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Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Review – A Perfect Smartwatch For Outdoors

Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Review
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The Garmin Instinct series are a collection of GPS smartwatches designed and equipped to holistically track outdoor activities. And the Tactical edition is one smartwatch I really admire for its rugged design, fitness tracking features, and impressively long battery life. The Instinct Series are a lower-end version of the Garmin Fenix 6 series, these smartwatches lack preloaded maps, Garmin pay, music storage, but still decent alternatives for 1/3 of the price. In this post, I take a look at what the Instinct Tactical Solar edition from Garmin has to offer.

List of Garmin Instinct Series Smartwatches

    Garmin Instinct Series consists of 6 members;

  1. Garmin Instinct Edition
  2. Garmin Instinct Solar Edition
  3. Garmin Instinct Solar Surf Edition
  4. Garmin Instinct Solar Camo Edition
  5. Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition
  6. Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Edition

Basically all 6 editions have the same design and features except that the solar editions have longer battery life and feature blood oxygen monitoring and underwater heart rate tracking.
Beyond that, the Surf edition features Surfline Sessions that allow you to record every wave you ride, while the Tactical edition features jumpmaster, night vision mode, and stealth mode.

The Tactical edition has security features such as jumpmaster, night vision mode that switches the display from daytime to nighttime vision, and stealth mode that stops sharing your GPS location when activated.

Garmin Instinct Tactical vs Instinct Solar Tactical

Like mentioned earlier, all editions of the Instinct smartwatches basically have the same features, but the Tactical solar edition features blood oxygen monitoring and underwater heart rate tracking and as well as a longer battery life than the Tactical edition without solar charging.

Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Edition Features Review

  • Design and Build
  • The Instinct Tactical Solar edition comes in a durable build that makes it a perfect fit for the great outdoors. The case is made of a fiber-reinforced polymer which is tough and durable, while the straps are made of silicone. The same materials used for most smartwatches and this is soft, doesn’t irritate the skin, and comfortable to wear.

    This Watch is a bit bulky at 15.3mm, but still lightweight at 53 grams when compared to Garmin Fenix 6 series. You can get the Instinct Tactical Solar edition in black and moss colors.

  • Waterproof Rating and Durability Test
  • With a waterproof rating of 10ATM, the Instinct Tactical Solar is fully swim-proof, it makes an ideal choice for anyone keen on exploring deepwater activities. And with MIL-STD-810G, it can withstand harsh weather conditions. This adds to making it a very rugged smartwatch.

  • Display and Controls


Like every other member of the Instinct Series, the Tactical Solar edition has a 1.27 inches display size which is powered by MIP transflective LCD. The display is very bright and can easily be read even under bright sunlight, this is one of the advantages of transflective display technologies. Without touchscreen supported, this Watch is still easy to navigate with 5 physical buttons.

Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Edition Fitness Tracking Features Review

The fitness tracking features built into the Tactical Solar edition makes it a comprehensive fitness tracker that can help you reach more fitness goals.

Starting with the basics, it tracks your heart rate, stress, body battery energy monitor gauges how fit you’re for the next task, menstrual cycle tracking allows women log and monitor period cycle and hydration tracking helps you manage your water intake.

  • Activity Tracking Features
  • The basic fitness features are activity tracking features which include counting your steps, calories, floors climbed, distance traveled, intensity minutes, and move bar that reminds you to move when you remain idle for long.

  • Training Planning and Analysis Features
  • Instinct Tactical solar houses lots of training planning and analysis features. This includes creating customizable activity profiles, course guidance, setting up custom alerts, ability to show GPS speed and distance, and a host of other tools that can help you plan for the great outdoors.

    Although the Tactical Solar doesn’t have preloaded maps like Fenix 6 series, you can create a route from the Garmin Connect app and sync it to the Tactical Solar. This comes handy in helping find the best possible route to follow.

  • Heart Rate tracking
  • Like many other smartwatches on the market, the Instinct Tactical Solar tracks your heart rate continuously. It has features such as HR zones that show your heart rate range, it will also alert you when your heart rate gets to a certain level.

