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Triathlon Sport Watches Review: Garmin Forerunner 945

Premium multisport watch that also has impressive smartwatch features

Photo by: Garmin.com

Round four of our multisport watches review is the flagship watch from Garmin, the Forerunner 945. There’s a reason that you’ll see this watch on the wrist of many serious triathletes – it is a powerhouse in terms of features and performance.

Forerunner 945

Remember the days when the ultimate triathlon sport watch that could give you all the data you wanted for swimming, biking and running used to be the size of a small phone that you somehow fit onto your wrist? OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, I know, but many of you can remember those clunky units that we used to cart around in order to get our speed, pace and distance information.

Those days? Long gone. Meet the Garmin Forerunner 945, a super-watch that weights just 50 g and is a tiny 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm. This lightweight wonder can sync to your power meter, track your pace or speed or altitude or, well, think of any metric you want and this watch will handle it – even oxygen saturation at altitude. It doesn’t stop there, either. The 945 also syncs with your phone, can play music (it can store up to 1,000 songs), tracks your daily activities including sleep and the number of steps you might take in a day and can even make some suggestions about your training. Thanks to a new Sony chip that’s been incorporated into the Forerunner 945, the watch also manages to achieve some more than impressive power numbers. You’ll get 60 hours of battery life in smartwatch mode, 30 hours in ultratrack mode and 10 hours in GPS mode playing music.

This watch does so much, in fact, that I would hazard a guess that most triathletes won’t come close to utilizing all of its features, but, even if you’re only going to utilize a few of this watches impressive abilities, you will be blown away by how useful a training tool the 945 can be.

Triathlon features

With everything the 945 has going for it, it’s worth noting that when it comes to the basics of tracking swimming, biking and running data, this watch shines. GPS tracking is extremely accurate and you even have access to maps to keep track of where you’re at. Optical HR sensors seem to be hit and miss for some people – they either work very well or they don’t. This one worked very well for me, as have most of the optical sensors I’ve tried.

The 945 syncs with Ant+ and Bluetooth sensors, so you can easily track all of your data on the bike, too. For those who like to bike and run with music you can either download some tunes or sync music from a streaming service like Spotify via Wi-Fi, connect some Bluetooth headphones and enjoy some tunes as you power through your set.

The Garmin 945 is one of the watches that works with Form goggles that provide a heads up display of your swim data while you are doing an open water swim. Photo: Form

The 945 is one of the watches that also connects with Form goggles for open water swimming – the heads up display in the goggles will display your time, heart rate, distance and other metrics as your swimming. It is wonderful to be able to see all that information without having to stop and look at the watch, and the goggles/ 945 combo make for a great way to do interval training in open water, too.

In addition to providing excellent data while you’re swimming, the 945 really shines as a triathlon watch, allowing you to also track brick workouts and races with ease. You can even use certain Garmin bike computers to mirror your screen while you’re racing, so you don’t have to worry about fiddling with another computer. Once you’re finished a workout it’s a breeze to get everything synced – you can use Garmin Connect Mobile on your phone, or Garmin Connect on your computer to download all your data. From there it’s easy to get it all synced on Training Peaks or whatever training program you’re using.

Some other interesting features included in the 945 include its ability to predict performances and to measure your VO2 Max. It also keeps track of your sleep habits and, thanks to that optical sensor, can keep an eye on your HR all day long to help you keep track of whether or not you might be over training. If you carry your phone with you on the bike or run, the 945 can even provide “incident detection” to get help if something happens to you while you’re training.


In addition to the sleep and activity analysis the watch can do, the 945 can also provide feedback on you workouts. Based on the stats from your workouts and training history, the watch can figure out your training load score for the last week or month, which helps you keep an eye on your training to ensure you’re not overdoing things. The watch can also monitor your heat or altitude acclimation, too.

Day to day use

With all that this watch does, it’s worth spending some time learning all the ins and outs, but you certainly can get yourself started quickly and easily. The menus are easy to work through and, for those who have used a Garmin watch before, will be quite intuitive. The 945 is so small and light compared to other high-end multisport watches that you’ll have no qualms wearing it all the time to get the most out of its many features.

Add in all the smartwatch features including notifications and Garmin pay and it won’t be long before the 945 becomes an integral part of your day. The smartphone features on the 945 are truly impressive – it pairs easily with either an iPhone or Android device. When paired with a Samsung phone it offered many of the features you’ll find with the Apple Watch – it is a more than capable smart watch in addition to being one of the best multisport watches available.

For those looking for a top-of-the-line multisport watch coupled with a very capable smart watch, Garmin’s 945 is the watch for you. That’s especially true if you are an Android phone user.