Monday, December 5, 2022

Review: Garmin Descent Mk2s Dive Computer – Freediving Perspectives

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Preparing to dive with the Garmin Descent Mk2s
Preparing to dive with the Garmin Descent Mk2s.

After having the opportunity to review the Garmin Descent Mk2 dive computer, I fell in love with it and wore it on my wrist every single day. I absolutely loved all of the features for diving and for fitness tracking, however, my only issue with wearing it for daily wear was the size. I have very small wrists and the size of the Mk2 was sometimes overwhelming in both looks and function. When I heard of the upcoming release of the smaller Descent Mk2s in three different colors, I was absolutely thrilled and jumped at the chance to review it!

First Impressions

Size comparison of the Descent Mk2 (left) and Mk2s (right)
Size comparison of the Descent Mk2 (left) and Mk2s (right).

The Descent Mk2s is noticeably more compact, with a 43mm case size (compared to the Mk2’s 52mm case size), which is excellent for those with smaller wrists or divers who prefer a trim watch face. It comes with three color schemes to choose from – Carbon Gray DLC/Black, Light Gold/Light Sand, and Mineral Blue/Sea Foam. It is also much lighter than its predecessor – 60g (2.1oz), which is a whopping 43.8g (1.5oz) less than the Mk2. I can barely feel it on my wrist, and I no longer accidentally hit a button when bending my wrist.

I chose the Light Gold/Light Sand color for myself, which is not exactly white, but more muted. I am particularly thankful for this because I feel that it looks more stylish and sophisticated than a traditional gold/true white combination.

The screen of the Garmin Descent Mk2s is very visible, even in direct sunlight
The screen of the Garmin Descent Mk2s is very visible, even in direct sunlight.

The interface of the Mk2s has not changed at all, which I am very happy with. I love the fully customizable watch faces that let me choose between viewing date, day of the week, heart rate, steps, weather, battery, etc., and with plenty of different colors and themes that I can download from the Connect IQ™ store. The silicone band also has QuickFit™ compatibility, so I can change the watch band quickly and with ease. The menu and button placement might take a new Garmin user a little bit of getting used to, but after a day of playing around with all of the functions, it becomes very familiar.

Notifications, Alerts, and Logs 

The three apnea mode data screens on the Garmin Descent Mk2s.
The three apnea mode data screens on the Garmin Descent Mk2s

The Descent Mk2s has everything a good dive computer should have on the apnea mode data screen in a very simple and easy-to-read layout. The first and main screen has the surface interval time, the last dive’s dive time, the maximum depth reached, and water temperature. The second screen has the time of day and heart rate, while the last screen has your point on a map. Even though the screen is smaller than the Descent Mk2, it remains clearly visible underwater with a strong backlight. I can also switch between freshwater and saltwater modes, which is fantastic since I dive both in the ocean and in a deep pool.

I now require both audible and haptic depth notifications on my dive computers, and the Descent Mk2s has the option of just one or notification both styles and is both loud enough with a strong enough vibration to alert me of my depth, so I never miss an alarm for taking my mouthfill or starting my freefall. The time notifications are useful as well for hangs or for spearos who need to be alerted of their bottom time. You can set and customize an alert for surface interval time, as well, although I would love to see one that calculates my surface interval automatically based on my previous dive’s depth and ascent rate.

You can look at the detailed dive log either on the Descent Mk2s itself or on the Garmin Dive™ app, which lets you input so much extra information about your dives, such as conditions, weight, photos, notes, and dive buddies and lets you find dive sites and data that other Garmin users have uploaded publicly. You can also see timelines of your depth, heart rate, and water temperature, and layer them on top of one another for a more in-depth look at a dive. For freedivers who want to really record and track their dive sessions, this app is brilliant.

GPS and Compass

Using the navigation mode on the Garmin Descent Mk2s
Using the navigation mode on the Garmin Descent Mk2s.

The compass is very responsive, although I do not use this for my own personal dives. My main concern in a dive computer is having a GPS since all of the buoys that I attach to in Taiwan are located underwater. Connecting to GPS is almost instantaneous, and saving a new dive location is a breeze. I can even personalize the name of the spot and a specific icon for it! If a friend also has a Garmin dive computer and has the coordinates of a specific spot, I can easily input them into my Mk2s and navigate directly to the dive spot and then save it to my own dive computer.

I would add that it would be more convenient if I could save it directly to my Mk2s, so I will be on the lookout for future Garmin updates!

