I recently spent a good five days hiking in Albania’s Accursed Mountains using the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar smartwatch with the GPS tracker in use and by the end of the trip, I was impressed to find I still had more than enough juice to last me the almost 24-hour journey by plane and car all the way home. In fact, the battery percentage reading I was given barely changed.
It’s quite remarkable just how long this thing can last, even with GPS tracking, and that’s why, as an outdoor enthusiast who likes to hike and wild camp for days at a time, completely away from civilisation, it has a heck of a lot of appeal.
Read on for my complete breakdown. If you want to see the Instinct 2 in action, the latest episode of Will’s World has everything you need.
But this does also in fact have an unlimited battery life – that’s thanks to the clever Garmin Power Glass solar panels that sit across and around the watch face.
Now, although solar charging was a feature of the previous Garmin Instinct, that model was only capable of giving you an unlimited charge if the watch was in battery saver mode. With this new model, however, you can continue to use the various features of the watch (in other words, you can use it as a smartwatch) and you can still rest assured that it will live for as long as you need it to. That’s as long as you’re using it in the right conditions; Garmin specify that unlimited battery assumes all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.
You can’t be too gung-ho with the GPS usage. If you’re using the GPS at its most accurate, with frequent satellite positioning, then the charge should last up to 48 hours. If you’ve got the max battery GPS mode on (my settings for our test trip in Albania) that’ll give fairly frequent tracking for as much as 370 hours – that’s over 15 days – of charge.
Then there’s the Expedition GPS mode. This allows you to continue to use the GPS – albeit with very, very spaced out tracking – while still enjoying an unlimited battery life. So, if you’ve got, say, a 3-week trip hiking the GR20 through Corsica, you can still use the watch in multiple ways, have the peace of mind that your position is still being tracked and not have to charge it up once.