Garmin Forerunner 245 vs. 745: Which Should You Pick?

March 30, 2022

Garmin Forerunner 245 in black on the left and Forerunner 745 in mint on the right

The Garmin Forerunner 245 and 745 look incredibly similar, but have a pretty substantial price gap. In this post, I’ll go over the reasons to pick one over the other. 

For context, I’m a marathoner, former triathlon-dabbler, and GPS watch nerd. Over the past few years, I’ve tested 11 GPS watches by borrowing from friends or getting loaners. I bought the FR745 secondhand for this review (which I’ll later pass on), and I was able to use a FR245 loaner for about a month. I do a lot of GPS watch comparisons, so if you’re deciding between other models, check those out.

Also note that this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This income allows me to keep writing these reviews, and I appreciate your support!

Things in Common: Forerunner 245 and 745

The Forerunner 245 and 745 share many features. They include:

Fitness tracking for common activities: running indoors/outdoors, biking indoors/outdoors, pool swimming, cardio, elliptical training, stair stepping, and yoga.

Everyday fitness stats: steps, heart rate, Pulse Ox, stress, sleep, menstrual tracking.

Training metrics: VO2 max, Recovery Time, Race Predictor, Training Load, Training Effect, Body Battery (energy levels based on heart rate variability, stress, and activity).

Workout features: interval workouts, PacePro (helps you create and stick to a pacing plan), suggested workouts, breadcrumb navigation, and Audio Prompts via the Garmin Connect app.

Basic smartwatch features: weather, calendar, messages, find my phone, find my watch, Smart Lock (automatically unlock your phone when watch is in range).

Safety features: LiveTrack and Incident Detection, allowing loved ones to track you during your workouts and be alerted if an incident is detected (your watch must be connected to your phone to access these features)

They do have pretty substantial differences though, so let’s get into those now!

Reasons to Pick the Forerunner 245

garmin forerunner 245 garmin forerunner 245 garmin forerunner 245

The Forerunner 245 is the one of the most popular mid-tier watch models out there, and it’s easy to see why. It offers all the basics, plus some more advanced training features.

Depending on whether you get the music or non-music option, the watch costs $300-350. This is $150-200 cheaper than the Forerunner 745, making it a more budget-friendly option. 

The Forerunner 245 also has 50% longer battery life on GPS without music. It’s a difference of 16 hours for the FR745 vs. 24 hours for the FR245. That’s pretty big! Even in UltraTrac mode, the FR745 only has up to 21 hours. 

If you prefer lighter watches, you might also like the FR245, as it weighs 38.5g vs. 47g for the FR745. The watches are extremely similar in physical size, however, and the display size is actually the same. I have quite small wrists and didn’t prefer one over the other. 

Since the Forerunner 745 is a more premium watch, this section on picking the FR245 is naturally shorter, but it ultimately comes down to whether you need these extra features.

Reasons to Pick the Forerunner 745

Forerunner 745 in mind on my wrist with the menu screen Forerunner 745 in mint resting flat on a white surface Forerunner 745 in mint with the back facing up lying flat on a white surface Forerunner 745 in mint lying on a white surface and showing the side profile with 3 buttons

The Forerunner 745 is a triathlon watch, so it tracks Open Water Swiming, Swimrun, and custom multisport activities. The Forerunner 245 only tracks Pool Swimming, and the FR745 actually has more Pool Swimming features as well, including time and distance alerts, pacing alerts, countdown start, and critical swim speed. 

You’ll find a variety of other activity tracking profiles on the FR745 that aren’t on the FR245:

Pilates Floor Climbing
Hiking Stand up Paddleboarding
Skiing Rowing
Snowboarding Kayaking
Backcountry Skiing Mountain Trail Biking
XC Classic and Skate Skiing  

If you’re a biker, you’ll like that the FR745 is power meter compatible

The Forerunner 745 also has a barometric altimeter, allowing it to track elevation changes more accurately. The FR245 uses GPS to track elevation, and while that should be good enough for road runners, having an altimeter is helpful for activities like hiking and trail running, especially if you want to track real-time elevation changes. If you want accurate elevation stats but don’t necessarily need them real-time, you can always correct the data in Strava. 

Another feature of the FR745 that enhances tracking accuracy is the gyroscope, which improves swim feature performance and rep counting for gym activities. 

Finally, the Forerunner 745 also has a couple more lifestyle features. There is no music and non-music version; all watches come with music storage and ability to download playlists via Spotify Premium, Deezer, Amazon Music, and iHeartRadio. You can also make contactless payments via Garmin Pay. Be sure to check compatibility with your country, bank, and card though.

The Bottom Line

The Forerunner 245 is mainly focused on running. If you don’t need the extra tracking profiles or activity metrics, the FR245 is a perfectly capable option.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for triathlon features, more in-depth biking and pool swim capabilities, or real-time elevation tracking, the Forerunner 745 is a better fit. 

Because I do the ocassional open water swimming, I’d personally go for the FR745 between these two options. It is extremely pricey however, so if you do need a less expensive watch that tracks open water swimming and triathlon, I’d actually recommend the $200 COROS PACE 2 (my personal watch is actually the COROS APEX, but it’s an older model, so I’m waiting until a refresh to recommend it again).

That said, Garmin does have more lifestyle and everyday fitness features. So while I love COROS for its value and great battery life, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You can read more in my COROS vs. Garmin comparison, as I’ve actually been part of both ecosystems.

Where to Buy the Forerunner 245 an 745

If this review helped you, it would mean a ton if you purchased through my affiliate links. I also want to encourage you to buy secondhand or from small, local running stores if you can. I don’t get paid if you do that, so if you still want to show your appreciation financially, you’re welcome to buy me a virtual coffee.

Garmin

Forerunner 245
Forerunner 745

Amazon

Forerunner 245
Forerunner 745

Other retailers

Swappa (used electronics)
REI
eBay


 

Best of luck deciding, and happy running!

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About Me

I'm Lily, and I run races and go places (& blog about it). I also try to advocate for the planet & its people.
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