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Garmin Forerunner 45 and 45S GPS Watch Review


Garmin’s Basic GPS Watch Just Got Better

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is a useful and well-thought-out beginner’s running watch. All the basics are there and are well done. A few extras elevate the Forerunner 45 to be a great overall value for the cost.


  • GPS tracking is accurate
  • Comes with free Garmin coaching programs
  • Heart rate monitor is about as accurate as the technology permits
  • Track data on your smartphone by synching it with Bluetooth
  • Great for beginners


  • Doesn’t offer as many features for advanced athletes
  • Appearance is casual, more to go with workout apparel
  • Slower to connect to GPS signal than others
  • Only three data fields visible at a time on screen display

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GPS watches and tracking gadgets have been very popular over the past few years, and continue to improve in style and functionality. These tracking devices provide a wealth of data, but some of them do come with a hefty price tag.

For the more budget-conscious runner, the Garmin Forerunner 45 and 45S gives each of those spendy gadgets a run for their money. This is, arguably, Garmin’s best GPS watch yet, and all for a reasonable price.

The Forerunner 45 and 45S are nearly identical. The only difference is their size and color. Similar to the aging Forerunner 35 (itself an outstanding entry-level device), the 45 and 45S have added key updates to both features and software. 

This watch is designed with multiple sports in mind, for every active person, although most specifically for runners who cross-train. You can enhance your workouts with any feature, from tracking your miles, to monitoring your heart rate, or loading workouts on it that keep you motivated through to the finish.

Physical Description

The Forerunner 45 is a very lightweight watch with a silicone strap. It comes in two sizes. The small size weighs only 32 grams and is 39.5 x 39.5 x 11.4 mm, fitting wrists 124-185 mm in circumference. The larger size weighs only 36 grams and is 42 x 42 x 11.4 mm, fitting wrists 129-197 mm in circumference. 

The circular 1.04 inch, 209-pixel resolution full-color screen displays large, easy-to-read numbers. This is an improved design, compared to the square 35. With 13 hours of GPS mode, or up to 7 days of smartwatch mode, you will be able to run and use your Forerunner without having to worry about charging the battery all the time. 

There are 5 buttons on the sides of the Forerunner. With these buttons you can use the light, start and stop the timer, go back to the previous screen, and scroll up or down through the display options. You can also accessorize your watch with different watch faces or band colors.


The Forerunner is easy to navigate through the features to keep track of your daily runs and training sessions. With the built in GPS tracking, it can help you reach your goals by knowing just how far you’ve already gone. Use the stats to track your distance, pace, calories burned, or set intervals. 

If you like to be more detailed in your tracking, you can use the step counter or even monitor the quantity and quality of your sleep. The watch can notify you if you have been inactive for too long, or even help you keep track of your stress levels.

If you like to alternate your activities and take a break from running, you can even use the Forerunner to track your cardio or elliptical training. It has an option to add other activities, such as yoga, through their app. No matter what activity you choose, there is a way to use your watch to help monitor it and stay on track.


The heart rate monitor tracks your pulse on your wrist, even while you sleep. You can use the additional heart rate features to monitor workout zones, set alerts if your heart rate is too high, and have it help in calculating calories burned. If you link your Forerunner to other devices, you can stream your heart rate to that device.

The Forerunner comes with an accelerometer sensor, which is useful when running indoors. You can turn off the GPS tracker to save your battery life, but the watch will still track activity intensity based on how your body is moving. The sensor just has to be calibrated prior to using in order for it to learn your movements.


There are a variety of features that come with the Forerunner software. An added feature from the Forerunner 35 is Find My Watch: paired it with your other devices, and you will be able to find your watch if you lose it. 

There are now advanced workouts and downloadable training plans available for the Forerunner 45, which is another upgraded option from the 35. You can customize your workouts and your activity profile, and setting your intervals is easier than ever. You won’t worry about saving too much data, because the Forerunner 45 can store 200 hours of activity.

A great new feature on the Forerunner 45 is compatibility with Garmin Coach training plans. You can get free expert coaching and training plans that are just right for you and your personal goals, or even to closely predict your race time. The workouts sync right to your watch, making it very easy to monitor your progress.

If you ever have a challenge staying motivated, you can join the Garmin Connect community. This is an online community with people just like you trying to stay active and healthy. Team up with a partner and help motivate and encourage each other when you sync your activities to Garmin Connect.

Smart notifications are also a plus when you sync your phone to your watch. That way, you can still get notified when you have incoming calls or texts. You can even skip songs that are playing through your phone by pushing the buttons on your watch.


While all of these running extras are nice, perhaps the smartest upgrade made for the Forerunner 45 is Incident Detection and Assistance. These are new safety features that will help you get assistance if a safety issue comes up. You can share your location or program emergency contacts into your Garmin account prior to use.

The Forerunner has some additional features thrown in, just to try and help make your life a little easier. You can see weather information, to help you know if it’s an indoor or outdoor running day. Use the calendar to keep track of events, and take full advantage of all the smart notification options. 

For female runners, there is an extra feature you may find interesting and useful in the Garmin Connect app. It is period tracking, to help you monitor when your next cycle will be. The data you can use in this feature, and many other features, can be very personalized to your own information. 

The Forerunner 45 also has some great new wellness features that the 35 does not have. There is all-day stress monitoring that watches your stress level. If your stress starts to increase, just tap into the relaxation breathing timer, which will help guide you through a breath pattern to calm your body and mind. 

Body Battery energy monitoring is another new option on the 45. This feature gathers your body data over time to determine how much energy you might have in reserves at any time. Using the energy monitoring would be useful to help gauge if you have energy for more activity, or should rest for a while.

Compatible Accessories

Garmin wanted to make sure you had everything you needed with the accessories available for the Forerunner 45. First, of course, the Garmin Connect App helps you set up your Forerunner, as well as track, program, and set all your fitness goals easily by syncing with your watch.

You can pick up different watch band colors and a carrying case for when you are not wearing it. If you prefer the traditional, but more accurate, way of monitoring your heart rate, Garmin offers a chest strap heart rate monitor that syncs with your watch. 

The Foot Pod by Garmin is another device that is used to improve tracking when you are running indoors. You can attach the Foot Pod to your shoelaces, or even tuck it down under the sole of your shoe. This device uses inertial-sensor technology to decipher your movements, reaching about 98% accuracy for distance and speed.

If you like to offset your workouts with cycling, Garmin offers cycling accessories to help with tracking your cycling activity on your Forerunner 45. There are wireless bike speed and cadence sensors that install easily on the hub of your wheel, giving you distance and speed data for each ride.

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Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner