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Garmin Forerunner 945 review

The ultimate running watch

Garmin Forerunner 945 review
(Image: © TechRadar)

Our Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 945 offers everything a serious runner should need from a wearable and then some. You'll probably never use every feature, but if running is your focus and you're training at a high level, then this is the watch for you. Everyone else should probably look elsewhere.

For

  • Very accurate GPS and heart rate
  • Useful full-color maps
  • Superb battery life

Against

  • Expensive
  • Iffy swim tracking
  • Rugged design

Garmin’s range of watches has grown so vast, you’ll burn enough calories just trying to choose the right one. The Fenix line is still king of the multi-sport, while the Vivomove, Vivoactive and Venu (yes, all different watches) each bring their own unique flavors.

But when it comes to the art of running, the Forerunner line is still the best range, and among them, the Garmin Forerunner 945 is top dog.

The 945 is a total powerhouse, with every bell and whistle a runner could ask for. Acclimation tracking? Check. Training load? Check. Recovery time? Check. Garmin Pay for buying yourself a protein shake afterwards? Go ahead and slap your wrist on that cash terminal, friend. You earned it.

All of which means you may not actually need the 945. With so much variety in Garmin’s range, you could 'step down' a level to something like the Garmin Forerunner 935 or Garmin Forerunner 645 and retain most of the core features.

So, is the Garmin Forerunner 945 really worth it? Here’s our full review.

Garmin Forerunner 945 price and release date

  • Out now
  • Costs $599.99/£519.99/AU$949 but sometimes reduced

The Garmin Forerunner 945 launched in April 2019 for $599.99/£519.99/AU$949. That’s a lot of money for a sports watch, but you’re paying for the whole gamut of Garmin features here, all wrapped up in a powerful GPS watch.

Thankfully, it can sometimes be found at a reduced price from some retailers. In the US for example it was recently available for $490. That would put it at roughly $100 less than the Garmin Fenix 6 and $100 more than the Garmin Forerunner 935.

Because the 945 is only a few months old, you’re probably not going to see it slide much lower than that for a while. This is, after all, Garmin’s flagship running watch.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and screen

  • Good screen visibility
  • 1.2-inch display with 240 x 240-pixel density
  • Sturdy build but strap is annoying

Garmin has started exploring more fashionably-aware sports watches, particularly with its most recent Garmin Venu smartwatch, but the 945 sticks to a more Garmin-traditional, rugged design. It only comes in one case size (47 x 47 x 13.7mm) and two colors (black with a black strap, or black with a blue strap).

It’s certainly not as huge as the Fenix 6X, but it’s still… a little hulking, large and likely to alienate a lot of the female market. Patek Philippe probably wasn’t consulted on this one, but it’s perfectly functional for its duties.

You’ve got five buttons around the screen, three on the left and two on the right, all necessary for navigating the UI and each giving a satisfying click. There’s no touchscreen here, and having spent too much time dragging sweaty fingers across them on other watches, we’re fine with Garmin’s decision to ditch the touchscreen altogether. Sometimes, buttons are just better.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Garmin uses a transflective display technology for that 1.2-inch screen, which has the effect of making it more visible in sunlight. There’s a backlight too, which can be turned on with a push of the top-left button, or automatically with a turn of the wrist, though by default that’s only set for workouts (where it’s handy for those evening runs and pool sessions).

The 945 comes with a silicone band which fastens securely but can be annoying to take off and put on. When it’s on, however, it’s not going anywhere.

The heart rate monitor on the underside of the watch protrudes ever so slightly to give it better contact with the skin.

And at 50g the Forerunner 945 is light enough, and overall not uncomfortable to wear. There’s sleep tracking on offer, so you could wear it to bed, but while we're used to wearing watches when we sleep, we find the 945 a little too big.

The upside of the uninspiring rugged design is that this watch feels capable of withstanding anything you throw at it. It’s water rated to 5ATM, and we’ve taken it swimming multiple times and had no issues.