Garmin Descent G1 review

On the 15th of September ’23, I made a short Instagram post about the Garmin Descent G1. Now, for a more extended review.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been exchanging emails with a Garmin representative. I had some freedive-specific questions/feedback and wanted to further discover how to properly use this watch to our advantage.

The G1 is great for freediving in depth. It offers a lot of insights and possibilities for customization. Alarms based on depth or time underwater, the display light can automatically switch on after reaching 6 meters. Review descent and ascent speed, heart rate, and hang time. The alarm sound is very loud, with vibrating feedback – super useful! There’s also a nice app for your phone to view dive details. Switching from freshwater to saltwater is easy. Found the best dive spot? Jjust save the GPS location. The basics and some more – great!

Now, let’s talk about this watch besides depth training.

Pool training
Many of us freedivers train in the pool. We do regular swimming, static, and dynamic with some exotic variations like tables, stop-and-go, etc. The watch has auto-lane detection which works okay-ish when doing breaststroke or front crawl (freestyle). However, when doing dynamic apnea, the strokes change, and lane detection fails. I asked Garmin if there could be a way to teach the watch to detect apnea lanes. Garmin is researching, but so far, no luck. It is possible to push a button when turning, but breaking form and relaxation is not worth it – in my opinion.

The heart rate measurement seems very accurate. Good insights for training cardio, dynamic, and static. The watch is also able to register the level of oxygen in your blood. Unfortunately, this takes 20-30 seconds and does not work during an activity. So, not possible to track during STA or DYN. Garmin says this is a hardware challenge, to me, it seems like a software thing. I have a 10 euro HR/pulse ox finger clip that works like a charm on dry land…

Dry/other training
For dry training, the watch connects super easily to the STAmina app most of us know and use. Works flawlessly!

When you do cross-training, this watch is perfect! Hiking, biking, swimming, weight training. Most bases are covered, however doing a 2-hour long freedive session in cold water with many 25-30m dives gives you hardly any training load. Same goes for DYN and STA – because of low heart rate, the watch thinks you are just being lazy… Unfortunately, it’s not possible to add an activity based on perceived intensity. For me, this means that basically all my freedive exercises and activities when not wearing the watch (ie bouldering and dirt biking) are not included, which makes the optimal training ranges of the training load function almost useless. C’mon Garmin – it’s easy to overtrain in freediving. Please help us prevent this 🙂

Another way to check if you’re recovering well is the HRV results you get overnight, but then you have to wear the watch every night. I got used to it, but like sleeping without it better.

From what I’ve heard, this is also a good smartwatch for email and texts, etc. I don’t use it that way. Scuba diving needs seem to be covered as well. Oh, and it tells the time 😉

If you think about paying the premium for solar, don’t. Maybe if you really want the color the solar versions come in, but for charging 2% for a day outside, this extra cash is not justified in my opinion. The watch has a great battery life. A good freedive session will take about 20% of the battery. Solar won’t be able to keep up. Maybe if you do long multiple day hikes, this is a good function to have.

The watch seems very strong, is lightweight, and looks great. It’s really good for freediving and tracking lifestyle and health; however, the G1 is not cheap. I feel there’s more potential in this watch. Garmin was a big sponsor of at Vertical Blue 2023 – win! Let’s hope they’ll give the software side of this watch a bit more attention for us freedivers.