Battery Life and Connectivity

The Descent Mk2s does have a shorter battery time than the Mk2 due to its smaller size, but I still only have to charge it every 4-6 days depending on my activity level, which is fantastic compared to other smartwatches and fitness trackers (even ones that do not double as dive computers)! GPS connectivity is absurdly fast, and I can also connect it to my Android phone to receive notifications. I do not personally feel like I need this feature, however, so I keep it off to get more out of my battery.

Heart Rate Measurement

Having a heart rate measurement is useful to me for daily life, physical activities, and sometimes in my dives as well! I do not rely on it for dives, but it is really cool to watch my heart rate decrease and stabilize while I prepare for a dive, and to watch it rise a bit and then fall on hangs. Wrist-based heart rate is not the most accurate measurement and can sometimes have a short delay, especially in the water, so if you are serious about measuring your heart rate and want a more accurate measurement, Garmin sells an HRM-Swim chest strap that can be used up to 5ATM.

Smartwatch and Fitness Tracker Features

Daily health stats in the Garmin Connect app
Daily health stats in the Garmin Connect™ app.

The Garmin Connect™ app lets you view many health stats: heart rate, Body Battery™, steps, floors climbed, stress level, calories in and out (connect to MyFitnessPal to track calories), stress, respiration rate, and more. It even tracks ovulation and menstruation and lets you add in notes! I love working out and seeing my heart rate zones, aerobic and anaerobic benefits, load, and recovery time. I can even do pre-made or personalized workouts straight from the Mk2s itself! Additionally, it has workout modes for a really wide array of activities, even cross-country skiing, and tactical modes.

All of these functions and measurements inspire me to be more active and healthy, which I really appreciate from the Mk2s. The health and fitness tracking functions are what really make me want to keep the Mk2s on my wrist every day, not just when I’m diving.

Final Thoughts

The Garmin Descent Mk2s before a dive
The Garmin Descent Mk2s before a dive.

The Descent Mk2s is a spectacular dive computer and all-around fitness watch, and all of its features make the price tag worth it! My favorite parts of the diving functions are the dive alarm’s volume and vibration intensity, the heart rate tracking, and how visible it is in direct sunlight and underwater, and I have to admit that I am shamefully addicted to the health and sports tracking aspects of it. The small size and striking colors are perfect for everyday wear, and the watch itself makes me want to live and dive better and gives me all the resources to do so.

In short, I fully recommend the Garmin Descent Mk2s for divers of every kind (especially for freedivers and spearos)!

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
    • 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

  • Sapphire Crystal Lens
  • Stainless Steel Bezel
  • Fiber-Reinforced Polymer
  • QuickFit™ Watch Band Compatible
  • 43 x 43 x 14.5mm (1.7 x 1.7 x 0.6in)
  • 2” (30.4mm) Diameter
  • Sunlight-Visible, Transreflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)
  • 240 x 240 Pixels Display Resolution
  • Silicone Band
  • Rechargeable, Built-in Lithium-ion Battery
  • Battery life
    • Smartwatch: Up to 7 days
    • Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 21 days
    • Dive Mode: Up to 30 hours
  • Water Rating: Dive, 100m (328ft)
  • 32GB Memory/History

Price

  • Garmin Mk2s Descent – $999 USD / €821 EUR / £705 GBP

Buy It Now

Garmin Descent Mk2S Watch-Style Dive Computer Garmin Descent Mk2S Watch-Style Dive Computer
$989.95

Explore both of your worlds — underwater and topside — with Descent™ Mk2S. This smaller watch-sized dive computer features multiple dive modes, such as single and multiple gas dives, gauge, apnea, apnea hunt and closed-circuit rebreather. Descent Mk2S also comes with an underwater 3-axis compass as well as surface GPS capabilities to mark your entry and exit points.

12/05/2022 12:03 am GMT

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Performance
Features
Graphics/Interface
Value for Money

SUMMARY

The Garmin Descent Mk2s is the beloved sibling of the Descent Mk2 with a smaller screen, three stunning colors to choose from, and all the features you loved about its predecessor. It is perfect for daily life, both in and out of the water.
Kristina Zvaritch
Kristina Zvaritchhttps://www.instagram.com/kristinazvaritch
Kris is an AIDA/Molchanovs Freediving Instructor 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 Mk2s is the beloved sibling of the Descent Mk2 with a smaller screen, three stunning colors to choose from, and all the features you loved about its predecessor. It is perfect for daily life, both in and out of the water.Review: Garmin Descent Mk2s Dive Computer – Freediving Perspectives