  • Tactical Features
  • The difference between the Tactical edition and other members of the Instinct series is the presence of tactical features such as stealth mode that allows you to stop sharing your GPS location and the night vision mode that switches the display from daytime to nighttime which can be viewed with a night vision goggle. There is also jumpmaster in the list of recreational outdoor profiles, this feature calculates release points according to military guidelines while navigating to your objective as you jump.

  • Swimming Features

With a waterproof rating of 10ATM, the Tactical solar also makes a decent choice for tracking your swimming activities thanks to the in-depth swim-tracking features. Swim profiles include a pool and open water swimming, it also detects your stroke type and as well as tracks metrics such as swim efficiency (SWOLF), distance, distance, calories, pace, and more.

Other Features

  • Notification
  • Apart from being a comprehensive fitness tracker, the Instinct Tactical Solar edition is also a decent personal assistant that keeps you connected with important updates. It vibrates every time you receive a notification on your phone. This includes SMS, calls, emails, and otherwise. You can set up which apps you want to receive notifications from.

    There is also the find my phone features that ring your phone when you may have misplaced it, and as well the find my watch feature that will vibrate the watch. You can also respond to calls and messages with custom replies which you can set up from the Garmin Connect app. This is a similar feature to the Samsung Galaxy Fit.

  • 14 Days Long Battery Life
  • One of the highpoints of the Instinct Solar series is the unlimited long battery life thanks to its solar charging feature. With regular usage on smartwatch mode, you can get up to 24 days and about 54 days with solar charging. That’s a whole lot of battery life that sure makes it ideal for any hiking and other related activities. If you turn of smartwatch mode, it’s about 56 days and unlimited battery life with solar charging. Continuous GPS tracking will get you up to 30 hours and 38 hours of battery life with solar charging.

    Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Editon Full Specifications

    Garmin Instinct Tactical Solar


    Device nameGarmin Instinct Solar Tactical
    Device typeFitness/GPS smartwatch
    PredessesorGarmin Instinct 2018
    Released dateJuly, 2020
    Ideal forUnisex


    Display typeTransflective memory-in-display (MIP)
    Display size1.2 inch
    Display resolution128 x 128 pixels
    Pixel density--
    Input type 5 buttons, (Not touchscreen)
    Customizable watch faceYes


    Dimension45 x 45 x 15.3 mm
    Weight53 grams
    Casing materialFiber-reinforced polymer
    Strap/band materialSilicone
    Bezel MaterialFiber-reinforced polymer
    Strap size22mm
    Interchangeable band Yes, 22mm
    Screen protectionPower Glass™
    Water resistant/ProtectionYes, 10ATM
    Swim-proofYes, recommended


    Internal storageN/A
    Memory card slotNo


    BluetoothYes, and ANT+
    Bluetooth callingNo
    Payment systemNo




    Email alertYes
    SMS alertYes
    Calls alertYes
    Event reminderYes
    Third-party appsYes
    Text responseYes


    Sleep apneaNo
    Sleep trackingYes
    Floors climbedNo
    Heart rate monitoringYes
    VO2 Max.Yes
    Blood oxygenYes
    Blood pressureNo
    Menstrual cycle trackingYes
    Swim trackingYes
    Under-water heart rate trackingYes
    Preloaded mapsNo
    On-screen workout modesYes
    Triathlon modeYes
    ECG TrackingNo
    Preloaded sport modesYes
    Safety trackingNo


    Music streamingNo
    Bluetooth musicNo



    Operating system (OS)Proprietary OS


    Type of batteryNon-removable Li-ion battery
    Battery capacity --
    Battery lifeSmartwatch: 24 days/54 days with solar
    Battery Saver Mode: 56 days/Unlimited with solar
    GPS: Up to 30 hours/38 hours with solar
    Max. Battery GPS Mode: 70 hours/145 hours with solar
    Expedition GPS Mode: 28 days/68 days with solar
    Charging typeCharging Dock
    Charging timeAbout 1-2 hours
    Battery saver modeYes
    Solar powerYes
    Rapid chargingNo




    Control camera__
    Music controlYes
    Find phoneYes


    Compatibility Android and iOS
    Check if your device is compatible
    Companion appGarmin connect IQ
    Voice commandNo


    Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical
    USB charging cable
    Quick start guide
    NOTE: We can't guarantee that all the information on this table are 100% correct. Read full disclaimer. Please, report an error.
    Official Site


