Garmin Instinct 2 - Review

Electronic Compass, Garmin, GPS Watch, Instinct, Instinct 2, Montane, Multi Band GNSS Watch, navigation, Review, Spine, Spine Race, Trail Running, Ultra Event, waterproof -

Garmin Instinct 2 - Review

We were excited to get our hands on and review the Garmin Instinct 2 and Garmin Instinct 2s range of GPS watches.

Continuing from the extremely popular 1st Generation Garmin Instinct and Instinct Solar GPS Smart watches we are pleased to see that we still have the things that we liked about the original range of instinct watches, but many new great features have been added.

The Garmin Instinct 2 and Garmin Instinct 2s range are tough rugged lightweight GPS watches giving us outdoor navigational, fitness and smart watch features, very much a 3 in 1 watch.

As with the original instinct watches the Instinct 2 & 2s ranges are water-rated to 100 meters and thermal-and shock resistant to Mil-810, with a fibre-reinforced polymer case and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® glass screen, the screens are transflective making them sunlight-visible.

The original Garmin Instinct has a screen resolution of 128 x 128 pixels. The new 45mm Instinct 2 has a resolution of 176 x 176mm, and the 40mm Instinct 2S has a resolution of 156 x 156 pixels, this will give us a sharper pixel display.

For those who prefer a more compact bezel size we now have the Instinct 2s range with a 40mm diameter bezel and weighing only 42g (Instinct 2s Solar 43g) or, with the standard size instinct 2 having a 45mm diameter bezel and weighing only 52g (Instinct 2 Solar 53g), both come with a comfortable soft silicone strap.

The silicone strap on the Instinct 2s versions fits a wrist with a circumference of 112 – 180mm & the Instinct 2 versions fits a wrist with a circumference of 135 – 230mm.


One of the first great changes is the battery life improvements on the new range of Instinct 2 Watches. Features longer battery life for extended adventures. With the Solar models, enjoy unlimited battery life with the Instinct 2 models and weeks of battery life with the Instinct 2S models in smartwatch mode.

The original Instinct watch had a great battery life of 14 days in Smart watch mode or up to 30hrs with GPS recording, but we are impressed with the increased battery capacity of the new range of Instinct 2 watches, with the Instinct 2 we now can see up to 28 days in Smart Watch mode and up to 30hr Max with GPS recording.

With the Instinct 2 Solar models in Smart Watch mode there is the potential to have unlimited battery with solar and up to 48 hrs with GPS recording.

Although the Instinct 2s smaller sized watches have a lesser capacity with the battery compared to the larger Instinct 2, they still have an increased performance over the original Instinct 1st generation watches.

The Instinct 2s will give you 21 days in Smart Watch mode and up to 22hrs Max with GPS Recording, the Instinct 2S solar will give you up to 51 days with Solar and up to 28hrs GPS recording with Solar.

N.B. Please note the above Solar figures are based on - all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.


On Solar models breeze through checkout lines and select transit systems with Garmin Pay contactless payments through participating providers.

In our first look video we talked about the new Smart feature of Garmin Pay available on the new range of Instinct 2 Watches, please note we have since discovered that this function is only available on the Instinct 2 or 2s Solar Models only and is not available on the Instinct 2 or 2s non-solar models.

Using the Garmin connect App from your mobile phone you setup your Bank Card and then Sync the information to the watch, this then lets you from the Garmin Wallet widget on the watch pay for goods using the watch on a contactless payment machine, Once the function has been setup on the Connect app with your Instinct 2 Solar or Instinct 2s Solar Watches they do not have to  be paired with your phone to use this function at the card machine, there is also the security of a Pin number that you have to enter on the watch before presenting it to the card machine.

We really like this function especially when out on an activity such as running and you do not want to carry your wallet with you.

Currently there are a limited number of compatible bank cards for the UK, but I know a lot of customers have setup the Curve Master Card as a virtual card for free and then linked this card to their standard bank card, but enter the Curve Master card information on the Connect App.

More info on compatible bank cards from this link – Garmin Pay Compatible Banks

We start by looking at all the NEW features added to the Instinct 2 & 2s range of watches.

