Wahoo Elemnt Rival vs Garmin Forerunner 945

Wahoo Elemnt Rival vs Garmin Forerunner 945

The Wahoo Elemnt Rival marks Wahoo’s entry into the GPS sports watch market. As a newcomer, they’ve done pretty well in terms of build quality, design, and triathlon features. 

However, you will soon come to realize that the Elemnt is no rival to the Garmin Forerunner 945. Garmin have been in this game for a while, and there’s still plenty of catching up for Wahoo’s line of triathlon watches. 

Now let’s get stuck into the details of this comparison. 

Table of Contents

Key Similarities - Elemnt Rival vs Forerunner 945

Elemnt Rival

Forerunner 945


24/7 Activity Tracking

Optical HRM

Running Indoor + Outdoor

Cycling Indoor + Outdoor

Swimming Indoor + Outdoor

Triathlon Mode

Bluetooth & ANT+ Connectivity

Advanced Running Dynamics

Cycling Power Meter Support

Display Size

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter

Display Resolution

240 x 240 pixels

240 x 240 pixels

Smartwatch Battery

Up to 14 Days

Up to 14 Days

Water Proof Rating

50 meters

50 meters

Wahoo Elemnt Rival

Garmin Forerunner 945

Key Differences - Elemnt Rival vs Forerunner 945

Elemnt Rival

Forerunner 945


Less Expensive

More Expensive


46.5 x 46.5 x 15.3 mm

47 x 47 x 13.7 mm

Lens Material

Gorilla® Glass

Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX


53 grams

50 grams

GPS Battery

Up to 24 Hours

Up to 36 Hours

Strava Live Segments

App Only

On Device + App

Touchless Transition

Galileo Satellite

Sleep Tracking

Music Storage + Apps

Payments from Watch

WiFi Connectivity

Safety/Incident Detection

Blood Oxygen Measurements

Golf Mode

Running Coach Training Plans

Point-to-Point Navigation


Training Load + Recovery

Body Energy Score

Total Sports Modes



Wahoo Elemnt Rival

Garmin Forerunner 945

Sports Modes Comparison

Coros Pace 2 Sports Modes

  1. Indoor Cycling
  2. Outdoor Cycling
  3. Running
  4. Treadmill Running
  5. Pool Swimming (Laps)
  6. Open Water Swimming
  7. Strength Training
  8. Yoga

FR945 Sports Modes

  1. Strength Training
  2. Cardio Training
  3. Elliptical Training
  4. Stair Stepping
  5. Floor Climbing
  6. Indoor Rowing
  7. Yoga
  8. Running
  9. Treadmill Running
  10. Indoor Track Running
  11. Trail Running
  12. Skiing
  13. Snowboarding
  14. XC Skiing
  15. Stand Up Paddleboarding
  16. Rowing
  17. Cycling
  18. Indoor Cycling
  19. Pool Swimming
  20. Walking
  21. Pilates
  22. Outdoor Track Running
  23. Virtual Running
  24. Kayaking
  25. Mountain Biking
  26. Open Water Swimming
  27. Swimrun
  28. Triathlon Tracking
  29. Golf Tracking

Reasons To Choose The Elemnt Rival

Wahoo Element Rival Reasons To Choose

1. Auto-Transition Technology

There is only one main reason to consider the Wahoo Elmnt Rival over the Garmin Forerunner 945, and that reason is the autotransition technology. 

In a way, it’s a bit suprising that brands like Garmin have yet to introduce this feature. In fact, we would happily wager that it will become a staple feature in future Garmin triathlon watches. For now though, if you want the watch to take care of the switch between each triathlon discipline automatically, the Wahoo Elemnt is the watch to choose. 

2. It's a good looking triathlon watch

One thing that Wahoo have nailed off the bat is the premium look and feel of the Elemnt Rival. If anything, they’ve drawn inspiration from Suunto, who’ve been making very sharp looking units for some time now. 

The looks may not be a dealbreaker, but if you do go with the Elemnt, the design should hold its own when your out and about or in the heat of competition. 

3. Triathlon Training Plans

Given that the Elemnt Rival is a dedicated triathlon watch, the inclusion of triathlon-specific training plans is a nice touch. This is particularly true if you are still new to the sport, and need a bit of extra guidance. 

Developed by Wahoo’s sport science team, each triathlon training plan is tailored to your lifestyle patterns. The Rival creates plans based on your weekly time availability, current training, goals, and any  other constraints you have.

