Garmin Forerunner 745 review TL;DR: this multisport watch is among the very best choices for runners, cyclists, swimmers, and particularly triathletes. It is not quite what you'd call cheap, but it is comparatively affordable for a watch that tracks all three triathlon disciplines accurately.
It is as much of a blessing as it is a curse to review Garmin watches. It is great because the best Garmin watches tend to be precise with sports features aimed at athletes, which is the case with the Garmin Forerunner 745. But it's also difficult to criticise them since everything that might bother me at the moment will be fixed in one of the many software updates the Forerunner 745 will get regularly.
While other manufacturers send software updates sporadically, it is a rare sight taking off a Garmin watch from the charger and not seeing a 'heart rate sensor was updated' and 'widget view has been updated' messages flashing up on the screen. If you buy a Garmin watch, you get a device that probably already performs better than competition straight out of the box but also one that will be updated literally over a hundred times before you decide to retire it.
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is one of the best triathlon watches and best running watches that will satisfy most athletes' needs. Better still, it seamlessly integrates into the larger Garmin ecosystem and improves on the few shortcomings of the Forerunner 945, and at a lower price, to boot.
Garmin Forerunner 745: price and availability
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is available to buy at Garmin for £449.99 / $499.99 / $849 AUD ($929 NZD).
It is available in Black, Neo Tropic, Magma Red or Whitestone colourways.
Garmin Forerunner 745 review: features
When it comes to features, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is closer to the Forerunner 945 than the Garmin Forerunner 245 and even the Forerunner 645. It actually bears much less resemblance to its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. Perhaps that’s not so surprising as the latter came out over four years ago, and fitness wearables have moved on significantly in that time.
As mentioned in our Garmin Forerunner 745 vs Forerunner 945 comparison, both running watches offer a very similar user experience in terms of available features. Since the recent release of the Forerunner 745, Garmin has already updated the Garmin Forerunner 945 so it also includes the 'daily workout suggestions' feature, much like the Forerunner 745.
As well as that, the Garmin Forerunner has a bunch of other features athletes will appreciate, such as
- VO2 max estimation
- Training status evaluation
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- All-day stress monitoring (Body Battery)
- Blood oxygen sensor (Pulse Ox)
- Smart notifications
- Weather updates
- Calories burned
- On-board music storage (e.g. Spotify offline)
...and the list goes on.
Physically, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is also almost identical to the Forerunner 945: the screen is the same size and resolution (1.2" and 240 x 240 px, respectively), the straps size is the same, both uses Corning Gorilla Glass DX lens etc. The Forerunner is a bit lighter and has a shorter battery life than the Forerunner 945, although from a practical point of view, it is still pretty long.
Garmin Forerunner 745 review: sport modes and tracking
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is capable of performing the lactate threshold test when paired with a compatible heart rate monitor, for example the new Garmin HRM-Pro. This test determines a 10K-half marathon pace above which lactate will start building up in your muscles exponentially.
Combining the Forerunner 745 with a Garmin heart rate monitor will provide you with even more running data than just lactate threshold, including ground contact time, balance, cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation/ratio and running power. These are the same details any other compatible Garmin watch is capable of producing, paired up with a heart rate monitor strap.
Despite not having offline maps like the Forerunner 945, the Garmin Forerunner 745 still has a few tricks up in its sleeve to track outdoor activities which might make it (even) more appealing to trail runners and MTB riders. The '3D Speed and Distance' features calculates speed and distance using both the elevation change and horizontal movement over ground. So, even if the GPS says you moved a 100m only from point A to point B, the Garmin 745 takes into account the actual distance travelled up or down.
The Forerunner 745 has a dedicated triathlon sports mode as well, which would be an odd thing to miss as Garmin very much emphasises that the Forerunner 745 is a triathlon watch. The triathlon mode is the same found in the Forerunner 945: you can switch between principles by pressing a single button, as opposed to having to start different sport modes during transition. Better still, the triathlon mode also has transition segments as well so time spent in transition won't count as swim/cycle/run time.
