Garmin Instinct 2X Solar is a bigger, longer-lived version of its best outdoor watch

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin has unveiled its latest watch, the Instinct 2X Solar: a super-sized 50mm, 67g version of the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, which shares the smaller 45mm watch’s ‘unlimited’ battery life. Providing you’re using the watch in sunlit conditions of 50,000 lux or more, it’ll never need charging even in max battery GPS mode. 

Despite the fact it’s a whole 5mm bigger than the best Garmin watch, the 2X has the same 176 x 176 px memory-in-pixel display as the 45mm model, although it does come with a new feature: an LED flashlight. 

The flashlight can emit light in a strobe effect to match your running cadence, or as a red safety light to avoid nighttime blindness and help you stay visible to cars and other passers-by. It can alternate between both red and white for extra visibility, great when out running after dark.

A new multi-band GNSS sensor also improves the watch’s positional accuracy in GPS routing and TracBack modes. Other new stuff includes Obstacle Course Racing as a selectable workout profile for the first time, allowing you to manually record splits between obstacles to distinguish between running and obstacle navigation sections, just like you might do when recording strength workouts with a Garmin. 

Otherwise, the watch seems to provide much of the same features and experiences as a Garmin Instinct 2 or 2 Solar. Dedicated workout profiles for running, swimming, strength training, hiking, skiing, and cycling, among others, make it a great all-rounder, while this multidisciplinary approach continues to make the Instinct 2 series a great triathlon choice, especially with 10ATM water resistance rating. Away from sunlight, the watch will last for an incredible 40 days in smartwatch mode (smashing the Apple Watch Ultra’s paltry 36 hours) and 60 hours in GPS mode. 

Like other Instinct watches, an Instinct 2X Solar Tactical Edition is also available. Its LED illuminates green instead of red, and it includes additional features like Stealth Mode, which avoids sharing GPS data, and Jumpmaster Mode designed for skydivers. The device detects automatically when you have jumped to begin navigating automatically using the barometer and compass. It's a neat trick, but won't see much use outside of the military and dedicated thrillseekers.

The Instinct 2 is priced at $449.99 / £399.99 and is available now, with AU prices TBC. The Instinct 2X Solar-Tactical Edition has a suggested retail price of $499.99 / £449.99.

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar

(Image credit: Garmin)

 Analysis: One size does not fit all 

Super-sized outdoor watches are all the rage right now. From the aforementioned Apple Watch Ultra to the new Huawei Watch Ultimate (currently being tested), watches designed for big races, trail runs, and wilderness adventures are getting bigger and bigger. 

This is likely down to an effort to extend battery life further and cram more GPS-orientated features in there, but either way, the best Garmin watch just got even bigger. 

It’s likely this is going to be too big for casual town and city wear. As the size and price of Garmin watches creep up, they often become more specialized tools. Most people looking to monitor their weekend runs and daily cycling commutes are better off saving money and getting the smaller Instinct 2. 

If you love to run at night, the LED flashlight is going to be incredibly useful (no more reflective straps or jackets? Huzzah!) but despite the larger size, the display is the same size as the Instinct 2 Solar. It’s all bezel, case, and flashlight. 

Outdoor gear junkies are going to love it, as it’s the most rugged-looking watch I’ve ever seen from Garmin (and that’s saying something). Perhaps even more so than the Garmin Enduro 2

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.