When you asked me on what GPS watch to have, it always boils down to budget, reliability and usage. Instinct Solar is your mid-tier alternative that provides durability in the trails and excellent navigation features while providing all the metrics and a prolonged battery life.
Navigating with Instinct Solar
When you say Garmin, you don’t only get a watch but a community of users and an app that helps you view your stats, create maps and easily send the data to your watch. Having served various roles in the trail and running community, I’ve learn to appreciate the different functionalities of GPS watches. I got my Garmin Instinct Solar while exploring Eastland Heights for Pinoy Trails Virtual Run and even future events.
The drill was to create a route via Garmin Connect, send it to my Instinct Solar and run the course. It’s not new for me to use navigation features of other GPS watch and it’s common for our team to send the routes of our races for runners to have a GPS map of the course in their watches. A little familiarity can help a lot especially on long trail races. What stands out with Instinct Solar for me is that it gives you the exact measure on your turns down to the last meter. That can be a big difference if there are several forks in the road like Eastland Heights, 1 meter could mean that I’m taking a different route already.
If you see that Garmin Connect screenshot at the top, you can also create a pace pro strategy. I’m not a fast runner so I try to make up my lack of speed with familiarity and strategy. I always say, “pag di handa, daanin sa Math”. I actually have plotted the elevation gains and losses for most of my trail races and set a desired pace. I may not able to finish fast but I can finish on time.
The Pace Pro strategy can give you a pace suggestion as you go to the rigors of your runs. Another feature I’ve unlocked was view option of the elevation profile of the route. By seeing the race in terms of elevation, I can spread out my energy on the climbs by staying conservative at the start of the climb and pacing myself at the top of the climb. In some races, I wouldn’t even dare to see my distance, I just want to see me chirping away the needed climb in the race. That’s how I deal with the mental aspect of the race especially on hilly trails.
Play in the Sun with Instinct Solar
Gone were the days that it was the battery life you were chasing more than the race cutoff with almost all GPS watches offering extended battery life. What sets Instinct Solar apart as well as other Garmin based Solar Watches is that it uses a power watch that charges the watches while in use under direct sunlight. I had the Instinct Solar for about a month now and I can count the times that I’ve charged my watch. In fact when I did my 21K at Eastland Heights, I actually had more power compared to when I started because, I finished my run with the sun scorching hot already at about 11 am. I was drained already with the long run, hot weather, the hilly terrain, well. My watch was even gaining more power due to the solar charging technology of Instinct Solar. The watch can be perfect for longer trail runs because of the battery life.
All The Right Metrics with Instinct Solar
I’m a numbers guy at work, at home and even on the run. I always checking my pace especially that I try to compensate some runs with brisk walking to conserve energy. When at use, Instict Solar has a revolving display which you can easily pre-set with the watch. The basic settings can be adjusted with app but most of the views can be edited directly with your watch. It’s a revolving view that provides different stats during your activity. As a preference I always go with current pace and lap pace, total time, heart rate and elevation profile as it help me breaks down the race into more manageable segments. I think it may be good to have also options to edit the views with the Garmin Connect or the mobile app.
Running with Garmin Instinct
I’ve been running for years with various GPS watches and I learned to accept that some areas may not be as reliable as others. Makati for one is covered by tall buildings that can really mess up your GPS tracking. Garmin Instinct has a quick GPS detection feature, within 20-30 seconds from starting your watch and it’s fairly accurate even on courses that has a history of erratic GPS signals. Even on areas wherein I had a history of erratic GPS measurements like Salcedo Village in Makati, I got a more accurate measurement with Instinct Solar seeing the map after the run, with less interference or significant jumps in the route map.
Instinct Solar on the Trails
In terms of look, it’s has a durable look with black and white display. It’s not as fancy as a Fenix but it’s perfect for the rugged and wild side adventure like trail running. It’s a lightweight watch which you’d barely feel as you run. While Forerunners can be your entry level and Fenix be the top of the line, Instinct Solar is your middle option that provides all the metrics and customization you need plus the navigation options to guide you on your runs. It’s perfect for someone like me that’s geeky on data and metrics yet not too drawn by fancy colored displays of higher end GPS watches. It’s your adventure watch that can double as your everyday watch with its activity tracking features. Instinct Solar does tick everything I need in a GPS watch and I’m a lot excited to explore more trails with it’s navigation features.