Sunday, April 14, 2024

Review: Garmin Descent G1 Solar Dive Computer – Freediving Perspectives

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When discussing Garmin dive computers with other freedivers, one of the main comments I hear is that Garmin’s dive computers are amazing but regrettably out of many people’s budgets. However, freedivers everywhere can now celebrate – Garmin has introduced the Descent G1 and G1 Solar at almost less than half the cost of the Descent Mk2 and Mk2s!

And it’s definitely worth it!

First Impressions

The screen on the Garmin Descent G1 Solar is easily visible in direct sunlight
The screen on the Garmin Descent G1 Solar is easily visible in direct sunlight. Photo by SaltyMind Freediving.

Upon opening the box on the Hurricane Blue G1 Solar I received for review, my first impression was that this watch looks rugged – a genuine adventure watch.

The impact-resistant fiber-reinforced polymer case and bezel have a matte finish, and the G1 Solar’s two-window design (a standard window with a smaller window in the upper-left corner) consists of a scratch-resistant power sapphire lens. Both windows feature a monochrome display with five small buttons around the watch face.

The physical size measures 45.5 x 45.5 x 15.2mm, which is noticeably more compact than the Mk2 and slightly larger than the Mk2s – and thankfully, perfect for my small wrist!

It should be noted that the only difference between the G1 and G1 Solar is the solar charging capabilities.

Dive Screens, Alerts, and Logs

The Garmin Descent G1 Solar's apnea dive screens
The Garmin Descent G1 Solar’s apnea dive screens.

The Apnea mode in-dive data screens are much like the other dive computers in Garmin’s lineup: current and maximum depth, elapsed time, heart rate, and average and maximum descent/ascent rate.

At the surface, you can view the current surface interval time, maximum depth of the last dive, water temperature and minimum water temperature, heart rate, time of day, stopwatch, and battery level. You can customize ALL of these screens to your liking, and they are easily visible at depth and on the surface in blazing sunlight.

I love Garmin’s depth alarms, which provide sound or vibration alerts (or both!) and allow you to set multiple alarms. Both the sound and vibration are strong enough for me to hear and feel, which is important since I have missed alarms on other non-Garmin dive computers in the past.

The surface alert can be customized to your desired length of time, although I’m still hoping that Garmin will someday input a formula to calculate a recommended surface interval time.

GPS

The simple and straightforward GPS on the Garmin Descent G1 Solar
The simple and straightforward GPS on the Garmin Descent G1 Solar.

The G1 Solar has a 3-axis compass (which I’ve never had to use) and GPS (which I use every time I dive!). These days, I dive primarily in Xiao Liuqiu, Taiwan, where all of the mooring lines are underwater. Saving locations and navigating to them via GPS is an absolute lifesaver!

Acquiring a GPS signal is almost instantaneous at times, and I can personalize the names of dive spots and save special icons for them! If a fellow freediver finds a new mooring line and has its GPS coordinates, I can also input it into my G1 Solar and navigate to it directly and then save it to my dive computer!

When I navigate to a saved location using ‘Navigate,’ I can see the distance left to the destination and a straight line leading me to it. But the fun part is that the smaller window on the watch face has a big navigation arrow that moves with me, always pointing me straight ahead to your destination.

Easy! The catch is that users should keep the G1 Solar perfectly flat to ensure accurate navigation; otherwise, the arrow jumps around.

There is also a feature called ‘Reference Point’ to navigate. There is no navigational arrow; you have to make the main number (the deviation from the reference point) reach zero with helpful arrows pointing left or right.

With Reference Point, you can also see your distance from the desired location. However, I prefer ‘Navigate’ as pushing a freediving buoy is easier for me.

Heart Rate Measurement

One of the main features that freedivers love from previous Garmin dive computers is available on the G1 Solar – heart rate (HR) measurement! I frequently check my heart rate throughout the day, especially during physical activities, and I enjoy seeing my heart rate before, during, and after my dives!

The G1 Solar even tells you things like your last dive’s beginning HR, ending HR, max HR, and average HR – although you can only see this in dive mode and only for your last dive.

While wrist-based HR measurement is not as accurate in the water and can experience a short delay, freedivers can purchase an HRM-Swim chest strap separately that can be used up to 5ATM to see more accurate measurements (which is hopefully my next birthday gift!).

Fitness Tracking Features

Health tracking features on the Garmin Descent G1 Solar
Health tracking features on the Garmin Descent G1 Solar.

I love that the G1 Solar is not just a dive computer – it inspires me to be healthier and more active daily. Either with the touch of a button on the watch itself or the Garmin Connect™ app, I can see tons of health stats, including my steps, floors climbed, calories in and out (when connected to MyFitnessPal), level of stress, respiration rate, SPO2, Body Battery™, and more.