NEW - CONNECT IQ™STORE - Garmin Instinct 2

Download custom watch faces, add data fields, and get apps and widgets from the Connect IQ Store app on your compatible smartphone – More info on compatible phone for this link – Compatible Phones

We have had the option to use the Garmin IQ store for downloading different watch faces and data fields etc to the Fenix range of watches for a long time now, giving us more flexibility and customization for your watch, it is nice to see that this feature has now been added to the Instinct 2 and Instinct 2s range of watches and look forward to seeing new options of watch faces as they become available.

NEW - BUILT-IN SPORTS APPS - Garmin Instinct 2

The Garmin Instinct 2 & 2s watches have a lot more activity profiles added from the original Instinct watches, do whatever you love with preloaded activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming, strength training, multisport, indoor climbing, virtual running, golf, yoga, Pilates and many more.

It is nice to see that the Instinct 2 & 2s watches now have multisport added, so if you're taking part in a duathlon or triathlon, you can switch between modes with a press of a button rather than ending your activity and restarting.

NEW - VO2 MAX - Garmin Instinct 2

Train smarter with VO2 max, an indicator of how you can expect to perform. It even accounts for changes in performance that could be caused by heat or altitude.

The Instinct 2 & 2s ranges are using the new Garmin Elevate 4 HR (Heart Rate) and Pulse OX optical wrist sensor for improved accuracy and performance of readings.

It is great to see this new feature in the Instinct 2 & 2s range of watches, a great way to track your overall cardiovascular fitness directly from the Instinct 2 or 2s watch or from the Garmin Connect app.

NEW - RECOVERY TIME - Garmin Instinct 2

For those of you using your Instinct 2 or 2s watch for training or just wanting to keep an eye on how you are doing. After each workout, recovery time lets you know when you will be ready for another hard work out. It even accounts for training intensity and factors such as stress, daily activity and sleep.

NEW - MTB DYNAMICS - Garmin Instinct 2

Something Garmin have available on some of their Edge range of cycling units has now been added to the Instinct 2 & 2s range of watches.

 Track the details of every ride with mountain biking metrics plus specialized Grit™and Flow™ measurements that rate trail difficulty and how smoothly you descend, giving you a score to beat next time.


With the original Instinct  watches you could view information about sleep patterns but only via the Garmin Connect app, a sleep widget has been added directly to the Instinct 2 & 2s watches now for viewing the information. Get a full breakdown of your light, deep and REM sleep stages. View it all on the sleep dedicated widget that includes your sleep score and insights.


See how you are breathing throughout the day, during sleep and during breath work and yoga activities a feature that has been added to the Garmin Instinct 2 and Garmin Instinct 2s watches.

NEW - FITNESS AGE - Garmin Instinct 2

This feature uses chronological age, your weekly vigorous activity, resting heart rate and BMI to estimate if your body is younger or older than you are. Get tips to lower your fitness age.

A feature that we all like at GPS Training especially when your watch shows a lower age than you actually are, this always makes us feel better and keeps us motivated to keep going with our activities, we have been used to using this feature on our Fenix watches and are pleased to see that it has now been added to the Instinct 2 & 2s range of watches.

NEW - INTENSITY MINUTES - Garmin Instinct 2

We love how the Instinct 2 & 2s watches can track how many minutes of vigorous activity you are getting, when you earn them and during what activity. You can even view them as a data field during timed activities.

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining your health and fitness.
The good news is it does not take much to become and stay active at a level that translates into better health and personal well-being, the instinct 2 & 2s watches can help you to stay on course with this. 


With the Instinct 2 & 2s watches you can now use the Garmin Connect app to track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Log symptoms, get exercise and nutrition education and more.

To help women feel even more in control of their health, the Garmin Connect™ app offers you a place to track and monitor your cycle — including regular, irregular, menopause transition or pregnancy. This can be found in the Health Stats menu under Menstrual Cycle/Pregnancy.

As you track, you will start to notice patterns and trends you can use to make mindful choices for your health and easily share with your health provider, if you choose.

Once you have set up the feature in Garmin Connect, you can also view cycle information right on your wrist via the free app from our Connect IQ™ Store and downloading the Menstrual Cycle tracking Widget directly to your Instinct 2 or 2s series watch.

The Instinct 2 & 2s ranges are still packed with all the great original features of the 1st Generation Instinct watches.

