Advanced wearables like the Garmin Forerunner 745 are on a different level than fitness trackers from brands like Fitbit and Samsung, which are well-rounded crowd-pleasers that ably cover basic wellness. This high-end multi-sport fitness tracker was created with triathletes in mind, and provides data on everything from blood oxygen saturation to aerobic and anaerobic impact, training load, and training efficiency.
All of these important metrics are monitored by the Forerunner 745, which comes in a comfortable form factor and includes other connected features that busy users will appreciate. Smartphone notifications, contactless payment, and the ability to store up to 500 songs allow you to use this watch as a standalone music player while on the trail, bike, or in the pool are just a few of the features.
In just two weeks, I’ve only scratched the surface of what this watch is capable of tracking, measuring, and supporting. As a runner and a very infrequent cyclist, the Forerunner 745 felt like a personal trainer and training companion who came along for the ride. This capable tracker, on the other hand, can provide valuable support and a simple user experience to anyone interested in taking their training to the next level or becoming a serious single or multi-sport hobbyist.
Design: Rugged without being overbearing
The Forerunner 745 is built to handle everything from the trail to the road to the pool with ease. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass DX, the bezel is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, and the silicone strap is supple, wicking, and durable all the way down to the clasp. The Forerunner 745 is designed to fit wrists measuring 126 to 216 millimeters (5 to 8.5 inches), according to Garmin. That was sufficient for me and my 5.5-inch wrist, which was never overworked.
With a weight of 47 grams and dimensions of 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 millimeters, this watch falls between other Garmin triathlon-focused GPS watches like the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Garmin Forerunner 735xt. That’s 3 grams lighter than the 945 and less physically large than the 735xt. The Forerunner series’ signature sunlight-reflective 1.2-inch display provides unmistakable visibility outside and is large enough to avoid looking like a watch designed specifically for men. In comparison to the Garmin Venu, it didn’t feel like it added significantly more hardware, and the slimmer overall profile helps this watch blend in for everyday wear.
Anyone who has read the Forerunner series knows that there will be buttons. For all interactions, the Forerunner 745 has five buttons (three on the left and two on the right). Garmin does an excellent job of making buttons that are easy to use, and this watch is no exception. Even if you’re a newcomer, the buttons will become second nature quickly thanks to the intuitive placement and helpful reminders (both symbols and text indicators) if you need them.
Comfort: An easy all-day accessory
With its high-level tracking ability, the Forerunner 745 combines a desirable mix of comfort and smart looks. The strap and bezel color options, which include red, gray, black, and a light seafoam green (Neo Tropic), which I tested, contribute to the watch’s daily wear flexibility. The bezel buttons are also appealing, and nothing on the watch, including the face and buttons, protrudes, preventing the 745 from looking too much like a sports watch.
Even as someone who sleeps on her side, I found sleeping with the Forerunner 745 to be a breeze. I rarely had the feeling that the band was too tight or the face was too heavy to sleep comfortably in the morning or (mid-sleep).
While I didn’t have access to a pool to put the Forerunner 745 through its paces, it is safe to swim and snorkel in waters up to 50 meters deep. This watch is certainly ready for casual and training workouts in the pool and open waters, based on its unflappability in the shower (the display was completely unaffected and the entire device looked barely wet).
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Performance: Detailed with unlimited potential
The Forerunner 745’s tracking abilities are nothing short of amazing. The 745 has an optical heart-rate sensor and a pulse oximeter in addition to GPS, a gyroscope, accelerometer, and barometric altimeter, among other sensors. While sleeping and awake, these systems measure resting and active heart rates, VO2 max, respiration, and heart rate, as well as blood oxygen saturation, which the device uses to track overall health and as an indicator of altitude adjustment.
The Forerunner 745 combines all of this data to calculate weekly training effort and recovery based on Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which essentially describes how hard your body has to work to return to normal after physical exertion. This graph may be useful in determining whether your training load is optimal. The ability of the Forerunner 745 to analyze training load and benefit, aerobic and anaerobic intensity, and projected recovery time could be beneficial to some multisport athletes in terms of promoting smarter training and avoiding overdoing it.
The Forerunner 745’s tracking abilities are nothing short of amazing.
I was impressed the 745 detected it on one run when I felt like I was exerting myself more than usual. Its assessment, as well as the workout recommendations to help me get back on track, felt spot on. As the watch gains a better understanding of your training load and response, it responds with more accurate heart rate data and VO2 max calculations, as well as suggested workouts that may help some users achieve their training goals.
The Forerunner 745 supports an impressive range of sports for workout tracking, as you’d expect from a Garmin wearable. The triathlon preset workout profile with lap handovers, on the other hand, is invaluable to triathletes. Another useful feature for cyclists and triathletes is the speed and cadence sensor support. Pairing my connected bike tracker with the Forerunner 745 was simple and quick, and data delivery from the sensor to the watch was instantaneous.