It even tracks ovulation and menstruation and lets me add notes! The G1 Solar features various workout modes like cardio, running, cycling, yoga, kayaking, and much more (even golf!). Exercising improves my fitness level, workout load, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic benefits. The fitness features are truly incredible!

Battery Life and Connectivity

The battery life on the G1 Solar is quite impressive. It can last up to 25 hours in dive mode, three weeks in smartwatch mode, and stay on indefinitely if worn outside in bright sunlight for at least 3 hours a day!

The G1 Solar can also connect to your Apple or Android phone via the Garmin Connect™ app for smartwatch capabilities, including incoming calls, texts, calendar reminders, social media notifications, etc.

It cannot store music or connect to Wi-Fi like the Mk2 and Mk2s; however, it does have Bluetooth and ANT+ capabilities, along with NFC for making contactless purchases with Garmin Pay.

Final Thoughts

The Garmin Descent G1 Solar dive computer is just the right size for every wrist
The Garmin Descent G1 Solar dive computer is just the right size for every wrist. Photo by SaltyMind Freediving.

The Garmin Descent G1 includes many of the features of Garmin’s Mk2 and Mk2s but sits at just a little over half the price (and for an extra 150USD, you can get the solar charging capabilities of the G1 Solar).

With a smaller watch face, rugged build, HR capabilities, fitness tracker, and multiple dive modes bundled into a smartwatch, it is well worth the price for those in the market for a dive computer with high-end features and a mid-range budget!

Key Features

  • Dive Modes: Single-Gas, Multi-Gas, CCR, Gauge, Apnea, Apnea Hunt
  • Apnea/Apnea Hunt Data Screen
    • Current Surface Interval Time
    • Maximum Depth
    • Water Temperature
    • Time of Day
    • Heart Rate
    • Stopwatch
    • Battery Level
    • Current Location on a Map
  • Apnea/Apnea Hunt In-Dive Screen
    • Elapsed Time
    • Current Depth
    • Maximum Depth
    • Heart Rate
    • Ascent/Descent Rate
  • Customizable Dive Modes
  • Dive Log
  • Surface Multi-GNSS
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Pulse Ox Sensor
  • Smart Notifications
  • Connect IQ™ Store

Technical Specifications

  • Power Sapphire Lens
  • Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Bezel and Case
  • Silicone Strap
  • QuickFit™ Watch Band Compatible
  • 5 x 45.5 x 15.2mm (1.8 x 1.8 x 0.6in)
  • Custom, two-window design: 23 x 23 mm (0.9 x 0.9in)
  • Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • 176 x 176 Pixels Display Resolution
  • Rechargeable, Built-in Lithium-ion Battery
  • Battery life
    • Smartwatch: Up to 21 days / 4 months with solar
    • Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 48 days / Unlimited with solar*
    • Dive Mode: Up to 25 hours
  • Weight: 66g (2.3oz)
  • Water Rating: Dive 100m (328ft)
  • 32MB Memory/History

*Solar charging, assuming all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions

Price

$650 USD / €607 EUR / £516 GBP

Buy It Now

Descent™ G1 Solar, Rugged Dive Computer with Solar Charging Descent™ G1 Solar, Rugged Dive Computer with Solar Charging
$549.99

Rugged dive computer and smartwatch with a solar charging lens, easy-to-read monochrome display and QuickFit bands so you can change your style in a second


08/14/2023 02:47 pm GMT

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Performance
Features
Graphics / Interface
Value for Money

SUMMARY

The Garmin Descent G1 includes many of the features of Garmin's Mk2 and Mk2s but sits at just a little over half the price (and for an extra 150USD, you can get the solar charging capabilities of the G1 Solar). With a smaller watch face, rugged build, HR capabilities, fitness tracker, and multiple dive modes bundled into a smartwatch, it is well worth the price for those in the market for a dive computer with high-end features and a mid-range budget!
Kristina Zvaritch
Kristina Zvaritchhttps://www.instagram.com/kristinazvaritch
Kris is an AIDA/Molchanovs Freediving Instructor, freelance copywriter, and one of the founders of SaltyMind Freediving on the little island of Xiao Liuqiu, Taiwan. She has written 100+ articles centered around freediving for DeeperBlue.com and co-authored the Molchanovs Wave 4 - Competitive Freediving manual. When Kris isn't writing or teaching freediving, you can find her floating on a wave at the beach or struggling to learn Mandarin on land.

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The Garmin Descent G1 includes many of the features of Garmin's Mk2 and Mk2s but sits at just a little over half the price (and for an extra 150USD, you can get the solar charging capabilities of the G1 Solar). With a smaller watch face, rugged build, HR capabilities, fitness tracker, and multiple dive modes bundled into a smartwatch, it is well worth the price for those in the market for a dive computer with high-end features and a mid-range budget!Review: Garmin Descent G1 Solar Dive Computer – Freediving Perspectives