Helping You Find The Best Rowing Machine

Choosing the best rowing machine can be a daunting task. There are many different types, brands and models all with their own set of features (and drawbacks). Not to mention the varying price ranges, it’s enough to make you dizzy but don’t throw in the towel just yet because we are here to help.

This resource has been created specifically for people like you who want to discover the great benefits of owning their own. Use our guides and rowing machine reviews so you can be confident that when you make a purchase it will meet your needs.

Top 10 Comparison Chart

Resistance Type
Weight Capacity
Concept2 Model D Air 500 pounds Yes 5 stars
Concept2 Model E Air 500 pounds Yes 4.5 stars
ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Water 350 pounds Yes 4.5 stars
Velocity Fitness CHR-2001 Magnetic 275 pounds Yes 4.5 stars
Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Hydraulic 250 pounds Yes 4 stars
Kettler Favorit Hydraulic 250 pounds Yes 4 stars
LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Magnetic 300 pounds Yes 4 stars
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower Hydraulic 250 pounds No 4 stars
Stamina 1215 Orbital Hydraulic 250 pounds Yes 4 stars
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Hydraulic 250 pounds Yes 3.5 stars

Factors to Consider when Buying

In order to make the best choice, you need to consider your reasons for purchasing a rowing machine. If you are just looking for a fun and effective way to exercise and lose weight then you will probably be happy with the lower cost models such as the hydraulic and magnetic types. However if you are looking for the most realistic rowing experience, and to really practice your skills then you will be better off looking at the higher end models such as the air and water resistance types. Remember, you really get what you pay for but depending on your fitness goals, a cheaper model may meet your needs.

Types of Machines

There are a number of different methods for creating resistance in order to simulate rowing against the water each with their own strengths and drawbacks.

Hydraulic: These machines use hydraulic cylinders that are attached to the handles and they are useful for people with limited space as they tend to be smaller than the other models. One drawback is that they are not as effective at accurately simulating the rowing as other machines. This is because the handles are fixed, allowing only fixed hand movements which is unrealistic. Another reason is the fixed seat which does not allow for the leg drive, an important part of rowing on the water.

The more expensive models use magnetic, air and water resistance. They do not have fixed handles which allows for a more authentic rowing experience.

Magnetic: These models make use of electromagnets to control the resistance, this has the advantage of being very quiet. The only issue with these machines is that the resistance is constant, so whilst being more realistic than the piston models they are not perfect.

Air: For those looking for the most authentic rowing experience, the air models are normally the best choice. They are very realistic in simulating the resistance of actual water rowing. You will find that most professional rowers will use air resistance machines.

Water: Some people see the water machines as the most realistic as they actually involve a paddle moving in a tank of water.

Other things to consider

  • Do you need a fully featured performance monitor to display information such as your rowing speed?
  • If you have limited space in your home, do you need a smaller machine or one which can fold away?
  • If you are training hard do you need a machine which offers high levels of resistance as you become stronger?
  • Do you need a long warranty in case something goes wrong?

Benefits of using an indoor rower

A rowing machine is built to simulate actual rowing on the water so it is very useful in training for this purpose. However you don’t have to be a rower in order to reap the benefits of these machines. They are a fantastic way to achieve high levels of fitness and have been shown to be one of the most effective methods for burning calories. Not only that but they put minimal stress on your knees and joints, meaning you can get fit without the risk of injury or causing damage to your body.

They are great not only for those looking to lose weight but also for those looking to maintain or improve their fitness. This is why a they can be such a beneficial investment as you can use it for years to come, and it will always give you an effective workout no matter what your fitness levels.

Top 10 Reviews

Concept2 Model D
Concept2 Model D
This is the best selling rowing machine in the world, used by fitness enthusiasts and professional rowers alike. The manufacturer says it is “engineered to last a lifetime” and this claim is backed up by their five year warranty. This is an air resistance machine and is packed with features including a superb performance monitor which you can even use to play games. It is fairly expensive compared to some other machines but if you have the money then you will find it is worth it. Don’t just take it from us, take a look on Amazon and you will see this machine has a staggering 300+ five star reviews.

ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series
ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series
This is probably one of the cheapest water resistance rowers you will find. At just under $700 you may be surprised at the quality of this machine. Water machines are highly sought after among those wanting to mimic actual rowing on the water and this one does a very good job at a price accessible to most. Just like real rowing, if you want a more intensive workout you just have to row faster and the water’s “natural adaptive resistance” will challenge you all you need. If however you feel like a nice relaxing paddle or steady workout then just row slower and enjoy the soothing feeling of pushing against the water.

Concept2 Model E
Concept2 Model E
This new machine from Concept2 is supposed to build on the success of the Model D by including all the same great features as well as the excellent PM4 performance monitor as standard and a whole bunch of new features. These include a higher and more comfortable stance with the frame being 6 inches higher than the Model D, a low maintenance chain, a longer monitor arm and an upgraded computer. These changes may not seem groundbreaking and you’re probably right but it is a tall ask to improve on such a successful product. If money is no object and you are looking for the very best then you will be very satisfied with the Model E, it is a fantastic machine however most people would probably be quite happy with the older and very popular Model D.

Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower
Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower
Kettler are a well known name and produce some of the best mid range models out there and the Kadett Outrigger is an interesting machine. It has a special circular movement design which tries to closely simulate the actual motion of rowing, and it does this very well. It is a hydraulic machine which means the levels of resistance have to be set which is familiar for those who like to use a treadmill for example. Overall the Kadett is a high quality rower at a fairly reasonable price.

Kettler Favorit
Kettler Favorit
The Favorit is a very reasonably priced machine, at just under $400. It is fairly basic but solid, as you would expect from a German manufacturer. It is a good choice for those with a lower budget and looking to keep fit without being too serious about training for rowing. One nice aspect is it’s quietness which is great for those that like a relaxing workout every now and then. One potential issue some users have reported is that the resistance level can adjust whilst in motion.

LifeSpan Fitness RW1000
LifeSpan Fitness RW1000
This machine is in a similar price range to the Kettler Favorit, so you may end up having to decide between these two. Both are quite highly rated and the RW1000 was good enough to win the 2008 Gear Awards Seal of Excellence. It boasts a very smooth and quiet resistance system and folds away nicely for storage purposes. There have however been a few complaints about the resistance not being high enough, and some niggling problems with build quality.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
At just over $100 this machine is firmly in the budget range, but does that mean it is poor quality? Firstly there are some good points, it is very compact and folds away nicely which is good for people with limited floor space. It also has a very functional but basic performance monitor. Perhaps it’s best feature is how it mimics the rowing motion in a way similar to the Kettler Kadett Outrigger. There are a few complaints about feet falling out of the footstraps and the resistance not being strong enough. However for the price it really is great value and for those on a tight budget this could be a great purchase. You can always upgrade to a more expensive model at a later date.

Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
The 1205 is a step up from the 1050 in terms of price and quality, though it is still a very affordable machine. Like the 1050 it is also very compact but does not fold away. The rowing motion is slightly different though, it uses a more traditional hydraulic cylinder design. Overall it has some very positive reviews on Amazon however one problem seems to be that initially the hydraulic shocks are too tight and take time to loosen up.

Stamina 1215 Orbital
Stamina 1215 Orbital
The 1215 Orbital is an interesting machine and very highly rated whilst also retailing at a very affordable price. It mimics water rowing with it’s full range of motion and smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance. There are very few complaints on this one aside from the occasional person having issues with the build quality. For the price it is very good, and one of Stamina’s best offerings.

Velocity Fitness CHR-2001
Velocity Fitness CHR-2001
This machine makes use of a magnetic resistance system which means it is very quiet when in use. It also comes equipped with a heart rate monitor which is a nice addition for the serious trainer. With it’s anodized aluminum profile you will find it is quite beautiful and would look good in any home. Overall this is a very solid machine and offers a great workout, some even compare it to the Concept2 which is a true mark of it’s quality. If you are looking for something in the mid price range you could do a lot worse than this rower.

Decision Time

Now you have seen the comparison chart and read through the rowing machine reviews it’s time you to decide which is the best rowing machine. If you are still unsure and need further help then be sure to check out our in depth reviews and guides.

If you have any further queries, feedback or suggestions then feel free to contact us using our contact page. We would love to hear from you!