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Garmin Enduro vs Instinct (2021): Comparing Premium And Budget Outdoor Watches

Garmin is one of the leading names when it comes to adventure watches. It’s no surprise given their expansive catalog of wearables that offer some the best combination of design, features, and performance. The flagship-tier Garmin Enduro, for instance, boasts a two-month battery life along with a plethora of activity tracking features. Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts will find the Garmin Instinct an attractive option at under $300. Given their price difference, what do you miss out on the Instinct that you’ll get on the Enduro?

Garmin Enduro vs Instinct Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin EnduroGarmin Instinct
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Display1.4″ sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) color display0.9″ sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) monochrome display
LensPower GlassChemically strengthened glass
BezelStainless steel or diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titaniumFiber-reinforced polymer
Key SensorsGPS, heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, blood oxygen saturation monitorGPS, heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANTBluetooth, ANT
All-Day Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
SpO2 MonitoringYesNo
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Women’s HealthYesYes
Smart NotificationsYesYes
Contactless PaymentsYesNo
Activities and ProfilesActivity tracking, gym & fitness, training, running, golfing, outdoor recreation, cycling, swimming, kid activity trackingActivity tracking, gym & fitness, training, running, outdoor recreation, cycling, swimming
Max Battery LifeUp to one yearUp to 14 days
Water Rating10 ATM10 ATM
Dimensions51 x 51 x 14.9 mm45 x 45 x 15.3 mm
Weight71g steel, 61g titanium52g

Design and Hardware

The Garmin Enduro is bigger than the Instinct and also offers a better build and display.

Garmin Enduro vs Instinct Design and Hardware Comparison
Here’s a look at the Garmin Enduro steel variant (left) and the Garmin Instinct in a lakeside blue color (right).

The big difference between the Garmin Enduro and Instinct is size. The Enduro is a massive 51mm adventure watch with a fiber-reinforced polymer case and metal rear cover. Its bezels, on the other hand, are crafted either from steel or titanium. If you opt for the steel variant, you’re getting a 65-gram device. That’s a little over the weight of a golf ball. But thanks to a lightweight and elastic nylon strap, the Enduro is surprisingly comfortable on the wrist.

Meanwhile, the Garmin Instinct comes in at a more standard 45mm size. Both its bezel and case are made from fiber-reinforced polymer. In terms of design, the Instinct draws quick comparisons with the chunky Casio G-Shock watches. But like the Enduro, the Instinct feels lightweight when worn. Its silicone strap also lends it a sportier aesthetic. Given their overall appearance, however, both the Enduro and Instinct aren’t ideal as office watches.

Now with its size, you’re getting a 1.4-inch color display on the Enduro. That’s as large as those on the biggest Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 or Active 2 models. Meanwhile, the Instinct has a less impressive monochrome display with a two-window design. Although it’s not a vibrant interface, it offers one of the best readability under direct sunlight.

Finally, the Enduro comes with a Power Glass lens, while the Instinct uses a chemically strengthened glass material. Both are scratchproof, too. Their rugged designs also bear a Military Standard 810, so you’re sure they’ll withstand the elements. Both the Enduro and Instinct are also rated waterproof up to 10 ATM.

Activity Tracking Features

Garmin’s Enduro tracks more activities, workouts, and outdoor profiles than the Instinct.

Garmin Enduro vs Instinct Training and Activity Tracking
The Garmin Enduro boasts advanced training metrics (left) while the Instict offers your standard functions (right).

As expected, the Garmin Enduro and Instinct both track a range of activities. Fitness enthusiasts, for instance, can monitor staple metrics like calories burned, steps taken, and floors climbed. Both devices also allow users to set daily activity goals. The rest of their features, however, nod towards sports, training, and outdoor pursuits.

Here, the Enduro has a distinct advantage. While the Instinct will get most (but not all) of Garmin’s tracking profiles, the Enduro is simply packed with more. For instance, you’ll get gym active profiles common to both, like indoor rowing, cardio, and strength training. But with the Enduro, you’ll get a few more like pilates and yoga workouts.

It’s the same story when it comes to training features. Garmin’s Instinct is equipped with the basics, including heart rate zones and alerts as well as GPS speed and distance. Enduro’s list, however, is more extensive and advanced. From VO2 max and heart rate variability to respiration rate and training effects, Garmin’s premium watch has all the bells and whistles.