Multi-GNSS support - Whether you are hiking, mountain biking, trail running or skiing, you will have access to multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone.

You can set the Instinct 2 or 2s watches to pick up GPS & Glonass or GPS & Galileo systems, having two systems available together helps with the speed of satellite lock and also accuracy, in the instinct 2 or 2s you can set your Position Format to suit the country that you are in, for example in Great Britain you can set your watch to BNG (British National Grid) your watch can then display your current grid position to cross refer with an Ordnance Survey map.

Follow a Course – You can plot a Route (Course) on mapping software such as the Garmin Explore app or our own GPS Training OS Route Planner etc and then transfer this Course using the Garmin Connect app and Bluetooth or a USB connection to your computer to the Instinct 2 or 2s watches.
This course can then viewed on the screen of your Instinct 2 or 2s watch to follow as a course line and directional pointer, you can set data boxes on the watch screens to show useful information about your course such as Distance to End, ETA, your current speed etc.
If your course was planned on a map with elevation data you can view an elevation graph on the screen of your GPS Device to see what coming up.

ABC Sensors – The Instinct 2 & 2s range of watches all have an Altimeter for elevation data, Barometer to monitor weather and a 3-axis electronic Compass.
When navigating a course or trackback routing the electronic compass is great as the watch orientates your correct course direction even when stationary.

Trackback Routing – on the Instinct 2 & 2s if you record your activity such as Hiking, Walking, Trail Running etc at anytime you need to navigate back along the route that you have just taken the Instinct 2 & 2s can display and exact breadcrumb trail from the start of your activity for you to navigate with back to the start.

Mark a Waypoint – Something we are so used to on the Handheld GPS devices, you can on your Instinct 2 or 2s watch mark a waypoint at anytime as a point (Grid Reference on the ground) to use to navigate back to or simply mark something of interest that you want to record as a point on the ground.

Safety and tracking Features – When your Instinct 2 or 2s watch is paired with the Garmin Connect App on your phone and as long as your have Mobile Network coverage on your phone, you can setup in the Garmin connect app a live track so that’s friends and family can track your whereabouts using the GPS signal from the watch but Network connection from your phone to transmit the data.

The Instinct 2 & 2s watches also have a built-in Incident Detection feature that you can setup for different activities and then within the Garmin connect app setup your emergency contacts who you wish to receive this message.

If the watch detects a sudden impact such as you coming off a bike,  your Instinct 2 or 2s watch will automatically send your emergency contact a message. The message will include your current location.

Important for this function to work your Instinct 2 or 2s watch does need to be paired with the Garmin Connect App on your phone and your phone does need a Mobile Data connection.

Incident Detection is a supplemental feature and SHOULD NOT be relied on as a primary method to obtain emergency assistance. Neither your device nor the Garmin Connect app contacts emergency services on your behalf. Incident Detection must be set up with the Garmin Connect app.

SMART NOTIFICATIONS – Your Instinct 2 & 2s watch can display your email alerts, texts, incoming phone calls and other phone alerts right on your watch when paired with your compatible smart phone. Within the Garmin Connect App for Android phones you can turn on and off what alerts come through to the watch only, where-as with Apple phones you cannot do this on the connect app other than either turn of all alerts or have all the alert notifications that you have on your Apple phone come through.

WRIST-BASED HEART RATE – The Instinct 2 & 2s range of watches are using Garmin’s new Elevate 4 HR Optical HR Sensor giving us more accurate and better performance from the sensor, get estimated heart rate data along with alerts if your heart rate stays too high or too low while you are at rest. Gauge how hard your heart is working during activities.

STRESS TRACKING- Using the new Elevate 4 HR sensor on your Instinct 2 or 2s watch the Heart rate variability is used to calculate your stress level score, so you can see if you are having a calm, balanced or stressful day.

PULSE OX SENSOR - Using the new Elevate 4 Sensor on the Instinct 2 & 2s Watches Pulse OX reading are used for altitude acclimation or sleep monitoring, a Pulse Ox sensor uses light beams at your wrist to estimate how well your body is absorbing oxygen.

Further reading

1. Garmin Instinct 2 GPS watch

2. Garmin Instinct 2s GPS watch

3. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar GPS watch

4. Garmin Instinct 2s Solar GPS watch

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published