Garmin has expanded its Instinct outdoor watch lineup with the introduction of the Garmin Instinct 2X Solar, a larger and more powerful version of its predecessor. The Instinct brand has evolved from being a budget-friendly option for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to a versatile alternative to Garmin’s premium Fenix range, catering to a wide range of users including runners, CrossFitters, and gym-goers.
Despite its transition, the Instinct 2X remains a top-notch running watch, offering Garmin’s best biometric and recovery insights, along with basic golf tracking capabilities. With a 50mm case, the Instinct 2X packs additional features such as a built-in flashlight and Multi-Band GPS, which were previously exclusive to the Fenix range. This makes it a wearable, enjoyable, and highly capable device.
One of the standout features of the Garmin Instinct 2X Solar is its impressive battery life. While it may not quite reach the lofty estimates provided by Garmin, it still provides excellent longevity, exceeding the needs of most users. However, it’s important to note that the Instinct 2X does not include TOPO maps, which may lead to mischaracterizing it as a true outdoor watch. This omission could deter potential buyers who prioritize advanced mapping capabilities.
Garmin Instinct 2X: Video Review
Garmin Instinct 2X: Design
The Garmin Instinct 2X stays true to the essence of the Instinct brand, offering a larger case size while maintaining its signature features.
The watch maintains its lightweight and durable polymer construction, providing a high-quality feel despite the increased size of the 50mm case, which is more manageable compared to the Garmin Enduro.
The display on the Instinct 2X has been upgraded from 0.9 inches to 1.1 inches, thanks to the 5mm increase in case size. Although it still utilizes the older-style monochrome MIP display, it offers decent visibility in direct sunlight and delivers good power efficiency. While the visuals may be basic, they serve their purpose effectively.
One notable addition due to the larger case is the inclusion of a torch feature, previously seen in the Garmin Fenix 7X. While having a torch on a sports watch may seem unusual, it can prove helpful in situations where you unexpectedly find yourself trekking in the dark. Additionally, runners can benefit from the torch’s strobe function, which enhances visibility during nighttime runs, particularly in winter conditions.
A standout design element is the return of the inset secondary display, which adds contextual data, iconography, and menu navigation. This feature has been well-utilized by Garmin and continues to enhance the user experience. Coupled with the increased information displayed on the main screen, the secondary inset screen provides even more valuable information.
The Garmin Instinct 2X is an oversized sports watch primarily targeted towards men. It offers a comfortable fit, and the torch feature proves to be more than just a gimmick. However, the main justification for its higher price lies in its extensive feature set, making it a compelling choice for those seeking a robust and feature-rich outdoor watch.
Garmin Instinct 2X: Fitness
When it comes to sports and fitness tracking, the Garmin Instinct 2X doesn’t differ much from the standard Instinct 2 model. However, Garmin has added profiles for obstacle course racing, boxing, and MMA, catering to a specific set of users. This addition aligns with the Instinct 2’s positioning as a fun and action-packed alternative to the Fenix series.
Aside from these new profiles, the Instinct 2X offers comprehensive tracking for running, biking, hiking, swimming, golf, and winter sports. It essentially provides the same sports tracking capabilities as the fully-fledged Fenix series. The in-run experience is similar, offering metrics such as pace, time, distance, heart rate, heart rate zones, and running power for those who utilize it.
However, there are a couple of features missing from the Instinct 2X that can be found on the Fenix and Forerunner ranges. PacePro and ClimbPro, which provide advanced pace guidance and climbing metrics respectively, are not included. Additionally, the Instinct 2X lacks mapping capabilities, meaning it doesn’t offer the improved TOPO maps found on the Fenix and Epix models. Nevertheless, you can still follow GPX breadcrumb routes and receive turn-by-turn directions on the inset display.
Workout tracking is done through Garmin Connect, one of the top fitness platforms available. The Instinct 2X boasts a water resistance rating of 100 meters (10 ATM), making it suitable for open water swimming, pool activities, and surfing. However, it is not designed for diving.
The Garmin Instinct 2X provides a comprehensive set of fitness features that cater to the needs of 90% of individuals, regardless of their activity level. While it may lack some of the advanced features found in the flagship Fenix 7, the Instinct series continues to improve with each generation and deserves greater recognition.
Garmin Instinct 2X: Health
The Garmin Instinct 2X offers a comprehensive suite of health features that are in line with Garmin’s other offerings. These features include heart rate tracking, Body Battery, stress monitoring, and sleep tracking.