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    Garmin Instinct Detailed Review (Video)

    Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Editon Features List


    Garmin Instinct Tactical Solar


    Connect IQ (Downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets, and apps)Yes
    On-device Connect IQ storeNo
    Text response/reject phone calls with text (Android only)Yes
    Real-time settings sync with Garmin Connect™ mobileNo
    Battery saver - customizable low power watchNo
    Controls smartphone musicYes
    Plays and Control Watch Music
    Find my phoneYes
    Find my watchYes
    Virb remoteYes


    Wrist-based Heart Rate trackingYes
    Daily resting heart rateYes
    AbNormal heart rate alertYes
    Respiration Rate (24/7)Yes
    Fitness Age
    Blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoringYes
    Battery energy monitorYes
    Stress trackingYes
    Relaxation remindersYes
    Relaxation breathing timerYes
    Sleep monitoringYes
    Advanced sleep tracking/Sleep ScoreYes
    Menstrual cycle trackingYes (in Garmin Connect)
    Hydration trackingYes (in Garmin Connect)
    Health Snapshot


    Group LivetrackNo
    Live event sharingNo
    Incident detection during select activitiesNo
    Spectator Messaging (New)
    Assistance Plus (New)


    Stealth modeYes
    Night vision modeYes
    Dual Grid CoordinatesYes
    Kill switchNo


    Steps CounterYes
    Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)Yes
    Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)Yes
    Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)Yes
    Calories burnedYes
    Floors climbedYes
    Distance travelledYes
    Intensity minutesYes
    Move IQ



    Available gym activity profilesStrength, cardio and elliptical training, stair stepping, indoor rowing and yoga
    Cardio workoutsYes
    Strength workoutsYes
    HIIT workouts
    Yoga workoutsNo
    Pilates workoutsNo
    On-screen workout animationsNo
    Automatic rep countingYes
    On-screen workout muscle maps


    GPS speed and distanceYes
    Customizable data pagesYes
    Customizable activity profilesYes
    Auto PauseYes
    Interval trainingYes
    Improved interval (Includes open repeats, intervals data page, rest screen and auto detection) (New)
    Advanced workoutsYes
    Downloadable training plansYes
    Power modes - customizable in-activity battery settingsNo
    Auto lapYes
    Manual lapYes
    Rest timer (New)
    Configurable lap alertsYes
    Heat and altitude acclimationNo
    VO2 Max. (Run)Yes
    VO2 Max. (Trail run)No
    Real-Time stamina
    Training status (lets you see if you're training effectively by tracking your training history and fitness level trend.)No
    Training load (your total training load for the last 7 days calculated from estimated epoc)No
    Training load focusNo
    Training effect (aerobic)No
    Training effect (anaerobic)No
    Primary Benefit (training effect labels)No
    Improved Recovery Time (New)
    Daily Suggested Workouts (New)
    Custom alertsYes
    Audio promptsYes
    Finish timeYes
    Virtual partnerYes
    Race an activityYes
    Auto multisport activitiesNo
    Manual multisport activitiesNo
    Course guidanceYes
    Garmin Live SegmentsNo
    Strava Live SegmentsNo
    Round-Trip course creator (running/cycling)No
    Trendline Popularity RoutingNo
    Touch and/or button lockYes
    Hot keysNo
    Auto scrollYes
    Activity history on watchYes
    Noopener Noreferrer">Physio TrueupYes


    HR zonesYes
    HR alertsYes
    HR caloriesYes
    % HR max.Yes
    % HRRYes
    Recovery timeNo
    Auto max HRYes
    Morning report (New)
    Race glance/widget (New)
    HRV status (New)
    Training readiness (New)
    HRV stress test (measures your heart rate variability while standing still, for 3 minutes, to provide you with an estimated stress level; the scale of this is 1 to 100; low scores indicate lower stress levels)No
    HR broadcast (broadcasts HR data over ANT+ to paired devices)Yes
    Respiration rate (during exercise)No


