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REVIEW: Garmin Forerunner 945

An in-depth review of Garmin's super watch

Forerunner 945

Meet the all-new Garmin Forerunner 945. As part of Garmin’s new Forerunner series, the 945 is targetted towards those who enjoy multisport events and want their watch to keep up with them – not just in the pool or the bike and run, but in daily life. Despite being visually very similar to its predecessor, the Forerunner 945 includes several upgrades that make it a more triathlon-friendly watch.

Related: Garmin Forerunner 935 reviewed

The 945 isn’t flashy but has everything you would ever want

The Forerunner 945 comes in at 50g and is 47 x 47 x 13.7mm. Being so light, it’s remarkable how many sensors Garmin has built into the 945. New to the Garmin fleet is the switch to Sony GPS/GNSS chips – also used by Polar and Suunto. The Sony GPS chip allows for improved battery life, giving the Forerunner 945 up to two weeks in smartwatch mode, 60 hours in UltraTrac mode and 10 hours in GPS mode with music. While some claim this improved battery life comes at the cost of GPS connection, I found the Garmin Forerunner 945 to be more accurate than other GPS models (bike computer and watch).

Forerunner 945

Related: The Garmin Forerunner 945 headlines the new Forerunner series

The aesthetics of the watch aren’t flashy, but it has an appealing traditional look and is easy to navigate.

You may get lost in all the cool and exciting features

Earlier in the year, Garmin announced music integration on select GPS watches, including the Fenix 5 plus and Vivoactive 3. This interactive feature is also built into the newest Forerunner series. You can now download your favourite 1,000 songs to the 945, all while not having to lug around a phone or dodge wires when you run. You can easily connect your Bluetooth headphones to the Forerunner and get uninterrupted music on the go.

Are you worried about not having a phone on you? The Forerunner 945 has built-in safety and tracking features, including incident detection and assistance. In the case of an emergency, you can also send real-time location updates to emergency contacts.

Related: Garmin announces integration with Spotify

As a triathlete, I get most excited about the new training features. The Forerunner 945 is loaded with activity and performance-related widgets. Nowadays, all GPS watches have sleep and activity analysis, but not all of them give you feedback on your workouts and the training effect they’re having. The Garmin Forerunner 945 does this through a series of algorithms which use the stats from your workout and training history. Garmin is then able to assign a training load focus score to you for the last seven days, as well as the past 30 days. This analysis is broken down into two arrows for fitness and load, allowing you to monitor your performance quickly.

Another cool feature, which I love, is the heat acclimation setting built into the Forerunner. For much of July, Southern Ontario had been hit with a series of heatwaves. This change in the weather has lent its self to some heat training sessions. So, if you’re like me and have a few races coming up in hot weather, you can monitor your heat acclimation with training sessions in the heat. The Forerunner 95 also has a similar setting for altitude acclimation.

The triathlon experience

Over the years, Garmin has made the triathlon and multisport experience seamless. With the hit of one button, you smoothly transition from the swim, T1, bike, T2 and run. While competing and training, I had no complaints with the Garmin Forerunner 945 in a triathlon setting. The buttons were easy to use and have a bit of resistance, which is great when jostling for position in the open water.

What I loved about the Garmin Forerunner 945 experience, was the Extended Display to the Edge 130 and 520+ (pictured above). I found the Forerunner 945 and Edge 130 combo to be ideal for triathlons, as the size of the 130 can fit anywhere on your aerobars. Additionally, because you can easily pair the Forerunner 945, Edge 130, Garmin Vector 3 pedals and heart rate monitor together, I had all the stats I needed on my watch and bike computer.

Monitoring your activity and stress

With the Garmin Connect app, you’re able to set not only fitness goals, but also activity goals. Steps, calories and stairs climbed are three of the many categories you can set a goal for. You can also monitor your sleep, an essential part of your recovery and performance.

One of the most exciting monitoring features of the Forerunner 945 is the stress score. Like the Garmin Vivoactive 3, the 945 uses Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to help discern between “tired” and “too tired.” Additionally, if you pair your watch with a Garmin HR monitor, you can get HRV scores on your watch.

Related: Manage your stress levels with the Garmin Vívoactive 3

Knowing when you need to pull back on your training can be a huge advantage because it allows you to accumulate more training in the long term.  That’s why researchers and coaches have begun to track and monitor HRV (stress). This takes the guesswork out of “a hard bike session on smashed legs” or “recovery/sleep.”

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is the all in one watch you’ve been looking for if you’re an avid triathlete. It completes the demands of daily life with a powerful battery and can more than keep up with your training. The watch alone costs $829.99. In a bundle, it is sold for $1,029.99 (includes HRM-Tri and Swim).