Garmin’s line of Instinct smartwatches bridge the gap for those individuals wanting some smartwatch functionality while also keeping more standard watch functions – functions, such as, not having to charge it every single day. This hybrid approach, coupled with an inherent build heartiness, make the Garmin Instinct a rugged travel companion. Garmin has taken the Instinct even further with its Tactical Edition. The Garmin Instinct Tactical takes the Instinct’s featureset and marries it to some of the tactical options found in the high-end Garmin Fenix line of wearables.

The Garmin Instinct Tactical, of course, has the standard Instinct specs. Things like activity tracking (with over 25 activities available), GPS tracking (with GLONASS and Galileo support), and GPX course support. It also features Garmin’s TracBack ability. TracBack is a feature that allows the user to return along a traveled path or route without marking any waypoints on the device. As per Garmin’s official specs for TracBack, “The Instinct will store a tracklog or “electronic breadcrumb trail” as it moves. The device will look at hundreds or thousands of tracklog points. It will take the 30 most significant and turn them into a route to get back to the starting point”.

What’s new in the Instinct Tactical Edition? The Tactical adds a number of enhancements. The Instinct Tactical Edition is constructed to military standards (MIL-STD-810G) for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters). The Instinct Tactical Edition includes multiple features specific to tactical operations including Jumpmaster and tactical preloaded activities, projected waypoints, dual-position GPS formatting, and night-vision compatibility. It also has what Garmin calls stealth mode. When operating in stealth mode, GPS location position is visible on device; however, locations are not saved to device memory or shared. This allows for training functionality in areas with location security concerns without revealing the location in the event a device is physically captured or if the recorded activities are shared. Stealth mode also quickly disables all wireless communication to and from the device.

I got the chance to use the Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition over the course of a couple months and had literally NO bad experience or cons with the device. It performs without fail and provides just the right amount of flexibility in its smartwatch/watch functionality. In terms of battery life, the Garmin Instinct (Tactical or standard) features three different battery life ratings. Garmin claims that the Instinct has 14 days battery life in regular watch mode (no GPS enabled), and 16 hours in GPS-on mode. It also claims 40 hours in GPS-on mode with UltraTrac enabled. I tested this and found the claims to be, more or less, accurate, which means you have a lot of options in terms of just how often you want to plug the watch in to recharge.

Overall, the Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition is an outstanding smartwatch for adventurers looking to explore the world. It will also make for a perfect companion to those people needing more tactical options. The Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition retails for $299.99 and is available now.

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of