    Available run profilesRunning, treadmill running, indoor track running, trail running
    GPS-based distance, time and paceYes
    Running dynamicsNo
    Vertical oscillation and ratio (the degree of 'bounce' in your running motion and the cost-benefit ratio with stride length)No
    Ground contact time and balance (shows how much time, in the running motion, your foot is on the ground rather than in flight and lets you check your running symmetry)No
    Stride length (real time)No
    Cadence (provides real-time number of steps per minute)Yes
    Running power (New)
    Performance condition (after running 20 minutes, compares your real-time condition to your average fitness level)No
    Lactate threshold (through analysis of your pace and heart rate, estimates the point where your muscles start to rapidly fatigue)No
    PacePro pacing strategiesNo
    Run workoutsYes
    Race predictorNo
    Course and weather-specific race predictor (New)
    Foot Pod CapableYes
    Run/Walk/Stand detection


    Preloaded with 42,000 courses worldwideNo
    Yardage to F/M/B (distance to front, middle and back of green)No
    Yardage to layups/doglegsNo
    Measures shot distance (calculates exact yardage for shots from anywhere on course)No
    Digital ScorecardNo
    Custom targetsNo
    Stat tracking (strokes, putts per round, greens and fairways hit)No
    Garmin AutoshotNo
    Full vector mapNo
    Auto Courseview updatesNo
    Green view with manual pin positionNo
    Hazards and course targetsNo
    Playslike distanceNo
    Touch-targeting (touch target on display to see the distance to any point) (New)
    Handicap scoringNo
    Truswing compatibleNo
    Round timer/odometerNo
    Automatic club tracking compatible (requires accessory)No
    Tournament Legal


    Available outdoor recreation profilesHiking, climbing, mountain biking, skiing, sNowboarding, xc skiing, stand up paddleboarding, rowing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, tactical, jumpmaster
    Point-to-Point navigationYes
    Bread crumb trail in real timeYes
    Back to startYes
    Ultratrac ModeYes
    Around me modeNo
    Up ahead
    Elevation profileYes
    Distance to destinationYes
    Barometric trend indicator with storm alertYes
    ClimbPro ascent plannerNo
    Trail run auto climbYes
    Vertical speedYes
    Total ascent/descentYes
    Future elevation plotYes
    Preloaded Topographical mapsNo
    Preloaded road and trail maps (New)
    Preloaded Ski resort mapsNo
    Downloadable cartography supportNo
    Compatible with BasecampYes
    GPS coordinatesYes
    Sight 'N GOYes
    Area calculationYes
    Hunt/fish calendarNo
    Projected waypointYes
    Sun and moon informationYes
    Xero locationsYes
    Expedition GPS activityYes


    Available cycling profilesBiking, indoor biking and mountain biking
    Alerts (triggers alarm when you reach goals including time, distance, heart rate or calories)Yes
    MTB Grit & FlowNo
    Cycle map (routable cycling-specific street map)No
    Bike lap and lap maximum power (with power sensor)No
    Race an activityYes
    FTP (Functional Threshold Power)No
    Compatible with Vector (Power Meter)No
    Power Meter compatibleNo
    Advanced cycling dynamics
    Compatible with Varia Vision (head-mounted display)Yes
    Compatible with Varia Radar (Rear-Facing Radar)Yes
    Compatible with Varia LightsYes
    Speed and cadence sensor support (with sensor)Yes (ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensors)


    Available swim profilesPool swimming and open water swimming
    Open-water swim metrics (distance, pace, stroke count/rate, stroke distance, swim efficiency (SWOLF), calories)Yes
    Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count, swim efficiency (SWOLF), calories)Yes
    Stroke type detection (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly) (pool swim only)Yes
    Drill logging (pool swim only)Yes
    Basic rest timer (up from 0) (pool swim only)Yes
    "Repeat on" rest timer (pool swim only) (New)
    Auto rest (pool swim only) (New)
    Time and distance alertsYes
    Pacing alerts (pool swim only) (New)
    Countdown start (pool swim only)No
    Pool swim workoutsYes
    Critical swim speed (New)
    Underwater wrist-based heart rateYes
    Heart rate from external HRM (real-time during rests, interval and session stats during rests, and automatic heart rate download post-swim)No


    I think the Instinct Tactical solar edition is an outstanding smartwatch, no doubt. It has a very long battery life and the design is rugged and very durable, and as per fitness tracking, it does a pretty nice job in that department.

    Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical Prices

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