I was impressed the 745 detected it on one run when I felt like I was exerting myself more than usual.
It’s difficult to cover everything the Forerunner 745 can do, which includes outdoor adventure navigation with point-to-point and breadcrumb trail navigation visuals to keep you on track. Adding more devices, such as a heart strap monitor or a cadence monitor, could give you even more information about things like heart rate stress variability and stride efficiency. For the target user, the possibilities for capturing and interpreting relevant training data appear to be nearly endless.
Battery: The one major weak point
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is an excellent advanced training tool, but its battery life is its biggest flaw. It can last up to one week in smart mode, 16 hours in GPS mode without music, and up to 21 hours in Ultra Trac mode, which reduces the GPS frequency update rate to 1-minute intervals, according to Garmin. I used the watch in smartwatch mode with my phone connected, heart-rate monitoring on all the time, and GPS mode set to default, and the battery drained to 9% in four days, even without playing any music.
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is an excellent advanced training tool, but its battery life is its biggest flaw.
Disconnecting the phone significantly reduced battery drain, but I’m skeptical about the week-long performance. Instead of draining to 60% by the middle of the second day after a charge, the watch’s battery hovered around 85%. The battery drain was also significantly less in GPS mode than when the phone was connected.
The watch dropped from 62 percent to 58 percent during one 30-minute run, and from 75 percent to 62 percent when the phone was connected. The Forerunner 745 recharges quickly, despite the slightly disappointing battery life. I noticed that the average charge time was only 1.25 hours.
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Software: Responsive and user-friendly
The Garmin Forerunner 745 runs on the Garmin OS and is heavily reliant on the Garmin Connect companion app. Even if the Connect app isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, the intuitive, flexible layout complements and enhances the Forerunner 745’s already impressive performance. Simple graphs are presented in the Connect app for quick but long-term understanding of trends from day to day, weekly, month to month, and year to year. Every data screen also has a Help section in the upper right corner with concise and informative explanations.
All of the widgets on the Connect app’s main screen are identical to the layout on the device, with the option to expand and drill down further on each data point. You can also rearrange them using the watch’s Widgets section or the mobile app. All of this customization can be done in the app’s My Device section, where you can add and arrange workout apps, enter payment information for the Garmin Pay app, and manage apps downloaded from the Garmin IQ store, which works reasonably well but loads slowly.
The device comes preloaded with Deezer and Spotify, as well as enough onboard storage for syncing and storing up to 500 songs. I only loaded 50 songs, but the download took less than 10 minutes, and pairing Bluetooth headphones was also a breeze. Although the connected features aren’t as extensive as those of a full-fledged smartwatch, I found that smartphone and system notifications were delivered quickly. The addition of an emergency alert system, which you can set up in the app, adds an extra layer of security in the event of a spill or fall while training.
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Price: Steep, any way you slice it
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a GPS watch that tracks and analyzes your performance in great detail. The advanced ability comes with a hefty price tag as a trade-off. This premium fitness tracker, which costs $500 (), isn’t for the casual exerciser or the shopper looking for a smartwatch. The Forerunner 745 is a great value for the serious runner or multisport athlete (or the user who wants to step up their training). Similar trackers from competitors like Polar also ask for the benefit of deep performance insights, which is a long-term investment.
Garmin Forerunner 745 vs. Polar Vantage V2
Another next-generation fitness tracker aimed at triathletes and data-hungry athletes is the Polar Vantage V2. It costs nearly $500 and has many of the same metrics as the Forerunner 745, as well as a slew of other features that the former lacks, such as a breakdown of energy use during a workout based on carb, fat, or muscle use. With a battery life of 40 hours in regular GPS mode and up to 100 hours when switched to a low-energy GPS setting, the Vantage V2 outperforms the Forerunner 745. It also has a fit advantage because it caters to smaller wrists measuring 120 to 190 millimeters and is rated for swimming in 100-meter waters, which is twice the water resistance of the Forerunner 745.
While the Vantage V2, like the Forerunner 745, has an LCD touchscreen and five buttons, the display isn’t anti-reflective, and the solid aluminum construction makes it heavier (52 grams versus 47 grams). Aside from notifications and the ability to control music playing on a smartphone, the Vantage V2 can’t match the Forerunner’s 745 smart features. The extra smart features (NFC pay, music storage), widget availability, and other useful wellness tools like hydration, menstrual, and SPO2 tracking on the Forerunner 745 provide insights and customization that the Vantage V2 lacks.
Both devices could help enhance athletic performance for some users and require a hefty investment, but fit and software preferences will likely be the most helpful deciding factors for most users.
The Final Word
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a cutting-edge fitness tracker for serious runners and multi-sport athletes looking to improve their results. While the high price may deter some casual fitness enthusiasts, the user-friendly software, onboard music storage, slew of smart features, and sheer volume of metrics all make a compelling case for investing in and growing with this smart wearable.