Reasons To Choose The Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 945 Hero Image

1. Better Navigation Features

The Forerunner 945 is packed to the brim with navigation technology. This stands in stark contrast to the Rival, which has little to no navigation capabilities. To be more specific, with the FR945 you effectively get:

  • 3D Topographical maps
  • Point-to-point navigation
  • Bread crumb in real time
  • Back to start
  • TrackBack
  • UltraTrac
  • Elevation Profile
  • Distance to destination
  • ClimbPro ascent planner
  • And more… 

2. Better Fitness & Activity Tracker Features

The Forerunner 945 is a better fitness tracker than the Elemnt Rival. It isn’t just the absence of sleep tracking that dents the credibility of Wahoo’s watch. It’s also lacks a suite of features that have become stock standard in Garmin’s modern sports watches including:

Pulse Oximeter – This is used to measure your blood oxygen levels, and it supports advanced sleep monitoring and altitude acclimation. 

Body Battery Score – An overarching metric that calculates your body’s energy levels. It uses sleep data, training data and heart rate data to work out a body battery score out of 100. 

Advanced Sleep Tracking – Garmin have improved their sleep tracking technology over the years. With the FR945, you can measure the primary sleep cycle, consisting of light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. 

Floors Climbed: With the built-in barometric altimeter, the FR945 will automatically measure how many flights of stairs you tackle during the day. 

Menstrual Tracking:  The Forerunner 945 can track menstrual cycles and pregnancy stages. This is further enhanced by a specific menstrual tracking app and pregnancy app, which can both be downloaded from the Garmin Connectstore. 

3. More Smart Features

This is another area where the FR945 smashes the Elemnt Rival. To be more specific, the Forerunner 945 gives you: 

Safety Tracking: If you feel unsafe or if your watch senses that an incident occurred, assistance and incident detection features3 send your location to emergency contacts (please note – your watch must be connected to your phone in order to use incident detection). 

Massive Selection of Additional Apps: With full Garmin connect compatibility, you can expand the capabilities of the Forerunner 945 using companion apps from the Garmin Connect IQ store. 

Payments from the Watch: Leave your wallet at home on training days and race days. Once your card details are synced with the FR945, you can make contactless payments up to $50 in value. 

Control Phone Music from Watch: Even if you don’t use the on-board music storage facilities of the FR945, you can still use it to switch between songs on your phone. 

4. Music Storage and Apps

If you choose the FR945, you will be glad to know that it can store up 1000 songs directly on the watch. In addition, you can also use popular music streaming apps, including:

  • Spotify
  • Deezer
  • Amazon Music
  • iHeart Radio

5. Much Better Selection of Sports Modes

While both watches can track the indoor and outdoor versions of running, cycling and swimming, the Forerunner 945 has a much broader range of sports modes. In fact, right now the Rival only offers 2 extra sports modes that aren’t related to triathlons,  that being strength training and yoga.  

In contrast, the Forerunner 945 is packed to the brim with sports modes. The most notable wins are the snow sports (skiing, snowboarding, XC skiing), but there are also other adventure sports like hiking, rowing, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding that really set the Forerunner 945 apart from the Rival. 

6. More Sophisticated Endurance Sport Technology

While the Elemnt Rival does a decent enough job of tracking triathlons, it can’t match the FR945 in terms of endurance sports technology. For instance, the Forerunner 945 provides the following:

Garmin PacePro: This running specific feature analyzes elevation changes along the course to calculate a pace strategy. This helps you tackle uphill and downhill sections with the correct speed, helping you stay on track to meet your training or racing goals. 

Garmin ClimbPro: Built specifically for cyclists, ClimbPro gives you real-time information on current and upcoming climbs, including gradient, distance and elevation gain.

Training Load: This stat measures your exercise volume from the last 7 days and compares it to the optimal range for your fitness and recent training history. 

7. Dedicated Golf Mode

The Garmin Forerunner 945 includes almost all of Garmin’s best golf tracking features. This includes: 

  • Yardage to the whole
  • Yardage to hazards
  • Automatic measurement of shot distance
  • Digital scorecard
  • Round timer

In other words, the Forerunner 945 has almost all the same features that you would expect in a dedicated GPS golf watch. The same cannot be said for the Wahoo Elemnt Rival. 

Wahoo Elemnt Rival

Garmin Forerunner 945

Final Thoughts

In the end, the Wahoo Elemnt Rival fall short of its claim of being a legitimate rival to Garmin, at least at this point in time. While the company produces high quality products, it’s still a game of catch up at this particular moment in time. 

With that being said, if you’re still undecided at this point, these final buying tips may help. 

Go for the Wahoo Elemnt Rival if:

  • You just want a simple GPS triathlon watch
  • You’re a fan of the Wahoo ecosystem
  • You are particularly drawn to the autotransition technology

Go for the Garmin Forerunner 945 if: 

  • You want music playback
  • You want better fitness features
  • You plan to use the navigation technology
  • You want access to a lot more sports modes
  • You play golf
  • You want one of the best triathlon watches currently available