Garmin Instinct Solar 2 Review: A Super-Charged Watch for Your Adventures

Garmin Solar

We all have times when we’d like to get lost in the great outdoors, but it’s usually fairly important that we find our way back. Thankfully, the Garmin Instinct Solar 2 is a companion that gives you reliable sun-powered GPS navigation as well as a compass to make sure that you’re only as lost as you want to be.

The Garmin Instinct Solar has a simple, no-frills design, but in this case, simple doesn’t mean basic. The battery is almost super powered due to the Power Glass lens. One of the best aspects of this lightweight watch is its easy-to-use interface with features like bread crumb trails, coordinates, and trackback that allow you to relax on your adventures. Additionally, it’s loaded with the fitness-tracking programming that we have come to expect from GPS watches.

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In this Garmin Instinct Solar 2 review, we’ll not only break down the watch in detail but also showcase the other specialty editions, including the following:

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Garmin Instinct Solar 2 Review

Instinct 2 Solar


  • Size: 55mm
  • Weight: 1.9 oz.
  • Display type: Grayscale memory-in-pixel
  • GPS: Yes
  • Sports modes: 28
  • Operating system: Garmin Watch OS
  • Design: Circular watchface


The monochromatic Garmin Instinct Solar 2 isn’t flashy, but what it lacks in glitz, it more than makes up for it in practical ruggedness. And when it comes to GPS-based, multi-sports watches, I’ll take reliable simplicity over razzle-dazzle looks any day. Thanks to the photovoltaic panels in its Power Glass lens that continuously charge the Instinct when in the sun, this watch really shines in the reliability department. That makes it a fantastic accessory when you're ready for lengthy treks.


Although the Garmin Instinct Solar 2 isn’t as jam-packed with functions as some of its more high-end contemporaries, it still offers an impressive array of integrations, perhaps none more so than its seemingly endless battery life. The great features don’t end there, however. This watch also provides reliable location tracking as well as heart rate and SpO2 monitors. Additionally, the Instinct offers many customizable settings so you can easily access the features that you use the most.

There are also a host of activity- and fitness-tracking programs in the Instinct. Several running profiles, including ones for outdoors, indoor track, treadmill, and trails, are showcased; however, the programs aren’t limited to running. The watch has a triathlon setting as well as somewhat unique tracking options for paddleboarding and hunting. The Instinct’s virtual trainer allows you to experiment with pacing even when you are training by yourself.


If you like a sports watch with a straightforward, monochromatic, tactical look (raises hand), then you will love slapping this watch around your wrist. Although the smaller screen can make it a little difficult to use, especially when you’re on the move, I still like the circular watch face. One aspect that I didn’t like about the design, however, is that despite five buttons being flat, they are still easy to push accidentally when you’re in motion.

The Instinct weighs in at a little less than 2 ounces, so you won’t have to worry about it weighing you down during your activities. If you like your watches to have a little more heft, though, it may not be the best option for you because it is only offered in one size. The scratch-resistant screen is glass, but it may remind you of plastic, and although it is fairly rugged, the screen can still get a little banged up during activity.

Set Up

Although the Garmin Instinct Solar is easily charged by the sun, initially you’ll have to charge it using the USB cable that comes with it. The cable plugs into the back, which is much less cumbersome and more reliable than Garmin’s old alligator clip charger. Once your watch is charged, you’ll need to download the Android and iOS compatible app. If you’re new to Garmin, be prepared to spend some time setting up your account

After your account is ready to go, open the Garmin app on your phone, navigate to the menu, and select Garmin Devices. If your watch is charged, your phone will detect it, and you’ll be able to pair the two. I advise you to take some time going through the manual, as it will make working the interface a breeze.

What We Like

  • Incredible battery life  
  • Easy-to-navigate screen
  • Unique sports-tracking modes
  • Reliable location tracking
  • Accurate heart rate monitor

What We Don’t Like

  • Black-and-white monitor
  • Easy to accidentally push buttons
  • Not particularly stylish

Buy: Garmin Instinct Solar 2

Other Garmin Instinct Editions

In addition to the Instinct Solar 2, the Garmin Instinct comes in several special editions that are designed for specific activities or lifestyles.

Instinct Solar - Standard Edition

Instinct 2S Solar

The Instinct Solar - Standard Edition is the first iteration of the Instinct Solar 2, and while it doesn’t have as many features as the latest model, it is still a solid, durable watch for outdoor enthusiasts. The Instinct Solar is also a little easier on the wallet. If you’re looking for a basic, reliable sports watch, the standard edition of the Instinct Solar is an excellent choice.

Instinct 2 Solar - Tactical Edition

Instinct 2 Solar - Tactical Edition

If you need an accurate GPS watch that can endure the toughest environments, the Instinct 2 Solar - Tactical Edition is for you. This rugged iteration offers night vision and stealth modes.

Instinct 2 Solar - Surf Edition

Instinct 2 Solar - Surf Edition

The Instinct 2 Solar - Surf Edition is the perfect companion for those who are all about the water. It has dedicated modes for surfing, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and kiteboarding and is waterproof up to 100 meters.

Instinct 2 - dēzl™ Edition

Garmin dēzl™ Edition

This unique version of the Garmin Instinct Solar was designed for truckers, who must sit for very long periods. The dezl offers health feedback and short workouts that can be done easily when traveling.

Who Should Buy a Garmin Instinct Solar 2?

People who enjoy long outdoor adventures are the perfect candidates for the solar powered Garmin Instinct Solar 2. This watch has an almost endless battery life, so you don’t have to worry about it dying even if you’re on an epic fitness journey. It’s also rugged and reliable and can keep up with the heavy demands of those who prefer to get their fitness in the wild. The Garmin Instinct 2 offers several sports modes to meet your individual needs, and it provides detailed metrics without a subscription.

FAQs About the Garmin Instinct Solar 2

Is getting the Garmin Instinct Solar worth it?

The Garmin Instinct Solar 2’s battery life is unprecedented. If you need a watch that can go long periods without having to be plugged into an outlet, this watch is absolutely worth it—and the value doesn’t end there. The Instinct 2 Solar also provides accurate location information, reliable heart rate monitoring, more than two dozen modes, and several other features that make it a great value.

Is Garmin Instinct Solar 2 a smartwatch?

The Garmin Instinct Solar 2 is a durable smartwatch with an exceptionally long battery life. In addition to accurate GPS tracking, it offers reliable health and wellness feedback, as well as several sports modes.

How long does the Garmin Instinct Solar battery last?

The Garmin Instinct Solar 2 provides an incredibly long battery life. Here’s a breakdown of the battery life depending on how the watch is being used:

In GPS mode, the watch can stay charged for almost 40 hours with solar power. In smartwatch mode, that time goes up to a whopping 56 days.