?

Garmin Instinct 2

The Garmin Instinct 2 watch offers several improvements and new features compared to its forerunner the Garmin Instinct. In particular, a lot has happened in terms of the watch's training and health monitoring features. The smaller S model is also a fully new addition to the range, making Instinct also an option for those who want a slightly slimmer watch. The new features in the following list apply to all watches in the Garmin Instinct 2 series.

Garmin Instinct 2 — new features:

  • Sport apps: New sports apps for your versatile workout routines
  • Recovery guidance: Learn to optimize your balance between rest and action
  • Fitness age: The watch estimates your chronological age and gives you tips on how to improve your fitness level
  • Effektive minutes Track the most effective minutes of your workout
  • VO2 Max: Gives you a time expectation for your session e.g. considering the training environment
  • Advanced sleep tracking: Tracking sleep stages and scoring sleep quality
  • Breath recording: Monitor your breathing rate around the clock
  • Women’s health: Track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy
  • Mountainbike dynamics: More accurate data about your performance
  • Connect IQ: Download apps and custom watch faces for your watch

In addition to these new features, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, Surf Edition, Solar Surf Edtion and Solar Tactical Edition watches have model-specific new features that you can read more about below.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar — Almost endless battery life and Garmin Pay

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Practical extras The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is the premium model in the collection that comes with great bonuses. In smartwatch mode, the solar-powered Solar watch offers almost unlimited battery life. In addition, the watch has an innovative power management feature allowing you to easily extend battery life by turning off the most power-hungry sensors and settings.

In addition to longer battery life, the Instinct 2 Solar smartwatch now offers Garmin Pay. This feature allows you to store your payment cards in the watch's virtual wallet, ensuring you have them with you wherever you go.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Differences between Garmin Instinct 2 Solar and the standard model:

  • Improved battery life and solar charging
  • Garmin Pay contactless payments

Just like the basic model, the Instinct 2 Solar watch is available in two different sizes: 40 mm and 45 mm. Furthermore, there are three models of the Solar Edition to choose from: Standard, Surf Edition and Tactical Edition.

Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition — a surfer’s sports watch

Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition

A sports watch for surfers: The Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition offers additional features that are designed with surfers in mind. The tide feature makes it easy to monitor the conditions of the ocean and to spot the best waves of the day. The feature works when the watch is paired with a compatible smartphone. The surfing app allows you to record the number of waves you surf, monitor your maximum speed and how far you've travelled on the waves.

Compared to the previous Garmin Instinct Surf Edition watch, the new generation is equipped with some new features.

Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition

Garmin Instinct 2 Surf — new features:

  • Apps for kitesurfing and windsurfing
  • Compatible with Surfline app
  • Two size alternatives: 40 mm and 45 mm
  • Garmin Pay (only on the Solar Edition)

Surfline app: The watch is now compatible with the Surfline app! Check changes in tide, wind and wave heights directly on the watch screen and view details for the five nearest surf locations. The app requires the watch to be paired with the Garmin Connect app on a compatible smartphone. Like to film surf videos? This watch is compatible with the separately sold Surfline camera, which you can conveniently control from the watch screen.

Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition

Kitesurfing and windsurfing: Unlike the previous model, the new generation Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition is also suitable for kiteboarding and windsurfing. With the watch's new sports profiles, it’s easy to record your GPS position, speed, distance and heart rate during your sessions. Kitesurfers can also use the watch to track altitude and record jumps during their session in an easy-to-read graphical format.

Payment feature: Garmin Pay is now available for the Solar model of the second edition Surf Edition watch making payments a breeze.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical — The tough and durable outdoor watch with solar charging

Garmin Instinct 2 Tactical

Tactical features: The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical is a high-quality GPS smartwatch with extra features for outdoor use. This model is designed to withstand even the toughest conditions. Compared to the basic model, this watch is equipped with more tactical features.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical Edition — product specific features:

  • NEW Kill Switch funkton — clear the user memory in your smartwatch
  • Night vision compatibility
  • Encrypted mode - stops recording GPS locations
  • Two formats for GPS positioning
  • Projected waypoints
  • Jumpmaster mode
  • Solar charging + better battery life
  • Garmin Pay

NEW Kill Switch feature: This model is packed with tactical extras! The second generation Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical Edition has a brand new feature, Kill Switch, which allows you to clear the smartwatch's user memory if the situation requires it. It's easy to stop tracking your GPS location by using the watch's encrypted mode feature, pausing GPS location recording and quickly disabling any wireless connections. The night vision compatibility feature allows you to quickly switch between day and night vision, allowing you to read the watch with night vision goggles.

Garmin Instinct 2 Tactical

Designed to be challenged: The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical Edition supports two position formats. You can track both Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) and Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) data on the screen and easily synchronise your position with others. Jumpmaster mode makes it easy to calculate your jump position at high altitude according to military guidelines. After the jump, the feature helps you navigate to the finish line. In addition, the watch has a feature that allows you to set and save coordinates of positions if you want to use them for navigation later.

Garmin Instinct 2 Comparison

The table below shows the technical differences between the Garmin Instinct 2, Instinct 2 Solar, Instinct Solar and Instict watches.

Garmin Instinct 2 / 2S Solar Garmin Instinct 2 / 2S Garmin Instinct Solar Garmin Instinct
Weight 43 g (S), 53 g 42 g (S), 52 g 53 g 52 g
Size 40 mm (S) 45 mm 40 mm (S) 45 mm 45 mm 45 mm
Display Black and white transflective MIP display Black and white transflective MIP display Black and white transflective MIP display Black and white transflective MIP display
Sharpness 156 x 156 px (S), 176 x 176 px 156 x 156 px (S), 176 x 176 px 128 x 128 px 128 x 128 px
Battery life in smartwatch mode up to 21 days (S) / up to 28 days up to 21 days (S) / up to 28 days (extra time with solar charging) up to 24 days (extra time with solar charging) up to 14 days
Case material fibre-reinforced polymer fibre-reinforced polymer fibre-reinforced polymer fibre-reinforced polymer
Glass material Power Glass Power Glass Power Glass Chemically strengthened glass
Strap Silicone Silicone Silicone Silicone
Suitable wrist circumference 112-180 mm (S) 135-230 mm 112-180 mm (S) 135-230 mm 132-224 mm 132-224 mm
Water resistance 10 ATM (100 m) 10 ATM (100 m) 10 ATM (100 m) 10 ATM (100 m)
Navigation GPS, GLONASS and Galileo GPS, GLONASS and Galileo GPS, GLONASS and Galileo GPS, GLONASS and Galileo
Sleep monitoring Yes Yes No No
Recovery Yes Yes No No
Breathing frequency Yes Yes No No
Fitness age and effective minutes Yes Yes No No
Garmin IQ Yes Yes No No
Garmin Pay Yes No No No

More Garmin launches for 2022!

The Garmin Instinct 2 is just one of many new Garmin launches in the beginning of 2022. The Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are the latest additions to the premium lineup, and their instant popularity took even the biggest Garmin fans by surprise. In addition to the more rugged smartwatches, there are also some nice additions to Garmin's selection of lifestyle smartwatches. Garmin Venu 2 Plus and Garmin Vivomove Sport offer comprehensive training and health monitoring features in an ultra-stylish package.