Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 – Product Comparison

Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 – Product Comparison

This is a simple product comparison between the Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45

They are both excellent GPS running watches, they were both released in Q2 2019, and they are both designed to satisfy the exact same target market, namely – runners thinking about buying their first GPS watch.

But which one is better? Which has more sports mode, and which one should you buy? In this post, we will do our best to help answer these exact questions. 

Let’s get started. 

Side note – If you’re looking for the Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 245 comparison, you can find that here

Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 - Key Similarities

Polar Ignite


Garmin FR45


Wrist HRM

Color Screen

24/7 Activity Tracking

Smartphone Notifications

Sleep Tracking

Indoor + Outdoor Running

Indoor + Outdoor Cycling

Customized Training Plans for Runners

V02 Max Estimates

Compatible with Stryd Sensor

Barometric Altimeter

Running Power

Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 - Key Differences

Polar Ignite


Garmin FR45


More Expensive

Less Expensive


Pool Swimming

Trail Running Mode

Body Battery Score

Menstrual Tracking

Galileo Satellite


Safety Tracking (Incident Detection)

Sports Profiles



GPS Battery

17 Hours

13 Hours

Smartwatch Battery

5 Days

7 Days

Polar Ignite vs Garmin FR45 - Sports Modes

Polar Ignite Garmin FR45
Outdoor Running Outdoor Running
Treadmill Running Treadmill Running
Track & Field Running Indoor Track Running (added through App)
Cycling Cycling
Indoor Cycling Indoor Cycling (added through App)
Mountain Biking Cardio Mode
Trail Running Elliptical Mode
Step Workout Stair Stepping
Yoga Yoga (added through App)
Pool Swimming
Functional Training
Multiple Cardio Modes
View all 100+ Sports Profiles
Garmin Forerunner 45 Black
View more images on Amazon
View more images on Amazon

Key Features Unique to Polar Ignite

Pool Swimming - Polar Ignite Only

This is a key difference between the Polar Ignite and the Garmin Foreunner 45. 

While the FR45 might be waterproof, it doesn’t measure any pool related metrics. This stands in start contrast to the Polar Ignite, which gives you access to: 

  • Heart Rate
  • Swimming Stroke
  • Distance
  • Pace
  • Strokes 
  • Rest Times

Over 90 Additional Sports Modes - Polar Ignite Only

Polar smashes Garmin, Suunto and Fitbit when it comes to total sports modes. This trend continues with the Polar Ignite, which boasts over 100 different sports modes (through Polar Flow). 

FitSpark - Polar Ignite Only

The Polar Ignite is the first watch in Polar’s range to introduce FitSpark technology. 

The goal of this tech is actually fairly simple. The watch uses your nightly recharge score (assessment of sleep quantity and quality) as a basis for recommending what type of workout you should do. 

But rather than forcing you to stick to a particular workout suggestion, it gives you 2-4 options to choose from. This makes it possible for you to still maintain a degree of freedom over how you train, while taking in the workout recommendations from the watch. 

All in all, it’s a pretty nifty feature, and a slightly different take on Garmin’s body battery score. 

Key Features Unique to Garmin Forerunner 45

Body Battery Score

While Polar might have introduced FitSpark with the Ignite, there’s no question that they’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Garmin’s body battery score.

This is essentially a holistic energy metric which combines your heart rate data, stress levels, sleep quality and recovery status into your ‘Body Battery Score’. It’s an interesting feature that can help you keep tabs on your energy levels, and adjust your training intensity based on the feedback from your watch.

Even though some Garmin users have questioned the accuracy of the body battery metric, it’s a pretty cool concept that can help you avoid over-training when your body is clearly in need of rest. It can also inspire you to improve your sleeping habits and lower your resting heart rate (through regular cardiovascular exercise), if you get hellbent on improving your body battery score.

Safety Tracking (Incident Detection)

The inclusion of incident detection in the Forerunner 45 is another nice addition from Garmin. The basic idea here is that your watch can communicate with your phone, and alert key family members if an alarming event occurs. 

In other words, if you suddenly stop moving for an extended period of time (as someone might do in an emergency), your watch can detect this abnormality and automatically notify your emergency contacts.

Obviously this is the type of feature that you really don’t want to use very often, but it’s reassuring to know that your watch could help you through a safety crisis if anything untoward happens when you’re training or racing. 

ANT+ Support

This is a major strength for the Garmin Forerunner 45, and a major weakness for the Polar Ignite. 

The main thing to be aware of is that ANT+ support is essential for a lot of 3rd party accessories like chest straps and cycling computers. Sadly, no Polar watches offer ANT+ support at this point in time, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s missing from the Polar Ignite.   

Galileo Satellite Tracking

This is probably the least meaningful difference between the two watches, mainly because they are both equipped with GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking.

However, if you are a fan of Galileo satellite tracking, it should comfort you to know that this technology is packed into the FR45

View more images on Amazon
View more images on Amazon

So which one should you buy?

  • If you train in the pool regularly – Polar Ignite
  • If want the more well rounded sports watch – Polar Ignite
  • If you want the more reliable wrist-based heart rate monitor – Polar Ignite
  • If you are intrigued by Garmin’s body battery score – Garmin FR45
  • If you need ANT+ support for your cycling and running accesories – Garmin FR45
  • If you like Garmin more than Polar – Go for the FR45. It’s still an excellent choice, and it’s about 30 bucks cheaper.

Final Thoughts

Garmin have done a great job with the Forerunner 45. It’s by far the best entry level running watch they have ever released.

But the Polar Ignite is the more well rounded sports watch. It tracks running, cycling and pool swimming, together with over 100 additional sports profiles (accessed through Polar Flow). 

In addition, it has the more accomplished wrist-based heart rate monitor, which adds another layer of distinction to Polar’s unit. 

Long story short, they are both extremely good GPS watches that will deliver great value for money for most runners. But on paper, the extended feature set of the Polar Ignite makes it the winner of this product battle. 

1 thought on “Polar Ignite vs Garmin Forerunner 45 – Product Comparison

  1. “Sadly, no Polar products offer ANT+ support, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s missing from the Polar Ignite. ”

    Actually not true. Polar H10 chest strap and OH1 armband both have ANT+ and BLE support.

    Polar will activate ANT+ in their Vantage-series at a future date.

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