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Elevation consistently inaccurate (reading too low)

I'm having issues with the Instinct reading lower elevation than it should, which results in considerably lower elevation gains than what you should be seeing. One might be tempted to blame this on sweat, poor weather conditions and what not, but that's actually not the case. I'm noticing this on a very short ride (roughly 11km). Start and finish elevation are typically within 5m of each other (which is IMHO fairly accurate). I've had three different devices prior to this one (cycling computers)

After looking more closely at the graphs, I've noticed that the Instinct just plain out ignores certain elevation gains, and instead chooses to think I'm riding a flat profile. It does so very consistently and given that the starting and ending point read the same elevation, I'm inclined to believe this is a sofware issue. Naturally, the watch mode is set to altimeter. 

So my question is whether this is a known issue and whether I can expect a fix. Difference of 40m in 11km is pretty big in my opinion. 

  • I have had the same issue I have had the Instinct for just over 6 months and at the start the elevation was pretty good matched around my riding buddies elevation so was pretty happy with it. But about 2-3 months ago the device now starts to short change me on the elevation on my MTB rides sometimes 100-800ft short depending on the length of ride and some rides have done many times so know the total elevation amount. The only thing different is that I started do swimming as had an injury and not sure if that had anything to do with it. I have updated the firmware washed and cleaned it many times but still comes up short on elevation so relying on Strava's corrections to get the elevation. If anybody else knows on how to cure this or is it deemed to be going to be like this for ever?

  • Im having the same issues 

  • Calibrate the altimeter. Use the GPS function. 

  • I have the same issue and I think I found out what happens. Actually the sensor adjusts elevation very slowly (comparing to Edge 520 for instance, I took a 50km ride putting instinct on my handlebar close to Edge 520, both showing altitude). If you ride a hilly road, the elevation results very smoothed (watch only partially records descents and ascents, as sensor if not fast enough). Not sure is an hardware issue of my unit. 

  • I have been in touch with Garmin regarding this issue and they said they know the altitude readings for the Instinct are not ideal. The issue has been allegedly passed on to the developers and we should be expecting a firmware update very soon.

    I do think it is a software issue as when I am actually watching the altimeter it is indeed registering smaller elevation gains, typically when I have to pedal up short steep climbs while descending. The issue is that the elevation gained does not get recorded into the "ascent" box on the watch.

    Hoping for a quick fix too!

  • I have not been able to find a resolution for this issue either. Biking I am consistently shortchanged sometimes by thousands of feet on a long ride. I may need to submit a warranty claim as what good is a GPS watch that cannot report relatively accurate elevation gain/loss.

  • This is exactly what happens to me as well. Let's hope for a fix!

  • Hi. I have the same issues. The watches works great, GPS tracking is reliable, but elevation measuring is horrible.
    I tested many type of settings, but result always was elevation gain is too low.

    In this test the watches was always on the handlebars (elimination of sweat and overlap of sensors).
    GPS tracking great, difference in measured distance 1% maximum.
    Elevation gain too low (it is not my first test).
    Instinct settings:
    Barometer mode > Altimeter
    Auto Calibrate > ON
    Data Recording > Every Second
    Sport mode > Mountain biking
    GPS mode > GPS + GLONASS
    3D speed and distance > OFF
    Autopause > When Stopped
    Heart belt and cadence meter > connected
    Smathphone > disconnected

    I don't understand why Garmin engineers not program watch to pick altitude from GPS information. It will probably be less accurate, but elevation profile and elevation gain data will approach reality. Or...? For example, Edge 130 measures elevation with almost 100% accuracy ...

  • I updated to latest 5.10 software version and elevation is still poor seems to be a sure software issue rather than hardware. 

  • I can only agree with this analysis. The ELEVATION (SENSOR?) is TOO SLOW. This results in smoothed curved and wrong positive/negative total gain. And if you display the barometer altitude rather than the GPS altitude, then the altitude reading is wrong.

    On a +/-1500m 25km MTB ride, the gain can be off by 300m !!! and the altitude at any point by 70m. It get even worse if you use ski lifts for downhill riding or alpine skiing; on a -5000m day the gain reading was off by 2000m, and the altitude by 900m !

    I am afraid this is an hardware, sensor, issue and not only a firmware issue. On the graph below, I have compared in Garmin Basecamp (yes Garmin connect smoothen the traces) a Garmin Extrex30 (red curve) and the Garmin Instinc (green curve -same ride, day, time, temperature...) you can see that the Instinc is slow and can barely keep up with the altitude on the up-hill (+700m/h with breaks). It get worse on the down-hill (-2000m/h with breaks), where the Instinct is so wrong that the firmware does 30m to 100m altitude calibration/fix according to GPS. Even the calibration is too slow...

    Instinc Altitude is wrong

    Well, to make it short, altitude from barometer is not working. That is very bad for a mountain oriented product. My friends won't buy this (otherwise great) product for sure until they see this fixed.

    Garmin you can put your best engineers on this and sell millions of this watch or ruin a beautiful product...