Heart rate monitoring is conducted using the built-in optical heart rate sensor, which provides continuous heart rate data. The Instinct 2X also tracks heart rate variability (HRV), which is used to calculate HRV Status and Training Readiness. These features utilize HRV data and sleep information to advise users on when they are adequately rested and recovered for training or when they should take a break. This data is similar to what is offered by the Whoop fitness tracker and effectively translates heart rate variability data into actionable insights.
Heart rate accuracy of the Instinct 2X is generally reliable, thanks to its use of the same Elevate sensor found in Garmin’s latest Fenix and Forerunner models. While chest straps provide the best accuracy, the optical heart rate data from the Instinct 2X is suitable for zone training and generating decent VO2 Max scores.
Sleep tracking capabilities of Garmin watches include monitoring sleep stages (light, deep, REM, awake) and providing insights into sleep quality. The Instinct 2X tends to overestimate sleep compared to the Whoop 4.0, and it may be less sensitive to wake-up times, which can lead to a more positive picture of rest. However, the sleep tracking on the Instinct 2X is consistent and more useful for training when combined with Training Readiness data.
Stress tracking on the Instinct 2X utilizes HRV data to assess stress levels throughout the day. It can suggest relaxation reminders or breathing exercises when high stress is detected. While the data may not always feel actionable enough, it provides valuable insights into stress levels.
Additional health features of the Instinct 2X include a Pulse Ox sensor to estimate blood oxygen levels, Body Battery to estimate energy levels throughout the day, and women’s health tracking for menstrual cycle or pregnancy tracking. The Instinct 2X also offers fitness age estimation based on profile information and VO2 Max measurement, which assesses cardiovascular fitness and aerobic performance capacity from GPS workouts.
Garmin Instinct 2X: Battery
The Garmin Instinct 2X boasts impressive battery life, which is a major selling point compared to other smartwatches like those from Apple. It is rated for 40 days of use as a smartwatch, and with the addition of solar charging, it can potentially achieve unlimited battery life if exposed to 3 hours of direct sunlight per day.
However, it’s worth noting that achieving the full 40-day battery life may be challenging with all features and settings enabled. In terms of workout tracking, using the “All Systems + Multiband GNSS” mode, the battery is estimated to last for around 27 hours. In our testing, we observed a drain of approximately 6% per hour during a one-hour run, which equates to about 15 hours of continuous tracking. While this may not be a perfect representation, it suggests that reaching the full 27-hour mark with all features active could be difficult.
Garmin provides battery life estimates based on different configurations. With the default “All Systems GPS” mode, the Instinct 2X is expected to last around 40 hours (or 65 hours with solar charging). If you opt for standard GPS mode, the battery life increases to approximately 60 hours (or an impressive 140 hours with solar charging). Therefore, if you prioritize extended battery longevity, the Instinct 2X should meet your needs.
It’s important to note that by default, the Garmin Instinct 2X utilizes “All Systems” for GPS tracking, which includes GPS, Galileo, Baidu, and GLONASS satellite systems. However, it does not employ Multi-Band (dual-frequency tracking) by default. If you desire the more accurate Multi-Band capabilities, you’ll need to access the settings and change the mode.
Garmin Instinct 2X: Conclusions
The Garmin Instinct 2X is a super-sized and feature-packed version of the Instinct outdoor watch brand. It retains the essence of the Instinct line while offering a larger 50mm case and a 1.1-inch display. The watch is built with a lightweight and durable polymer material, making it comfortable to wear.
The Instinct 2X excels in sports and fitness tracking, offering a wide range of activities including running, biking, hiking, swimming, golf, and winter sports. It provides accurate heart rate monitoring, heart rate variability analysis, and basic running metrics. While it lacks some advanced features found in the Fenix series, it covers the needs of the majority of users.
Garmin continues to prioritize health and wellness features, with the Instinct 2X offering sleep tracking, stress monitoring, Pulse Ox measurements, and Body Battery estimation. While some data may not be as actionable as desired, these features provide valuable insights into overall well-being.
Battery life is a standout feature of the Instinct 2X, with the watch rated for 40 days as a smartwatch. Solar charging capabilities allow for potentially unlimited battery life if exposed to sufficient sunlight. However, achieving the full battery life may be challenging with all features active, especially during intense workout tracking.
The Garmin Instinct 2X is a powerful and capable outdoor watch that provides a wide range of features for sports, fitness, and overall health tracking. It may not have all the advanced features of the Fenix series, but it offers excellent value for those seeking a reliable and functional wearable device.