The Garmin Forerunner 745 enjoys being in the water just as much as on dry land. Admittedly, I didn't have the chance to try the underwater performance of the 745 due to pool-usage restrictions in my area, but in theory, the watch can track distance, pace, stroke count/rate, SWOLF and calories in open water and length, distance, pace, stroke count SWOLF and calories during pool swims.
If you are swimming in a pool, the Garmin Forerunner 745 will also be able to detect stroke type as well as being capable 'drill logging' and it has a basic rest timer and aut rest feature too. Most importantly, the watch tracks heart under water and also compatible with both the HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim heart rate monitors, the latter being the one that won't disintegrate in chlorine-saturated swimming pools.
Garmin Forerunner 745 review: battery life
As mentioned above, the Garmin Forerunner 745 has a shorter battery life than the Forerunner 945. That said, it is still better than most regular smartwatches, mainly because the Forerunner 745 uses a memory-in-pixel screen that's always on but at the same time, only changes the pixels when they need to be changed. It's like an advanced Kindle screen (sort of).
Based on my experience, the Forerunner 745 will easily last for almost a week between charges, that is if you don't go for 1+ runs every day and check the watch all all the time. I also have the Pulse Ox and smart notifications turned off most usually: I don't much care about the former and the latter is just too distracting. Should you have everything turned on, the battery life will reduce significantly (obviously).
Officially, the Garmin Forerunner 745 will last:
- Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
- GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
- GPS mode without music: Up to 16 hours
- UltraTrac mode: Up to 21 hours
Garmin Forerunner 745 review: accuracy
As expected, the Garmin Forerunner 745 works with great accuracy. Compared to other Garmin watches which I know have precise sensors, such as the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, the Forerunner 745 provides almost the same measurements. It is not surprising as this watch has the same oHR sensor (Garmin Elevate V3) as all the other top-of-the range Garmin watches.
The GPS is pretty accurate too: it most cases it was so precise it put me on the right side of the road on the map when viewing my runs in the Garmin Connect app. Needless to say, if you zoom all the way in on that map you will see that sometimes you clipped into walls and/or trees, but generally, it is more than adequate to track outdoor activities.
Garmin Forerunner 745 review: verdict
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is probably the best Garmin running watch you can buy at the moment, pound-for-pound. It represents the goldilocks-zone of Forerunners and offers just the right amount of features and battery life for the right price. It is somewhat cheaper than the Forerunner 945 and trims some of its over-the-top-features (sorry, archers) and offers more precision, faster and more reliable GPS connection than the cheaper Forerunner 245, especially if you are using your watch for triathlons.
We can go on forever dissecting the many features of the Forerunner 745 but there is no point. You have seen most of them in other Garmin watches already and the main advantage of the Forerunner 745 is not that it brings a lot of new innovation to the table, but that it uses the right blend of previously tried-and-tested hardware and software.
I'm sure we'll see a lot of software updates coming out for the Forerunner 745 in the coming months and years so even if you feel like it's not the most precise running watch yet, you can rest assured it will get more and more precise as time goes on. If you are happy with how the hardware looks like/feels on the wrist, we recommend getting the new Forerunner 745, it's a worthy investment.
Garmin Forerunner 745 review: also consider
The Garmin Forerunner 745 might be light but not as light as the Coros Pace 2 that weighs less than 30 grams with the band. The Coros Pace 2 also has a pretty good screen and can measure running power on the wrist without any external sensors, much like the Polar Vantage V. The battery life is also excellent and it costs way less than the top forerunner models.
Suunto just recently rolled out the mother of all updates to its Google Wear OS-powered smartwatch, the Suunto 7. The Suunto 7 has a large and beautiful touch screen, although the touch part is a bit laggy. The Suunto 7 is also cheaper than the Forerunner 745 and since it runs Wear OS, it has a bunch of smartwatch-y features too.