OUR TAKE Bottom line: You will not have to baby this piece of equipment. The no-frills Instinct is a dust-, shock-, water-, and thermal-proof GPS watch that comes in at a cool $300, a great price for the durability and performance. Like others in the category, the Instinct uses a three- axis magnetic compass and altimeter (via GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellites) for superaccurate navigation. But unlike them, it’s made of military-grade, fiber- reinforced polymer, making it virtually indestructible. Best part? It’s normal watch size (“I didn’t have to fight to get this one under my cuffs,” confirms our Gear Editor). Though the Instinct isn’t a mapping watch (you can’t view topos), it reliably lets users leave breadcrumb trails and waypoints, and its TracBack feature directs the wearer back to his or her starting point. Battery life is average for the category: up to 16 hours in GPS mode. Dings: As with all GPS watches, the Instinct can only minimally interface with your phone, and it relies on apps from the Garmin ecosystem.
TRAIL CRED “I didn’t even crack open the manual before heading to the Spanish Pyrenees,” our Gear Editor says. “The button functionality is so easy to learn that I was quickly able to figure out how to adjust the settings and record a track.”