You also get a couple more running, outdoor recreation, and swim profiles with Enduro compared to the Instinct. Across all three areas, the Enduro also provides additional insights and metrics. Garmin’s premium wearable also comes with golfing and kid activity tracking, features missing on the Instinct.

Health and Safety

The Garmin Enduro has advanced health and safety capabilities you don’t get with the Garmin Instinct.

Garmin Enduro vs Instinct Health Monitoring
The additional sensors on the Garmin Enduro provide more comprehensive fitness and health monitoring for users.

Garmin’s outdoor watches are equipped with several health features. Staples on other wearables like all-day heart rate monitoring and heart-rate alerts are available on the Enduro and Instinct. Both devices provide sleep tracking as well, along with hydration reminders and women’s health tracking. Health insights unique to Garmin are similarly present, including the Body Battery Energy Monitor for both, and Fitness Age for Enduro.

Just like in activity tracking, the Garmin Enduro has advantages. First, the premium device comes with blood oxygen saturation level monitoring, a capability that’s becoming a standard across other wearables. There’s also 24/7 respiration rate monitoring, which is utilized in the training features of the watch as well. Enduro takes the lead in safety, too. If the Garmin Instinct only has live track, the Enduro adds event sharing and incident detection as well.

Smartwatch Features and Battery Life

Garmin’s Enduro has more smartwatch features and a better battery life.

Garmin Enduro vs Instinct Smart Features and Battery Life
The Power Glass on the Enduro keeps it running for days (left); smartwatch interface on the Instinct (right).

While these are outdoor watches, Garmin has equipped the Enduro and Instinct with a solid set of smartwatch features. Both devices support smart notifications and smartphone music controls. Users can also carry out text responses or reject calls if the watches are paired to an Android device. The Garmin Enduro and Instinct also come with built-in calendar and weather applications.

Being the more premium device, the Enduro once again has some extras. Since it comes with a color display, for instance, you can access Connect IQ to customize or download watch faces. Garmin’s Enduro also supports contactless payment through Garmin Pay. Moreover, you get battery saver features, too.

Speaking of battery, Garmin has a reputation for industry-leading watch run times. Both the Enduro and Instinct, of course, live up to the prominence. The Instinct boasts a battery life of up to 14 days in smartwatch mode. With GPS turned on, the device still delivers a commendable 16-hour runtime.

On the other hand, the Enduro banks on its solar power for extended use times. If GPS is enabled, the watch can last up to 80 hours with solar charging. A max battery GPS mode boosts the battery life up to 300 hours, too. On smartwatch mode, the Garmin Enduro can last up to 50 days, extended to 65 with a little help from the sun. If you’re keen to push the watch to its limits, then a battery-saving mode can keep it running for up to 130 days or one year if using solar.


The Garmin Enduro is the better outdoor watch to get. Outdoor enthusiasts on a budget, however, will find the Garmin Instinct an attractive option.

Amazon product

Based on specs alone, it’s clear the Garmin Enduro is better than the Garmin Instinct. First, the flagship-tier watch has a more premium design. It also packs a plethora of activity tracking features, complemented by advanced health monitoring capabilities. Even in smartwatch features and battery life, the Enduro has the edge. If you’re not keen on spending extra on the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar Pro, this is the flagship outdoor watch to get.

But where does that leave the Garmin Instinct? Garmin’s budget watch doesn’t have the sleek aesthetics of the Enduro. Its chunky appearance makes it a dead-ringer for other watches, too. Plus, the black and white display leaves a lot to be desired. Priced under $300, however, the Instinct is a compelling purchase for those getting into outdoor watches. It is, at its best, an affordable foray into a class of wearables designed for outdoor enthusiasts, if money is a factor.


đź“Ś Is the Garmin Enduro better than the Instinct?

Based on specs alone, the Garmin Enduro is better than the Instinct. The flagship-tier watch edges out the Instinct in activity tracking and health features. It also has better smartwatch features and a longer battery life.

đź“Ś Is the Garmin Enduro touch screen?

No, the Garmin Enduro does not have a touch screen. To navigate the device, the watch comes with five physical buttons instead.

đź“Ś Can I store music on the Garmin Enduro?

Garmin’s Enduro doesn’t have local music storage. This means you cannot transfer music files to the watch for offline playback. There is no support or compatibility with music streaming services, too. What the Enduro does, instead, is control your music saved and played from your smartphone.

đź“Ś Does the Garmin Instinct also come with solar charging?

The Garmin Instinct per se does not have solar charging. However, there is a Garmin Instinct Solar edition that comes with the feature.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.