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Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Watch Review

 

A high-end GPS running watch at a mid-level price

The Forerunner 245 doesn’t offer any features we haven’t seen before. But it does take some of the things only found on high-end Garmin watches in the past and placed them in this mid-level running watch. This includes advanced training metrics, swim tracking, and music storage and playback. The Forerunner 245 is an able successor to the Forerunner 235 adding new features and better battery life.

PROS:

  • Attractive, lightweight, and comfortable design
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable
  • Improved safety features
  • Improved optical heart rate sensor for better tracking, helping you better understand training impacts on your body

CONS:

  • No barometer so less accurate elevation data
  • No maps like more expensive Garmin models
  • Some users report bluetooth connection issues

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The Garmin Forerunner 245 is an excellent running GPS watch with advanced training features. The 245 is finally replacing the Forerunner 235, originally released back in 2015.

If you are a runner looking to improve your stats, this watch has all the features you could want for running at an affordable price.

Physical description

If you are used to the Forerunner 235, you’ll notice a slight design change with the 245 that takes comfort to the next level. The watch has a nice casual look to it.

Instead of the corners on the top and bottom of the 235, the 245 has completely rounded and smoothed all edges. This may not seem like a huge deal but Garmin created a watch that you forget you’re wearing!

The gorilla glass that replaced the watch face is durable and scratch-resistant compared to the Forerunner 245.

The watch fits very comfortably on your wrist. Garmin shaved .2 oz off the Forerunner 245 for a total weight of 1.3 oz, making it extremely lightweight. The new polymer casing replaced the old plastic feeling of the Forerunner 235.

The watch also comes with Garmin’s standard quick-release silicone band, which is great for ease of taking the watch off and replacing the band. The band also has perforations, allowing more air through for increased breathability. We love wearing this watch all day.

Screen size & resolution

The screen is 1.2 inches in diameter, which is large enough to make checking the screen easy without it taking over your wrist. The resolution is great as well, upgraded to 240 x 240 pixels (from 215 x 180 pixels with the 235).

The screen also displays well in direct sunlight. You won’t have any complaints about the screen!

Battery

The Forerunner 245 has increased battery life compared to 235, which only had 16 hours. For all the ultrarunners this change is great! You can expect 24 hours with the 245 in normal GPS mode, and 24 hrs+ with Garmin’s UltraTrac mode.

For normal everyday usage in smartwatch mode, the Forerunner 245 will last up to 7 days.

Buttons and user experience

The watch is intuitive to use and the metal buttons have a good feel. The display on the FR 245 isn’t touch screen, but I actually prefer to use the buttons as there are no issues when you’re sweaty.

The buttons on the Forerunner 245 follow the same Garmin layout you are used to if you are a consistent Garmin user. The buttons require a good amount of pressure, preventing accidental pressing. Two buttons on the right control start/stop and back. The three buttons on the left control the light as well as up and down selection.

The easiest way to start tracking a run is the top right button highlighted in red, which will probably be the button you use most often!

Screen customization

All screens can be customized. You can change the screens on the watch but it’s much easier to change things up with the app on your phone. We like the ability to change the watch face with custom faces downloaded from the app.

You can also customize the activity list and widget loop by changing the appearance or re-ordering locations of these items. Or, you can simply remove any activities you don’t plan on using to make navigation easier.

I especially like the race pace watch face configuration, which helped me stay on a desired pace by giving me how far ahead or behind I am based on a pre-set finish time.

healthy young woman trail runner running on beautiful trail

Activities

Running

Outdoor runs are recorded with great accuracy. If you run with the watch with GPS+GLONASS, you will get highly accurate GPS tracks of your runs. You even have the option to change the profile of your run to trail running. The 245 helps you become a better runner through a variety of metrics. The Forerunner 245 gives you the standard stats including distance, pace, time, and cadence.

After a run, you’ll also see average and max heart rate as well as aerobic and anaerobic training effect. The watch also breaks down your heart rate into zones, so you get to see exactly how long you spent in each zone. VO2Max, thanks to the optical heart rate sensor, will help you see how training is progressing.

You can also analyze your past runs through seeing your best run times for 1 mi, 5K/10K, as well as half and full marathons. Run totals for the week and month are also broken down.

For indoor running, if you are on a treadmill you have the option to manually calibrate the distance after 1 mile for increased accuracy. The watch uses cadence for accuracy on a treadmill, so if you want more accuracy you’ll need a footpod.

You also have the option of choosing indoor track, which is a lot like treadmill running in terms of tracking.

Cycling

If you want to track cycling with the Forerunner 245, you have the option of choosing biking or indoor biking.

You can track distance, time, laps, as well as average and maximum speeds. The watch will give you training effect information and show you similar information that you get from running.

Walking

You can choose either indoor walking or walking as a workout profile and get basic information about your speed, distance, and time.

Swimming

This watch only tracks pool swims, so keep this in mind if you want more specific open water swim metrics. You’ll get metrics to include distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories burned, and swim efficiency (SWOLF). The 245 is also hardy when it comes to water, with a rating for water up to 164 feet.

The Forerunner 245 can detect your stroke type for freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. You can also log drills for any type of swimming that’s not one of the major 4 strokes. All in all, the watch is not designed for in-depth swimming training but will help you record basic stats.

Note that if you want to track your heart rate, the optical heart rate monitor on the watch doesn’t work underwater and you’ll need a chest strap.

