If you are looking for an entry-level GPS tracker, the Garmin Forerunner 45 could be the right choice.
Even though the Garmin Forerunner 45 is now more popular, the Forerunner55, which offers simple, straightforward run tracking in a minimalist watch, remains very popular. It now has some of the same training and wellness features that we’re used to seeing on watches higher up in the Forerunner food chain.
You also get an optical heart rate monitor, adaptive exercise plans, VO2 max and activity tracking, Body Battery energy monitoring, stress tracking, smart notifications, and some very useful safety features like incident detection and live tracking.
The price is high, but there are many options. So could serious runners make savings by choosing this cheaper option? To find out, we put the Forerunner45 through its paces.
The Garmin Sq smartwatch is a good option. It is slim and stylish, has an onboard GPS, and can track your fitness. The Forerunner 45 is a bit more expensive, but if you don’t want the frills the Forerunner 45 might be a better choice.
Garmin Forerunner 45 Price and availability
- Available now in the UK and USA
- Prices: PS169.99 / $199.99/ AU$299 for a new
The Forerunner 45 came in at a PS169.99 / $199.99 / AU$299.00 launch price and was priced alongside the Polar and Coros Pace.
The Forerunner 55 has been released and you can often get a 45 for less than PS100/$120/AU$200.
Garmin Forerunner 45 design & screen
- Simple but not unattractive design
- More plastic than high-end watches
- Easy navigation and controls
There are two Forerunner 45 models: one is the standard 45 with a 42mm case and the other is the 45S with an even smaller 39mm case. This version is suitable for people with smaller wrists. The 42mm case is smaller than other running watches, however.
The fitness trackers have a 1.04 inch, 208×208 color display. While you won’t get an Apple Watch resolution for this price, the screen is bright and clear. The colors also help to make it feel cheerier.
Here you will also find buttons for back, start/stop, up and down, back, up, and down, as well as a backlight. This menu is very familiar to anyone who has used Garmin watches in recent years. It’s also one of the most intuitive navigation and menu structures that you will find on any running watch.
The Forerunner 45 weighs in at 32-36g depending on your size. This is mainly due to the lightweight plastic frame and buttons and soft silicone strap, which some may find a bit pricey.
It’s comfortable and wearable 24/7, which is a bonus. The only problem was the slide of the strap slider, which left the strap’s end flapping from time to time.
The Forerunner 45 can be submerged up to 50m, so it is safe to swim with. However, there are no swimming functions.
In the box, you also get Garmin’s hopefully-now-standard four-pin USB charging cable. Although it’s small, this allows you to charge your Garmin watch with any of the other charging cables. This is very useful indeed.
Garmin Forerunner app, features, and usability
- Personalized training plans for beginners
- Adaptive training programs, VO2 max
- Tracking of Body, Stress, and Sleep onboard
For less than $200/PS200, you get many features. The 45 is perfect for those who run just for fun and need to learn the basics. You can go from couch to 5km, and possibly even to the marathon with this.
You might be more interested in the science behind running and training, so you will want to move up. However, for a low-cost way to monitor your fitness and track runs, this is a solid option.
This watch is all about running. It is primarily a running watch. However, there are 12 activity profiles, including treadmill, indoor track and bike.
These can be customized via Garmin Connect, but it is a bit frustrating to only have six watches at a time. The app allows you to select which one.
Although the watch can store up to 200 hours of training data, it syncs automatically with Garmin Connect via your smartphone, so it is unlikely that you will ever need it.
Garmin Coach is the standout feature of this watch, especially when you consider that it is primarily aimed at beginner runners. Garmin Coach offers customized training plans for runners of all abilities, including half-marathon, 5km, and 10km.
You can choose what your goal is, whether it’s completing a race or hitting a time. Additionally, you can add information such as your favorite run days and your current pace/mileage.
Garmin Connect makes it easy to create training plans. It only takes minutes and the workouts are based on your most recent performance. The first session is a Benchmark Run, which then guides the entire plan.
We found that the plans were sensible and easy to follow. The sessions are sent to your watch every week. They also changed up depending on how we did during the week. If we did not complete the goals or ran shorter than we planned, we were able to adjust our workouts accordingly.
This feature is unlikely to be used if your goal is to attempt a sub 1:5 half. However, if you are training for your first races and distances, it can prove very useful.
For those who are just trying to improve their fitness running, the Forerunner 45 now offers an estimate of VO2 max that you can use to chart your progress.
When it comes to running form metrics, in addition to the usual pace, distance and speed, you also get cadence, probably the most important running mechanics metric for beginner-intermediate runners looking to improve.
You get step counts and activity tracking 24/7, just like most running watches. Optional move alerts will prompt you to get moving if you have been sitting for a long time. The Move IQ feature detects if you are running, biking, or swimming and will display this information in your reports.
You can also set daily steps and intensity goals.
The Forerunner 45 also includes a Body Battery and Stress Tracking, two of Garmin’s latest features. Body Battery is a combination of stats like heart rate, sleep, and activity that shows you – as a score out of 100 – how much energy your body has at any given time. Low Body Battery? You’ll get some power back if you sit still for 15 minutes.
The stress tracker also takes your heart rate into consideration and displays your stress level at any moment. Our stress levels rose when we had a deadline and it also registered higher levels during large work presentations. It’s useful for identifying stress triggers.