Hardware

The upgraded hardware in this watch will help you accurately track your runs. The one sensor missing in the 245 that is some of Garmin’s higher-end watches is a barometric altimeter, so elevation tracking isn’t as accurate.

The included new compass is a nice feature to help you explore new areas you’re unfamiliar with.

Heart rate monitor

The heart rate monitor included on the Forerunner 245 is Garmin’s new elevate optical sensor, which is very accurate and comfortable as it sits flush against your skin.

You’ll be able to see your HR zones, receive HR alerts, and get calorie estimates from your HR. Recovery time is also estimated based off this sensor.

You also get a SPO2 measurement which checks how well your heart is pumping oxygen through your body. This stat is displayed as a percentage and helps you understand how your body is adjusted to your training.

Accelerometer

The 3-axis accelerometer in the Forerunner 245 is very accurate. It’s self-calibrating, and the accuracy of your speed, distance, and cadence improves the more you use it for running with GPS turned off.

Woman runner checking pace on gps sports watch in forest

Software

Interval training and advanced workouts

You can create interval workouts based on either distance or time. The Garmin Coach comes standard. You can create custom workouts on your own or download and sync workouts to your watch. Working from the app and syncing to the watch is a breeze. These workouts are adaptive to you, which is why we love them as your plan adjusts automatically.

You’ll get free training plans that will help you meet desired time goals and even predict your race time.

Training status & load

Garmin helps you determine where you are at in your training with the Forerunner 245, and they do it well. The watch tells you how your training impacts your performance.

The watch calculates status based off of your training load and VO2 max, which takes into account the heat and humidity to prevent skewing your data.

Training status displays as peaking (ideal condition), productive (moving in the right direction), maintaining, recovery (lighter training load to allow your body to recover), unproductive (decreasing fitness), detraining (training much less), or overreaching (training too high and counterproductive).

The watch gives you an idea of your recovery time through the training load feature, which measures your post-exercise oxygen consumption over the last 7 days.

Using this data you’ll see the number of hours or days for your body to recover after exercise, helping you plan out your workouts without over or under-doing it.

Virtual partner

Another new feature with the Forerunner 245 is the virtual partner feature which allows you to race against a desired pace, showing you how far ahead or behind you are. This displays in terms of time and also shows your average pace.

If you want to race against a previous activity, you can choose your virtual partner from your own history!

Mapping / navigation

The maps on the Forerunner 245 aren’t as robust as some of Garmin’s higher-end models. You won’t see a topo map, just a basic breadcrumb map. You can zoom in to maps to make looking at your course easier.

You can set a navigation course with the watch and you’ll see navigation information as your start your run. 

Rosa Khutor, Russia - May 7, 2017: runner leader race runs in background of mountains and green forests in race Spring mountain marathon

Extras

The watch comes with a lot of extras. With everything from weather to sunset time, you can plan your runs effectively.

Activity tracking

Although this watch is designed to help you improve your runs, it also has activity profiles for a variety of other activities. These include strength, indoor rowing, cardio and elliptical training, stair-stepping, and even yoga.

The watch adjusts to your activity with auto goals based on your activity level. You’ll get automatic rep counting for strength conditioning. You’ll also get stats like body battery to track your energy reserves. The watch will even calculate a fitness age for you.

As for sleep, the 245 is pretty accurate at tracking sleep automatically. You’ll see sleep broken down into 4 stages, to include deep, light, REM, and awake.

Phone notifications

Once you connect your 245 to your phone for the first time, you’ll get notifications to include text messages, social media updates, emails, and even calendar information. Unlike some of the higher-end watches, you can’t hide the notifications that get sent to your watch.

Music storage / playback

The standard Forerunner 245 doesn’t have music storage.

For a price, ($50 on top of the base price) you could choose to upgrade to the Forerunner 245 Music to run without a phone. If you decide to upgrade you’ll get access to music storage and playback for up to 500 songs, as well as Spotify, Deezer, and Pandora.

Keep in mind you’ll have to have the premium versions of Spotify and Deezer in order to use them.

Safety and tracking features

The Forerunner 245’s incident detection and safety tracking features give you some options when it comes to getting in contact with someone if you need help. As an upgrade to the 235, the main thing to note here is that your watch must be connected to your phone via bluetooth.

Assistance lets you send a text with your name and GPS coordinates to an emergency contact. If you enable Incident Detection, this happens automatically through the Garmin Connect app. You also get crash detection for cycling.

LiveTrack lets anyone you invite follow your run with data. If you happen to have an Android, you can even enable Live Event Sharing which gives real-time updates to friends and family during an event, like a race.

Compatible Accessories

The Forerunner 245 is compatible with both bluetooth and ANT+ accessories. The HRM-Run accessory is a great way to up your training, positioned at the chest. If you are interested in running form info, you’ll need a running dynamics (RD) pod that attaches to your waistband.

Running Dynamics Pod

The Forerunner 245 added running dynamics data as the 235 didn’t have it. In order to improve the form of your run, adding a running dynamics pod to your waistband can give you even more metrics.

In order to improve your run the watch analyzes your form to include stride length, ground contact time and balance, vertical oscillation and vertical ratio.

Cycling Accessories

Cycling accessories include cycling cadence, cycling Lights and cycling radar. Note that the Forerunner 245 doesn’t support cycling power meters.

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The Wired Runner